Wednesday, August 17, 2011


We offer this part of the present volume for the especial benefit of those readers who own, have made, or otherwise have access to a bar bell set, but have never enrolled in a recognized course of instruction. We do not claim this chapter alone to be superior to certain available instructions on the subject; however, any reader possessing fair intelligence may, by carefully studying the entire text of this volume, arrange for himself an exercise program quite equal to any well advertised course of instruction. We therefore suggest a most careful reading of the various chapters on developing different parts of the body, after which the exercises which follow may be put into practice.

The TWO ARM CURL is shown by Figure A on the Bar Bell Chart. This exercise is performed by raising the bell from the hand position (the arms hanging straight at the sides with the bell held in both hands) to the shoulders or upper chest by flexing the forearms on the upper arms, keeping the elbows stationary. It is advisable to bend the wrists upward and keep them in that position throughout the exercise. Do not execute the movement too slowly, nor should the bell be swung up and down mechanically. Keep the body erect, and the chest well out. Inhale deeply with each upward movement and exhale as the bell is lowered. Repeat five times at first; add one repetition each week, and after doing the counts for a week, add ten pounds and start over on five repetitions.

For the man of moderately average strength, that is, one who does not consider himself possessed of strength, we would advise starting with thirty pounds. The man of slightly larger than average size or who has had some experience in exercising and can be said to have extra average strength, we suggest thirty-five pounds as a start. The extra tall man of slender proportions even though he works at hard work, might better start with thirty pounds. Very small men will do best to use only twenty to twenty-five pounds at the start; while we would advise only fairly strong men to use forty or forty-five pounds at the beginning. Young boys or very physically inferior men only use fifteen pounds. Advise has sometimes been given to stop when the curling poundage approximates half your bodyweight, but there is no sensible reason for limiting yourself to such a poundage, providing you can continue to execute the full number of movements correctly. The majority of advanced bar bell men should have no trouble exercising correctly with one hundred pounds or slightly more.

The TWO ARM PRESS may be started with five or ten pounds more than you are using in the curl, if the movement seems easy to you. We notice that some individuals have a difficult time mastering overhead pressing, and if this seems to be true in your case, use the same poundage suggested in the first exercise. The bell is pressed or slowly pushed from the chest to full arm's length overhead. Inhale as the bell ascends, exhale as the bell is lowered to the chest. Observe the same rules for advancement as given with the first exercise. It is not essential to stand absolutely erect, or in the military position, and you may lean the head back slightly when executing the movement. Refer to the two poses of Eugene Sandow performing this exercise. Sandow is standing with one knee bent, but we suggest keeping both legs straight.

The next exercise movement we like to call "the rowing motion" and generally refer to it as such. The principal point to be observed is the raising of the bell to the chest in a free manner, while keeping the elbows pointed straight out to the side. Some individuals are at first unable to touch the chest with the handle bar; and some men always seems to have difficulty in doing the movement correctly, but this we believe to be due to a faulty manner of practice which soon becomes a bad habit. Take pains at first to master it correctly, and you will never have further trouble. The position of the entire body is important; stand with the feet spread pretty well apart, the knees straight, and the body bent forward at the hips with the back kept as flat as possible: it will even help in maintaining the correct position, to arch the back to some extent, with an exaggerated position of sticking the hips out. Try to start the exercise with the same amount of weight you are using in the two arm curl, but in order to master the arm movement correctly it will be best to use a very light weight at first. Don’t use a poundage that will prevent you getting on to a free and easy manner of raising the elbows till the bar touches your chest. A similar movement has been advised at times as a substitute for this bar bell exercise; in the other, kettle bells are used, the idea being that it is easier to concentrate on the muscles of each side when one kettle bell is used at a time. However, we believe the practice of the kettle bell substitute will fail to enable you to master the correct movement. Whereas in the bar bell exercise you must raise the bell to the chest, when using kettle bells you can cheat yourself without being aware of the fact. If any advanced bar bell fellows are unable to touch the chest easily with a bar, it is through the bad habit of doing the movement only partly with a kettle bell. The complete movement is executed by assuming only partly with a kettle bell. The complete movement is executed by assuming the body position mentioned above; the bell hanging at arm's length straight down from the chest; the arms are then drawn up till the bar comes in contact with the chest, making sure to have the elbows pointing straight out to the side. Start at five counts and work up to ten, as suggested for the two preceding exercises.

