Monday, October 18, 2010

Iron Nation Review by David Gentle

“…I loved the cover photo of the various weights. It sort of put me in the mood to read it. IRON NATION is a great read, full of biographies, along with the training methods of many names we have long been familiar with in the various weight training journals … The reader is given insights into the writers’ personal views, opinions and training methods. I loved the essays from Vic Boff and anything and everything that related to the late and great John C. Grimek, who I am proud to be able to have called a personal friend. …I also learned new facts and personal accounts from the … authors who have been gathered together in this super journal. I truly recommend this book to those who wish quality muscle with strength related to size. Muscle that’s not going to disappear two weeks after taking a lay off as happens to those who train light and who’s idea of nutrition is the use and abuse of chemical aids. This book fills a fine gap to balance the propaganda we are so used to that strength can be easily accomplished so long as the trainer takes so and so’s ‘super supplements’. The authors in contrast, suggest … hard, tough and intense workouts, of brief duration, but training that brings worthwhile muscle and power that won’t disappear overnight. Bob Whelan and Drew Israel have done a fine job, bringing back some sanity and honesty to the iron game.”

--David Gentle, Features Editor of Health and Strength Magazine, the worlds’ oldest continually published journal on physical culture.
Read More »

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Key to Might and Muscle (Circa 1926) - Chapter 4 - Curative Exercises - By George F. Jowett

Broken in health, in spirit, and financially, without a single hope for the future.
Nothing but pain, sleepless nights, and a nauseating terror of food.

The absolute necessity of a mother to turn bread winner in order that food
and clothing could be provided for two little tots who were beginning to feel
the pangs of poverty. Five years under treatment at home, in hospitals and
in convalescence had stolen the little nest egg that had been hoped would
some day provide the foundation for a home. The future appalled, and no
wonder, for who can ever hope to stand for long against the ceaseless
battering of ill health. No man is so constructed that he can resist
forever. Such was the condition of one man who eventually came under my 
observation and direction in the search for better health.

The wife of this man happened to know an acquaintance of mine, who had
unbounded faith in my abilities. Together they talked the situation over
with me, which finally ended by my promise to see what I could do for him.
He was only a young man as far as years were concerned; that is, he was only
in his early thirties, thirty-two to be exact, but so much sickness had made
him appear haggard and worn-out. Stomach trouble had necessitated an
operation. I kept my appointment to talk over things, and the end of our
conversation was that I carried hope into that home of trials. I talked to him 
something like this:

"Now look here, my friend, I know you are in a bad enough condition, and I
realize your circumstances, but you have to remember that there is a
beginning and an end for all things. There is a place and time for medicine,
and a place and time for corrective exercise. You have long since arrived at
the point where medicine finished and exercise should have begun. You have
no kick against the physicians; they have done their part. When they
informed you that the cause of your stomach troubles was removed, it was
practically all over for them. They gave you medicine to allay your
sufferings and a specified diet for you to follow. Medicine will do a lot of
things, but it will not rebuild weakened tissue. The trouble is you have
relied too much upon medicine, and you failed to grasp the fact that your
whole system had weakened through so much illness. Here is where exercise
comes in. You do not have to look at me like that. I am not going to put a
heavy weight in your hands and tell you to juggle it around, and at the same
time practice Christian Science. It will be altogether different. You will
find it a battle, but the chances are a hundred to one in your favor if you
are game enough to struggle."

Well, we started the next day, and believe me or not, within three months
from the date of our conversation he was helping around the house. Another
four weeks saw him accepting a light position. Six months after the day he
commenced he was happily working at his old job, and within the year he was a
picture of health. Not a Hercules, but much stronger than the average man.
The sun was shining for him and the world appeared like an entirely new place
to his wife and children.

This true story is not a miracle, or a near miracle. It is just common sense
methods applied in the right place.

Too many people neglect their body in the first place, and it becomes a
depository of dangerous elements that destroy tissue and lead to sickness.
It is only natural that when a person becomes very sick, he should turn to
his doctor and seek aid; but how many times do people have to listen to the
physician say, "At some time or other you exposed yourself, and added neglect
to exposure. This is the result." Then they realize that they are too late
and have to face the music. Later the stage of convalescence is reached,
usually after a harrowing experience, but it is the same story - neglect.
The physician has performed his duty, and instead of the patient thinking a
little for himself and profiting by the doctor's advice, he relies too much
upon the doctor. Too frequently I hear the same story, "Oh, I've never been
the same since that illness." Is there any wonder when they turn a deaf ear
to nature? As the old scriptural phrase reads, "They have eyes but they see not."

