Sunday, May 10, 2009

ENDURANCE by Earle E. Liederman - Author and Publisher, (1926), - Chapter 11

Exercises of endurance are those in which the work must be continued for a considerable length of time. In these exercises the total expenditure of force is determined more by the duration than by the intensity or resistance, and rapidity of succession of the efforts. It is essential that the muscular effort should not be too great and the movements not too rapid, otherwise fatigue in some of its various forms may interrupt the movements too soon. An exercise of endurance is only a moderate exercise if performed for a short time, but it may become forced exercise if it is continued too long. in these exercises the amount of work accomplished after a long time, even at the end of the day, for instance, may be very great; but the expenditure of force is made in such small fractions that there is no painful muscular effort at any movement; neither is there any marked disturbance in the functions of involved organs.

However, you may be able, in performing an exercise of endurance, to work up to the point, without knowing it, of making the exercise equivalent to heavy muscular work. When the limit of your own natural capacity is not exceeded, there is no noticeable disturbance created in the body. For the reason that in endurance work there is perfect balance between the muscular exertion and the power of resistance, you are able to go on working for a long time, allowing the useful effects of your exercising to accumulate, without causing any disturbance to the various organs or to the muscles used in the performance.

It is my opinion that a movement may be classed under endurance work even though it takes but fifteen or twenty minutes to reach the point of fatigue, and a light movement may be considered endurance work if it can be kept up for hours at a time. The two really blend and, of course, depend upon the strength and ability of the athlete. I consider that the one who chins himself forty to fifty times without stopping performs just as distinct an endurance movement as does the one who runs or swims a mile without resting.

Again, the object of this book is to enable everyone to save his own life; and I contend that heavy endurance work will prove just as valuable in this regard as will light endurance movements. If you are capable of climbing hand over hand up a long rope, say for one hundred feet, you can rest assured such a stunt and test of your muscles will be just as valuable to you as if you were able to swim one mile or to run two or three miles. Of course, if it is a specialty that you are interested in, such as becoming a long distance swimmer or a long distance runner or a twenty-five-round boxer, then whether you are able to chin yourself fifteen times or fifty times will make but little difference.

It is not my object to instruct anyone in any special line, nor to select any line of activity for anyone. If your ambition is to become a long distance runner you easily can obtain instructions and advice elsewhere. But, if, for example, you are unable to run more than fifty or one hundred yards without becoming fatigued and breathless, then the information I am endeavoring to impart, and the condition I am trying to interest you to acquire through this medium will prove valuable.

Have you ever noticed an athlete warming up just before a decisive event? This is noticed especially in track work; but if you have been observant in the gymnasium also, you may have noticed some prominent strong man going through a series of light calisthenic movements just before attempting heavier work. He is consciously getting his muscles supple and in condition for the necessary heavier exertions. This also can be done without direct intentional effort, as in long distance running when in endeavoring to cut down the time of the run one takes a trifle longer strides or runs with greater rapidity. The thought of winning acts as a stimulus and increases the speed and stride without any direct forced action of the will on the part of the athlete.

A person whose body is run down and weakened from lack of use, or a person who is recovering from a sickness will be greatly benefitted by endurance work. It is like giving food in fractional amounts to a convalescent. If upon recovering from a serious illness you were to eat a hearty meal, serious complications might arise, for when the digestions has been weakened and the requirements lessened by disease the food must be resumed in exceedingly small amounts and the amount increased very slowly. To give a weak person the amount of exercise at one period (if he were capable of doing it) that he would be doing after faithfully following athletic activities for many months would be fatal; but to start him with light endurance work of slow rhythm would enable him to receive the same value from the lighter exercise that the strong man receives from his heavy weights. In other words, the light endurance work to the feeble man is of just as much benefit as lifting heavy dumb-bells is to the weight lifter.

