Thursday, September 15, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 30 - Part A, (LAST CHAPTER), PHYSICAL TRAINING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE - By Mark H. Berry

Originally Posted on on 01 April 2006

It has oft been remarked that this is an age of mania, fads and cults. Probably so, but with the urge to lead people to their way of living, there can be no doubt that many of the faddists and cult leaders have brought benefit to thousands, or rather millions, of people. The cult recruit must derive some benefit from the new teachings, otherwise he will not remain in the ranks.

Among some physical educators there is an inclination to belittle physical culturists by classifying their efforts as aimed purely at increasing muscular size. In our way of thinking, an attitude of this sort is altogether unfair. The physical culturist, providing he is sincere in his efforts, is an earnest individual with his own best interests at heart. Through making a study of his body and the application of proven methods he devotes part of his time to the improvement of his physical condition. It is a case of the individual using the best available knowledge to promote the highest possible state of physical efficiency.

The physical director is in the business of selling information to others. This is just as true of the college physical educator as it is of the man who advertises a system of instruction by mail, or conducts a studio of personal instruction. The college physical educator plans, conducts, and directs the physical exercise program of large groups of students. A certain amount of benefit is derived by a student body as whole; of that there can be no doubt, as any form of physical exercise if not carried to extreme will prove of some benefit. We also recognize that an effort is made to single out those who have remedial physical defects and prescribe special exercise for their benefit. However, the spirit of the physical culturist is not present in the individuals composing the entire exercise group. There is only too likely to be a feeling of wishing to hurry through the class drills, regarding the allotted time as a period of boredom and the exertions as a necessary evil.

The physical culturist who buys information to suit his purpose from an instructor has the interest in mind of wishing to derive a certain degree of benefit; consequently he will work harder for results and pay more attention to the details of the performance. Results are measured by improved health and physical efficiency are bound to be greater among the physical culture group than among the group of students who are compelled to spend a part of their time in calisthenics drill. Enthusiasm is present in the one case; sufficient interest is lacking in the other.

In my opinion, physical culture is physical education and vice versa. When each is considered in its true meaning and to the full extent, they are one and the same thing. The aim of the physical educator consider collectively, is to promote a healthful amount of activity and a fair degree of efficiency in handling the body, rather than to make any attempt to develop muscles or great strength.

We fully appreciate the attitude of the physical educators as a professional body. The theory of the school director in regards to physical exercise is co-ordination of the physical and mental faculties, resulting in a normal acceleration of the vital forces; and relaxation of the mental forces. Rather than to strive for a noticeable muscular development, they aim for a normal amount of activity and full control of all voluntary bodily movements. The attitude of many physical educators toward physical culture is that of an ambition to develop large and showy muscles with no regard for co-ordination, quickness, agility, or endurance. If this was the full extent of physical culture, its followers would be lacking in the high ideals upon which they pride themselves. The ambitions of the cult would be hollow and aimless.

In my estimation, the field of physical education, or of physical culture, whichever you may choose to call it, is not limited to either of these fields, but embraces any and all branches of the science of improving and preserving the normal functions of the human body. The field of corrective exercise is only touched by the average class of physical educators as compared to the work accomplished by professional physical culturists is that of correcting subnormal physical conditions and building a uniform muscular conformation.

The true physical culturist aims to develop complete physical powers in every respect. Contrary to the opinions of many, a fully rounded muscular development is not abnormal. Surely the trained eye of any physical educators will be more impressed with a splendid muscular specimen than with the physique of the individual who is angular and lacking in proportions. The masters of sculptor have always graced their art with exceptionally full muscular development. Even the anatomical charts used in the class room will show a degree of muscularity which is possessed only by physical culturists who practice movements of a strenuous nature. Earnest physical culturists generally have a thorough knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and are generally familiar with the theory of corrective measures of exercise, bathing, and diet. The ideals of the true physical culturist are identical to the aims of the physical educator. Corrective measures simply consist in developing one group of muscles in proper proportion to another group of antagonistic muscles. When all muscles and muscular groups are developed in proper proportion no physical defects can be present. So far as the organic health of the individual is concerned, we can only take the stand that the normal functioning of the physiological processes, induced by a normal amount of activity, should result in good health; when of course, combined with sensible habits of diet, bathing, recuperation, etc.