The convalescent stage should be the commencement for remedial exercise. In
making the following statement, I am not for one moment overlooking the fact
that the physician is a very valuable man, and medicine one of our blessings;
yet there are many ailments that can better be taken care of by exercise than
by medicine, as my medical friends will agree.

Stomach trouble, for instance. A common enough ailment, only too prevalent,
but it is generally the result of a lack of body toning, bad eating, drinking
alcoholic liquors and excessive smoking. Indigestion and hyperacidity are
two of the worst, although the last is generally the cause of the first.
Wrong functioning of the pancreas fails to absorb the fats, or break up the
sugar and starch elements in the food. Although I have named the condition,
incorrect functioning of the pancreas, I believe I would have been more
correct if I had stated that wrong foods caused the pancreas to work overtime
and have fagged it. The liver becomes sluggish as the digestion becomes
poor. The biggest reason for the stomach disorders is lack of physical
activity, that allows food to lie dormant too long in the stomach before it
is dispelled into the channels of evacuation. This is one of the main causes
of constipation, prolapsed stomach, and the unsightly protruding abdomen.

Now I want you to remember that the lining membranes of the stomach and
bowels allow certain things from the food, like sugar molecules and little
droplets of fat, to pass through just as water is passed through blotting
paper. These particles enter into the veins, which are very numerous on the
other side of the membranes. Consequently, you will readily realize the
necessity of good digestion, and the natural requirements for these elements
of nutrition to enter the blood stream. Food is absorbed in the blood very
quickly, because the size of the absorbing surface is so large. It is
actually claimed that the lining membranes of the stomach, the small and
large intestines, taken together, have an area of twenty square feet.
Somewhat more than the area of the entire outside of the body.

The more vigorous the daily vocation, the greater quantity of food is eaten,
and the greater quantity of substance drawn into the blood stream, and also
evacuation has more volume besides being more regular.

Your food is your energy, and it is a proposition entirely up to yourself
whether you are going to use this energy or misuse it. The majority misuse
it, hence the disorders. Now to correct these various ailments, I will
select a few exercises that have a gentle persuasive effect upon the muscles,
the organs of digestion, and the nervous system.

Take up your position with the hands placed upon the hips, feet spaced about
six inches apart, just enough to keep the balance of the body comfortably.
Bend from side to side in a slow, easy rhythmic movement. Let your breathing
be regular and not forced in the least. Do not make the mistake of trying
how many times you can do each exercise. About nine or ten times in each
direction is enough with which to commence. In every case the individual
should allow his physical condition to be his guide.

The next exercise should be taken up with the feet spaced much wider apart,
with a light bar of ten or fifteen pounds lying across the broad of the back,
each end grasped in the corresponding hand. From this position twist the
body sideways from the waist, not the hips, in a spiral movement. As the
body seems to be turned to its limit, the person should pull against the bar
in order to obtain a little more twist. The reason the bar is allowed to lie
across the shoulders, or broad of the back, instead of on the shoulders, is
to gain more twist from the waist. It used to be that the exerciser would
use the palms of each hand against the side of the chest, but my objection to
this is that it causes a compression of the walls of the chest, interfering
with both breathing and progress.

In all exercises where possible, I desire to see the person use some amount
of weight; it helps to give a muscular resistance that cannot be supplied by
the body only. Of course, if a person is in too weak a condition, that is
different. Going back to the last exercise, I want to advise against
allowing even the heels to leave the floor; that is why I suggest a waist
movement against a hip movement. The feet must be kept flat on the floor.

For the third exercise I like to choose the one where the person lies upon
the back on the floor, then slowly draws one knee up at a time to the body.
In the second stage of progression, this exercise can be performed by drawing
both knees, simultaneously, up to the body.

Then, turning over face downwards, so that the hands and toes only are
resting upon the floor, with the arms locked at the elbows, and body straight
upon its points of balance, we begin an exercise that is a little more
vigorous. From the position described, draw the knee right up to the body,
but allow the toes to rest on the floor. It is from here that the exercise
is really commenced. Give a slight hop and straighten out the right leg, and
at the same time pull the left knee up to the body. Do not hesitate, but
keep both legs going one after the other. However, do not do it as though a
race was being run; do it gently and always keep the hands on the floor.