Therefore, the larger your muscles become and the stronger you become, the harder you must work in order to progress. A physical culturist usually has no difficulty in obtaining from a fourteen-inch to a sixteen-inch upper arm, depending, of course, upon his height; but it would be a most difficult matter for him to add another inch to this arm after he has been exercising for a y ear or two. The beginner, in performing one-tenth or less of the work done by the experienced athlete, derives just as much benefit, so far as girth increase and functional benefits are concerned, from his light endurance exercises as the experienced man receives from his greater work. Of course, as he becomes stronger he would get nowhere were he to continue with the same light endurance exercises. As he becomes stronger, organically and muscularly, he must progress accordingly in his type or degree of exercise or in both.

Endurance work must be divided into fractional quantities sufficiently small to enable the body to support each exercise dose without disturbing its normal functions. Also, the muscular efforts must be at sufficiently long intervals that the effect of the second effort may not be added directly to that of the first. Stated differently, there must be a long enough pause between each two movements to give the muscles and general energy a chance to recuperate. If there is not, the work instead of being endurance work, becomes muscle-building and, perhaps, in feeble cases, forced exercising.

As I have mentioned previously, the best example of endurance and of relaxation is the heart. It pumps all through life, but between beats there is enough pause to enable the heart muscle to recover. When the heart is overworked by being required to pump faster and harder than under normal conditions, it has insufficient time in which to rest between beats. Through such over-exertion the athlete gets what is called “athletic heart,” and sometimes one or more leaking valves.

In an exercise of strength there is an accumulation of work, because each muscular effort is very evident, and one follows another before the full effect of the preceding has been entirely overcome. In an exercise of speed there is a multiplication of work, because of the rapid succession of efforts of small intensity. This leads in the end to an accumulation of work. In exercises of endurance the efforts, being repeated at sufficiently spaced intervals, are fractional, if at any time the amount of work performed does not exceed the power of resistance—though the final result is an accumulation of work, also.

An exercise of endurance is characterized by the necessity for perfect balance between the force of the muscular effort and the power of resistance in the body. It is difficult to determine just when an exercise is one of endurance when the work is not carried on in competition and does not become prolonged owing to destination—as in running, walking, swimming, etc. The same exercise may be classed in turn endurance, speed or strength exercise, according to the conditions under which it is performed. For instance if you row in competition the work becomes speed work; whereas, if you row over a long course, mile after mile, it becomes endurance work. Rowing in very heavy seas takes on the form of strength work, just as walking, which is a type of endurance exercise, becomes strength work when you walk up-stairs or up-hill.

In other words, if you bring on fatigue too rapidly, it may be muscle-building, speed, or strength work and not endurance work; but if fatigue does not manifest itself and the work can go on continuously for long periods of time, it then is endurance work. Thus it is the conditions under which you perform the exercise that determine its character.

But individual conditions, of training, strength, wind, and nervous energy, have much to do with determining the type of exercise, also. There is nothing so variable as the power of resistance within different people. What is an exercise of strength or speed for one becomes endurance for another who has had much exercising experience. Taking rowing again for illustration, this is an exercise of strength to the man who is learning, for in a short time he is out of breath; but to the experienced oarsman who spends much of his time on the water it becomes endurance work, for he can keep it up all day without fatiguing.

Generally, the difference in the power of resistance, or the staying power, as it also may be called, of different people is due largely to the difference in their respiratory powers. It might be said that one’s respiratory fitness is the true regulator of all work of endurance. A person whose rib-box is narrow would not stand the same chance in competition as one who rib-box is broad. In the former, the lungs are not as large, nor have they the room to expand; whereas not only is the lung capacity greater in the one whose rib-box is wide but his endurance powers excel in direct proportion.

There are two conditions, then, necessary to form an exercise of endurance. The first is a certain moderation in the force of the exercises. The second is a certain power of resistance on the part of the body. Therefore, stamina or staying power applies rather to the qualities of a man than it concerns the nature of the work he performs. A work of endurance is one in which the method of performance enables one to continue it for a long time; and the man with staying power is one whose body is fit to support prolonged work. Some people are unable to perform the most moderate exercise without showing, after a very short time, the signs of extreme fatigue. There are others who keep up, with astonishing powers of resistance, the most violent work; and, as I said, for them the exercise of strength of speed becomes merely an exercise of endurance.

