Thursday, July 28, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 2 - LIFTING AND ATHLETICS COMPARED - WE THRASH TO A CONCLUSION - By Mark H. Berry

The Question of Physical Strain in Lifting as Compared to Popular Athletics.

Giving serious consideration in every angle of the subject, one cannot help realizing the folly of certain ideas commonly entertained by misinformed persons on the subject of weight lifting and heavy exercise. The chances are that if you inform your friends of your intention to begin a course of bar bell exercise, they will immediately warm you of the dangers attending the practice of weight lifting. You will be gravely told how your muscles will become stiff and cramped and you will suffer with the terrible condition of becoming muscle bound. They will go further to tell you of how the heart becomes strained and the internal vital organs weakened from the strenuous exertions attending the lifting of heavy weights.

Suppose we discuss these points in an open-minded manner, with the object in mind of arriving at the truth, instead of mere hearsay. As to weight lifters and bar bell users being stiff and sore, anyone who is acquainted with experienced bar bell users being stiff and slow, anyone who is acquainted with experienced bar bell physical culturists will never hold such an opinion. The majority of advanced bar bell men are exceeded in suppleness only by contortionists, while the highest degree of speed is necessary if one is to excel at the modern quick lifts.

It is to the other insinuation, which is positively unfounded in fact, that we wish to devote a little time and space. We refer to the idea that an undue strain is placed upon the heart and blood vessels by the practice of either bar bell exercise or weight lifting specialization. Let us make a direct comparison of the exertions of weight lifting and popular athletic pastimes. When we lie quietly in bed the heart beat is at its lowest ebb of healthy functioning. The blood pressure is then at greatest ease. When we sit up, both the heart beat and blood pressure are called upon to perform with slightly greater force, though the difference is negligible in a normal healthy person. When we move about on the feet in an easy manner, both the heart beat and blood pressure are quickened to a slight extent. When we walk fast, they are quickened even more, while in running fast or performing any other form of violent exertion, the circulatory organs are called upon to work at high pressure. Every normally healthy person is called upon at sometime or other to exert themselves strenuously. Infrequent violent exertions to which the individual had not grown accustomed would be expected to place some strain upon the muscles and vital organs.

Through training the athlete accustoms his muscles and organs to the extreme exertion, and as long as the exertions are not too severe or repeated too often, we have no proof of harmfulness resulting. It is, however, not exactly sensible for the untrained man to attempt to run any distance, or run fast up flights of stairs. Never having accustomed his heart and blood vessels to the strain, he is unprepared for the exertion. His greatest temporary distress will be a feeling of short windedness which means his circulatory system hasn't been accustomed top exchanging carbonic acid and oxygen in the tissues. The trained athlete is in a trained condition chiefly due to the fact that his oxygenizing organs (heart, lung and blood vessels) are trained to replace the tissue waste almost as fast as it takes place.

In order to take care of the additional work which his circulatory system is called upon to perform, the blood pressure must be raised and the heart must beat faster to carry on the work. During violent exertion of any kind, the mouth must be opened to admit sufficient air into the lungs. This is caused by the desire for oxygen on the part of the muscular tissues.

Let us now refer to the duration of the effort as the term of violence. That is, the term of violence in relation to the strain upon the vital functions, the time when they are forced to the limit. In running the one hundred yard dash, the term of violence last for approximately ten seconds among fast sprinters. An untrained man might take fifteen seconds and suffer great discomfort due to his poor physical condition. During that length of time, the heart must pound like a trip hammer to carry on the necessary work, the arteries, capillaries, and veins are stretched and forced to contract with great effort in sending the blood surging through the muscles. Near the finish of the race, the face of sprinter will be distorted as in agony as a result of the effort to keep up speed over the full distance. So great is the effort during the term of violence in running a spring of this nature that the athletes can maintain the pace for a distance of an eighth of a mile, or two hundred and twenty yards, and hardly any farther. Near the finish of either of these two sprinting distances, the athlete makes an extra effort to travel faster, and when this final spurt is started it can be continued but a short distance. The sprinter may keep up his sprinting pace over the longer distance of two hundred and twenty yards, but if he starts the final spurt near the end of the one hundred yard distance, he could run but a very short distance past that mark. The longer of these two sprints takes around twenty-two seconds. The two hundred and twenty yard dash therefore places the greater strain on the internal vital functions, due to the prolonging of the term of violence. In running the quarter mile distance, or four hundred and forty yards, the athlete must run at a slower pace, as it is humanly impossible to keep up an actual sprinting pace over so great a distance, still a terrific pace is maintained. This is really the hardest of all running races, due to combined distance and fast pace. The term violence last more than three-fourths of a minute in the case of really fast men, and around a minute for a slower athlete.