These four exercises are quite enough with which to start, and as the
conditions become improved and a greater degree of strength is acquired, more
movements can be added and these can be eliminated for exercises of a more
vigorous nature.

I know many have the idea that bending from the waist forwards and backwards
are also good exercises. I agree, but the reason I have omitted them is
because I want to say that people who are susceptible to vomiting from
stomach disorders should not do them until after two or three weeks of
practice with the other exercises. Where vomiting is not one of the
troubles, the forward and backward bends are all right to use at the

These exercises are not as vigorous physically as those recommended for
constipation and some other ailments. At the same time there is enough
action to prepare the muscular toning for the exercises that follow in the
various stages of progression. However, the circulatory organs are
stimulated and the blood stream wonderfully nourished.

Constipation requires a somewhat more vigorous routine, due to the collection
of feces that has clogged the intestinal passages. The exercises must be
such that a continual massage is being brought to bear upon the intestines,
at the same time that their natural functioning abilities are being repaired.
Laxatives rob the channels of evacuation of their natural power. All along
these passages are rings of muscles that contract and relax continually, and
which gather and thrust the feces along the passages. As I have said, drugs
interfere with the work of these muscles by relieving them of their natural
duty, and the trouble is that the muscles deteriorate with non-use. When the
body has become used to the effect of the drugs, which it does sometimes, the
person faces a serious proposition.

However, I have known of many chronic cases of constipation effectively cured
by exercise. The muscles of the abdomen are naturally equipped to aid the
thousands of ring muscles that are part of the intestines.

Body builders have made the expression habitual, when describing the
abdominal muscles, as having a washboard appearance. They have more than a
washboard appearance; they have the washboard effect, continually massaging
the intestines in order to prevent solidification of feces and stimulate
evacuation; but we never see a victim of this ailment with a well developed
set of abdominal muscles. In most cases the waistline is large, sagging, and
fat. The muscles have lost their elasticity, and the armour of muscle
protection is gone. A victim can wear all the body belt supporters he likes,
but nothing like that will give back life to the deteriorated muscular tissue.

In a chronic case, I generally advise a few days fast, in order to give the
stomach a rest. As a matter of fact, a short fast is sometimes advisable
with stomach trouble, but not in all cases. A person should always seek
advice on this before going ahead on his own initiative.

Since the working powers of the muscles have gone, we are obliged to devise
exercises that will perform these duties as much as possible, and at the same
time coax these muscles back into vigorous existence and build them up. The
most commonly known exercise for the abdomen is the "sit-up." In this
exercise the person lies full length on the back upon the floor, with some
heavy object across the feet to hold the legs down as the sit-up is made.
This is performed by either folding the arms upon the chest or locking the
hands behind the neck. From the prone position the exerciser rises to the
sit-up position, and then lowers the body back, repeating the movement a
number of times. Personally, I do not like the exercise from a curative
point of view, in fact, not for a beginner. My objection is based upon the
fact that beginners, who are not seeking curative aid, are seldom able to
perform the movement correctly. They invariably come up with a snap, which
is wrong. Others cannot do it at all. A very few can. The movement should
be done slowly in both raising and lowering the body, so that the muscles
receive full play and give the desired effect upon the intestines. I prefer
this exercise for a more advanced stage of muscle building. In its place I
advocate sitting upon the floor with the feet under some object, back
straight, and the arms folded behind the back, leaning at the slightest
possible angle backwards. From this position twist the body from side to
side as much as possible with a slow movement. After this, lie flat upon the
floor on the back, then place the hands on the floor and raise the body until
the arms are straight and only the hands and heels are resting on the floor.
Keep the body free from any bend. Now raise one leg straight as high as you
can. Keep the legs moving thus, one after the other. Then you can practice
drawing the knees up to the body alternately. Both exercises are good.

In the more advanced exercises, I find that raising the body onto the
shoulders, from the prone position, with the hands pressed upon the hips, and
the elbows on the floor as a means of support, is a very good body reducer
and aid for constipation. From this position the legs should be worked up
and down in a movement similar to pedaling a bicycle. This exercise can be
followed by another exercise from the prone position. Lie flat upon the back
and place the hands under the hips, then raise one leg upwards in a circular
movement towards the head. As the leg is lowered, the heel should not be
allowed to touch the floor; then raise the other leg. Keep the legs
straight, raising and lowering in a slow rhythmic movement. After this, the
same position can be adopted, and both legs raised together.

