Friday, August 12, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 16a - Determining Proper Proportions - By Mark H. Berry

If this present volume serves no other purposes, I want it to satisfy every reader in seeking the solution of one problem. And that is to be able to offer a means of arriving at satisfactory understanding on the matter of correct physical proportions for men of all types. So many ideal tables have been published as to make the subject most confusion to everyone. None of the tables of measurements or standards for arriving at ideal proportions agree, so the intelligent observer can be excused for deciding that ideal proportions really depend on the personal opinion of those interested. We only wish this question could be easily and finally decided by mapping out a table of figures to be applied to every individual. This, however, is an utter impossibility, as humans differ so greatly as to make each man a rule unto himself.

For centuries, idealists have been trying to determine or arrive at some understanding on the ideal physical man. Physical perfection has been sought by countless thousands, and yet no definite scale has ever been determined whereby one could know when this quality was achieved. It has all been a matter of opinion and regardless of any figures or authorities quoted, each claimant to high honors has found some authority or figures in support of his claim. If all humans were built proportionately alike, then it might be consistent to speak of one type as being ideal. But, when we consider that practically each nationality and race presents a different problem of physical proportions, we cannot so easily refer to any one type as being ideal without being unfair to all others.

Personally, I would be inclined to favor the tall man as most nearly approaching the ideal of physical perfection, providing he came up to certain accepted standards of proportions. However, it is very rare to find a tall man who approximates any of the standards set down by authorities, either ancient or modern. Many tall athletes present a most pleasing and desirable appearance, but ideal standards must be altered if they are to pass, and those who possess the required girth of each body unit lack the pleasing effect upon the eye. A practically identical thing may be said in reference to men of shorter than average stature. This type of man has an easier time developing his muscles to approximate the ideal standards, and in photographs he strikes an appeal to the eye of both trained and untrained observer. But, if seen personally, the majority of people will be inclined to reject him as an ideal due to his lack of stature. To appeal to the eye upon personal observation the ideal physical man should be of at least average height. However, a man of that height, with both pleasing proportions and ideal measurements may appear only on paper, and as we cannot make men to order, it is necessary to arrive at a decision in favor of some existing example regardless of his stature. The males of one nationality will be found to run towards a short stocky type with thick bodies, broad shoulders and short legs. Those of another country may be slight of build as well as lacking in height. The men of still another country may be inclined towards medium height or taller and excessively fleshy. While those of still another country may be tall and rather slender. Those who are of the naturally short type with long bodies and short legs will present an entirely different problem than the tall man with long legs, so far as physical perfection and ideals are concerned. The long you consider this question, the more you are inclined to decide that it is necessary to set different standards of physical perfection for each of the most general types of man, toward which each individual may strive.

It is a matter of fairly good knowledge that animals are limited in size, weight, and strength by the breed to which they belong. That is, a pure bred draft horse is expected to grow to a larger and more powerful size than a coach horse or a race horse. The last named horse, while possessing the proper muscular mass to generate the power necessary for fast racing, is of very slender construction as compared to the huge draft horse. Among dogs, the same comparison can be made between the greyhound and the mastiff, the whippet and the bulldog. Mixed breeding will not give to the offspring the full qualities of each breed, but would bring about an inferior breed of both the strength and speed types. The highest qualities of either power or speed will be found only in the animal of pure breed. There would be no sense in attempting to change one type into the other.

We can to a certain extent draw a parallel in the case of humans. However, among humans there exists no distinct type to equal the pure bread animal. We do know, though, that human vary considerable in natural height and size. The majority of men of one nationality are taller and more massive than the average of another nationality. Even among the members of one nationality, the members of some families are noticeable larger than the average. As a rule, in all countries farmers and mountaineers are of a greater stature and size than city dwellers. Not being controlled in mating as are pedigreed animals, humans do no marry those of the same size or physical characteristics as themselves. A man whose ancestors were all giants, is quite apt to marry a woman of small size, whose ancestors were for the most part small. And, on the other hand, the large woman is likely to choose a man of smaller than average size. As this has been going on for ages, there exists no particular strain of blood comparable to specialized types, as in the case of the draft horse or race horse.

While it must be true that some individuals are naturally better adapted to certain forms of physical tasks than the majority, still the average man cannot determine his own possibilities unless some steps are taken to bring out hidden qualities. The ancestors of the largest percentage of people have been of a hard working vigorous type, even though in some cases a few generations removed. Physical strength is not the heritage of only a few, but is a quality handed down from vigorous toiling ancestors to millions now living upon the earth. Many American would have a difficult time attempting to determine the quality of ancestral stock from which they have descended. It is to be expected that an unbroken line of sedentary city dwellers could not pass on the same degree of health and physical qualities, as several generations of healthy, active rural dwellers. If you should find that your ancestors for generations had dwelt in the slum sections of cities in America and Europe, you could decide that your chances of becoming an athlete would amount to little. Your ancestors for generations might have been well to do, with no reason for engaging in physical toil. The descendants of long lines of wealthy forebears seem to be physically more efficient and enjoy a better state of health than the average. The reason for this would lie in the popularity of outdoor activities among the members of the wealthy class, which has existed for a long time. This having been true of the wealthy class in the past, it is now becoming more true of the great bulk of sedentary city and town dwellers. Lacking the necessary toil to keep them healthy, they are adopting various spare time activities to take care of their physical needs.

