Saturday, August 6, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 10 - A CHEST OF WHICH YOU MAY BE PROUD - By Mark H. Berry


Too many false impressions exist in connection with the expansion and development of the chest. The idea seems to be quite general that in order to bring about an enlargement of the chest you must breathe deeply, meanwhile expanding the chest and extending the arms to assist in a greater expansion. This idea was at first the talking point of free hand and calisthenic exercise propagandists, but has since been incorporated into the light apparatus field. The habit of regularly breathing deeply is healthful, and should be adopted by everyone. However, deep breathing exercises, practiced at intervals, during which time you force a greater amount of air into the lungs than is required for physical needs of the body, has no important value in the scheme of physical training or development. A quantity of air beyond normal requirements is only needed during and immediately after physical exertion. The tissues all over the body are in need of more oxygen as a result of the physical exertion, the blood must discharge the carbonic acid in the lungs and gather up the life giving oxygen, carrying it back to the tissues of the body. We are merely hinting at this process at this particular time, but did consider the subject at considerable length in the chapter on Physiology.

For the present, let us assure you that it is necessary to accompany deep breathing with fairly strenuous exertion if you wish to derive any amount of benefit so far as the lungs and chest are concerned. You must create a demand for more oxygen by means of hard work. Furthermore, if you expect the chest to remain at an increased normal size after becoming accustomed to special chest exercises, it is necessary to strengthen certain muscles to be able to hold the bones in a position favorable to greater chest girth and capacity. To bring about the desirable strengthening of these important muscles, you must exercise them in a manner conductive to tension in the right direction. No amount of movements with light resistance will properly develop and strengthen the muscles just referred to. Just as in the development and strengthening of the arms and legs, you know the necessity of vigorous exercise to cause muscular growth, and the same thing applies to the muscles holding the chest in proper position. Special movements should be practiced, which directly effect the muscles across the broad of the back; however, we consider of far greater value, the class of exercises which bring about enforced deep breathing through vigorous use of the largest muscular groups of the body. By practicing leg exercises, which also bring into active play the muscles of the hip region and back, you cause a natural expansion of the lungs and chest; and you won't find it necessary to force deep breathing. This class of exercise movement also serves to strengthen and develop the muscles which hold the body erect, the shoulders back, and the chest out. The spinal column is held in a more natural position; the muscles of the entire back, becoming more firmly knit, tend to hold the shoulder blades down and in, with a resulting uplifting of the rib-box in front.

Constant attention to holding the body erect, and the chin in, will assist you in acquiring a manly chest. Some young fellows have the ambition to possess a large chest, but at the same time they are afraid of exciting undue comment by walking with the chest held out. If you harbor ideas of that sort, and fear being ridiculed for possessing an erect body and prominent chest, your efforts to develop a satisfactory physique will amount to little. Supposing some of the fellows around your town should joke about your "chesty" attitude. Just keep mum for a while until you have gained in strength and development. Then they will respect you for your physical abilities rather than try to make fun of you. There in no use being foolish about the matter. A slovenly fellow who goes about in a slouchy manner at all times will never develop into an imposing example of manly physique. Theories are continually being propounded on the development of the chest. One instructor after another for many years has endeavored to present to the public and entirely new conception of exercises best adapted for enlarging and rounding out the upper part of the torso. After due consideration of the numerous systems, it would seem to us the problem would best be solved selecting outstanding examples of chest development and then determining what general method of exercise was principally followed by the majority. The folly of theorizing will then be apparent, when we many so readily place our finger tips on the photographs of practical examples and say in effect, "the finest models of chest development all followed one similar line of training."

We only need to suggest that all of the world's finest examples of chest size and development are to found among the illustrations in these pages. Should some reader be able to call to mind and isolated case of an individual athlete whose chest is particularly large and pleasing in contour, who has through and evident oversight been omitted from this collection of photographs, we are certain better models will be found among the great number included herein. Practically every professional strong man and outstanding amateur lifter has a splendid chest, and it is obvious we could not hope to include the photo of every "iron man." You may be the sole judge in the matter so far as your personal satisfaction is concerned. Choose any number of chests among the many to be found herein, say twelve, twenty-five, or fifty. Then pick an equal number of pugilists, wrestlers, runners, gymnasts, oarsmen, or the advocates of light dumb bell systems. You will find it impossible to find fifty outstanding examples of superb chest development among any of the separate branches of training suggested, and in fact, you will soon concluded there are not that many first class chests among all other branches of sports and exercise systems, yea, not even twenty-five, nor twelve. Try and see if you can match an equal number of strong men for high quality of chest.