As a further aid a good massage of the abdominal muscles will help

The beauty of the last two exercises is that they develop the muscles of the
abdomen from the lower extremities of the abdomen upwards. This part of the
abdomen is of the most importance. From the line of the navel down into the
groin, the fourth twin muscle of the abdomen begins and ends. It is in this
region that the appendix becomes affected, and hernia is made possible or
impossible, according to the state of development in which the muscles are.
I have seen many body culturists who could show a nice upper abdominal
display, but were sadly neglectful of the lower part. That is another fault
of the "sit-up." It develops mostly the abdominals from the chest to the
navel, and the last pair of muscles which are long and wedge shaped are
almost passed over. The exercise where one and both legs are raised while
lying on the back in the prone position is the best, as it gets them all.
Better progression can be made upon this exercise, by increasing the
resistance by hooking a light kettle bell over each foot.

These last two exercises, and the shoulder stand, or bicycle tread, are
effective in strengthening the lower torso, and should be among the exercises
used by those who feel that they have a tendency to rupture. The external
oblique muscles should be specialized upon in hernia tendencies. I have
actually known of several cases of hernia cured by these and other exercises.

Hernia is the result of weak musculature. The muscles of the body are our
anatomical protectors, and if we neglect them we are trifling with our lives
equally as much as the soldier who forgets his rifle.

An exercise that I like very much for strengthening the external oblique
muscles is practiced by taking a fairly light dumb-bell in each hand, of
about fifteen pounds each, then raise them to arms' length overhead, and
stand with the feet set firmly apart. Look up at the dumb-bells and lean
over sideways as far as you can, then straighten up and lean over to the
other side. Keep up the movement, and you will find that the weights held
overhead will cause a great leverage from the external oblique muscles in
order to bring the body back to the erect position. Then again, the
dumb-bells are so light that the arms will not tire before the side muscles
get their workout, and the overhead principle provides a fine leverage upon
which the exercise can be made progressively more difficult.

Do not practice the "sit-up" or the leaning forward exercise with a weight
held behind the neck, if you feel the tissue of the groin to be weak. In
fact, do not perform any exercises that have a bearing down tendency upon the
abdomen. Exercises performed upside down are always good and can be safely practiced.

Perhaps the condition of nervousness is another of the most common ailments
that often makes life seem unbearable. A nervous person may not be too sick
to work, but he finishes the day ragged, and always on edge. This condition,
more than any other, is a lack of body toning. It is invariably a condition
of the nerve cells that have been deprived of the necessary amount of
nutriment in proportion to nerve expenditure. Among people whose vocation
involves more mental effort than physical, are found the largest numbers of
sufferers. The muscles of the body lie under the skin practically useless,
expending none of their surplus energy, and conserving none. Your batteries
are running on their own reserve, and that cannot last. What we put out must
be accounted for. Nature demands some form of recuperation, and that is only
obtained from physical stimulus. Insomnia is one of the big evils resultant
upon nervousness. Even the hours nature has set on one side for recuperation
and conservation are stolen by this fiend. But it is a condition that has to
be decided by the individual. It is not a condition which has to be put up
with, or that cannot be overcome. Exercise will solve the problem.

A number of years ago, one of my clients, who was one of the biggest business
men in America, was a nervous wreck, and on two occasions I was informed he
had tried to end his life. Everything, apparently, had been done. The best
experts in one thing and another had failed. Two of our foremost physical
instructors had failed, and also an imported expert from Europe. I was later
approached, and when I had my first interview with this millionaire, he
frankly told me that he did not believe any one could help him. I talked to
him, and he placed his confidence in me, and inside of three months I had a
new man. According to our tests he had improved 230 per cent and he showed
his gratitude to me in many ways. I applied psychology with exercise in this
case and won. I try to apply psychology with every person I handle. In the
thousands whom I have handled, I have learned a lot in applying it. I study
them, place myself in their shoes, and figure out what I would do in the
ignorance of facts. Ultimately I see their problems, and my knowledge and
experience on health and body building have successfully helped me to bridge
the gap and restore all who were willing to help me, help them.
Read More »

