Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lat Machine Development of the Biceps and Forearms - Charles A. Smith

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Lat Machine Development of the Biceps and Forearms
by Charles A. Smith (1951)

Before beginning this article I would like to thank the authorities without whose help it would have been impossible for me to write this and other latissimus machine features. Particularly helpful information was obtained from the following books:

“Clinics for 1946” by George Morris Piersol, M.D.
“Principles Of The Physical Treatment Of Minor Injuries” by W.H. Northway, M.D.
“Aspects of Physical Therapy And Reconditioning in Army Hospitals” by O. Leonard Huddleston, M.D., Ph.D.

The above books are incorporated in one volume, “Clinics for 1946”, and may be obtained through your book dealer. The volume contains a wealth of knowledge and should be in the library of every authority and instructor.

I am a man easily swayed by emotion. I cannot help this, for I am as I am. Always have I found it easier to think with my heart than with my head. Music affects me deeply and human joys and sorrows vibrate the strings of my feelings with a profundity that sometimes makes me feel ashamed of my softness. My young daughter went downstairs to buy me my newspaper Thanksgiving morning – one of those chores that kids think so very important and productive of reward – and opening it, I read of the Long Island train holocaust. There was the stark, searing tragedy spread over the pages – pictures that told of the horror of broken bodies and blood – of anguish and sorrow and pain. Of the tears of the women left alone in shattered homes, and the agony of those who suffered in the wreck while waiting for rescue. And so I turned the pages and came upon another tragedy – young Tony Scarpati had killed a kid in the gang warfare of our Big Town. And I couldn’t help thinking that here was the greater sorrow, the bigger wreck. A boy, possibly paying for his crime against society with his life. And yet this wasn’t his crime, it was the crime of that very society against which it had been committed. “No place to go, Judge,” said one of Scarpati’s companions, “we have no place to go, nothing to do.”

I have always been of the opinion that we weight trainers bear a larger responsibility to those around us than any other type of athlete. How easy it is for us to guide the high, bubbling animal spirits of the young into the proper channels – into a normal outlet for their excess energy. I wonder if the crime would have been committed and the punishment meted out, if someone had gone up to young Tony and his companions that shot dice or played cards and said, “Hey, Tony – how big’s your biceps?” Just that magic word, that little square of common ground on which the candidates for juvenile delinquency and the lifters can meet. “How big’s your biceps?” Imagine how the young fellows would have compared arm size, would have been impressed by the body builder’s superior muscles, and beyond any doubt. would nave vowed to go and do likewise – imagine how the time previously wasted in outwitting the Law or idly spent in pool rooms would have been taken up builder stronger bodies. Henry Wittenberg, 190-pound Olympic Champion Wrestler and New York Policeman, hit the nail right on the head in a recent interview when he told me, “Kids soon realize that they can’t get stronger and healthier if they keep late hours and generally misbehave.”

Maybe, for the sake of a single word, “Biceps,” and the man to say it, Tony Scarpati will spend a considerable portion of his young life making restitution for the other life he took. Whatever happens, it is good to know there ARE people who care about what happens to young Scarpati and his companions. These are human lives and MUST be saved somehow.

Not only in the field of Welfare and the development of good citizens does weight training play a prominent role. In the repairing of shattered bodies, as well as broken souls, it has enjoyed outstanding success. Our veteran’s hospitals, crowded with wounded from Korea, and from World War II, make extensive use of dumbbells, exercise benches and Latissimus machines – all activities that are immensely increasing the popularity of weight training. In particular has the pulley and the Lat Machine been effective in strengthening upper backs, shoulders, and arms. Because the apparatus affords a greater range of mobility it has also been very prominent in developing the muscles of the upper arms, forearms and fingers after recovery from severe burns and other wounds. The resistance can be as light as a feather, figuratively speaking, and the number of repetitions used high.

In developing the biceps and forearms the Lat Machine has very special value. Curiously, the biceps is the one muscle of the body everyone knows – it doesn’t matter whether a fellow has never heard of a weight, just put your hand on his arm and he’ll say, “Biceps.” It is the general impression that the upper arm contains its greatest bulk in the biceps. This, of course, isn’t true! The triceps forms by far the larger part of the upper arm, yet it is the biceps brachii that is the show muscle, the impressive rising lump that gives shape and seeming height to the upper arm. It is a quick-responding group and a short session with a barbell and dumbbell can fast increase the tape measurement – subsiding in a little while, and needing the greater influence of the lat machine and its ability to reach the deeper, unused fibers of the biceps. The biceps is one of the easiest muscles of the body to gain definition in, and it is possessed of considerable endurance in that it readily lends itself to a great number of repetitions. The function of the biceps is to flex the forearm onto the upper arm and to supinate the hand – that is, turn the hand palm uppermost. If you doubt this statement, then try this experiment. Raise your forearm – right, to a point where it is parallel to the ground. The knuckles should be facing the side or turned out. Rotate the hand at the wrist, twisting the palm up and down while you have the fingers of your left hand on the biceps of the right arm. During the rotation you will experience a full and powerful contraction of the biceps, with the muscle bunching itself up high and hard.

