Friday, August 5, 2011


Anatomy will at once appear to be an important subject in the mind of the serious student, when a thorough physical education is contemplated. The subject is included among the studies of the child in school. Nevertheless, the ignorance of the average citizen, whether or not they have just "finished" their education is appalling. The true physical culturist who has serious hopes of acquiring a healthy body, must know considerable concerning the make-up and actions of the different parts of his body. Theoretically, one should say the better he understands the construction and functions of his entire physical organism, the greater the results he can expect from his exercise practices.

In this day and age, with so much being written on matters pertaining to physical and health culture, there can be no excuse for remaining ignorant of essentials, at least. A knowledge of anatomy is necessary to the student of physical training methods who wishes to properly understand what he is doing; especially is this true if he wishes to arrange and conduct his own training routine. It has been said that the better a man understands anatomy, the farther he will advance in physical development. A great amount of truth is contained in the statement, although one may attain to great heights in physical achievement without knowing anything of anatomy, physiology, or training rules, providing he is under the constant supervision of a coach or instructor. However, the physical culturist who is sufficiently interested to read a book of this nature has ambitions to be able to govern his own training procedure.

It is fine and commendable to be able to memorize the names of all the muscles and bones of the human body. The truth is, though, that the majority of students however great her interest in the subject, will find the memorization of such names quite difficult and uninteresting. There is no use evading the truth; the study of anatomy and physiology is a dry subject. In our treatment of the subjects, an effort is made to vary from the usual presentation of knowledge along this line.

We can appreciate that the subjects of anatomy and physiology make dry reading and rather difficult study for even those who are primarily interested. Personally, we might confess a clear understanding in this respect. When in school, these subjects were most distasteful, and physiology especially used to give us a queer sensation of the "the creeps." This was, of course, some time before we began to show any indication of a life interest in these and allied subjects. Study and reading along such lines became interesting only after there existed some practical reason for knowledge of this sort. We might therefore conclude that it is the manner in which the subjects are presented which give them the appeal which is necessary if the memory is to absorb knowledge in substantial quantities. We shall therefore tackle anatomy and physiology, or as we prefer to refer to both in this chapter as anatomical physiology, from the angle of the physical culturist whose primary interest lies in the use of bar bells as a means of bodily exercise. To begin with, we shall consider the larger and more important muscles and the bones to which they are attached.

Every movement of the arms, legs, the fingers, toes, and head or the body proper, depends upon the movement of the bones underneath which compose the human skeleton. There is no way in which the bones may be moved except by the contraction of the muscles which control the bones. By comparison, we mean drawing together of the muscular fibers which compose the muscular bulk. To simplify the memorizing of important knowledge, we will consider the various muscle groups of the body according to antagonistic muscles pulls on the various levers of the body. In referring to the levers of the body, we may have in mind any of the principal limb divisions or the torso in its mechanical actions of bending and twisting. Any muscular action is dependent upon bones lying underneath for actual structural strength, and upon one or more joint actions. The majority of the principal joints act on the ball and socket principle, while the spinal column can be compared to a flexible shaft.

Every bone can be moved in at least two directions; some bones can be moved in practically every direction. With the contraction of one muscle, or set of muscles, the opposing muscle, or muscles, must be stretched or extended. So we find each muscle is capable of two important movements, contraction and extension. An easy example of this can be cited in the case of the movements of the forearm, which are controlled by the muscles of the upper arm. Everyone, regardless of limitations of their knowledge of the subject, knows the location of one muscle in the human body, whether or not they can call it by name. We refer to the biceps of the upper arm. The function of this muscle is to flex the forearm upon the upper arm; in other words, to move the forearm towards the upper arm. The muscular fibers of the biceps re drawn together, causing the muscle to bulge, in the accomplishment of which the hand moves toward the shoulder. While this is going on the triceps muscle on the back of the upper arm is extended. Now, suppose you straighten the arm out; this is accomplished by the triceps muscles contracting, meanwhile, the biceps is extended. When you throw a ball or stick, or when you strike a blow with the fist, it is the triceps which causes the arm to straighten. Suppose you assume the "show your muscle" attitude. Note the bent upper arm; the biceps muscle has contracted to pull the bones of the forearm into a position of right angles with the upper arm bone. Now observe the triceps muscle on the under side of the upper arm; in this position the triceps muscle on the under side of the upper arm; in this position the triceps is in a relatively weak position. If the upper arm is straightened out from the right angle position, the triceps muscle contracts to pull the forearm bones into straight line with the bones of the upper arm.