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Key to Might and Muscle (Circa 1926) - Chapter 3 - Defining the Mystery of Strength - By George F. Jowett

There seems to be some mystery that surrounds the meaning of strength,
insomuch as the average individual finds it very difficult to explain. The
general way of figuring strength runs something like this: A baseball fan
knows Babe Ruth must be strong to be able to swat a ball for so many home
runs, and that Johnson, Washington's star pitcher, must have a strong arm to
send the pill hurtling over the plate with such terrific force. Charlie
Hoff and Charlie Paddock are strong by reason of the great leg driving force
possessed by each. However, these cases are purely demonstrations of
strength, and not definitions. When you ask for the explanation of the
strength of a man who is capable of raising a big load on his back, or
tossing a dumb-bell to arms' length overhead, the answer is partly
explained, in the absence of a broader knowledge, by the fact that the
person must have been naturally born strong.

These few answers prove how very little is known about the most desirable
quality of a man's body, and bring us face to face with the question of
whether all strong people are always naturally strong, or if it is possible
to be made strong - the difference between natural strength and made
strength, if there is any, and the relation of health to strength.

I have a friend who has a very analytical mind, and he just loves to produce
a difficult problem to be solved. He is not one of the kind who do it to
show how much they know, or think they know, as much as he is naturally
curious to know the answer for his own benefit. If it is beyond him, it
bothers him considerably. The question of strength was one of his problems,
and I well recall the time when he asked me if it was true that we could
make strength. Now if any other person but he had asked me, I would have
answered yes; but all his questions place me on my guard, and after a pause I replied
that I had my doubts. This, no doubt, will cause my readers to scratch
their heads in consternation, as I am well aware that some theorists have brought
forward the statement that strength can be made, and that there are two
kinds of strength, natural strength and made strength; but the distinction never
grew to be believed because no proper separation of the two kinds of
strength is possible. We have a habit of saying that a certain person was made
strong by practicing exercise or some particular sport, but that does not mean to
say his strength was made. Strength is the outcome of certain causes, and
like gravity, or the bloom of a flower, it cannot be disassociated from its
natural condition. If it was possible to control strength and disassociate
it from muscular growth of a certain nature from strength, we might consider
the fact that possibly strength could be made. It is the existence of the
type of muscle that lacks strength which causes the difference between size
and strength to be too often misunderstood.

You have often seen young men who possessed a fine muscular appearance, that
apparently had every indication of strength. Yet, on a test, you have been
amazed to see that these particular parties were seldom any stronger than
the average man. Then there is the other type of man who, while possessing no
larger proportions than the first, was capable of moving objects that were
immovable to both the first named type and the average person.

It is a mystery that has led theorists to state that muscle was all
artificial, and that there was some "n----- in the wood pile" where strength
was concerned.

Now there is a great deal of difference in the construction of muscle
tissue, and the student of body culture should be made familiar with the structure
of muscle in order to better understand its true existence, and the
interpretation of strength. Therefore, before we go any further, we will
supply ourselves with the knowledge which tells us what it is all about.
Then we will realize why strength is an inseparable part of one type of
muscle, and why it can never be associated with the other type.

First, bear in mind that there are about five hundred and twenty muscles in
our physical makeup that have to do with the transporting of our body. Each
of these muscles are made up of thousands of little fibres that lie side by
side, much like the fibres in a rope. These fibres are capable of
contracting on the same order as a stretched rubber cable contracts when the
tension is released. Each of these fibres has a cell or a brain, which
answers the call of the true brain through the transmission of nerves, that
causes them to contract or relax just as the order demands. The condition
of the muscles lies in the construction of these fibres. Some methods of
exercise bring about a coarse tissue, while other methods bring about a
steel-like construction where the fibres become more numerous and compact.

Now, whenever any one part of the body is under a greater stress of physical
stimulation than the rest, it is a natural condition that the blood is drawn
away from the other parts of the body where the blood is temporarily less
required, and drawn in greater quantities to the area under active
stimulation. The blood contains nourishment that re-fuels the muscles in
their state of activity, besides carrying away all the broken down tissue
that is thrown off by the exertion, as well as cleaning out the muscle cells
of any carbon dioxide that may have secreted within these cells. It also
acts as a fertilizer in the process of muscular reconstruction, by reason of
the fact that the blood continues to circulate around the center of
activity, after the actual action has ceased.