The fourth exercise in this group consists of performing a two arm press while in the prone position; though instead of lying flat on the floor, we recommend having a small box or stool under the broad of the back, so as to permit a freer action of the arms. When lying on the floor, the elbows stop at the level of the back and the bell cannot be lowered to the chest. If the upper body is raised above the floor, as when a stool or box is used under the broad of the back, the bell may be lowered to the chest and the arms are thus given a more complete range of movement, which also acts in the same way on the pectoral muscles of the chest, and the front position of the deltoid muscles of the shoulders. Use the same poundage and repetitions as in the first exercise.

The fifth number of this group is the shoulder shrug. Standing erect with the arms hanging at the sides, the hands gripping the bar bell which rests against and directly across the front of the thighs. Keeping the arms straight, raise the bell by shrugging the shoulders as shown in the illustration. Please note the only movement is made by raising the shoulders in an attempt to touch the ears with the deltoids. A similar exercise consists of rolling the shoulders in the same manner; instead of raising the shoulders straight up, you raise them towards the front in a sort of round shouldered position, then on up and back as far as possible and then down to the starting point. We would suggest doing the movement in the first mentioned way for the first two months or longer, and then alternating at both styles. Use the same poundage as in the curl to start with, but after the first few months you can use something heavier. Work from ten up to twenty repetitions, by adding two counts each week.

The sixth exercise is for the thighs and calves, and known as the deep knee bend or regulation squat. The bar bell is lifted over the head and placed across the back of the neck and shoulders. Stand with the heels fairly close together, toes turned well out; then squat down balancing the body on your toes, till you nearly sit on the heels; then regain the erect position again, allowing the heels to touch the floor only when the standing position has been gained. It is easier to go through with this exercise if you keep moving at a fairly even rate, and do not hesitate. Begin with the same weight as in Exercise 1, but after the first month you may use fifteen pounds more than in the curl. To make our meaning clear, beginning the second month you will add twenty-five pounds to the amount you have been using the first month. After the second month, add at the rate suggested for all the preceding movements. Work from ten up to ten to twenty repetitions, in jumps of two each week.

The seventh exercise is for the sides of the waist and hips. Refer to the illustration. After completing the deep knee bend, do not lower the bell, but keep it at the back of the neck. Stand with the legs spread a fair distance apart, the weight evenly distributed on both feet. Bend the body directly to the side, first to one side and then to the other, as far as you comfortably can. Repeat ten times to each side, add two repetitions each week up to twenty.

The eighth is known as the reverse curl, and similar to the regulation curling exercise with two hands. In the first exercise of this group you held the bar with the under grip, that is, with the knuckles turned down, palms up; now you reverse the grip, knuckles up, palms down. Use about two-thirds of the weight you handle in the regular curl. The bell is raised only to the position shown, starting from the hand position, or with the arms hanging straight. Same number of counts as for the first exercise.

The ninth exercise is the wrestler's bridge, for neck and spine, but is practiced for its effect on the former. Assume the bridge position with weight supported on head and heels, the bar bell lying on floor just in front of the head. Reach over, grasp the bar and pull the bell over to the chest. Then press the bell up to arms length as illustrated. Lower the bell to the chest and repeat the pressing movement. At first, we would advise doing the exercise in this manner. Later on you may practice a variation; instead of holding the stationary bridge position, you hold the bell aloft at arms length and rock the head back and forth, allowing the shoulders to touch the floor at the one extreme. Use a very light weight for either bridging exercise at first. Add to the weight gradually, never attempting to rush your progress. In the pressing exercise, repeat five times, working up to ten. In the rocking variation of the bridge, repeat the same number of times.