At first, upon seeing my suggestion to practice strenuous leg work to expand and enlarge the chest, some readers may fail to grasp the idea and hastily figure that the reasoning is unsound. It is about the same as teaching the novice that the real force behind a punch must start from the toes, or in snatching the bar bell that the effort is supplied by the back and legs instead of the arms, which merely act as connecting links. That is why purveyors of light dumb bells and other light resistance systems are able to sell to the novice, who fails to understand the real significance of exercise movements.

The most important reason for expanding the chest is to make room for the lungs, so as to be better able to aerate the blood. Now, considering your chest exercises, you must make them conform as much as possible to natural functional movements. The lungs will work most vigorously when the largest muscles groups in the body are called into vigorous action. Muscular action increases the tissue waste and consequent need of oxygen, so the greatest desire for oxygen takes place when the legs and buttocks are working. This brings us down to the essential of prescribing plenty of leg work. This may not develop the muscles on the chest, but is calls for a natural expansion and due to the strengthening of the muscles of progression, which when vigorous have a joint action of effecting the back muscles in such a way as to pull downward on the shoulder blades. A strong back or backbone as some prefer to say it, combined with a strong pair of legs is conductive to an erect carriage. The muscles causing an erect carriage also tend to pull the shoulder blades down and back and hold the chest in an expanded position.

Have you ever noticed how it is necessary to force the inhalations and exhalations in connection with light forms of chest exercise. Really, you can keep waving your arms around for the longest time, almost indefinitely it would mean, without so much as encouraging the breathing. No benefit at all will be derived unless you consciously breath deep. Try to do twenty deep knee bends, even without any weight and see if you can keep from breathing deeply. The reason is due simply to the external lung or chest function we have just mentioned. You either breath deeply or stop moving; one or the other; while in the arm waving variety of exercises the blood isn't stirred up sufficiently to call for a noticeable increase in oxygen requirements. This is simply getting your exercises down to the fundamentals of physiology, and nothing else.

The strong man requires a roomy chest to help produce his strength. The better he is functionally able to aerate his blood, the more he is to produce energy. No worthwhile feat of strength is performed without physiological action; by this we mean the energy must be supplied continuously and without let up or you fail when the feat is only partly completed.

It takes a fast sprinter less than ten seconds to cover the hundred yard dash; that is but a short space of time, comparatively but a moment, but just consider the tremendous amount of energy put forth in the space of that moment. Just think of the way the heart must beat, and blood vessels circulate the blood throughout the body within so short a space of time. The runner becomes extremely winded or short of breath, simply because muscular tissue has been torn down faster than it can be replaced and he must stop because of a shortage of oxygen in his blood. You cannot bring about such a condition by means of any form of arm work within ten seconds' time; nor by chinning, dipping, curling, pressing, or whatever you may chose to do. For one reason, you will find it impossible to produce an equal amount of energy solely with the arms and shoulders in such a short space of time, and the mass of muscle involved does not require the same amount of vascular aeration.

To get back to the thought we had in mind, concerning the strong man and the production of energy. In reality, we mean weight lifter or bar bell user and not the ordinary exhibiting type of showman. Even in such a quick feat as a snatch, a great many physiological functions must take place before the weight is resting at arm's length and yet the complete lift takes but a couple of seconds. Plenty of room for the lungs is important even for a feat taking but that small amount of time. He does not become as winded as the hundred yard man, due to a smaller amount of energy and vascular aeration being called for. Not even in the two arm clean and jerk would he become quite as winded. But have him place a fairly heavy weight on his shoulders and perform as many deep knee bends as possible within ten seconds' time. He will then become more winded than the sprinter covering the century dash. There are other feats of exercises, of course, where the same condition may be brought about. Don't misunderstand me; arm exercises place a demand upon the respiratory function, but not in the same degree. I trust you now understand the reason. Certain arm movements are valuable in bringing about a better chest position; also in developing the muscles covering the chest; however, it is a great waste of time to practice lengthy repetitions with light resistance, when a comparatively few movements with moderate weights will accomplish far more in development, and strength, and furthermore in bringing about a correct position.

