Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Key to Might and Muscle (Circa 1926) - Chapter 2 - The Truth About Exercise - By George F. Jowett

It takes all kinds of people to make a world, but some we often feel should
be given an island, to make a world of their own. There are people who
apparently are born with the pessimistic germ in their systems. They just
cannot help taking a contrary view of the situation. You find them
everywhere, and antagonistic to the popular beliefs of life, law and
religion. I agree that the major part of their criticism is destructive
rather than constructive, but why worry about them if you know you are right.
You may say, "Look at the harm they do." But I do not believe that. Like
attracts like is my belief. Some people prefer to believe that black is
white, so let them believe it. We have the same spirit to contend with in
teaching the valuable precepts of physical training. I happened to know a
man who had an argumentative belief that exercise was harmful; he accosted a
heart specialist on the question, with whom I am familiar. The specialist
informed him that the causes of cardiac conditions were reduced to four, none
of which were caused by exercise. The only time sports or exercise are
liable to injure the heart are when the heart is out of condition. Then
anything would injure it. More often bad eating, but rarely right exercise,
which is constructive. The other man replied that just the same he believed
exercise hurts the heart. Now a wall would have to fall on such a man before
he would believe it had fallen. And, as an angel could not convert such a
person, why worry about it?

If you believe in statistics only, then we find the Harvard University
reports are convincing proof that exercise and athletics are greatly
beneficial in improving the body and preserving longevity. The report reads
that if there is any effect upon the health, the effect is beneficial. How
can it be otherwise. A machine will rust from non-use more quickly than it
will wear out, and the same explanation stands good for the body. The
muscles deteriorate with non-use. If they stopped with their own
deterioration it would be bad enough, but unfortunately the internal organs
become bereft of their protection, which places them in the same class as the
soldier without his steel helmet. The truth of exercise lies in the value it
accumulates, and like a steadily growing bank account, it develops and
earning power. No logical minded person disapproves of putting a little bit
away for a rainy day. If a horticulturist has an attractive bloom he does
not forget to water it, and till the soil that surrounds the plant to
fertilize the roots. The key thought is cultivation. If you have any good
talent you cultivate it to preserve and make it more effective. If it is not
as good as it should be, you study how to make it so by careful cultivation.
Exercise is just another term for cultivation. By cultivating the body you
prolong its usefulness. Some say that once exercise is commenced, it has to
be kept up. Well, now, you never see the thrifty individual draw upon his
financial resources, or the horticulturist forget his bloom, or the owner of
an apiary forget his bees. Then what reason should there be for a person to
neglect what he has. The battle is always to the strong, and the "survival
of the fittest" is based upon how long the individual can retain his
superiority over the rest. The same law is in existence, but in a more
cultured sense, and as it claims a natural origin, it must have a natural
existence. The mere theory of a man cannot change the fundamentals of the
natural law, which demand preservation or consignment to the junk pile.

There is a religion attached to body culture which is every bit the equal of
soul culture. Longfellow wrote that "the voice was the organ of the soul."
Equally so is the body the expression of your life and living. You must
remember that there is all the difference in the world between being born
right and living right. Nature may have been very bountiful at birth, but if
neglect to preserve what was inherited comes with the succeeding years, then
that individual is doomed to fall by the wayside. Some of our finest
examples of physical cultivation were unfortunate in not being born right,
but they lived right. These men recognized the fact that exercise held a
truth, so they followed it. Clean living, right living, or truthful living,
whatever you want to call it, will not stand for any dictation from man. You
are the one who must obey. One of the great Christian prophets admonished
man to "Keep sacred the body, even as the soul," and another instructs us
"The body is the holy temple of the soul." It is not my intention to discuss
religion, beyond that of the body. It is merely my desire to prove to any
who may be skeptical that the merits of body culture have always been
considered on a par with soul culture. The Platonic age of Greece was only
created by the study and universal acceptance of body culture, and that state
disappeared when they began to neglect those principles.