While at a summer resort one day I noticed from my window a man skipping a rope on a platform which had been placed on the sand. This rope skipping is done by every little girl in her early childhood days; and it also is indulged in by athletes, for it is very beneficial for the wind and the muscles below the knee. It was about ten o’clock in the morning when I first saw this man skipping the rope. I watched him for a few minutes and then went about my daily duties. Around noon-time I again saw him skipping the rope, and learned to my astonishment, upon investigation, that he had been skipping the rope continuously for those two hours. It was remarkable that he could do so practically without a miss, and still more remarkable that his lungs and heart were in such a phenomenal condition as to function properly while withstanding the obvious and necessary exertion. Jumping off the ground, no matter how lightly it is done, affects the heart and respiratory organs considerably, and it must have taken much practice for this man to be able to continue this one form of exercise for so long a time. I know I shouldn’t have the patience to do it. However, it surely was a marvelous display of endurance.

But place a rope in the hands of the beginner and ask him to skip for five minutes; and, even though he possess the technique and can perform without a miss, he will find that his exertions will bring on breathlessness with such rapidity and tiring of the muscles of his calves and shins so quickly that to him the work, for the short time it would be possible, would be muscle-building.

Rope skipping is an excellent exercise for creating endurance, both in the muscles below the knee and in your staying power or wind. For the beginner, rope skipping may prove a violent exercise; but after practice and to the experienced physical culturist it becomes endurance work. If after an exercise you experience neither fatigue nor breathlessness, you have been performing endurance movements, and you may consider yourself fit for that work. If, instead, you are winded and any part of your body is tired, you have been performing violent exertions. This is one way to distinguish violent exercising from endurance work or gentle exercise—for endurance consists of taking exercise as easily as possible. By continuing the movement for a longer time than usual, fatigue and breathlessness will occur in endurance work; but it will come on more slowly and gradually than in the performance of violent exercise.

In order that you may perform an exercise that may be continued for a long time, the first condition is that it does not lead to breathlessness. You can go on walking, for example, in spite of weary legs and sore feet; but you cannot go on running when you are out of breath. Certain parts of the body naturally possess more endurance than others. This, of course, becomes localized. For instance, the fingers and hands naturally have more endurance than have the shoulders or the back. We are continually using the fingers and hands in our everyday life; therefore, they seem almost wholly immune to fatigue. Observing the pianist at the motion picture theatre who continues playing throughout the various continuous performances, you often wonder why he does not become exhausted. True, he has periods of relaxation; but his fingers are capable of continuing their light endurance efforts much longer than would the muscles of his arms and shoulders.

The muscles around the jaw seem to possess tireless endurance qualities, especially in those whom we often observe who are continually chewing gum. Not long ago there was a public speaker who continued talking, without a let-up, for forty-eight hours, while I often have gotten tired after talking ten or fifteen minutes. My experience has taught me to say little and listen more, and I presume that is the reason I notice the effort of speaking more than do the public speakers and many others.

If you attempt any exercise or movement of endurance, it is essential that you eliminate all extra effort from the action. The absence of effort saves you from the violent exertion of the heart and blood vessels which hinders the working of these organs. The object of endurance exercise, therefore, is to spare the organs as much as possible, and it is most essential to give the body the chance to repair even during the work. In this way breathlessness will not occur during exercises of endurance. By such care the quantity of carbonic acid produced by the activity of the muscles never rises to a quantity in excess of that which the lungs can eliminate, but it is removed from the blood as fast as it is formed and passes unnoticed from the body. It is possible to escape breathlessness while performing endurance work only by introducing considerable oxygen into the body by way of the respiratory system.