What we have said of light methods is also true, to a certain extent, of arm and shoulder exercises performed with heavy weights. Unless supplemented by vigorous leg exertion, the chest expansion will not reach the ultimate limit for the individual. Certain arm and shoulder movements cause for the moment, an uplifting of the rib-box, and if continued over a sufficient length of time, will result in a permanent raising of the thorax. This is dependent upon a proper tensioning of the muscles which hold the thorax in an arched position, chiefly the muscles of the upper back, the latissimus, trapezius, rhomdobius, and minor muscles. Exercises which develop these muscles and the pectorals will bring about an increased size of chest; that is, by thickening the muscles covering the thorax. However, as we have explained, proper chest size and lung space is dependent upon increasing the functional powers, which can most easily be brought about by leg and lower trunk exertions. In conjunction with the increased functional capacity, we develop and strengthen muscles which hold the spine in the natural position; and by placing tension on the muscles which square the shoulders and raise the chest, we bring about a proper erect carriage. Just try to arch or round the back and at the same time expand the chest. You can't to it. Now observe when you expand the chest, the downward pull of the back muscles. In this way, a proper tension of the muscles of the lower back, and the buttocks and leg muscles which work in conjunction with the lower back will hold the chest in proper position.

We would suggest three groups of exercises for chest development. Of chief benefit, vigorous leg work; this may include the deep knee bend, especially with feet flat and sitting down as far as possible; also the straddle lift; the leg press where you lie on the back and press weights on the soles of the feet; and dead lift exercises, both with the knees straight and bent. That would cover the first class.

The next group would include movements for the actual development of the muscles covering the chest and upper back. Pressing weights in various positions while lying on the back will develop the pectorals; likewise straight arm leverage movements in the same position. The latissimus, thombodius, and trapzius muscles, along with minor muscles involved in any action of these muscles, must be strengthened and developed by means of a varied range of movements. The trapezius is not developed in its entirety by should shrugging movements; that sort of work takes care of the upper part of the muscle; it is strongly involved in pulling the shoulders back. The latissimus, which exerts the strongest action in control of the shoulder blades, will be taken care of in the preliminary stages by a movement resembling rowing, in which a bar bell is raised to the chest while the body is bent forward at the hips; the elbows must be held out from the body, later, various overhead movements and lifting bells to the chest will involve the latissimus. Hardly anything this better for this purpose than supporting a bar bell at the shoulder in a Bent Press. All snatches, cleaning and jerking movements bring these muscles into vigorous action, as the shoulder blade is pulled back controlling the arm movements.

The last group of chest benefiting exercises is closely related to the second. Overhead movements which tend to raise the thorax. In the early developmental stages, these overhead movements should be slow and deliberate, and can be performed with both arms together, as well as alternate overhead movements. The uninitiated may be easily fooled in regards to the momentary and lasting benefits of some exercises. I recall a certain incident which might prove enlightening to some of my readers. An instructor was selling course of personal instructions to a thin, flat chested and very much under weight young fellow. To impress him with the assured benefits in chest expansion to be derived, the instructor had an assistant measure the fellow's chest; the then gave him a routine of dumb bell movements to be practiced for ten minutes; at the end of that period the chest was measured again, and the tape showed an increase of two inches. The young lad positively was convinced that his chest had increased in size two inches, within the ten minutes. Whereas, the truth of the matter was, as nothing but such movements as would effect the muscles surrounding the chest were practiced in the ten minutes, the blood was drawn from all parts of the body to this region, and of course, the fellow was a little short of breath and was certain to hold his chest in a better position for a short time; the latter reason probably accounted for more of the temporary increase than the former. The same instructor one time wished to prove he was as tall as another party, unbeknown to the second party. Having thick, wavy hair, he ruffled it up pretty well and set his hat on to of the mass of wavy hair, then the walked alongside the other man to convince the witness of his height. I don't know whether he got away with it in the minds of the others or not.

To show you one of the prominently glaring follies in widely recognized theories of physical culture, permit to quote from one of the masters on the subject of physiology. Fernand Lagrange, M.D., who wrote a very easily understood book, "The Physiology of Bodily Exercise" in the latter part of the past century. To properly substantiate our advice to specialize on vigorous leg exercise, it is necessary to quote from him at considerable length.

"At first sight we should be inclined to believe that the exercises performed with the upper limbs, which are moved by the muscles of the shoulders and trunk, to be most like to raise the ribs; and in fact exercises of the arms are generally regarding as excellent for increasing the respiratory power."

