Special Methods for Training the "Won't Gains"
by Joseph Curtis Hise
Before trying to pile on slabs of muscle the body-builder must first train for "shape" - skeletal "shape," obtaining the maximum volume of cartilage on the bone-ends and at the bone junctions. Correct body mechanics permits the maximum space in which to grow cartilage (the "soft skeleton"), and correct exercises for increasing the quantity of cartilage should precede or accompany muscle-building exercises. It is limiting your physical possibilities to omit exercises which increase-breadth and chest-size through stimulating the formation of cartilage.
Cartilage is found capping the bones at the joints at each end of the collarbones -- plus two great masses in the chest and back. The front part of the rib-box is cartilage and by increasing the quantity of this tissue you automatically build a bigger chest.
The Stocky or Abdominal skeletons possess the greatest volume of cartilage; the Intermediates a less but adequate amount. The Asthenics (weak of skinny Thoracics -- that is, undeveloped Thoracics) have insufficient. This is because they have small-diametered vertebrae and unexercised chests; they do not respond readily to corrective work when they have passed immaturity. If the "slims" with small spine-bones "normalize" they will soon possess strength and longevity not too inferior to those of the Intermediate and Stocky types.
Roger Eells, the famous American barbell instructor, has had a great deal of experience in normalizing the "hopeless" type, the Intermediates and the "Silver Spoon" Abdominals. A minimum of time of normalizing the Intermediates and Abdominals is three to four months, but six months is more usual. The pure aesthenic types normalize in about six months but sometimes require eight or nine. You will note that with this special training the "Culls" are about half as rapid as the "Silver Spoons." If you will study other kinds of training you will find that then the "Culls" are seldom one percent as good as the "Silver Spoons." In other words, the slender, undeveloped, underweight Thoracics get very poor results with ordinary programmes and wind up very little better in chest-development, posture or body-weight than formerly.
Successful training is the only kind permissible or acceptable in Great Britain where the calories are limited. The experience of good instructors in poor-fooded prison camps and the experimental training of one of my friends on a 1,500 calorie diet have proved to my satisfaction that normal successful gains can be made by anyon eeven if he has only a poor diet -- although all of us Yankees prefer to avoid the lower limits of food consumption. Most training methods you read about in British and Yankee publications are possible only by looting the Army Mess or by living in Buenos Aires.
Working on the principles mentioned I shall now outline a course suitable for beginners. It could be used by advanced men and lifters -- not that they are dissimilar, but beginners are not philosophers or experts. A beginner is either an average (untrained) man or one who has always failed with weight-lifting. An advanced man is one who can correctly perform 20 Squats (Deep Knee Bends) in proper breathing style with 75 lbs. on his shoulders.
You will note that of the nine exercises I give for beginners five of them are postural movements, and that only the Two Arm Curl is free from any postural effect. The Straight-Legged Dead Lift and the "Dinky Squat" as described in this article are safe on all bad backs, weak sacro-iliacs, etc. The spinal exercises will correct all spine abnormalities -- kyphosis, lordosis and scoliosis. In bad cases or with weak persons use lighter weigths -- it is the effect and not any silly poundage that corrects one.
The common style with big calorie eaters is to assult the heavy weights with might and main. With this system, however, failure is hardly possible if you keep control on the poundages. NEVER INCREASE POUNDAGES WHILE YOU ARE STILL GAINING IN BODYWEIGHT OR SIZE; this is vitally important on limited calories.
Use an ordinary barbell. Beginners are not competent enough to manage dumbbells.
(1) Two Hands Curl -- 20 pounds, never over 12 repetitions.
(2) Two Hands Press -- 20 pounds, never over 12 repetitions.
(3) Towel Exercise (corrects upper spine and pads the upper vertebrae with cartilage) -- With the back of the head in the center of the towel, the ends grasped together in both hands forward of and slightly above the head, the head backwards and downwards while resisting wiht the hands. Use 2- to 25 repetitions.
(4) Abdomianal Exercise -- 20 repetitons. Use an inclined board or lie flat on the back and raise the feet. Abdominal muscles have postural importance.
(5) Straight Legged Dead Lift On A Hopper -- 30 to 30 pounds. Two sessions of 10 repetitions. Use a chair seat or bench which is KNEE HIGH or higher. I use an ordinary kitchen chair. Place the toes under the chair, knees against the edge, legs "locked" straight. The hands are shoulder width or wider and the bar rests across the thighs.
Bend forward smartly, striking the bar on the chair seat (or bench) thus causing the weight to hop. Rise erect immediately. Worry not over the weight you use -- you are supposed to be building gristle on the spine, not kindling on the kitchen floor.
(6) The "Dinky" Squat -- 30 pounds, 20 repetitions in 60 breath-time interval. Take the bar on to the shoulders, stand before a mirror or where light will throw a shadow of the shoulders and barbell on the floor. Open your mouth, make a face, and breathe in most vigorously through the mouth (this will cause the shoulders and bar to rise about two inches). Breathe out loudly through the mouth (causing the shoulders to sink again). Every one of the 60 breaths will be of this type. Each breath so taken makes the bar bounce up an down like a bout on the waves. On every third rhythmic inhalation retain the breath, drop into a deep squat, rebounding off the calves and expelling the breath when almost erect. This special breathing stretches the rib cartilages and is a powerful stimulant to the internal organs. A rested individual will keep the bar on his shoulders for 20 squats but you may if you wish divide the 20 repetitions into two or three groups with a short pause between each.
(7) Bent Arm Pullover -- 20 pounds, 20 repetitions (as explained in VIGOUR, January, 1946). The weight must be light as heavy weights do not allow maximum stretching.
(8) Calf Exercise -- Rise on each foot 20 times. The soleus muscle is a postural muscle.
(9) Supine Press -- 30 pounds, 10 to 12 repetitions.
You will note that the poundages will be considered very insulting by the iron man in the street. Only insulting poundages will grow gristle on all beginners -- HEAVY EXERCISE FOR THIS PURPOSE IS VAIN.