The biggest obstacle to the mind of the average layman is to determine the
best method of exercise. Of course we hear a lot of different beliefs and
they all hold a certain amount of truth. The greatest benefit of exercise,
as I see it, is not in merely doing just this and that to keep normally fit
for the day, as much as it is in the creative value of storing up energies
within ourselves to meet the approaching years with all the vitality of
youth, so far as this is possible. This being the object, what we should
look for is the method that is naturally going to give us the best results
with the least expenditure of time. I cannot see the value of training two
or three hours every night, or making every bodily movement a physical
exercise, when intensive training for about thirty minutes every other night
will do better. It is proven that it does better. A method that involves
numerous repetitions is not apt to be intensive, and the "every movement
physical" idea involves a nervous depletion if carried too far. In either
case, no natural gains are registered in the store room of physical energy.
We know that muscles must have strength, and strength is another name for
ability to overcome resistance. The muscles must have resistance to
stimulate their motive powers. There is an old saying that "Strength begets
Strength." Such being the case, it is only logical that strength methods
should be used. You cannot use strength without resistance, and this
resistance must be intensive, simply because the muscle are built to more
than take care of the body, so it is only logical to substitute weights to
give the additional resistance. The progressive weight policy is to coax the
muscles, and give the weight increase with the proportionate increase of
strength, and not to exert all the power in one or two struggling efforts.
It is lack of facts that gives some people that illogical idea. The strange
part to me is the lack of balance we see in some people. They may be very
sincere, but when you see them struggling to the point of fatigue, trying to
chin themselves a number of times and then hear them say that progressive bar
bell methods are too strenuous, it cannot help but raise a smile. For at no
time will a bar bell user misapply his power in one whole session like the
chinning fiend, who never thinks of building his body up proportionately in
order to make him more efficient for that test. Others argue that weight
lifters strain themselves when lifting. If one does, he is better fitted to
do so than any other athlete, because he develops all his powers. He always
has a respite between each lift and the lifts are few and quickly done. None
are the protracted exertions displayed by the runner and sculler. You never
saw a weight-lifter collapse during a contest, or at the close of one, as is
frequently the case with runners and scullers, and it is a proven fact that
weight-lifters recuperate faster than any other athletes. This subject is
not by the way, it merely goes to prove that if weight-lifting as a sport
does not entail greater exertions than other sports, it proves how safe bar
bell training is for body building purposes. It is vastly superior to the
routine of a chinning or dipping fiend. The bar bell athlete has the study
of muscular economy brought down to a science, and the value of distribution
is evident to a greater degree because one group of muscles are not developed
at the expense of another, as in other sports. Intensive exercise develops
all the muscles. I have heard field coaches disapprove of the body builder
who shows an outstanding development of all his muscles, but just get him
talking about some of his track stars, and he will point with pride to the
legs of his sprinters, the shoulders of the hammer throwers, and the arms of
the shot putter. I do not believe in specializing on one group of muscles to
make a man efficient at one sport only. Such a body is like a one track
mind. Muscular team work is what delights one, and it is because the bar
bell exerciser has the finest team muscles of all athletes that he is the
best all round man. He certainly is the strongest and the most supple, which
makes him a capable weight-lifter, wrestler, hand balancer and tumbler. He
has every bit as much stamina and endurance as the marathon runner, and is
not as liable to fatigue. As a jumper, he can meet them all despite the
heavier bodyweight handicap. There are Willoughby, Kingsbury, Betty, Bevan,
Levan, Berry, Coulter, Gauss, Hoffman, Steinborn, Marineau, Fournier, Gorner,
Cadine, Miller, Londos and a host of other crack bar bell men I can mention,
who are superb swimmers, jumpers, shot putters, hammer throwers, scullers,
boxers, wrestlers and many of them are ten second men in the hundred yard
dash. Show me a boxer or a man who concentrates on track events or who
relied upon methods of training, other than the intensive system as supplied
by bar bells, as accomplished as the bar bell athlete.