"It would be illusory to set any value on the elevation of ribs or a favorable direction of the costal articulations, on the strength of the inspiratory muscles, etc., if the lungs were not increased in size at the same time as the thoracic cavity is dilated. If the lungs become weakened, the upper ribs fall in, and the best formed chest becomes flat. An empty thoracic cavity is incompatible with raised ribs, and do what we will an empty chest assumes the position of inspiration."

"Thus in the thorax, the volume of the receptacle is determined by the size of the contents. If you wish to develop the chest, do not try to raise the ribs, but try to inflate all the air cells of the lungs; you cannot do it by any mechanical means, and the most clever combinations of muscular movements give but an incomplete result when unaccompanied by the movement - voluntary or instinctive - of forced inspiration."

" - a definite increase in size, persisting during repose, can only be brought about through increased volume of the lungs."

"How is it that the lungs can increase in size through athletic exercise? By a mechanism well known in physiology, by the filling out of certain air cells ordinarily inactive, which only come into play during forced inspiration."

"A definite increase in the volume of the lungs is the consequences of frequent repetition of this supplemental respiration."

"Under the influence of unusual exercise the vesicles increase in size and contain more air. More blood is also supplied to them. Their capillary network becomes richer, and their nutrition more active. Thus in the end they take up more room. It is in this manner that the regular working of a great number of air cells, ordinarily inactive, can rapidly increase the size of the lungs."

"So whatever form the exercise takes, if the arm alone is working, we shall not find that the breathing is much quickened. The exercise may induce local fatigue before the intensity of the respiratory need has increased. It may even happen the work of both arms together does not, after a given time, amount to enough to demand more ample respirations. In general, the exercises which are performed with the legs represent more work than those which are performed with the arms."

"We must not then trust to the exercises of the arms to expand the chest."

"Exercises of strength lead rapidly to an increase in the size of the thorax."

"Mountaineers all have large chests, and the Indians who live of the high plateau of the Cordillera in the Andes, have been noted for the extraordinary size of their chests. This great development in mountaineers is due to two causes which act in the same direction: frequent accent of steep incline, and constant residence at great heights at which the air is rarefied. The climbing of these slopes needs a great quantity of work, which causes increase of the respiratory need: respiration in a rarefied atmosphere obliges a man to take deeper breaths in order to supplement, by the quantity of air breathed, the insufficiency of it vivifying properties."

Again he says: "The lower limbs are then more than capable than the arms of awakening the respiratory need, which is proportions to the expenditures of force."

"Going along a hanging ladder by the hands only, dumb-bell exercise, holding out weights at arm's length, are movements which quickly fatigue the limbs without causing any marked disturbance in the respiratory functions. When we are obliged to stop these exercises, it is not because we are short of breath, but because our muscular force is expended." Then again, "By continual practice in raising weights with the arm outstretched it is possible very greatly to develop the muscles which extend the arm on the shoulder; but the great organic functions, respiration, circulation, etc., will participate very little or not at all in the work."

"In raising a very light dumb bell the arm alone is in action. If the weight is heavier, the muscles of the trunk are associated with those of the arm and shoulder. If finally the weight is nearly as great as the man can lift, we see the extensor muscles of the legs and thighs contract just as vigorously as the others to produce a vigorous upward thrust."

"The exercises which make the legs work actively almost all need the cooperation of thorax." "Hence we draw a practical conclusion," "the exercises of the legs are generally to be preferred to those of the arms when we wish to develop the chest and raise the ribs." It is not strange that through all these years, physical culturists have been practicing arm and shoulder exercises to expand the chest, when great authorities on physiology have pointed out the need of using the large and powerful muscular masses of the body in order to create the demand for greater functional power of the respiratory system? Some bar bell instructors have stressed the importance of exercising the leg and back vigorously, but the majority have failed to recognize the natural laws which must be observed and bring them to the attention of their pupils. The greatest bulk of physical culturists have simply been teaching false doctrines, seemingly in total ignorance of the truth. We believe we are the first among American physical culturists to stress these obvious facts to an appreciable extent. Yet, as you may note, there is nothing original in our contentions. Simply a proper understanding of physiology, which may be studied by any serious minded student of physical training. Physicians should, of course, understand such things, but their minds are taken up with other matters, of greater importance to them than physical training.