Proper training, therefore, is the first step towards acquiring endurance. The object of training is to fit you as completely and as quickly as possible for the performance of a given work. In other words, it is preparation. Again, training has other meaning besides muscular activities. A diver may be trained in holding his breath longer. Jockies are trained to make them lighter so as to lighten the work of the horses that carry them. Hence, in order to continue being in the condition in which training puts you, it is necessary to keep up that training, in considerable degree, at least. Otherwise you simply go back to about where you were when you started.

It is well always to keep in good condition, though I do not believe in being “on edge,” so to speak, at all times. By this I mean that if you were training for a contest, such as boxing, wrestling or running, it would be a waste of nervous force to continue day after day the condition that you should be in for the contest. If this condition is kept up one becomes stale, and staleness demands a rest.

Getting and keeping in good condition does not necessarily mean the loss of weight, unless, of course, superfluous flesh exists upon your body. Once you have eliminated excess fatty tissue, you will not lose weight by moderate training. You will further lose, however, if you are over-training and, as I said before, continually keyed up to the highest pitch. An athlete who once becomes muscular, even though he were thin before he indulged in physical culture work, generally will accumulate fat if he discontinues his training and relaxes, just as the fat man who reduces to symmetrical proportions will quickly resume his old-time pudgy figure if he discontinues his exercise. of course, there will be a falling off in the contour and size of the muscles, and fatty tissue will accumulate around the most inactive parts, such as the waistline and hips.

The thin individual reacts somewhat differently. He usually continues to take on more weight as his muscles increase in size, but should he stop training he not only would rapidly lose an inch or more from his thighs and arms, but he would increase an inch or more around his torso and especially around the waist.

I tried an experiment myself a few years ago on the effect of prolonged relaxation. As you know, I am an advocate of daily exercise, and I practice what I preach; but for an experiment on this occasion I suddenly dropped off training and did nothing for three weeks. Now my waist measured thirty inches before ending my training; but upon the completion of the three weeks’ rest it measured thirty-six, and I had the devil’s own time getting it back again to thirty-two inches, where it has remained, refusing to become any smaller; and, of course, I in turn refuse to allow it to become any larger. While in training my upper arm measured sixteen and one-half inches. After the three weeks of relaxation it measured fifteen and three-quarter inches. My thigh measured twenty-three and one-half inches, and after my lay-off, strange to say, it increased to twenty-four inches. The girth of my chest gained one inch during my period of inactivity.

During this period of rest I was not my normal self organically and mentally. I felt sluggish and lost considerable physical ambition, and it was very hard to start into exercising again. This is the only time I have experimented in this way, and I can assure you that I have no desire to do it again; for I have found that there is nothing equal to keeping fit at all times and in such a condition that it requires but a day or two of extra training to fit you for any contest.

Professional boxing offers an interesting example of training methods. Usually it takes about six weeks of preparation for a fighter to fit himself for a contest, and upon the evening of the contest his muscles and nerves are keyed up to the highest point of responsiveness. If after the bout he were asked to continue his active training, he soon would find himself stale, both mentally and physically—mentally, perhaps, because there would be no incentive for him to keep it up, and physically, because of the drain upon his body. Fighters, you know, perform considerable endurance work and often spend from two to three hours a day at their work-out. Therefore, relaxation after a contest is necessary, and in most cases fighters add considerable weight during their periods of inactivity.

I believe in carrying from three to five pounds of extra weight on my body at all times, as it gives me something to work off—something to feed on, so to speak. If a boxer continued his daily endurance training right up to the day of the contest, he would be apt to find himself stale during the encounter. That is why fighters usually relax on the day the bout is to take place. This gives the muscles the relaxation necessary before their final exertion. It would be well for anyone who train for a contest, whether it be boxing, wrestling, rowing, running or what not, to follow the fighter’s program by relaxing and avoiding all physical activities on the day of the event. The object of training is to develop your muscular and nervous energy and to increase your power of resisting fatigue. If you have no secured these effects by training before the last day it is occur frequently and regularly at all times; the muscles quite certain that you cannot develop it on the last day.