Now get the following explanation perfectly correct in your mind. It is not
in all motions of muscular activity that muscle tissue is broken down. The
movements have to be intense, and the muscles must be supplied with the
resistance that is necessary in order to break down the old structure.

Movements, or exercises, that do not give the muscles the required
resistance, but are the kind that involve a great number of repetitions,
never break down any amount of tissue, to speak of. These movements involve
a forcing process, that causes the blood to swell up the muscles, and simply
pumps them up. Thus a coarse tissue is created, that quickly loses its
proportions unless the muscles are supplied with a resistance, through
weights, that causes full contraction and extension of the muscles, as well
as a great flexion of the joints, which altogether rapidly breaks down the
old structure and commences its process of reconstruction. Not many
movements are involved because the motions are almost wholly physical. By
this I mean the muscles do not call for a fraction of the nervous energies
which is the case in the other instance.

Followers of bar bell exercise find that, before they notice any signs of
increase in their proportions, they have become quite a bit stronger. The
reason for this is that the musculature possessed in the first place has
passed through a stage of conversion, in which this tissue has become
converted into one hundred per cent material. The outcome of the other
condition is what I term inflated tissue of the balloon type. They register
no change in strength simply because the methods they use are not productive
of strength. The fact that strength has become manifest in the latter state
is positive proof that the condition created is the most natural and must,
therefore, contain the properties that are productive of great strength, in
both appearance and demonstration.

We have no control over strength alone. It is the natural outcome of
substantial muscular growth. It can only be stimulated, and this stimulus
must come from growth by development supplied from intensive exercise.

In speaking of strength, I really believe that we are apt to consider its
meaning in super terms. Anyhow, it is as such I want my readers to consider
it. It is in its super state that we are able to appreciate it better, and
if it did not have this exalted state, we would feel all our labors were in
vain, with no recompense for them. Again, if that state could not be
reached, it would not provide the lesson in which we are interested.

One strange peculiarity in muscle growth is the manner in which it
multiplies in its process of reconstruction, which goes to prove how nature is prepared
to take care of her children and is a factor to prove my story. To
continue, let me say that it is pretty hard for the average person to understand why
these tissues are broken down, and when they rebuild, why they grow in
excess of what they formerly were. Muscular tissues of the body fulfill their
duties, wear out, and are cast off like the dead leaves of a plant, and just
as the plant grows stronger, as a greater abundance of foliage appears,
equally so does muscle reconstruction act. Growth is life, and life is
growth; when growth ceases the body begins to age and finally dies. As
tissue is broken down, it multiplies and we become stronger with growth. In
other words, nature creates size, and strength is the natural sequence.
Size and strength are accumulated to meet possible future necessities in excess
of any work previously performed.

Let us prove this condition in another way, and be satisfied that I am
right. You, no doubt, can call to mind some fellow acquaintance who went into the
lumber camp, or on some railroad construction job, and how on his return his
changed appearance struck you as remarkable! - how he had filled out, and
how much stronger he was than before. Well, isn't that an illustration of how
natural growth takes place to fulfill the requirements of a more laborious

The year after the close of the war I took a notion to take another trip
overseas. I went into the Canadian Pacific Steamship offices in Montreal to
purchase my ticket. It was taken care of by a clerk who had his sleeves
rolled up to the shoulders. He displayed a fine pair of arms, and right
away I recognized those little traits that inform a trained eye that this
magnificent pair of arms was not always in his possession. He was too
consciously proud of them. By his "return button" I saw he had served
overseas, and to satisfy my personal curiosity, I began to question him. I
had to smile at his boyish enthusiasm as he replied, "I just had to have
'em. I was with one of the batteries, and had the job of trundling heavy shells
in a wheelbarrow. By gosh, at first I thought my back would break. My
knees wobbled, and I felt as though each of my arms was being pulled from its
socket. But, it had to be done, and I got better at it and began to like
it. Pushing that wheelbarrow full of shells just made me over." "And believe
me," he added with pride, "my legs and back are every bit as well formed as
my arms." No doubt you will recognize this incident as a common occurrence,
but it serves to prove that strength is always the result of a certain
condition, and not made in the sense that we are using this word.