For the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth exercises to make your program, select a forearm, a calf and an abdominal exercise. The most common calf exercise is to practice rising on the toes while holding a weight on the shoulders. Vary it by having the toes turned well in, straight ahead, and turned out. Later you may practice these same movements with the toes on a block of wood, a book, or any other raised object. For an abdominal exercise, you may practice the ordinary sit-up, with the feet caught under some immovable object, and bar bell behind the neck; or you may practice a similar exercise while seated cross wise on a chair, the feet securely held down, and the bar bell resting across the front of the chest. Use a very light weight at first; repeat only three or four times and work up to several repetitions before increasing the weight; make no attempt to rush the progress.

The foregoing bar bell exercises constitutes a most satisfactory course for body developing purposes. If the beginner will be content to practice three times weekly for a period of ten or twelve weeks, we can practically guarantee results well worth the time and trouble of anyone. After that you may select suitable advanced exercises from other chapters in this volume, alternating turn about on the above group and some other exercises. We might suggest devoting at least one day per week to the Lifting Motion Exercises given in another chapter; that is, after putting in the right amount of time of these body building exercises.


From experience in observing and supervising the exercise of men of all classes, we have learned a few little points not generally understood by the average physical culturist. It is also probable that the average instructor has not the proper opportunity to observe these facts, which are so necessary when exercise is to be prescribed. In suggesting the starting poundage for different men, you cannot be guided entirely by physical proportions; not by the kind of work followed by the man. One expects young farmers, due to the nature of their work, to be stronger than clerical workers or ordinary town and city dwellers. True, they may be possessed of a greater amount of strength and capable of standing the arduous tasks of toil. However, the young farmer as a rule has a poorer quality of coordination than young city dwellers, and for this reason we find it necessary to prescribe a rather light amount of weight at first. If we were to suggest weights in proportion to his evident strength, the average young farmer finds it difficult to correctly execute many of the movements. A somewhat similar condition is true of men who are unusually tall and proportionately quite slender. The man of this type may easily adapt himself to some branches of athletic sport, as baseball, tennis, swimming, basketball, and even to some extent in boxing. He is, on the other hand, at a great disadvantage in wrestling and leverage movements requiring the application of strength of some degree. The unusually tall man may have to be started on the same poundage as a short man of much lighter bodyweight for this reason.

Another point which tends to cause confusion is the form of work followed by the man as a means of earning a livelihood. The general impression seems to be that a man will not and cannot be strong unless he works at some laborious occupation. Another opinion, just the reverse of this, is held by many men who do work hard all day long: they have an idea they use too much energy during the day to make any improvement in strength and development by exercising outside of working hours. Ordinarily, we might be inclined to think this last opinion was correct as the sedentary worker (he who does little or nothing during the day) should have plenty of time and opportunity to store up energy and grow stronger on regular exercise in the evening. There is just one important drawback to this conclusion. Too many sedentary workers are afraid of exerting themselves when they practice their exercise course, consequently they get into the habit of going through the program in a desultory manner, utterly void an any enthusiasm and eager only to get through with the each exercise period. The man or youth who expects to realize results from simply going through the motions is wasting his time, to say the least. He should simply resign himself to the fate of growing old and feeble as quickly as possible. The fellow who exerts himself all day long will generally tackle his exercise with a great feeling of zest and ambitions to see what he can accomplish. We must judge each individual case accordingly. Some men who do considerable lifting during the course of an ordinary day might fail to benefit from the instructions given the average man. In the majority of such cases, it is best to limit the amount of work so far as repetitions are concerned, but to accustom the pupil to fairly strenuous exercise as soon as we can with safety. The exercises to be beneficial, must be of a more strenuous nature than the customary occupational exertions, referring of course to the effect upon the body as a whole and not to a few isolated muscles which may receive fairly beneficial exercise at the daily work. When a man becomes accustomed to more strenuous exertions at exercise than is necessitated at his occupation, he soon becomes capable of doing the daily work more easily.

Iron Nation

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