Getting Into Condition
When the average man runs as little as one block to catch a train, he becomes completely winded. Perhaps you have learned this about your own physical condition. You were a bit late, well within sight of the station, but at least a quarter mile to go and less than two minutes until train time. You had been catching this train every morning for the last year or so, had had to hurry at times, but never more than a fast walk before. But this time you had the alternative of picking up and setting your feet down a little faster by actually running to make the train or waiting until the next one which would make you late business.
If you were doing a fair amount of physical work, your legs were in pretty good condition, but you felt real distress after completing your run to the train. After you entered the car you were panting for breath and felt will-nigh exhausted. Your distress continued long after the extreme exertion was ended. You continued to be completely winded, out of breath, yet your legs which seemed to be the chief motivating force were not tired. This phenomenon probably puzzled you. Your legs which apparently did the work were not tired yet your lungs were panting, your heart pumping, which would lead you to believe that they were not strong.
Your heart and lungs had become accustomed to performing certain work. When called upon to do much more they protested strongly, and many long minutes were required before a condition of normal heart and lung action was regained. The unusual action of the legs required much greater quantities of oxygen; the heart and lungs were laboring to supply them. An oxygen debt had piled up during your enforced run, and even after the muscles were no longer in use, as you rested upon the cushions, the heart and lungs were hard at work to pay that debt, and only when the debt was paid could they return to normal operation and you were once again comfortable.
You have noticed athletes “warming up” before a run or a contest. Paavo Nurmi, the great Finnish runner, or Glenn Cunningham, the
When a man starts out in the beginning of the season to practice cross-country, track, football, or even crew he commences to run a little. He runs a little more each day, and with the passing days his internal works become accustomed to the increased exertions demanded of them, so that they deliver increased quantities of the blood sugar and oxygen required to keep the muscles in operation. Constant practice, improving the action of the important internal works, makes the difference between the great fatigue and breathlessness you or any other untrained man experiences from suddenly running to catch a train and the five to ten miles that trained runners traverse so easily. They have built endurance in heart and lungs as well as limbs.
The average man if he swims the length of a normal pool – 75 feet – unless he is a good swimmer and has practiced at least a fair amount of swimming in recent months, will arrive at the end of the pool breathless. Yet a trained swimmer can continue for hours without breathlessness. He has learned to breathe fully while in the water. It is easier to draw in sufficient breath at each double stroke than it is to exhale fully enough to provide enough fresh air for subsequent strokes.
Jumping rope is difficult for the average man; he soon becomes breathless. Yet men have skipped rope without amiss for hour after hour, simply because they become accustomed to the exertion. Deep knee bending with one’s bodyweight is difficult for the average man. I have seen corpulent men and women who did not possess enough strength to arise once from the low position of the deep knee bend, and have seen many others who became so breathless form a few bends that they could not continue. Yet men who have specialized in repetition deep knee bends have continued for thousands of bends. The difference is becoming accustomed to the movements and simultaneously strengthening the body inside and out so that the desired movement can be continued for a lengthy period.
While deep breathing alone will not give you the ability to swim far, run far, or skip rope thousands of times, unless you practice these particular exercises, the deep-breathing (particularly when coupled with vigorous exercise which places demands upon the body) will be highly beneficial. Deep breathing when no exertion is made will not improve your endurance but deep breathing coupled with vigorous exercise will make you not only stronger and healthier but a great deal more enduring. Deep breathing practiced during your progressive training periods will greatly increase the capacity or your chest and its strength, but if you wish to excel at physical pastimes such as I have enumerated you must practice these particular sports or exercises.
The total quantity of work demanded of the muscles produces general breathlessness. Muscular fatigue is local, as can easily be proven if you determine how many times you can press a twenty-five pound weight overhead with one hand, but if you see how many times you can deep knee bend with one hundred pounds then you create the general effect of breathlessness because you have brought all the muscles into action. When work is too light to produce breathlessness, only fatigue, you cannot expect to obtain favorable results in building chest size, strength or endurance.
