Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dynamic Abdominal Health, Part Three - E.M. Orlick

Joseph "Chick" Deutsch

John Grimek

Simon Kornblum


The exercise known as the sit-up appears also as a competitive lift known as the Abdominal Raise. As such, it is a direct test of the strength of the abdominal muscles. In this lift the performer lies on the floor with the back of his neck resting on the center of the barbell handle, grasps the bar with both hands, and rises into a sitting position. Naturally his feet have to be held down under some heavy object, the bar of another barbell usually being used for this purpose. Throughout the lift his heels must remain together, his legs straight, and the bar in contact with his body. At the finish of the lift, his trunk must be at right angles to his legs. In the English rules for this lift, the bar must rest on the body at the base of the neck. But in the United States, the lifter is allowed to hold the bar against his neck, which naturally enables him to arch forward more than in the British style, and so lift a greater weight. The greater strictness of the English rules must be taken into account in comparing British and American records. Jere Kingsbury, of Los Angeles, lifted 100 pounds in the English style and 114 in the American style.

The official British record in the Abdominal raise is held by a Mr. Bergson, with a lift of 114.75 pounds. Unfortunately, there is no association in the United States which keeps strict account of American records in the 42 standard lifts. Some years ago, the alleged American record was 123.75 pounds, held by G.C. Trefry, of Corona, New York. Henry Aranda more recently has done 125 pounds. The heavyweight Frank Leight has performed an Abdominal Raise with the remarkable weight of 154.5 pounds, although the lift was not performed in the strictest manner possible.

There are some variations of the Abdominal Raise which, while not standard lifts, are interesting feats of strength. If the barbell is pulled over the lifter's face while he is lying on the floor, and held at in front of the chest, a greater weight can of course be raised than when the bar is behind the neck. this lift is very similar to the feat in hand-to-hand balancing where the under-stander regains the standing position while holding the top-mounter at his shoulders. As I have said, there are no official records on this lift. Together with the variations presently to be described, it used to be practiced at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where David P. Willoughby held the best marks. In the above lift he used to do 220 pounds, the feet not being held down.

The next variation of the Abdominal Raise is to hold the bell at arms' length throughout the lift. In this style Willoughby did 133 pounds with the feet not held down, and 160 pounds with the feet held down.

As far as endurance in the abdominal muscles is concerned, William Sharpless, years ago did 2,000 successive sit-ups, with his feet held down, his hands clasped behind his neck, and his body arching forward with each sit-up.

The abdominal muscles not only cause movement of the trunk in relation to the legs, but they also serve as a protective armor for the vital organs of the body. The strength to which they may sometimes be developed in this direction is amazing. Enormous loads have been supported on the abdomen by professional strong-men. Sandow used to allow a man to stand on his relaxed abdomen, and then bounce him off by contracting the muscles. A Danish health writer named J.P. Muller could allow a heavy ball weighing 56 pounds to be dropped from a height of four feet upon his abdomen; or a man weighing 216 pounds to jump eight feet and land upon Muller's belly; or an iron-tired wheelbarrow loaded to 360 pounds to be wheeled over him.

The Zimmerman brothers have given many exhibitions of this sort of abdominal strength at various lifting shows. Richard Zimmerman, weighing 150 pounds and holding two 50-pound dumbbells, would jump from a six foot stepladder onto the belly of his brother Joseph, who lay supine.

The greatest of all specialists in demonstrating armor-plate abdominal strength was Frank Richards. This man weighed about 240 pounds and carried considerable fat, but with a great depth of solid tissue beneath. Even when past 50 years of age he toured the country challenging any man in the world, Joe Louis included, to affect him with blows to the torso delivered by the human fist. As a matter of fact, Richards claimed to be able to assimilate the simultaneous blows of any seven men in the world! Kidney punches, heart punches, solar plexus punches, all meant nothing to him. He did not take blows in the manner of a tough boxer standing up gamely under punishment, but the hardest human punches appeared to act upon him as a gentle abdominal massage, agreeing and soothing. As a matter of fact, boxers who thought they had a devastating punch simply tired their hands when they tried to hurt Richards. Remember that he would assimilate the blows of scores of men daily, each man delivering half a dozen of his best punches (if his hands held out that long).

This, however, became a bore as a steady diet without variations. So Richards would also have a man thump him with a heavy sledgehammer against the abdomen. This, like the fist blows, failed to budge him an inch from his stance. He would have a dozen huskies use a twenty-foot long timber as a battering ram, driving it against his belly with all the force they could muster. This did compel him to shift his footing, but it did nothing to disturb his abdominal comfort.