The physical culturist who regards exercise as solely a means to build a big biceps or accomplish some extraordinary feat holds an attitude as narrow as that of the individual who believes calisthenics sufficient for the needs of the healthy mature man.

The man who values the feeling of real strength through the passing years with the high degree of every day health it gives him, should lose an opportunity in starting along the road which points to physical training for the rest of his life.

We can hope for nothing better than that the reading of this volume will give you an incentive devote a goodly portion of the rest of your life to physical training. In step with the general progress of the world, it will become increasingly necessary to keep in a first class condition of physical efficiency.

Sometimes we hear talk of the dangers of exercising, or especially of the harmless of leading an athletic life.

We wish to say something concerning the benefits and harmfulness of leading an athletic life; or as we might call it, the strenuous life. Personally, we have certain opinions and convictions on the subject, arrived at after all due and lengthy consideration. We try to the best of our ability to weigh everything we hear or read, in an attempt to arrive at true values.

So much is said pro and con about athletics dying young; personally, we do not become unduly alarmed over such statements, until "strong men" are included. There is a considerable difference between the man who trains by means of weight lifting exercises, and he who has trained at competitive athletics of every sort. First of all, we wish it clearly understood that we are not in favor of competitive athletics for schoolboys, which also includes the majority of high school athletes, who are of immature age.

If there is any danger of harm resulting from athletics, it is from encouraging immature schoolboys to strain themselves to the limit to win contests. The playing of games, and even participation in running and other athletics could not be harmful if youngsters were not encouraged to force themselves to the limit in order to win. We have known of many cases where promising young athletes were completely burnt out at reaching twenty-one from specialization in athletics or boxing. We always advise young fellows to develop and strengthen themselves by means of body building exercises rather than to take chances of ruining their health later in life by engaging in athletic competition in their teens. It is far more sane to delay the athletic career and be certain of possessing a physique of which you may be proud at maturity. You will have lots of time for athletics after that, if you are so inclined.

Physical training or development exercises are entirely different. Our growing youth needs healthful recreation and corrective exercises to insure his development to full red blooded manhood. This brings to mind another thought in connection with our subject. It has to do with the question of athletic supremacy, and whether or not athletes die unusually young.

If you will think back among acquaintances of our schoolboy days, you may recall that for the most part, the boys who excelled in athletics were those of the physically precocious type; in other words, they were prematurely developed physically and although not mature, this class of boys often gives the impression of near maturity. We can very well remember a number of star schoolboy athletes who excelled at baseball, running and jumping especially. They seemed so much larger and stronger than the average boy at their age, so much so, in fact, that it was rather difficult to realize they were so young. However, a few years later, when we had grown, it was with a certain degree of amazement we noticed the majority of these husky athletic schoolboys, were smaller than the average man at maturity, some of them even being "shrimps" alongside of a good man. Years ago I formed the conclusion about to be set down, although I never had occasion to put it in writing before.

Now some people might hastily conclude that participation in athletics stunted the growth of these boys. Possibly so, however, our conclusion is somewhat different. To wit; authorities claim as a well establish fact, that the length of life is in proportion to the age of maturity. Among animals this rule works out splendidly, but among humans the average length of life is entirely disproportionate to the age of maturity as compared to animals. It has been claimed, though that the longevity of humans is generally in proportion to the age of maturity, not exactly to a year or two but those who naturally mature early seemingly do not survive to the average age of those who mature late. People erroneously believe twenty-one to be the age of male maturity, while it is generally known by those who understand the subject that many mane do not mature until thirty or older. The logical conclusion then, is that the man who matures at thirty has a better chance of surviving to a long term of years than he who matures at twenty-one.