To get a better understanding of these muscular pulls, bend your right arm again into the right angle position; place your left hand first on the biceps, then on the triceps, as you alternately work the forearm back and forth. This same principal of muscular pull is involved throughout the body, though in somewhat different form, depending on the bonds and mass involved. When one muscular pull is fully contracted, the opposing or antagonistic muscular pull is in its weakest position for work. Note how the biceps is stretched when the triceps has straightened the arm out to the limit; also the stretched condition of the triceps when the fist is doubled over the shoulder. Curling and "cleaning" movements of every sort bring the biceps into action. All arm extensions, such as pressing, jerking, and snatching, bring the triceps into action. We have just described muscle pull "A;" next is muscle pull "B."

Somewhat identical in muscular action and practically the same leverage principle governs the movements of the thigh or upper leg. The large muscles on the front of the thigh are to be compared to the triceps on the back of the upper arm; that is, by contracting, they straighten the leg; the principal muscles involved are the vastus internus, vastus externus, rectus femorus, and sartorius; refer to Figure A. When the knee is bent, and you wish to straighten the leg, these muscles are contracted to draw the lower leg bones into a straight line with the upper leg bone. The muscles on the under or rear side of the leg, which act in the same manner as the biceps of the arm, are know as the "hamstring" muscles: the biceps femoris (leg biceps), the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus being those principally involved. The feel the muscular pulls with your hands, sit on a chair and alternately bend and extend one leg. Leg extending or straightening movements affect the muscles on the front of the thighs. These movements must be properly variated to reach all of the important muscles; as for instance, the sartorious is affected when you rise from a squatting position with the knees turned out; sitting in the familiar tailor's squat with knees out, rise to the standing position; the knees must be drawn together as well as straightened. Deep knee bends performed with the knees pointed to the front effect the muscles differently than when the knees are turned out. The muscles on the back of the thigh are effected by movements where you straighten up from a forward bending position, especially when the knees are kept locked. Special exercises by be performed, such as leg curls, and pressing weight on the feet, for the benefit of the "hamstring" or thigh biceps muscles.

Muscle Pull "C"

The antagonistic muscle pull of the neck are far more complicated, and as well will give you a more thorough understanding of the muscular action involved in movements of the body. On either side of your neck you will find a long, cord like muscle running from behind the ear to the collar bone at the top of the chest; both muscles nearly meet at this point in front of the neck. Place one hand across the front of your throat, the thumb on one muscle, the fingers on the other; with the other hand on the chin, resist the forward and downward movement of the head. Although various other muscles are involved, these are the chief ones; but they result in this movement of the head only when working in unison: if one of these muscles, known as the sterno-cleido-mastoid, works alone, it results in a downward twisting movement; the muscles on the right side tends to pull the ear down towards the chest, the reverse movement being accomplished by the muscle on the left side. The forward movement of the head is also assisted by the rectus anticus major and rectus anticus minor muscles, which are t he direct antagonists of the muscles on the back of the neck.

The backward movement of the head is caused by the flexion of the splenius and trapezius muscles. As a small amount of experimenting will prove to you, it is possible to move the head in practically any direction; muscular contractions are responsible for each movement. For movements benefiting the neck muscles we would refer you to the chapter on neck exercise. You could practice the movements suggested above, but the neck is best benefited by working it in conjunction with the truck, shoulders, arms and legs.

Next, let us consider the muscles governing the forward and backward movements of the body proper, or as it is sometimes called, the torso. The principal muscles pulls are exerted by the abdominal and lower back muscles; we will call this, muscle pull "D." The spine, being very flexible, permits of movement in almost any direction; providing the muscles have been trained to the proper degree of suppleness. The average person is quite liable to cause a painful strain by bending or twisting around, whereas the trained athlete enjoys perfect freedom of movement in any direction.