Arm and shoulder exercises for the chest, performed with light dumb bells, cables and other light resistance apparatus, can be traced back sixty or more years. No advance have been made in giving instruction along such lines during the entire time; the same arm waving nomenclature has been followed and copied by one instructor after another. At the time Lagrange wrote his notable work, progressive bar bell exercise as we know it had not been introduced, and although he recognized the necessity of exercising the legs, buttocks, and back to properly accelerate the vital functions, he had no suitable system of developing exercises to which he could point. He did recognize strength and lifting exercises, but in later years great advances shave been made in the arrangement of lifting exercises. Even among lifters and advanced bar bell users, you will meet some who do not properly understand the physiological functions and attach too great an importance to light dumb bell drills. One or two of these strong men fail to realize that the chest girth of which they are proud results from the strenuous leg exercise they perform and not from the fancy arm waving. If a man uses an extremely heavy bar bell on his shoulders regularly in performing the deep knee bend, plus championship lifting, it matters little whether or not he practices a routine of light dumb bell exercise, regardless of his personal views on the subject. His opinion would carry little weight in the final analysis, unless the years of deep knee bends with heavy weights and other strenuous leg work had never been practiced.

A little investigation will also prove to you the folly of the light exercise systems sometimes advocated later in life by men who have laid claim to fame on their ability as weight lifters. Sandow was probably the best know example of this. For years Sandow advocated nothing but bar bell training and traveled the world as a strong man, laying claim to being the strongest man of all time. Then later in life when he decided to forego the show life, he established gymnasiums in different parts of England and also conducted a mail order physical culture system.

He also sold the right of using his name on light, spring-grip dumb bells. The truth of the matter is, as you can soon determine, these dumb bells were invented and manufactured long after Sandow had reached his zenith of physical condition. Various other weight lifters and strong have since tried to emulate Sandow by "originating" light systems of their own. These instructors are foolish enough to make claims such as to being the greatest of strong men, and that they can make you just like them, when others who have been connected with physical culture just as long, or longer than they, know what little success they achieved was due to exercising with bar bells. It is such commercial stunts that makes the strong man business so mistrusted. Worst of all, is the individual who will deliberately and knowingly make false statements to confuse the minds of novice physical culturists, for purely commercial reasons. You may read the "authoritative" statements of certain instructors concerning the training methods of really famous strong men. You will, in one breath, be told that "my system was originated by me" and that "so and so followed this same system;" "so and so" referred to being a man whose period of fame antidated the new system by a score or more of years. A most enlightening point in this connection might be mentioned. A thoroughly reputable and long established Continental European magazine recently devoted a large part of one issue to denouncing, criticizing, and pointing out erroneous statements in an American article on a celebrated strong man. The Europeans know something concerning European strong men and their training methods, and the truth is so generally known by the public of Europe, that it would be difficult to get away with false statements over there. Whereas in America, none but those who have been interested in the subject for considerable time have any correct notion concerning the facts of training for strength, development and health.

A phenomena is sometimes observed which seems rather odd. It is noticed that a certain athlete has a normal and expanded chest of practically the same size. It is further observed that the athlete is exceptionally well developed, a sterling example of masculinity. To cite a case: Mr. Otto Arco pays no attention to his physical measurements; however, sometime ago we had occasion to need some such figures, and in quoting some of his measurements Mr. Arco mentioned the odd fact hat no difference could be found between his normal and expanded chest. Anatomically and physiologically, such a condition may be explained.

We must refer you back to our outline of the lung capacity and the normal interchange of air. We called attention to the fact that the lung cells could not be multiplied, and that the only way in which greater lung size could be accomplished was through making a normally greater room for the lungs by enlarging the chest cavity. Now, it is understood that such enlargement can take place to a limited extent only, sooner or later a limit is reached, beyond which the rib box or chest cavity cannot be increased. When the muscles of the upper body have been developed to the fullest extent and the normal chest brought up to the highest standard, the muscles will be holding the chest in a permanently expanded position. The majority of well developed men will notice hardly more than two inches difference between the normal and expanded chest for the same reason, whereas poorly developed individuals may have a chest expansion (from normal to expanded) of something more. Person suffering from pthisis, or consumption, may have a difference of several inches, due to the fact the lungs are in poor condition and in a collapsed state.

You may wonder how the man with the fully expanded normal chest could take care of the demands of extra exertion. The man with such a chest would need to breathe very easily and take care of his oxygen needs for ordinary exertions, while deeper and greater frequency of breathing would supply sufficient oxygenation in time of great exertion. Very few well developed bar ball and strong men would have a noticeable difference between the normal and expanded chest were it not for muscular contraction adding to the size.

Iron Nation
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