Coming back to our original discussion, we would thus expect the man who matures early to be physically more capable in his teens than he who matures early to be physically more capable in his teens than he who matured later; providing, of course, both were of the athletic type. Obviously, all men who mature early are not of a physically superior type. But applying our conclusions to athletes, we would then find the youth who was nearly mature, to be more capable as an athlete at an early age. We can easily run this form of reasoning down to a sensible conclusion; attaining some measure of recognition as an athlete, early in life, the young man is most likely to specialize and receive great encouragement to continue his activities. The average length of life seems to be something under fifty, many survive well beyond that point, while quite a number do not. There seems to be a law of averages applicable to practically everything, so when many thousands are engaged in athletics, a certain percentage are bound to die under fifty, or even under forty, just as among non-athletic persons. And, of course, great publicity attends the early demise of athletes, while not attention is drawn to those who survive, nor is any mention made in the press of the millions on non athletes who die prematurely.

It is these youthful, so called natural athletes who are most likely to give up activities at an early age. They lived to hard during their early years, considering themselves men before they were really matured, and then after passing the peak in athletic ability, dropped out of competition and training. In the first place, there resulted a weakening from the strain; in the second place, the inactive life proved the hardship to them. When athletes die young, it is among this class almost entirely, but of course the question arises as to whether or not they would have expired early if they had never engaged in athletics.

Undoubtedly, the average length of life among athletes is appreciably higher than among average people. If, as we conclude, the precocious type, of individual is destined to a short life, and prominent athletes in some branches of sport are most likely to be drawn from this type, we can expect a great many relatively early deaths among athletes. We believe this would particularly apply to the most popular branches of sport, at which boys and youths take greatest pride in excelling. For instance, baseball, football, running, and boxing; that is, so far as Americans are concerned.

I am well aware of the thought that is on your mind. Why does not participation in athletics prolong the life of the athlete? It may to a certain extent, in many cases, but we subscribe more or less to the belief that nothing much can actually be done to greatly prolong life, in our present state of limited knowledge. Some day, in the remote future, men may solve this riddle, but today very little is known that will exert any great influence on longevity. We may, through careful living, escape the ravages of certain diseases, and reduce the effect of time upon our system, possibly adding a few years, and certainly we can make life more enjoyable through proper living. Is it not worth something to reach our declining years physically fit and of some use to yourself and society? To accomplish this purpose alone is worth any trouble or inconvenience you may be put to leading a clean life. Even though not a single year can be added to your life, it is worth something to know that you will not be helpless and broken down in your last days on earth. That is enough to exercise and live for, is it not?

You may question the form of reasoning which concludes the length of life may not be appreciably increased. I would refer you back to what was said in the discussion of sex. Some individuals are born with a better set of glands than others, thus inheriting a long life. Our chief reason for concluding that life cannot be greatly increased at the present time is due to the phenomena of the glands in the human body. We are born after a definite period of formation lasting less than ten months; we reach adolescence at the time when the glands are beginning to mature; finally full maturity is attained, which is nothing more nor less than the full bloom of the glands of sex; then after a term of years, these glands begin to dry up, and do what we may, we can do nothing to prevent it ( at least not with our present degree of knowledge ); many people claim to possess secrets of rejuvenation and the prolonging of life, but none is so foolish as to state that they have a means of indefinitely prolonging the activity of the sexual functions. Surely, certain doctors have tried transplanting animal glands in the human body, but although there may be a temporary pepping up of the spirits, it soon passes off, for the body in time absorbs anything put into it; even splints to strengthen bones. Has anyone come forward with a means of postponing the menopause, or change of life in woman? When that can be done, we shall know something of the science of increasing longevity. Therefore, you see, at a certain time in our life the glands cease to function, and we soon dry up; it is then but a matter of time till we pass from this earthly existence.

Physical Culture
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