If it was possible for you to cut into the living muscular structure of
inflated tissue and natural tissue, you would find the difference in
construction much similar in appearance to the difference that is seen in
the grain of cedar wood, as against the grain of oak. One is coarse grained,
and the other is tight. Try to break off an oak sapling and you will find it
very difficult, but a cedar sapling, twice the size, will snap off much more
easily. The condition of structure and resistance is the same here as the
quality of musculature under discussion.

Inflated tissue is artificial, which is borne out by the fact that this
tissue lacks lasting quality and has never been productive of strength.
Strength is never artificial. It is too natural, therefore its existence
must arise from the creation of a natural source.

Now you are apt to get all balled up if you have not read all this material
studiously, and I want it to be perfectly clear in your mind. So to
condense the whole discussion to a few words, as to what it all means, we find that
strength as a distinct and separate product cannot be made; it is the result
of developing musculature in its natural form. We know inflated tissue does
not contain this essential, but we do know that there is a form of tissue
that can be developed, that does create strength. In other words, the
muscular structure can be made.

As I have previously stated, intensive resistance of the muscles is the
method of muscular contraction, by reason of its natural function, that can
bring about the change. Therefore, it is just a case of following the right
method of exercise that can produce this type of muscle.

In order to receive confirmation in any belief, let us see how the first
examples of strength got their supply. I think I can safely say that I have
come in contact with as many strong men as any other man, by reason of my
travels and studies that have extended over twenty years, as a practical
athlete. I have known thousands, and without one single exception every man
instinctively practiced bar bell exercises on the progressive principle.
Thousands of times I have asked if they thought that that kind of training
was responsible for their fine development and great strength. Not one of
them ever repudiated the weights. They were tremendously emphatic in their
statements that no other form of exercise could possibly give the degree of
strength that they owned. Well, you will agree with me that they ought to
know. They had tried everything, and spoke from experience. No man is fool
enough to practice what he knows is wrong after he has found the answer to
his problem. With all this mass of testimonials behind my assertion I must
be right. More so, since it completely balances with my deductions and the
way we all know that nature works.

I do not ask any man to accept any of my beliefs, if I cannot prove them.
Likewise any one is foolish enough to believe any statement at all that
cannot provide the satisfactory proof, and the teacher himself is a fitting
example of what he teaches.

In all my life I have never seen a strong man who was not healthy, but I
have met many healthy men who were not strong. The stronger a man, the more
vigorous his health, and his body retains its youth and preservation in life
longer by far than the man who is healthy and yet not strong. A great
number of people would have us believe that strong people become terribly muscle
bound. Now nature never does anything wrong, and strength never created
such a condition as muscle binding. The term is just another that is wrongly
used. There are a number of muscle fans who have a mania to possess a pair
of large biceps, or huge pectoral muscles. All their efforts are thrown
into the exercises that will develop either of these conditions, and the trouble
is that their development becomes unbalanced and exists at the expense of
the rest of their bodies. Thus do other muscles become robbed of their rights
and remain in a weaker condition. Not until the muscle fan has acquired
this state does he realize how wrong it is, but he has no one else to thank for
it except himself. No teacher of body culture ever advised it. Fortunately it
is a condition that can easily be overcome by a little specialization that
will recover the balance between the various muscles.

Allow me to put before you one of my latest proofs of this. Not long ago a
young man, who is well known in muscle building circles, and who possesses
apparently a very imposing physique, came to me and said, "How is it, Mr.
Jowett, that I am no good at lifting weights? I have the development, but
lots of lighter men can easily beat me, and I can't understand it." Frankly
he admitted that the circumstances had become very acute and embarrassing,
due to the fact that he was not able to maintain his prestige. He was
troubled because too many were telling him he would never be strong and that
his muscular structure was inflated. I had seen him stripped various times
and I informed him that his condition was merely one of unbalanced
proportions, which I could quickly remedy; more so in his case than in most
others because he had the foundation. I pointed out his weak points and
showed him the best exercises to overcome his defects, and in one week he
had put over one inch on his thighs (his least developed part), and lifted a
weight overhead he never thought was possible. Only weighing one hundred
and forty-five pounds, he performed the lift known as the Two Hands Clean and
Jerk, using two hundred and twenty-five pounds. He was also capable of
raising the front of an automobile, to his great delight. Some improvement,
you will agree, when you remember he was miles away from these two feats a
week before.