In direct contrast, if you exert to the limit of their ability the larger muscles of the body, the muscles can become tired before a condition of breathlessness is created. As, for instance, in very heavy dead weight lifting or deep knee bending, perhaps seven movements can be made, which are all one could expect from the muscles if a weight is very heavy, before a feeling of breathlessness will result. Therefore it is necessary in endeavoring to build the chest with heavy exercise to continue the movements to a point where great breathlessness results. While some physical trainers recommend thirty or even more deep knee bends I do not favor so many, preferring not to exceed fifteen bends as a muscle-building exercise – twenty as a breathing exercise. If more bends are practiced, and the movement is continuous, the weight must feel light to begin and then toward the end it becomes difficult enough. This sort of movement builds endurance rather than strength in muscles and greatest lung capacity. On the other hand it is not possible to use a great weight for enough movements to really cause enforced breathing. That’s why I recommend the heavy and light system for those who desire to build great strength in muscles, tendons and ligaments – at least ten movements for muscle building, and up to twenty to enlarge the chest.
Most men who have established high records in deep knee bending with heavy weights perform a series of strength feats rather than continuous deep knee bending.
They take three or even more breaths between each bend. Weldon Bullock, the first seventeen-year-old boy in the history of weight lifting to clean and jerk three hundred pounds followed this system. In 1933, at the national weight lifting championships in
During heavy deep knee bending it is not too difficult to inhale sufficient air, but as in swimming it is hard to expel the air which has passed through the lungs. That was the reason for the great effort Bullock expended in expelling the used air from his lungs.
I will repeat a number of times through the chapters in this book the important rule that increased chest size only results from exercises which cause breathlessness by making great demands upon the muscles. While it is possible to create a condition of breathlessness by holding one’s breath, or even remaining under water for a long period, this is not a recommended way to build the chest, for as previously mentioned it also creates a strain upon the heart and lungs.
Any man in reasonably good condition can run evenly and at a moderate pace for a quarter of half mile or even farther without becoming especially breathless. He will be breathing more forcefully, for he heart and chest, having so much more work to do, naturally will be operating more powerfully, but if he runs faster, or uphill, then real effort is demanded of the internal works. Jumping into the air or stair climbing greatly adds to the effort expended. I have always enjoyed reading about athletes and athletics. I have seen in action, for a great many years, nearly every well-known athlete in every branch of every sport. I am a lover of all sports, have taken part in most of them, really enjoy seeing the champions in any sport in action. Weight lifting or weight training is my first love, for I realize that it is the finest form of training and produces more physical benefits in less time than any other line of physical endeavor. But I do see other sports when I can.
I believe I have seen every great sprinter for the last score of years in action at the championships or at the Olympic games. I casually know one of these sprinters and had read of his exploits. He was the national champion one year when a group of
Gradually building the ability to breathe deeply and forcefully, making physical demands upon the body which create breathlessness, and abetting these demands through proper, enforced breathing will build bigger, deeper chests, and invariably the man with the biggest chest will be more enduring than the man with a flatter chest – not in movements of light endurance, for men with small chests could build sufficient endurance to run a score or more of miles. Indians weighing less than a hundred pounds have run a hundred miles; frail men and women have ridden a bicycle for hundreds of miles or walked a hundred miles. But they would not have power and endurance combined, which is much to be desired and striven for.
If you consider your own friends you must know some vital, enduring men who have big, deep chests, and you must know some men with smaller, shallow chests. The man with the bigger chest invariably will possess more endurance than the thinner person. The thin person will work on nervous energy and having less weight to carry may continue all day, but cannot keep this up day after day to the extent that the vital big-chested man can. The big-chested man continues his efforts on muscular power alone, husbanding his physical resources, so that he is more placid in disposition, more tranquil in mind, while the thinner, smaller-chested man works on nerve force and finally pays.