Thursday, August 11, 2011


To fully appreciate the possibilities of physical perfection, one must spend considerable time observing the sculptor masterpieces to be found in our leading Art Museums. Then he must see, at first hand, the physique of several of the finest examples of living physical perfection. He must see some of these men practicing physical exercises and to properly augment the knowledge gained by observation, one must practice the same or similar exercises. For it is only by a thorough understanding of the muscular conformation of the torso that one may fully appreciate the beauty of the perfectly developed male body. The great masters of sculptor art have idealized the male physique in their creations, by combining several living models into one masterpiece of perfection. After a visit to one of our great Museums of Art, you may have marveled at the perfectly molded bodies with muscles so clearly defined, each separated from the next, and the thing which will cause the deepest impression will be the outlines of the muscles of the abdomen and the sides. Due reflection may have caused you to wonder as to the possibilities of any human attaining such remarkable separation. It is true that you will find but few living examples of the muscular conformation of the torso as shown by sculptor masterpieces. Now and then, you will meet a living model of this type, whose torso will compare favorably, especially when posed under lights, or on the medium of photographic print. Photographs may serve as a medium of study, but the shadows and high lights to be found on satisfactory photographs tend to mislead, emphasizing, as they do, the muscular prominences and exaggerating the depressions between the muscles.

Providing you are fortunate enough to have an opportunity of visiting a gymnasium where well known exponents of physical perfection are to be observed in training, you may have a capital chance of first hand study of the true possibilities of developing the torso. Experts at muscles control can create an impression that is far from the real state of their development by standing under the proper arrangements of light and having a photo taken. It is possible to bring about a most decidedly pronounced abdominal development by perfection endless repetitions of common abdominal exercises. When a high degree of strength is desired, it is essential that high grade resistance be supplied. Moreover, certain muscles can be brought out only by the practice of heavy exercise, or advanced resistance movements.

In addition to the familiar and time worn exercises such as, rising from a prone to a sitting position, and bending backwards over a chair, then to come up to a sitting position, a fellow will derive great benefit from the exercise of lying on a table or bend with the legs extended over the edge; tie weights to the feet and while keeping the knees straight, raise the legs up over the body. It will be necessary to hold firmly to the table with your hands. We would refer you to the chapter on corrective exercises for rupture, and also to the chapter dealing with Roman apparatus. Roman Chair, Roman Column, and Roman Board exercises, all of which are in a class by themselves for advanced work.

Getting a Grip on Life

Back in ancient days, the practice of hand shaking originated. Not so much for the purpose of greeting a friend and passing the time of day, but for a more practical reason of determining something concerning the physical strength of the man behind the clasp hand. One theory bases the beginning of hand shaking as a desire to judge the wrestling ability of a man. Another theory seems far more interesting and romantic, if we may the use the word here. According to his theory, hand shaking originated in the days of armor clad noblemen; a man presented his hand to show he carried no weapon with which to strike his friend. It is also claimed that the practice of tipping the hat originated the same way; the armor helmet was removed to show the man approached in a relation of friendliness with no fear of those whom he greeted.

Nowadays, we shake hands to determine if a man is a frat or lodge brother; or give a man the "glad hand' to win his favor in preparation for an election campaign or sell him insurance or gold brick stock. Otherwise hand shaking means little except when you grab hold of a cold clammy hand and imagine the possessor must have a back bone of the same consistency. Hand shakes or rather the manner in which men grip your hand may have something to do with the subconscious mind and character analysis. I am about convinced it denotes more in that way than it does the physical strength of the one who grips with you. Some to the strongest men hardly clasp your hand, and when referring to men of strength, I don't just mean weight lifters, but farmers, mechanics, and others possessing unusual strength. On the other hand, a lot of fellows who wish they were unusually strong cultivate a nut cracker grip and try to pulverize the hand of everyone whom they meet. I recall quite a few of this type who grab quickly and put everything they have into the one effort to subdue the one they are greeting. A hand clasp can be firm, warm and welcoming without trying to prove you are the strongest man on earth. Probably the psycho-analysts could give an explanation of this; it may be that some individuals fear others will not consider them extraordinarily strong, so they with to remove all doubts in the first offensive. Nevertheless, and disregarding all of the foregoing, a powerful grip is a valuable asset, and worth cultivating by the physical culturist who desires to handle heavy and unwieldy things with comparative ease. Physicians have long recognized the gripping powers as giving some indication of the nervous energy possessed by the individual, and in many methods of conducting physical tests, the grip is accorded a place of importance, in our leading colleges.

To develop a powerful grip, you must recognize the necessity of enlarging and strengthening the muscles of the forearm. To acquire such development and also to develop thick and powerful wrists, you might supplements your regular bar bell exercise program by the inclusion of the forearm exercises illustrated in these pages. Siegmund Klein was kind enough to present us with some excellent exercise poses, illustrating a few of the finest forearm developers.

The first is a fine bar bell exercise; you may also reverse the grip, that is, with the knuckles up and palms down. The second employs the principle of leverage, and by using a weight on the end of a bar or stick in this manner you have what has sometimes been referred to as the anti-bar bell. This exercise principle may also be reversed, with the bar to the front instead of to the rear. The principle has infinite possibilities as a special exercise idea and you may practice all the movements suggested in our discussion of the forearm muscles. Winding a weighted cord on a stick has long been recognized as a highly valuable means of developing the forearms. You may practice this movement with the knuckles up as well, and we would also advise practicing this winding exercise with the stick held at arm's length in front of the body. Always vary the effect by winding the cord in both directions. This stick and cord idea could easily constitute your only forearm exercise, and you would be certain of satisfactory results.