As I have mentioned so many times, relaxation should be given brief periods of rest after each movement in order to recuperate properly for another exertion. How would you expect to run a mile or more if you ran the first hundred yards at top speed? And how would you expect to box twenty rounds if at the sound of the gong in the opening round you exerted yourself by boxing at top speed? You may be able to go at top speed during part of any contest; but the time for this is well along in the contest after slower work allowing some degree of relaxation, which permits the vital organs and muscles to reach their highest degree of harmonious action.

In violent exercising, fatigue and breathlessness come on quite suddenly, yet they leave you more quickly than do the fatigue and breathlessness produced by the performance of endurance work. I have seen swimmers come out of the water, after swimming a couple of miles, and although they were breathing somewhat above normal they were not as winded as sprinters I have seen who have gone but one hundred yards through the waters. As a rule, sprinting swimmers upon completion of their destination are quite winded, yet after a short period of rest they would be able to make another sprint. But an endurance swimmer would not have any inclination to get into the water soon for another long swim after the completion of one endurance test. This is because his fatigue has come on gradually, and is more general and more lasting than the fatigue of the sprinter. You can experience these reactions yourself; and, after all, you will find experience the best teacher.

I have watched the performances of Joe and Adolph Nordquest, the two brothers from Ashtabula, Ohio, who are noted for their strength performances. I have had the pleasure of seeing Joe put up with the left hand overhead, three hundred and one pounds, creating a new world’s record for the left arm bent press. It was interesting to note how he walked around the long bar-bell about a dozen times before he attempted to touch it. He was working himself up to physical and mental pitch in order to successfully perform the lift. After raising the bell overhead with one arm and dropping it to the floor the exhalation of his breath sounded like a bellows, so forcibly did it come out of his lungs. He was quite winded from the exertion; yet after only a minute or two he was fully capable of attempting other lifts.

I watched his brother Adolph lift a huge bar-bell, two hands overhead, about ten or twelve times. This was done in a public performance, and the weight was announced as two hundred and fifty pounds. Knowing him personally, I inquisitively asked him, after the performance, what the actual weight of the bell was. Adolph in a whisper confided to me, at the same time asking me not to tell anyone, that the weight actually was only two hundred and forty-five pounds. It doesn’t seem very much to relate or to read; but anyone who cares to attempt to lift even a two hundred-pound bar-bell over his head ten times will appreciate the marvelous strength Adolph Nordquest possesses. But I am rambling from my subject. After completing the lifts his part in the performance was ended and he was quite winded; but I am sure he could have duplicated the whole thing after a minute or two of relaxation.

It will be of interest and value for you to have a little knowledge in the effects of exercises of strength. All exercises are in the same category. Strength work really blends with endurance work; because, as I have stated previously, what is endurance work for one is strength work for another. To the beginner, the lifting of a fifty-pound dumb-bell from the floor to arms’ length overhead would mean performing a feat of strength, while an athlete who did this movement before me three hundred and fifty times without stopping really performed an endurance test.

As related previously, I give a great many of my pupils in their first lesson the common push-up or floor dip exercise. This is quite a stunt for some of them to do, especially if they have never exercised before. But if I were to give this exercise to those who have had six or eight months or more of training they would consider it as simply a warming-up movement. I feel that everyone should perform strength work and continue with the strength movements until they become endurance repetitions. There is really no distinct line of separation between strength work and endurance work. They blend into each other; and it depends wholly on the individual whether the exercise or movement undertaken is one of strength or one of endurance.

The state of mind is an important factor in the performance of endurance work. During all training for endurance work your mind must be free from all mental disturbances and all depressing emotions. You must avoid all nervous excitement and all keen sensations, and, as I have previously stated, peace and harmony should prevail. One who train for endurance should not perform any violent exercise. Violent exercise need not necessarily mean a feat of strength or a different stunt; it may be a violent exertions that would bring on fatigue too rapidly; and fatigue should be avoided in training for endurance.