A forward bending of the body is brought about in two ways. It is generally supposed that the rectus abdominus, external and internal obliques and associated muscles of the abdomen, known as the abdominal muscles, pull the body forward as in the familiar abdominal exercises of sitting up with the feet held immovable. However, this action is brought about chiefly by the psoas and illiacus muscles which are seated deep in the abdomen in the pelvis region. That is, if the body is held stiff and moved toward the thighs, or if the thighs are moved towards the body. The action of the abdominal group is the compression of the abdomen, or doubling up of the body. However, these muscles also assist in the performance of the sit up, as we endeavor to fold the body up as we flex the body upon the thighs. You may experiment and you will find that it is extremely difficult to perform any form of sitting up exercise if the body is held in an exaggerated erect position, when the work is thrown entirely on the psoas and illacus group; or rather when the body is doubled up in conjunction with the sit up, there is less leverage for the muscles to overcome. The muscle pull involved in the backward bending of the body is likewise complicated, it being possible for the backward bending to be accomplished in varying degrees.

The chief muscle is the erector spinae, running the entire way along the spine, the largest bulk being in the region known as "the small of the back." The buttocks, or hip muscles also have considerable to do in pulling the body backwards and holding it erect. The latissimus muscles pull the shoulders down and back, thus assisting in the backward inclination of the body. Many other minor muscles assist in one way or another, but your knowledge needs only to include the ones we have mentioned. As you must readily understand, the actions of the back and abdominal muscles serve to suggest the most appropriate exercises. Either a sidewise bending or a twisting of the body is brought about by the gluteus and sartorious muscles, and referred to on the chart, as muscle pull "J."

The chest is held in a high arched position by the pull of the back muscles just mentioned, as well as by the combined action of the neck muscles and the trapezius muscles. The trapezius, the rhombodeus major and rhombodeus minor muscles all assist the latissimus in pulling the shoulders backward. The pectoral muscles, major and minor, tend to pull the shoulders forward and constrict the chest. The trapezius muscles move the shoulders upwards, assisted to some extent by the various muscles of the neck. A downward movement of the shoulders will involve the latissimus to some extent, whether towards the front or back; a downward movement towards the front also involves the pectorals, but these latter muscles are not included if the pull is towards the back. The pectorals are developed by forward movements of the arms; the trapezius by upward movement of the shoulders, also by downward and backward shoulder movements which likewise bring into action the latissimus and less important muscles.

The upper arm bones are controlled by important muscles of the shoulder, upper back, and upper chest. Suppose you hold your arm out to the side; draw it forward and the pectoral muscles contract to do the work; draw the arm back and the latissimus muscle contracts. The pectoral muscles are the breast muscles of the upper chest; the latissimus muscles are situated on the broad of the back and form a big bulge just under the arms. Hold your hand on your breast or pectoral muscle and then move your arm back and forth. You will then be able to feel the extension and contraction of the pectorals. Place your left hand point of your right shoulder. Now raise the right arm overhead. As you do so, you can feel the movements of the deltoid muscle which covers the shoulder point. Hold your right arm straight out to the side and move it about in various directions while holding the left hand on the deltoid. You will note that is has the power of contracting in three different directions to move the arm, either forward, backward, directly overhead, or in a combination of forward and upward, or backward and upward. Overhead arm exercises are most beneficial.

These arm and shoulder movements are referred to as muscle pulls "E," "F," and "G."

Muscle Pull "H"

The principal movements of the calf in which you will be interested will be flexing and extensing of the foot upon the lower leg. The extension of the foot or raising of the heel is brought about chiefly by the pull exerted by the gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantaris muscles, which make up the bulk of the muscular mass on the back of the calf. The muscles on the front of the calf are chiefly responsible for flexing the foot upon the lower leg or raising the toes towards the knee. You may have heard the muscles in t his region referred to as the "shin" muscles; the particular muscle referred to is the tibialis anterior which is assisted by the extenor digitorum longus, the extensor hallucis longus, and the peronaeus tertius. The calf works chiefly when the weight of the body must be supported wholly or partly on the toes. However, as described in the proper chapter, various other movements are practically as beneficial.