Some men are naturally born much stronger than others, for physical reasons
or inheritance, but no man ever possessed the amount of natural strength
that placed him in the class of such giants of strength as Cyr, Saxon or Apollon.
These men were, all three, naturally strong, but it was exercise with
weights on the progressive principle that increased their natural powers,
stimulating their strength to a degree that enabled them to lift overhead four hundred
and forty-eight pounds. On the other hand, we have men like Sandow,
Tofolas, Maxick and Pullum, four men who were deprived of the natural blessing at
birth which clothed Cyr, Saxon and Apollon, but by intensive training they
created from themselves supermen. My own case is another example that goes
to prove, along with the other four named celebrities, that the creation of
substantial muscular tissue is the substance from which great strength is

Spencer, in his "Growth and Development," proves the natural condition of
what I have stated, and he had no knowledge of muscle building; but he knew
nature. He knew strength came from vigorous growth. You can see it in
animal and plant life, just the same as in human life.

All the men to whom I have referred were capable of providing their strength
in any way you wished to test them. Why people fool themselves into
believing that the strength of such men only works in one direction, is
positively ridiculous. As I have proven, there is only one kind of
strength, and that is natural strength. Whether it is born in a man or stimulated by
training under intensive exercise, it is just the same and cannot be
changed; whether it is capable of applying its qualities in tossing bar bells, moving
pianos, or lifting the end of an automobile out of a rut.

A man who resorts to tricks and the use of mechanical devices as an aid to
perform his feats, is never strong, no matter what he says he is or how he
impresses the mind. The few men whom I have named would scorn the mention
of such false methods. It is the work of such tricksters that has given rise
to the belief, so prevalent in many quarters, that trickery is connected with
great feats of strength. There is no connection at all between the two. A
strong man is always strong, no matter on what he is tested. His
musculature is substantial and possesses strength which he has created within himself. Earlier in this chapter, I state that this type of structure can be made.
However, there is another very important part connected with this growth
which I have purposely reserved until the last, simply because I did not
want to crowd you. By now, you will have thoroughly absorbed all I have written,
and be properly prepared for what I have to say. This explanation will
clear up the question which no doubt still lingers in your mind, that causes you
to wonder if the one man has secured the right material, surely the other must
be able to obtain some increase of power worth while. Your mind questions
that there must be some strength in all that muscular size. However, there
never can be unless they turn to intensive training. Although the
substantial material is formed, it is not exactly in that structure where
the power lies. It has a co-ordinating factor that really makes powerful
efforts possible, and this factor is the ligaments. The muscles are the engines of
the body and the ligaments the pulleys. It is these ropes of connection
that make it possible to apply the muscles in their greatest contraction. The
more muscular fibres in a muscle, the more steel-like their quality, and
they are capable of greater contraction. But if these ropes of connection are
not strong enough to withstand the resistance required, then their weakness is
evident. Because these two cannot be separated is the sole reason why
strength is never disassociated from substantial structure. Ligaments
always exhibit their quality by their thickness. As the right kind of muscle is
formed, they become thicker. Just look at the joints of a real strong man,
and note the depth of tissue that exists. Feel for the ligaments and you
will notice how thick and cordy they are, but you never note their
appearance on one who is not strong, or on the athlete who has not practiced bar bell
exercise. When I started heavy exercise my wrist measured seven inches, but
today it measures eight and a half inches. The ligaments are very thick and
prominent, and have an appearance that immediately tells the eye they must
be part of a sturdy combination.

Strength is better understood as resistance: - The power to resist the
resistance of some other object. The muscles are continually pulling, never
pushing. One group relaxes and another contracts.

There is no mystery to strength, it is just simply understanding its
definition. It has a natural source, and the only thing left is for the
muscle builder to cultivate that source by the right method of training -
the kind that has produced the most powerful men in the world in all classes,
irrespective of whether they were born strong or not. Material resistance
methods, which can only be supplied by progressive bar bell training, are
the only methods which can secure the desired outcome - great natural strength.
Read More »
Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me:

Vintage Bodybuilding Literature

Vintage Bodybuilding Literature
Oldtime Strongman Books

This site does not provide medical advice. We assume no liability for the information provided in NaturalStrength articles. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Copyright © 1999-2023 | All Rights Reserved.