Monday, August 8, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 12 - MANLY ARMS INSPIRE CONFIDENCE - By Mark H. Berry

We might say that arms developed as the arms of a man should be inspire confidence to the possessor, and at the same time they invite respect from others. To the average person, the arms are the seat of strength, and the possession of bulging upper arms denotes exceptional strength, and the larger the arms, the stronger the man.

The man with large, well-muscled arms simply cannot be otherwise than strong. It matters not what sort of legs oar back the man may have, his arms have big muscles; therefore, they must be strong, likewise the man must be strong all over. We are making no attempt to foster this impression, as believe it to be false in may respects, but at the same time we recognize the value of a properly developed and well proportioned pair of arms, both for the sake of appearance and the strength which may be exhibited by the arms when the rest of the body is normally developed. Students of advanced physical culture know real well that well muscled strong arms are essential to the man of great strength, but do not place them in a position of major importance, as we realize that strength in an extraordinary degree depends on the proper development and training of all parts of the body. It is relatively quite easy to acquire a pair of finely developed arms, so we may as well consider a few examples of perfect proportions in arm development, and at the same time suggest a few of the best known methods of bring the arm muscles to the full state of development.

Certain principles are followed in all methods of exercising the arms. If you pick up a pair of light wooden dumb bells, most likely you will alternately bend and extend the arms. These are the fundamental movements of arm exercise, whether you use dumb bells, chest expanders, wall pulley weights, free hand calisthenics. In bar bell and heavy dumb bell exercise, the principles are the same, although the use of adjustable weights makes possible the important features of progressive resistance. Likewise, the use of weights of varying degrees of heaviness changes the movements from pure arm to combination arm, shoulder, and chest exercises, and when a high poundage standard is employed, the legs and back must be included in the effort. It is only when the student had advanced to this pint that the highest degree of arm development can be expected. Curling a bar bell can hardly be beaten for increasing the size and strength of the arm flexors and biceps. This consist of raising the bell from the thighs to the chest by bending the arms. In the regular curl, the palms are turned up; a variation should also be practiced, holding the bell with the knuckles up; this is known as the "reverse curl." Later, other variations can be followed, such as the alternate single arm curls with a kettle bell or dumb bell in each hand. These bells may be used for both the regular and reverse curls.

Other parts of the body are effected when performing curling exercises, with the forearms coming in for a big share of benefit.

The biceps can be brought to their limit by the use of the few exercises just mentioned, but the arm extensors offer a more complicated problem when considering their thorough and complete development. To properly strengthen and stimulate the growth in several attachments comprising the bulk on the back and under side of the arms, quite a variety of movements, involving all manner of leverage principles are required. In the early part of your training, such movements will suffice, as the pressing of a bar bell from the chest to full length of arms overhead; also a similar press wherein the bell is started from a position on the neck behind the head; and some single arm presses with either dumb bell or kettle bells.

In prescribing exercises to develop the arms, we may with absolute certainty of accomplishing satisfactory results advise the practice of two movements with bar bells. The two arm curl and the two arm press. No other set of exercises, no form of exercises can be relied on to produce equally satisfactory development. To the beginner, it is only necessary to arrange these two valuable movements for the arms. However, the wise culturist recognizes the importance of varying the angel of muscular contractions, when a well rounded and fully developed arm is desired. Those models of perfection whose arms may be pointed to as examples of the ultimate in arm development have reached such a high state only after years of constant application of scientific principle of advanced exercise. Supplementary to the two movements mentioned, they have practiced all manner of additional and special exercises, including presses with one arm and with both arms in every conceivable position. During the early part of the training program, the curl and the press will serve the purpose of bringing the largest of the arm muscles into a well-rounded state of development, but certain minor fibers and attachments in addition to separate smaller muscles will be brought up to a high degree of cultivation only by employing the muscles in a variety of positions. Movements requiring the arm to straighten with force against sufficient resistance will tend to develop the triceps. One and two arm pressing of all kinds, using bar bell, dumb bell, and kettle bells will bring results. In pressing with both arms you are enabled to handle greater resistance and apply a greater amount of force by bringing the legs and back into action, thus permitting the use of the full limit of arm strength. Exercises which incorporate the principles of leverage and performed in positions to make their execution difficult also have an important place in the program, but are far from being the most important. Some little explanation may be required to make the principle more clear to you.

Suppose, for instance, you employ a small amount of resistance which the arm muscles can easily handle; at first, providing you are weak, the muscles involved will be slightly strengthened, but it will not be long till the resistance cannot be added to regularly enough, when the benefit will cease entirely. On the other hand, we will suppose you gradually work up, adding to the resistance in a regular and progressive manner till you are handling weights which require you to bring the back and legs into play in order to complete the full arm movements. Let us analyze the one arm press, which serves to illustrate the point, in executing the single handed Military Press, you stand erect and slowly press the weigh to arms length; to illustrate the other extreme, suppose we perform a Bent Press in which it is necessary to bend both legs and body to the limit in order to straighten the arm. It is sometimes said that the Bent Press is accomplished by leverage entirely, making it unnecessary to actually press with the arm, but if you will take up the practice of this lift you may learn something to the contrary, that a great amount of effort is really required of the triceps.

