Wednesday, July 13, 2011

THE WAY TO LIVE - (Circa 1908) - Chapter 10 - Weights for Exercises; What Weight Should One Exercise With? - By George Hackenschmidt

Some trainers recommend to their pupils for the training of all muscle groups one and the same (light) weight and believe they are able to obtain the same effect by frequent repetitions.

My experience has taught me that this is wrong, for the muscles of men or animals who are distinguished for certain feats of endurance are by no means over-developed. A long-distance runner or long-distance cyclist always has comparatively thin legs, as have a racehorse, stag, or greyhound. Nature does not act without aim and purpose. Hence there is a great difference between feats of endurance and feats of strength. One must consider that, although it is quite possible to enlarge muscles by certain light, prolonged exercises, at the same time the development of the sinews may be neglected, and it is the sinews which transport the action of the muscles to the bone xframe. The sinews can only be exercised and strengthened by correspondingly heavy muscle work. Besides, to take a paradoxical example, it is quite impossible to improve strong muscle groups, as, for instance, the hip muscles, with light-weight exercises.

A further illustration of the fallacy of attempting to develop the muscles by frequent repetitions with the same light exercises may be found in a comparison with any and every other form of athletics, in which a man would never think of merely repeating his training programme. In order to improve himself either in pace or distance, he must set himself a steady progression of arduous effort.


This is quite easy. When in an unfatigued condition try an exercise say ten times. If you can accomplish this by using all your strength you have found the proper weight with which to begin your exercises five times in succession.


After having ascertained the correct weight for every exercise, begin each movement, say five times, and increase the number by one every week: thus five one week, six the next, seven the next, etc., until the prescribed maximum is reached. After that begin afresh with a weight that is 5 lb. heavier for one arm exercises, or 10 lb. for two arms, unless otherwise directed.


This should only be done after one has trained for at least three months in the foregoing manner with light weights, and one should never begin to lift any heavier weight than one can lift without much exertion at least ten times.

He who ventures such trials without this previous training exposes himself to strainings or breakings of the sinews or muscles, also to ruptures, and I would particularly caution my readers against any such imprudent experiments.

I strongly recommend at the beginning of training the recording in a book, say every three months, of one's measurements and weights, also of the progress made. The measurements which should be taken are of the following parts: neck (thinnest part); forearm (thinnest part); forearm (thickest part), the arm to be held out and only the fist closed; biceps of the arm held straight out; biceps of arm bent; the forearm and biceps measurements to be taken right and left; chest (normal, measured across the nipples); chest (deflated); chest (inflated); wrist (normal); thigh (thickest part); leg (just above the knee); calf.

Always take the measurements before any exercises.

It is a fact that the first improvement which the muscles undergo is in their quality long before they grow in size. It therefore follows that if the muscles are of fatty or watery nature a diminution in the size of some of them will take place. This is quite a natural consequence, which must be borne in mind, and which must not discourage the pupil in the least.

After exercising when undressed, one ought to try by the straining of certain muscle groups to obtain a fine moulding of one's body and a complete mastery over single parts of it. In other words, you must practise posing for effect.

Iron Nation
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