Eventually he became dissatisfied with such puny efforts as these, and developed his cannonball act. In this he used a 12-foot cannon transported on truck wheels, firing a 104-pound steel ball into his bare torso near the solar plexus, as he stood waiting about four feet in front of the muzzle. The cannonball knocks Richards every way, depending on his sighting of the muzzle, but it never hurts him, although he does not care to take it more than twice a day.

The cannonball is so much more powerful than any blows of the human fist that Richards knows he has nothing to fear from the torso punch of any man. Jack Dempsey, one of the greatest punchers of the boxing ring, made a determined effort to bother Richards by shooting 70 or 80 hard punches into his midsection, but to no avail.

Frank Richards:

Man modern athletes have shown superb muscular development of the waist region. Eugen Sandow was particularly famous for his marvelous abdominal muscles. Simon Kornblum had remarkable muscles in this region, with unusual depth between the muscles. Siegmund Klein was noted for his thickness of the muscles of both the front abdominals and the oblique muscles of the sides. Klein himself was of the opinion that he had never seen a greater example of size combined with definition than the amazing waist musculature of Joseph (Chick) Deutsch. The side muscles were the most outstanding feature of many of the ancient Greek statues; in fact, they appear to have been exaggerated to an unreal degree. However, some modern athletes have at least approached the effect of this tremendous side development. Siegmund Klein is one, and Tony Sansone is another. Sansone is famous for both his front abdominal development and the oblique muscles of the sides, and has often been thought to have the most "Grecian" torso of any modern athlete.

The ideal size of the waist, like the ideal size of all other fleshy parts of the body, depends upon the size of the individual's bony framework, or skeleton. For the method of determining this, and the method of determining therefrom the ideal measurements of all parts of the body, the reader may be referred to the device known as the Willoughby Optimometer. We may give here some information concerning the ideal proportions of different parts of the torso to each other. According to the standard evolved by David P. Willoughby from many years of study of the proportions of the body, the ideal waist should be about 5/6 of the girth of the hips. Similarly, the chest, in the ideal torso, would be about 10/9 times the hips, or 4/3 times the waist. This proportion is approximately exemplified in the magnificent torso of Tony Sansone: Hips of 39.2 inches, waist of 32.6 inches, and chest of 43.7 inches.

The hip measurement should be taken with a proper tape at the LARGEST part, where the hips are widest and the buttocks deepest; the feet should be together, both at the toes and the heels; and the hip muscles should be RELAXED.

The waist measurement should be taken at the SMALLEST part, with the body naturally erect, and the abdomen neither drawn in nor protruded. You must NOT attempt to make the waist "small" while measuring it.

The chest is measured with the head erect, not looking downward at the chest while it is being measured; the breathing quiet, and the muscles RELAXED. Do NOT tense the muscles; and DO NOT expand the rib-box. The arms are first lifted and the tape passed around the back about 3/4 of an inch above the horizontal line of the nipples, as judged by your eye. If you push the tape way up under the armpits in back, then when the subject drops his arms the tape will curve under the armpits and give an exaggerated chest measurement. That is why many athletes "imagine" their chests are larger than they really are. The tape should form a STRAIGHT line all around the chest, otherwise your measurements will not be correct.

Remember that the tape should always be in GENTLE contact with the skin; the tape must NOT be LOOSE; and it also must NOT be drawn TIGHT so that it compresses the flesh. You are simply trying to measure the actual size of your body as it normally is; and if you do not take the measurements correctly you will simply be fooling yourself and preventing yourself from acquiring genuine useful information and real understanding about the proportions of the human body.

There seems to be a mania today for claiming huge chest size and tiny waist size. Body-builders take measurements with their waists drawn in and their chests expanded, and try to outdo each other in claiming enormous differences between their waists and chests. In photographs we see the same thing, with athletes spoiling their appearance by constantly throwing out their latissimus dorsi muscles and thus flattening their chests and raising their shoulders in an ugly fashion. The sooner this wedge-shaped torso complex is cured, the better it will be. These body-culturists present a distorted idea of masculine shape which no more resembles the proportions of such magnificent torsos as those of Siegmund Klein, Eugen Sandow and Sargent Moss then it resembles the ancient Greek statues. There is no reason why a man should desire of admire a "small" waist. The masculine waist should be strong and square-built and superbly muscled, in normal proportion to the chest above it and the hips below.

Among the sports that build abdominal strength and tone are wrestling, rowing, and all forms of jumping. Wrestling also uses the side muscles strongly. Most gymnastic apparatus work uses the waist muscles; but the very best gymnastic sport for developing strong abdominals is tumbling.

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