Muscle Pull "T"

Place your right forearm on the table in front of you, fist clenched thumb uppermost. Move the clenched fist from side to side, and observe the action of the forearm muscles. The left hand may be placed on the right forearm to feel the muscular action. When the fist is moved inwards or flexed on the forearm, the muscles in action are, flexor carpi radialis, the palmaris longus, the flexor carpi ulnaris, and the larger of the flexors of the thumb and fingers. When the wrist is extended, or the fist turned back, the muscles in action are, the extensor carpi longus, extensor carpi brevis, and the extensor carpi ulnaris.

Then try moving the fist up and down while keeping the thumb uppermost; very little freedom of action is possible, as you will find, though the downward action is far more free and more powerful, due to the form of the wrist joint, just as the movement of the flexion is more powerful than that of the extension. The downward motion is controlled by the flexor carpi ulnaris and the extensor carpi ulnaris;m the upward motion by the flexor carpi radials and extensors of wrist and thumb. Now, if you will turn the palm side of the hand downward while keeping the elbow in the same relative position, this action is known as pronation of the forearm, and the muscles involved are, pronator teres, pronator quadratus, flexor carpi radials and the bachioradialis.

If you next the palm down all the way around till it is up and over as far as possible you perform the complete movement of supination, involving the supinator muscle, the biceps of the upper arm, the brachioradialis, on the bulgy outside part of the forearm, has a part to play in both movements. This muscle plays the dual role of both supinator and pronator; its duty being to bring the hand into the midway position.

Curling movements with the palm turned up, effect the muscles which pull the fist over toward the front of the forearm, or the supinators. All exercises and lifts involving extension of the arm bring into play the muscles which draw the fist toward the back of the forearm. Reverse curling effects the muscles controlling pronation of the forearm. Holding a kettle bell in the hand with the palm turned to the front while making an overhead press effects the muscles which pull the wrist down as in adduction. All of these exercises combine forearm actin with biceps and triceps action. You may practice exercises for the forearm muscles alone by imitating the first and third motions; the second is of too little consequence to both with in an exercise. If you practice the forearm exercises outlined in another chapter, in addition to the general practice of all around exercises outlined herein, you will need nothing further for the forearms. The gripping incidental to holding and handling bar bells and heavy dumb bells and kettle bells will bring about a powerful development of the muscles in the forearm controlling the clenching of the fingers.

One may make a most careful study of every small muscle in the body, with the intention of striving for a perfect development of he entire muscular system. Such enthusiasm would certainly be commendable, but is entirely unnecessary if proper training methods are followed for the development of the larger and more important muscles and muscle groups. If you were to endeavor to strengthen and develop the minor muscles separately and individually, you would find it practically an impossibility. These minor muscles, for the most part, act as accessories to the major muscles, carrying on essential duties of assisting when the strain is most severe upon the larger muscles. It is undoubtedly a statement of fact, if we say the average person, who is unaccustomed to physical exertion exists with almost a total absence of most of the minor muscles. It stands to reason if the larger muscles are weak, flabby and undeveloped and still the person manages to hold together and "get about" that the smaller and weaker muscles of the human anatomy are practically nonexistent. These minor muscles, of which there are hundreds throughout the body, reach a high degree of strength and development, only where the individual is accustomed to extremely strenuous exertion.

I presume it is possible for many of the minor muscles to deteriorate entirely on a soft, sedentary worker of thirty or older. There is also another possibility in connection with the many small muscles of the body. I refer to the probability of being unable to develop many of the smaller muscles, if the individual has been accustomed to any form of physical activity up to the age of thirty and beyond. This is, of course, only an extreme possibility in rare instances, where the individual has not taken part in athletics or any form of hard work after the beginning of adolescence. In reading works on anatomy, we will note statements in reference to certain minor muscles that they are sometimes lacking entirely. This fact is no doubt due to the reasons given in the foregoing explanation. The only sensible and practical way to reach these muscles and make certain of developing them to the full extent is by giving all of the large muscle groups an amount of work which requires the limit of contractile powers. If every part of your body is exercised along the lines recommended in this volume, you may fell sure of reaching the most remote muscles.

Iron Nation
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