Going to the other extreme of running, we have the marathon race, over a distance of twenty-six miles, three hundred and eighty-five yards. The term of violence lasts around two and half hours in this case: here we find the man incapable of running a very fast pace, as the heart, lungs and blood vessels are unable to exchange oxygen and carbonic acid rapidly enough to enable him to run but little faster than a walk. While at no time is the blood pressure and heart action nearly as severe as in the case of sprinting, but the system is forced to work at its limit for a great length of time. All other distance races from a half mile up to the marathon, simply offer variations in the effect upon the xbody. In an attempt to win, the athlete forces himself to near the point of exhaustion within the time limit of the term of violence. We refer to the short sprint as an exhibition of speed, and the distance race as an exhibition of endurance. Endurance in this respect simply means the internal functions are trained to carry on the duties of repairing the body over a greater length of time. The effect upon the heart, lungs, and blood vessels is practically identical. We should almost expect the distance race to be more severe, but this class of athlete lasts in competition longer than the sprinter.

As to the effect upon the system, we cannot very well determine whether one class of running is more conducive to longevity than the other, as too many things must be taken into consideration after the years of competition are over. We believe one reason the distance runner lasts longer is due to the necessity of leading a very regular life if he expects to meet the demands of his game. Sprinters and other athletes seldom lead as regular habits as the distance man. We have used running as a means of comparing the term of violence in athletic events, principally because running is pretty well understood by the average person, and it is encouraged very widely among school boys and older youths everywhere. We can in the same manner refer to the time of exertion in rowing, bicycle riding, tennis playing, swimming, boxing, wrestling, or competitive games. Some of these are more easily comparable to running, as swimming rowing and bicycle riding, as the term of violence is more continuous than in boxing, wrestling, baseball or football.

The boxer and wrestler learns to moderate his exertions in such a way as to permit him conserving his strength to the finish. If he were to start out too fast at first he would become "winded" or incapable of continuing the full distance. Nevertheless, the same term of violence applies, as the circulatory-respiratory function must work at high pitch. In games such as baseball and football, the periods of extreme exertion are more intermittent, but the functional violence is there just the same, though more in the nature of a series of sprints. You sometimes hear talk of a wrestler being more enduring or a more capable athlete than the boxer, because wrestling bouts last longer and the men are seemingly more fresh at the finish. However, the degree and nature of the exertion is entirely different, and the human limit of the term of violence must apply in wrestling as in anything else. Were the wrestlers to work at a high pitch, they could last no more than about fifteen minutes, just as the boxer could last but a few rounds at his fastest pace. It is all a matter of the nature of the exertions to which each athlete has become accustomed.

If you have properly followed all the foregoing, you should now notice that regardless of the nature of the exertion, as long as the athlete forces his body to produce the greatest possible amount of energy for the exertion, the effect upon the system will be in relation to the duration and severity of the term of violence. For instance, a sprinter who never ran a race longer than one hundred yards should tax his system to a lesser degree than the sprinter who has also competed over the two hundred and twenty yard distance. The quarter mile man may tax his system more than the sprint man, but we do not reason along the line that the mile runner places a greater strain on his system than the quarter miler. The half mile and mile races cannot be run at such a fast pace, and the circulation does not need to function so forcibly.

Something else must be considered in boxing; in addition to the exertions the pugilist receives a rather severe pummeling.

We now wish to call attention to the term of violence in performing feats of lifting heavy weights. Please note these remarks do not pertain to body developing exercises with bar bells and allied apparatus, wherein no attempt is made at strenuous exertion, as we shall properly call your attention at another time, but we are now making a comparison of other athletic pastimes with strenuous weight lifting as a sport and form of athletic competition. The most prolonged of all recognized lifting feats is undoubtedly the lift known as the Two Hands Anyhow; in this lift, it is first necessary to raise a heavy bar bell overhead, either with one or both hands, to hold the bell overhead with one hand while you bend over and pick up a smaller bell with the other hand, and straightening up, raise the smaller bell up alongside the larger one. A most cautious lifter, taking great care to go slowly, would take no more than a half minute. The quickest lifts take but one or two seconds to perform, in which space of time a heavy weight is raised from the floor to arms length overhead. Several other lifts would take no more than five or ten seconds.

The Two Hands Anyhow lift might be compared to the quarter mile run, in the matter of elapsed time, although the term of violence last but one-half to three-fourths as long, and we are certain no lifter ever became as momentarily exhausted as the average good quarter miler. None of the other recognized lifts can compare with the sprints for duration of the term of violence, nor does the athlete force himself to the physical limit as in the case of a fast century or furlong dash man. The term of violence in weight lifting is neither as severe nor as great duration as in running the sprints. Yet, in view of this fact, weight lifting is referred to as a certain means of injuring the heart and blood vessels. The whole truth in the matter is that those who make such assertions are not speaking from actual knowledge, but just as badly misinformed repeaters of hearsay, regardless of their standing in the community.

We do not wish it understood that we subscribe to the policy of athletics being harmful. To the contrary, we are firmly convinced of the benefits to be derived from the proper participation in athletics. Immediately preceding, we have been discussing the effect of athletic exertions on the human system, but not with the intention of proving any harm will result. What we have endeavored to point out is the fallacy of claiming weight lifting to be injurious to the circulatory-respiratory system, and at the same time advocating participation in competition along other athletic lines, when the strain upon the system is in reality less severe in weight lifting.

Iron Nation
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