A man with a bony framework of average or smaller than average size should hardly expect to acquire the physical proportions of a great athlete whose bones are all of exceptional size. A great deal has been written about the small-boned man and his chances of developing muscles of great size. There is absolutely no reason why the man with light bones should not be able to become exceptionally strong, with impressive muscles of pleasing proportion. But at the same time we must consider the facts fairly and squarely. Take three men of an equal height, say five feet, eight inches. One of these men has a wrist measurement of 8 1/2 inches, ankles of 10 inches, his feet are fairly large and broad, his shoulders and hips are naturally very broad, due to the bony framework, and his arms are long, giving him a reach of about 72 inches. Another of the three has a wrist of 7 inches, ankle 9 inches, his shoulders and hips may appear rather broad, but not in comparison with the first mentioned man; this man we will say has a reach of 68 to 70 inches. The third man has a wrist measuring only 6 inches, ankle 8 inches, his feet may not be small in length, but in width are very narrow, his shoulders do not appear noticeably broad, and he is rather small in the hips. His reach is 66 to 68 inches. There we have examples of three distinct types.

The first man can easily build himself up to weigh 200 pounds or more of good solid muscle. The second man may develop to about 180 pounds bodyweight, while he third party will be very well built at 165 pounds, without acquiring any fat. There will, of course, be some great difference in he appearance of each man as compared to the others. The first man might develop a chest as large as 46 inches normal, whereas the third man could be well content with a normal chest girth of 42 inches. The man of medium sized frame would get a chest of about 44, let us say, but there will be some difference in the muscular mass and shape of the chest of the heavy boned man as compared to the other two. His chest will be thick in appearance when viewed from any angle, it will be heavy at the shoulders, and deep and thick just above the waist. The chests of the other two men, especially the one with the smallest bones, will present a greater tapering from the waist to the point of greatest girth. The best effect in physique photography would probably be secured by the man of medium bones, the fellow with the 7 inch wrist and about 9 inch ankle, this bone size being about the average for a man of sixty-eight inches height. As to other physical measurements which might be expected of each of the three men, we will give a rough sort of estimate. It must be understood by the student that many factors have to be considered in trying to estimate the probable greatest size of muscle to be attained by any individual. Later on in this volume, we will try to arrive at rules for determining these points to the personal satisfaction of each reader. The following figures must be understood as problematical, but they will give you some basis of comparison between men of varying types.

The heavy boned man could develop his arms and calves to measure 17 inches; his neck an inch or more larger, and thighs of 26 to 28 inches, depending on other important details. The second man could in all probability easily attain the following: Neck, 16 1/2 or 17 inches, upper arm and calf 16 inches, and thigh 24 or 25 inches. The light boned man might well be contented with a neck of 15 1/2 or 16 inches, upper arm and calf 15 inches, and thigh of 22 or 23 inches. Do you notice that? A difference of one inch between each of the men on neck, arm and calf, with greater differences of about two inches on chest and thigh. Between the first and third man, we find a difference of from two to four or more inches. A terrible difference, to be sure, be we must consider the fact that a dwelling house does not have the framework of an office building. In the matte of strength, the three men would simply be classified according to their respective bodyweights of 165, 180, and 200 pounds. We are of course presuming that each of the three men would be equipped about equally as to muscular coordination, nerve force, intelligence and so forth.

It is possible for an exceptional 165 pound athlete to be superior to scores of 200 pounders, and very frequently 190 pound athletes are more efficient than heavier men. However, when strength or bodily power is considered, the good big man is better than the good little man, which is a common statement in relation to athletes. While the figures given above were the probable standards of development for certain types, we must emphasize that such limits do not really apply in every case, and particularly is this true when considering every part of the body. It is possible in some cases for a man with poor framework and attachments for upper body development to have more ideal attachments of the lower body, and vice versa. After reading all the foregoing figures and comments, you may arrive at some idea as to your possibilities by studying various photographs of athletes shown in these pages. Then resolve to study and learn as much as you possibly can concerning your body and the means of developing it to the highest possible state of efficiency. And bear in mind that although certain reasonable limits are mentioned for a man of your type, it is possible through proper application to exceed such standards to a certain degree.

Let us try to reason this question out in a sensible manner, with a hearty regard for an attempt to arrive at truths. A little study of sound facts will be of great help. The physical proportion of thousands of representative American young men sheds some light upon the subject. Consider the shoulder breadth as a mean of judging proportions. Striking an average from various groups of thousands of young college men, we find in the group represented by very small youth of five feet, two inches tall, to be about fifteen inches. The average breadth among many thousands of college students, we find to be seventeen inches, which represents the average breadth for the young man of average American male height, just under five feet, eight inches. Other points to be noticed in connection with these shoulder breadths in relation to height are the breadths of the head and neck. Here we find a variance of only nine-tenths of an inch in head breadth, between the narrowest and broadest heads, and one and one-tenth variance in breadth of neck. This fact contributes greatly to the appearance of the great breadth on the tall man; between the two extremes, we find a difference in shoulder breadth of four inches, but only about one inch difference in head and neck breadths.