In the performance of heavy work, which may be classed as strength exercising, there are two important factors necessary—the straining of the muscles and the forcing of your will power. It is important, therefore, that you understand the value of nervous energy throughout these performances, as it plays a more important part than you may think.

I recall the great English weight lifter, Edward Aston, whose weight is around one hundred and sixty pounds; yet he has successfully lifted, one arm overhead, three hundred and one pounds in the bent press. I also recall the last time I met Anton Matysek, the phenomenal lifter of Baltimore, whose weight at the time was about one hundred and sixty-five pounds and yet he successfully lifted almost three hundred pounds in the bent press method, one hand overhead; and his other feats with the dumb-bells also have been remarkable. Each of these men weighed less than I do and a great many of their muscles are smaller in measurement than mine; and yet they are capable of lifting considerably more poundage than I have ever been able to lift. For me to bent press two hundred or two hundred and twenty-five pounds was quite a feat of strength; but to lift the same weight would have been merely play for Aston or Matysek. Undoubtedly, they possessed more nervous energy than I did when lifting the weights, and, of course, they have had considerable more practice with dumb-bells and bar-bells than I have had, for I very seldom use them. If I had practiced as faithfully with the weights as they had, perhaps I might have been in the same class with them; yet, I may not have been.

Variations in nervous energy may be manifested in a physical manner by a more or less evident stimulation of the muscles, which produces more or less powerful muscular contractions. Doubtless, this difference in nervous energy largely explains why two men of the same size and weight differ greatly in their feats of strength. But the exertion of a weight lifter endeavoring to lift an enormous weight from the ground overhead with two arms is no greater in proportion to strength possessed than it would be for the beginner to lift light weights or to chin himself for the first time.

To one who is accustomed to lifting weights it is an easy matter to pull himself up a rope hand over hand. While lifting weights may constitute violent exercises and feats of strength, it produces such strength that it makes rope climbing a mere test of endurance for the muscles involved. To one who is accustomed to curling a heavy bar-bell it is an easy matter to perform a great number of chins on a horizontal bar. Such rope climbing and chinning should be indulged in by everyone, for it may prove necessary sometime for saving your own life, though I hope not. The beginner who cannot chin himself once or dip between parallel bars more than two or three times is really in a regrettable state regarding his personal safety in the event of some dangers. The mere act of chinning himself once or dipping once or twice is, to him, really a feat of strength. Therefore, he should continue at such strength work until he is able to perform a number of repetitions, and after the repetitions become prolonged the work can be classed as endurance movements.

If an experienced athlete for the first time were to take a spade and dig a deep hole in the ground he would be performing strength movements, even though such labor would be endurance work for the working man. The athlete, whose muscles are used in certain ways and who is accustomed to fifteen or twenty minutes of exercising daily, would be working his muscles in a different manner in throwing over his shoulder spadefuls of dirt, and he would soon tire, just as the experienced weight lifter, who is sued to lifting enormous weights, would become tired very quickly while wielding the axe for chopping down a tree.

It depends on how the muscles are used whether the work is a movement of strength or a movement of endurance. The lumberjack who can swing the axe in cutting down tree after tree without fatigue and with scarcely a show of perspiration on his forehead, undoubtedly would make a poor showing at lifting dumb-bells or in running at top speed for any short distance. Also, he most likely would find himself breathless were he to cross-country trot for a mile or more. On the other hand, the sprinter or the cross-country runner soon would tire wielding the axe.

Therefore, strength movements and endurance movements are so closely associated that their type can be determined only by the condition and ability of the person performing them. Thus it can be seen that it is best for everyone to indulge in all forms of exercise, light and heavy; for the light work always can be accomplished with practice and with the development of the wind, while the heavy strength movements will develop into those of endurance, which light exercises cannot do.
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