In combining the power of the body and legs with the arm, it is possible to get the arm into position where a tremendous amount of force can be applied by the triceps, practically throughout the entire range of contraction. Another important principle in her introduced, which is that of exercising the muscles in groups. This principle alone accounts for the great amount of strength it is possible for the trained strong man to apply on a given feat. The Shoulder Bridge effects the arms in exactly the same way, the body is bridged into a position favorable to the joint application of the triceps and latissimus power. To realize the ultimate in strengthening and increasing the size of your arm muscles, you must use sufficient resistance to incorporate other major muscles of the body into the action. Thus, the triceps derive the greatest benefit when you use enough weight to make necessary the use of the back and legs in elevating the bell to straight arms. The idea of forcing the triceps to contract to the very limit has been applied by different exercises wherein the arm is raised behind the body, locking the elbow and while holding a weight in the hand. The triceps are effected identically, but in a more beneficial way, by the use of the Bent Press and the Shoulder Bridge lifts.

You may use this principle in performing the majority of popular lifts, whether the lifts are in the overhead class or performed while lying on the floor. The former group would include the Snatch and Jerk lifts with either one or both arms; but especially the slow pressing movements where combined body and arm strength is employed, as in the One Hand Bent Press, One Hand Side Press, and the Two Hands Push or Continental Press. The second group includes the Shoulder Bridge particularly, with a fair amount of benefit derived from heavy Wrestler Bridges. Undoubtedly, the Bent Press movement is the most valuable for bringing out the full development of the triceps and adjoining muscles. This is due to the full flexion called for in flexing these muscles to the limit in conjunction with the deltoids and latissimus muscles. Here, again, we witness the principle of working the muscles in groups, as noted in determining the most efficient exercises for the deltoids, latissimus, and muscles of the legs.

An advanced essential in connection with the complete development of the biceps is that of contracting the biceps and then bringing the deltoids into play. To illustrate, the biceps is the most fully contracted when the arm is placed in the following position - draw the fist up in the familiar "show your muscle" attitude, draw the fist down as close to the deltoid as possible, and then raise the elbow up alongside the head while holding the fist back of the head and as far down on the neck as you can, If you do this correctly, you will experience a stabbing pain as though a knife were being thrust in your arm. The biceps is thus contracted in a moderate degree when holding a bell at the shoulder preparatory to an overhead lift and during the early stage of the overhead lift. To overcome this passive contraction in overhead lifts, as we might call it, modern lifters sometimes employ a peculiar method of gripping the bar when making double-handed lifts. In the ordinary way of holding a bell, the thumbs encircle the bar; in the new method, the thumbs are kept under the bar, on the same side as the fingers. This keeps the biceps out of the action to a great extent, while in the ordinary way of holding a bar the encircling thumb effects a downward pull on the bell when the efforts are directed towards an overhead lift. For exercise purposes, it might be best to use the ordinary grip. In lowering a bell from overhead, the biceps play an important part in relieving the force of the downward motion, working to some extent with the deltoids. Herculean hand balancers who perform a hand to hand act bring the biceps into play in this manner considerably.

At this moment, we might direct your attention to Mr. Otto Arco, whose arms are perfect examples of complete or ultimate development. We have discussed the Bent Press lift as the perfect triceps developer, yet those who are acquainted with Mr. Arco might call attention to his remarkable arms and mention the possibility of the Bent Press never having played a part in their development. Certainly, but then allow us to direct your attention to the feats to which Mr. Arco has long been accustomed, during his hand to hand experience. His routine requires that at certain times he must handle his partner on a straight arm while drawing the triceps and latissimus muscles close together. Which principle is identical to the combined muscular movements in such lifting exercises as the Bent Press, the Shoulder Bridge, and the Continental Press.

Although his development has resulted from hard work at lifting, wrestling, and hand balancing, during the last fifteen years his exercise consisted almost wholly of acting as under-man in his act. Their routine calls for Otto to lift his brother about in several very difficult positions. Daily exhibition of muscle control probably has a great deal to do with this pronounced muscular prominence, and separation. The beginner, though, shouldn't make the mistake of expecting to achieve an equal degree of development by emulation the Arco Brothers act. You must remember that several years of the hardest work of developmental work must serve to bring out the necessary development, strength, and suppleness. Specialists on the rings, horizontal and parallel bars will be quite sure of developing good arms for the repeated handling of the body in difficult positions. However, hand to hand work in advanced hand balancing exercises will prove even a better method of bringing out a noticeable development, and among this type of heavy exercise devotee you will find some of the best arms. The majority of first class men in both gymnastics and hand balancing have at some time during their training experience handled weights to gain the highest degree of strength and development. Solid iron dumb bells, expanders and several other proprietary forms of exercising apparatus will all tend to increase the size and improve the shapeliness of the arms. Experience has taught me that however well a man may succeed in developing himself by such methods, more satisfactory results will be forthcoming from following the proper bar bell exercise.

Iron Nation
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