Some wise critic said that it took two blows of a boxer to put out a
wrestler, and one for a weight-lifter. That makes me laugh. What would the
boxer say if we were to put it this way. The lifter will lift fifty percent
more than a strong wrestler, and three times more with one hand than a boxer
will do with two hands. Right away, he would say that was the lifter's game.
Well, it is a poor man who can't beat another at his own game, but make it a
rough and tumble fight, a free for all, and the best boxer is hopelessly
beaten. I have seen on more than one occasion, a world's champion thrashed
by third rate rough and tumble men. The sport of lifting weights is so
closely allied to bar bell exercise because we are enabled by it to test the
value of the progress made, in much the same manner as a sprinter who finds
the improvement in his start, stride and finish, cuts down his time over the
hundred yards.

I have often seen reference made to the great strength of porters and baggage
men in handling big trunks, etc., but that is mostly a question of
counterpoise rather than strength, although there is undoubtedly a certain
amount of strength involved. I know that a husky weight lifter or a bar bell
exercise fan, with a little practice, will easily exceed the professional
porter. There is less comparison between a lumberjack and a porter than we
have been taught. There is less chance of employing counterpoise in handling
logs than there is in handling trunks.

If it was dangerous to exercise at all, and particularly on the intensive
system, it would be dangerous to make any kind of lift. Go back into history
and you will read where barbaric races terrified the Romans by the huge rocks
they hurled upon them. It was a pastime of the ancient Gauls to compete in
raising the largest stone overhead with both hands and throw it the greatest
distance. Actually the progressive principle dates further back than the
story of Milo of Croton. A friend of mine who is a great student of
Egyptology and has been a member of various research and excavation parties,
in Egypt, told me that in one tomb they came across a miniature plate loading
bar bell made in wood. On the other hand, we find the Chinese, whose
dynasties date further into antiquity than those of Assyria or Chaldee,
retain a peculiar ancient custom that probably dates from Confucius. Piled
up in a part of the town or village are a series of stone bar bells, each one
weighing more than the other until a certain weight is reached. It is the
Chinese custom for the young man to graduate in this lifting school before he
can claim to have reached manhood.

The human race is naturally progressive, and when nature outlines the method
of progress it must be right, and as we have full evidence of the natural
method of progression in developing the physical state, the progressive
method of intensive training, as practiced today on a more scientific basis,
must be right. Perhaps it is this natural method of physical progression
that has improved our physical state that has brought forward the statement
from scientists that the modern man is healthier than the ancients. Further
investigation proves to us the great possibilities to which a human being can
develop his strength by following the same natural law, providing you are
willing to recognize the abilities of some races who apply themselves to
manual work more than we do.