Forearm muscles are among the most complicated in action in the entire body structure. The one ability that human beings possess over apes is that of crossing the thumb over the palm of the hand. Apes cannot do this for the movements of their hands are restricted. The forearm muscles also flex the wrist in all directions, rotating and twisting it. The forearms are also developed by gripping objects of weight and size – heavy dumbbells with thick handles build them up and it used to be a recognized feat of strength for a man to carry a heavy weight in one hand for as far as he could, the athlete covering the greatest distance proving the winner. Important indeed, are the muscles of the forearms, and as Steve Reeves has said in one of his interviews – “If you can’t hold it, you can’t lift it.” Strength of fingers, hands and forearms are important to every type of lifter and every effort should be made to bring these qualities up to a peak. In the exercises that follow, you will notice that with one exception the reps are high. The more blood you pump into these muscles, the nourishment they can absorb and the more quickly they will recover from the effects of exercise.
Here is the way to use this Lat Machine biceps and forearm course. First, go through your regular workout – whatever style of lifting you normally do. When you have finished this, take a short rest of 15 to 20 minutes and then finish with these Lat Machine exercises. During your rest period, drink a glass of fruit juice sweetened with honey, or a glass of orange juice with an egg whipped into it.

Exercise 1.
Lie under the lat machine with your feet directly under it. Use a “thumbs around the bar grip”. The backs of the hands should be towards your feet – the palms will therefore be “facing” your face. From this position pull down on the bar until it touches the chest. DON’T let the upper arms move. Keep them absolutely still at all times. From this position pull down on the bar until it touches the chest. DON’T let the upper arms move. Keep them absolutely STILL at all times. When the bar touches your chest, try and press it down HARD and hold the contraction. Start off with a weight you can easily handle for 10 reps for 2 sets and work up to 2 sets of 20 reps. Make each movement full, complete and with the utmost of concentration.

Exercise 2.
The following is an excellent movement to utilize the lat machine for a peak contraction movement. In this exercise it is necessary to remove the bar and replace it with a broad band of canvas or a belt. Sit on a bench of the floor directly under the lat machine and sideways to it. Reach up and grasp the belt in your hand and sit down again. At this stage, the weight should be OFF the floor with FULL resistance right from the start of the exercise. KEEP THE UPPER ARM STILL. It can be rested firmly against the side of the head. From this position PRESS-PULL down and carry the fist back of the head. When the arm is completely bent at the elbow, hold it and turn the wrist up and BACK. You will experience a violent contraction of the entire biceps. Lower the weight and repeat. Start off with a poundage you can easily handle for 2 sets of 10 reps and work up to 2 sets of 20 reps before adding weight.

Exercise 3.
Place the end of an exercise bench on a box, under the lat machine so that the highest end is RIGHT UNDER the bar. Kneel at the lowest end of the bench and lay your arms along the sloping bench. Grasp the bar in the hands with a rather narrow grip and from this position curl the weight DOWN until the knuckles touch the shoulder. A tremendous amount of contraction can be gained from the use of this exercise. Make every movement STEADY and at the lowest point where the bar touches the shoulders, hold it there and the contraction of the biceps for a short count of three before returning the arms to starting position. You can also make use of an incline bench if using an ordinary bench with the end raised is too uncomfortable. The use of an incline bench is shown in the illustration of this exercise. DON’T allow the UPPER arms to move. Start off with a weight you can handle for 2 sets of 10 reps and work up to 2 sets of 20 reps before increasing the weight.

Exercise 4.
Place an incline bench with the slope towards the lat machine. Lie on the bench and have a training partner pull the bar down to your grasp. Don’t allow the body to move or the back to arch during this exercise. The hand spacing should be just shoulder width apart, the palms uppermost and the arms STRAIGHT. From this position and bending the arms at the elbows, curl the weight down to across the shoulders or top of the chest; return and repeat. Start off with a weight you can handle for 3 sets of 8 repetitions working up to 3 sets of 15 reps before adding weight. It is important to let the biceps do all the work. Don’t let the body help in any way.

Exercise 5.
A considerable size and amount of definition in the forearms can be built by use of the lat machine. While it is but rarely used for this, these forearm exercises have been slowly, yet steadily gaining in popularity because of the high number of repetitions which are possible. Considerable weight can gradually be built up in the exercising poundages, with even the muscles of the fingers and the entire hand benefiting. It is reported that Mac Batchelor has rigged up a special apparatus for exercising the forearms, built along Lat Machine lines. Remove the bar a substitute it with a belt or band of canvas. Place an exercising bench under the Lat Machine and rest the upper arm along the bench with the forearm UP. With the belt grasped firmly, and keeping the upper arm STILL, press down bending the hand at the wrist and turning the palm DOWN until it is as close to the forearm as it can get. Start off with a weight you can handle for 2 sets of 15 reps and work up to two sets of 25 reps.

Exercise 6.
Adopt the same position as in the previous exercise – upper arm resting along the bench and forearm pointing straight up, and grasping the belt or canvas band. From this position pull down and sideways allowing the forearm and wrist to rotate so that the hand turns right down around and UP. This is an excellent movement for strengthening the grip – the fingers and muscles along the back of the hand are greatly affected. Start off with 2 sets of 15 reps and work up to 2 sets of 25 reps.

Exercise 7.
Lay the forearm under the Lat Machine and away from it so that the cable is at an angle. Rest the forearm so that the hand is resting right on the edge of the bench with the palm of the hand facing DOWN. From this position grasp the belt attached to the machine and flex the wrist so that the palm is turned DOWN towards the forearm. Start off with 2 sets of 15 reps and work up to 2 sets of 25 reps. Concentrate strongly when performing all these forearm exercises.

This article concludes the series of Exercising with the Lat Machine. They have been received exceedingly well by all authorities and I have had many letters from physiotherapists telling of the use to which these Pulley and Latissimus Machine exercises have been put. It is nice to think one’s work is appreciated, and in response to scores of requests from body builders and Physiotherapists, I am continuing the series next month with The Complete Science of the Exercise Bench.

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