When we figure out proportions, we find the tall man to have a shoulder breadth of 25.6% of his height, with 24.2 for the short man: in both cases very close to one-fourth the height. The man of average height figures more exactly to the 25% mark. Table 1 should serve to assist you in making comparison to your own proportions. It is a mean average of thousands of American college youths.

These figures, we might say, represent young men of average physical development, or rather we might say young men who are not developed physically; however, they should prove interesting in making it possible to make comparisons between average healthy young men and well developed physical culturists.

We must acknowledge at this time our indebtedness to a book by Dr. Jay W. Seaver, Anthropometry and Physical Examination, for the majority of the figures of this nature quoted herein.

Fully matured men with unusually large frames would have shoulders of much greater breadth than the figures given here. Likewise, well-developed strong men will have shoulders of possibly two inches wider than the figures of average young men of the same height and relative framework. A strong man with well-developed deltoids on top of a large frame will have shoulders of tremendous breadth. In comparison with this increased width of shoulders, the head breadth will be of the same approximate size as the figures given on the above chart, thus adding to the appearance of great breadth.

The neck breadth of well-developed men will be considerably greater, the chest width would also be several inches greater, whereas the hip and waist breadths would be likely to be nearly identical to those of undeveloped men. Judging from this, you can realize the finer proportionate appearance. This business of reading figures, lengths, breadths, girths, and so forth may prove rather dry. If it proves uninteresting to you, then I would venture the statement that you are not sufficiently interested in the subject of physical proportions to care to work out standards for your own development. Neither will you be at all concerned about the subject of discerning the difference between the average undeveloped man and ideal specimens of manhood. There is no use in talking or reading about ideal proportions, unless you have some sound knowledge of the basic principles of your subject. Hence my object in presenting these figures to you.

According to an ancient Egyptian canon, the length of the middle finger was used as a common measure of all other proportions. Nineteen finger lengths being considered as the total height, five fingers the height of the knee, eight fingers the length of the arm. Another system, of modern origin, divides the height of the body into eighths, figuring the head as one-eighth, the knee as one-fourth, the pubis one-half, the nipples as three fourths, the shoulder breadth one fourth, and the length of arm spread the full height. Comparing both these standards to the measurements of thousands of representative American college men, we find the second mentioned standard most closely related to actual figures. Some standards agree on the height of the knee as one-fourth of the total height; the height of the pubis is agreed upon as one-half of the total height. Beyond that they do not agree. The height of the sternum, according to the second standard, should be 75% of the total height; according to the second standard, it should be approximately 82%. When compared to the actual measurement tables to which we have referred, we find the second mentioned standard in very close agreement. According to the actual physical measurements, the height of the knee is approximately 26% of the height. The approximate average of the pubis is 50% of the height. In the case of a figurative average man, the height of the sternum would be approximately 82% of the height of the man. We are all more or less familiar with the general fact that tall men are relatively longer in the legs than the short man, therefore we may readily surmise that any such figures as we have just quoted cannot apply to men of all heights. Roughly, perhaps, they may be applied, but not accurately. To give you a fair idea of true measurements as compared to such theoretical proportions, let us consider the Table 2.

These figures show that the 82% theory for the height of the sternum is very accurate. It may be that the ancient Greeks were proportionately long in the legs and shorter in the body than men of the present day. The errors we find in percentages for the other heights are: in the pubic height an actual 51% for the tall man and 48 1/2% for the short man, and in the knee height 26% for the average, 27% for the tall man, and 25 1/2 for the short man. These errors will prove that which we have already stated about tall men having relatively longer legs, and short man relatively shorter legs than either the average or the theoretical ideal figures. Further proof that the same table do not apply to all men.

Considerable misunderstanding exists concerning the small-boned man, and amid the confusion many men who have an average sized bony framework consider themselves unusually small boned. To enable you to clear up this matter in your mind, I am quoting physical measurements of thousands of American college students. The muscular girths are, of course, very poor in the eyes of physical culturists, but the wrist and knee girths should prove enlightening. Furthermore, these figures give you a better idea of how the average healthy young man shapes up, and how he compares with yourself and well known examples of physical development. When the average reader of this book notes the truth to be found in these figures, he should realize his chances of acquiring a perfect physique and great strength are no worse than the chances of any average normal young American of his height. These figures will prove to you that a man with a seven inch wrist isn't so small boned after all, but in reality he may have larger wrists than the average man of his height. With training, his wrists are quite likely to thicken to some extent, gaining anywhere from a half inch up to a full inch. The wise student will not expect such results in a couple of months.

Iron Nation
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