Juggling a large plate about is one of the finest grip strengtheners; you may start with a twenty-five and progress to a fifty, and later on to a seventy-five pounder. Then you may feel assured of having a good grip. Some of the fellows with an extra fine grip like to drop a big plate from one hand and catch it with the other; this really takes a grip of quality if you use a seventy-five pound plate.

Walking around the room carrying big plates in the fingers give the gripping powers plenty to do. John Y. Smith, the wonderful old fellow who is well past sixty, practices walking up and down stairs and all around the gym while carrying a heavy bell in each hand. Besides strengthening the grip, your calf exercise is taken care of at the same time when you do this. An old reliable is to drop a heavy dumb bell from one hand and catch it in the other, alternating back and forth while straddling the bell. The grip will be strengthened by handling bar bells with thick handle bars, but if you devote too much of your lifting to the use of tick bars, your poundage will suffer. Handling round iron ball of various weights and sizes would be very good, and one man a contrivance consisting of a half sphere which could be gripped in this manner, with a bar hung below for adjustable plates. Progressive gripping exercise you might call it.

Handling a block weight by various finger and hand grips might be included by the iron man looking for unusual strength. Finger lifting and the One and Two Hands Dead Lifts are invaluable for the same purpose.

Strange indeed, but sadly true, at least sadly so to the ambitious physical culturist who is not blessed by nature with large hands and long fingers is the fact that some men have extraordinary grips without noticeable development. The man with a small hand and short fingers may slave for a long time and yet fail to surpass the gripping powers of another man who never does any exercise, but whose fingers are unusually long and mechanically constructed to supply the necessary leverage. I have known of such individuals, with long thin forearms and fingers long enough to entwine the average hand like the tentacles of an octopus. When a man with such hands trains for greater strength the world sees a super grip capable of twisting tough iron and possibly of breaking coins.

It is to be observed that strong men who do considerable difficult grip work, invariably have a peculiar construction of fingers as a result of, and which enables them to do this class of work. The last joint of every finger inclines in such a way as to favor the gripping of objects and the thumb turns in to oppose the fingers properly. Robert L. Jones has acquired this same type of fingers from years of standing (up side down) on his finger tips. Or rather, from the fingers becoming properly adapted to the requirements, the contact is actually made on the first joint instead of on the finger tips. Incidentally, he has also acquired a peculiar formation of the forearm muscles, so that just above the wrist the forearm looks about as large as the upper part.

The Value of Massage

Correct massage has a principal value of accelerating the circulation of blood in the muscles. If you will recall the chapter on blood circulation you will understand that the flow of blood is from the arteries through the capillaries into the veins and through the latter back to the heart; also that valves situated at intervals in the veins prevent the blood flowing backward. In massaging, the movements should always be towards the heart for this reason. No good would be accomplished by attempting to force the blood back against the valves of the veins, but when the movements of massage are performed correctly, the flow of blood is stimulated in the veins thus drawing blood from the arteries through the capillaries. This assists in the tissue repairs by increasing the quantity of nourishment and prevents the accumulation of poisonous waste matters that would cause stiffness. That explains the reason massage is good after exertion for preventing soreness in the used muscles. Proper massage can only be learned through personal instruction and lengthy practice, but the bar bell can learn to knead his muscles and rub in some form of emolient with benefit. We would suggest getting book on the subject for a fairly complete understanding of the manner of applying the fingers and hands to the muscles. Otherwise you may gently pinch and knead the muscles with your fingers and rub in a circular motion, always applying the pressure towards the heart.


As to the correct temperature of water for bathing, diverse indeed are the opinions. Advice on this subject in connection with bar bell exercise has generally been to use tepid or mildly warm water for the average man. Especially do we advise against the practice of cold water bathing by those who wish to build themselves up. Instead, we suggest a hot bath with plenty of soap following each and every work out. Hot, or very warm water stimulates the circulation in the muscles at the surface; beside having a cleansing effect upon the skin, something which cannot be said of cold water. Those who are not used to cold water bathing are likely to experience a cramping or congestion in the muscles which have been active. Immediately following exertion, the accelerated flow of blood continues in the muscles, carrying away carbonic acid and furnishing oxygen where needed.

Cold water will tend to chill and reduce the rapidity of the circulation in the surface muscles, thereby inducing stiffness. It has sometimes been claimed that hot water is weakening; but only when continued for long periods of time. A short and snappy hot bath can result in nothing but benefit. We believe it best to retire after taking the bath, so if practical, arrange to exercise late in the day. Do not get into the habit of rushing out of doors in cold weather, immediately after your bath. It is best to stay indoors for about an hour, as one runs a chance of contracting pneumonia by such foolishness.

We cannot too strongly stress the importance of keeping warm while exercising. To work up a free sweat is one of the most healthful things you can do. You should dress warmly in cold weather if your training room is cold. Wear heavy or warm clothing and then remove it as you get warmed up; but don't chill yourself. Many young fellows hinder their progress in development and even contract stiff and sore muscles by dressing too scantily when the temperature is low. This is from reading foolish magazine articles on exercising nude. Professional athletes don't do such things. They can't afford to. Neither can athletic coaches afford to let their charges become stiff through such practices. Athletes who know anything about conditioning wear plenty of warm clothing till they are warmed up, and then they take cautions to prevent chilling. You have only to observe such athletes in training to realize the truth of this assertion. Did it ever occur to you that big league ball pitchers have a reason for wearing long woolen sleeves, even in warm weather?

If troubled with small pimples or to the skin distresses of a minor nature, we advise the use of laundry soap for bathing purposes, either a borax or naphtha type of soap.

Iron Nation
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