Let us consider the main method of transportation in and around
Constantinople, and over the Balkans as carried out by the Armenians. A
certain body of these men form what we would call a Guild, and among this
Balkan race it is a very ancient order. It is composed of none other but
carriers, who do all the transporting of supplies. The amount of weight some
of these men carry day in and day out on their back is almost incredible, I
have seen them walk along the streets of Constantinople ofttimes with a crier
going in advance of them for the privilege of the road to which they are
entitled. Their legs almost seem to bow under the load upon their back,
which is anywhere from six hundred pounds to one thousand pounds. I saw the
report of an American resident of the suburb of Constantinople, who reported
an amazing incident in his diary. He had ordered five tons of coal to be
delivered to his suburban home, and to his surprise the delivery was made by
five men who each made two trips, which would run them about one thousand
pounds a trip for each load. On the Isle of Cyprus is an order of monks, who
among other things have dedicated their lives to perform everything by manual
labor. They hitch themselves to the plow to cultivate the soil and have been
known to carry loads varying from five hundred and sixty pounds to nine
hundred and fifty pounds upon their backs at one time. They are endowed with
remarkable physiques and are long lived. Why some should be so insistent in
promoting the belief that people who exercise die young, is ridiculous to me,
when statistics show otherwise. They pick out a few athletes who have died
rather prematurely, but they never advance the statistics that show the
terrible percentage of men who die in their twenties and thirties from
preventable diseases. What are a few solitary exceptions among a multitude
of facts? We have no way of knowing how long those few athletes who die
young would have lived if they had never taken up the study of body culture.
Most of them that I know of died of neglect. It is a fact that is recognized
by insurance companies that athletes do not take sufficient care of
themselves. They think because they are so strong they can overcome
everything and never give in until it is too late. Such was the case of
Arthur Saxon. After the war was over, from which he had already suffered, he
joined a carnival giving numerous shows daily. It was here he contracted
pneumonia by exposure and negligence during inclement weather, and in this
state he tried to go on day by day with his act, refusing to throw a robe
over his shoulders between the other acts despite his weakness and profuse
perspiration. A strong man who was with him at that time told me that Saxon
actually died on his feet.

Breitbart died of septic poisoning. He tore his leg on a nail and went on
daily with his act, scorning treatment. After he contracted this dreadful
sickness, he actually lived three weeks, which is an unheard of circumstance,
as septic poisoning is supposed to kill in about twenty-four hours. When his
life could have been saved by amputating his leg, he refused.

Sandow had no kick coming. The best medical specialists in Europe only gave
him eighteen years to live, and he survived until he was sixty. When he
died, it was the result of an automobile accident.

The government of the United States spends huge sums of money annually to
promote the teaching of physical training throughout the schools, army and
the navy. Universities and colleges consider the subject of physical
education a very important part of a student's learning, and everything is
done to encourage a student to devote time to cultivate his body as well as
his mind. Since this system has been fostered the statistics from the
universities and colleges have been able to show a higher rating for every
student both mentally and physically. These facts must prove to the most
skeptical that if these great institutions find physical training such a
vital part of a person's education, to such an extent that they spend
millions of dollars annually, there must be some greater value attached to
exercise than is generally conceded. If exercise was merely a whim with no
apparent value, it is a certainty that the government and these other
institutions would not consider it. If it was dangerous to the individual
they would quickly crush the movement altogether. Commander Byrd, who led
the MacMillan Arctic expedition and who recently flew over the North Pole,
realized the necessity of keeping his crew and himself physically fit. On
each of these Arctic expeditions, Commander Byrd wrote to me asking me to
supply them with the necessary equipment and instructions. Intensive
training on the progressive bar bell plan was practiced by these hardy
adventurers as a necessary part of their plans to keep them fit in order to
help clinch success in their hazardous undertaking.

Exercise can be better understood as man building. The benefits accumulated
are not just physical, they are manifold. The mental and organic system are
developed along with the nervous and physical system, and the senses are all
intensified. I mean the co-ordinating senses that control confidence and
reliance, which all must be considered as part of the quota that goes to make
a man one hundred percent physically efficient. There is no "open Sesame" to
body culture. Everybody has to work for what they get and by their efforts
will their results be measured. The young man who thinks he can burn the
candle at both ends is going to regret it. Youth has an abundance of buoyant
vitality, but this should be conserved and not expended. Because fools rush
in where angels fear to tread, is no reason why another should think it safe
to emulate them because of youth being in their side. The days when "wild
oats" were supposed to have been a necessary part of a young man's education
has long since passed away. We live in the age of doing things, where the
great lesson is conservation and the ability to meet emergencies and still
carry on. Reserve is needed and this must be the ammunition supply of the
body like the bandolier for the rifle. The truth of all these things lies in
the proper understanding of exercise. In the following chapters I am giving
you the truthful fruits of my knowledge and investigation of exercise, so
that you can put them to good account and be another successful exponent of
man building.
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