Somato-type training? This goes back some time, at least to the middle 1930s when some English guys were thumping it for all it was worth. There were George Walsh, Frank Miles and Irving Clark, the latter an attorney who had taken up bodybuilding and was a BAWLA referee and had magnificent arms - 11 inches, and here he was telling people how to build 16 inchers - a fair size in those days.
George Walsh was a bit of a snake oil salesman, hooking onto any bodybuilder with a good build - or lifter for that matter, and mail ordering his muscles with a course. One of them was Harold Laurence who saw little of the hundreds of pounds taken in via the selling of his course. Another was Ron Walker, who also put out a course, under the aegis of Walsh. Frank Miles was of the same kidney. He had tied up with Walsh and Clark and all three wrote for the old time HEALTH AND STRENGTH.
Suddenly articles began to appear in the mag about type training. This idea was based on what Walsh et al called two body types. One they tabbed Thoracic and the other Abdominal. The Thoracic type was the individual with a high thoracic arch. This man, they said, would forever be "slim."
The other type, the Abdominal, had a low thoracic arch and was liable to be heavy in build and have larger measurements. It was all nonsense of course. I wrote an article knocking it in an early edition of one of Weider's mags - some time in either 1950 or 1951 - Muscle Power or Your Physique.
Note: Your Physique, July 1950 - "Type Training is Bunk."
In the article I mentioned a meeting I had with one of the Type Training gurus in which he told me I was a Thoracic type and could never have arms over 15 inches. At the time I chuckled inwardly since than, at bodyweight of around 160, my arms already measured close to 16 inches. The figures I give are an approximate since close to FIFTY years have passed since the time of the "interview." But I am sure you can look it up, or contact someone like Bill Hinbern who will do it for you. Sooooo, so much for the early boosters of "Type Training."
Then round 1950 a Dr. Thomas [should be William H] Sheldon, M.D. wrote a book titled "VARIETIES OF HUMAN PHYSIQUE,"
followed by another book titled
"VARIETIES OF HUMAN TEMPERAMENT."
He divided up physiques into three types which he called the Endomorph, the Mesomorph, and the Ectomorph. The endomorph was the roly poly fat type who was easygoing, liked to eat a lot and had little or no muscular definition. The mesomorph was the natural athlete type, muscular, middling height and powerful. The third type, the ectomorph, was the skinny type, tall and wiry, likely to be nervous, suffer from stomach troubles, and often with bad cases of acne.
While in England in 1951 with Weider - we had gone over to help set up Reg Park in the business - I got a copy of Sheldon's "Varieties of Human Physique." I was extremely interested in its profuse collection of pictures which claimed to exhibit the three types outlined by Sheldon.
Sheldon's theories - for this is all they were - were soon discarded. To test the validity of his claims, all one has to do is attend a power lifting or Olympic lifting meet and watch the guys with short arms and long bodies and medium length legs; the guys with long arms, wide shoulders and long legs; the guys with short arms, short bodies and long legs etc etc ad nauseum.
George Walsh committed suicide. One day, overwhelmed with his debts and seeing no way out of them he walked to the local railway station, placed his head on the rails and waited for a train to trot along. They told me he never suffered from sinus troubles again. Frank Miles died long ago of some unknown complaint. Irving Clark became an alcoholic and while an officer in Germany in the immediate postwar period, walked into the woods one day - while he was stationed in Germany and blew his brains out.
Anyway, I shall jog the elbow of Reverend Todd when next I see him on this coming Thursday and see if he has other books to recommend and also what info he can offer. But Somato-type training a LONG LONG a thing of the past and discredited with good old common sense - WHICH IS WHAT WEIGHT TRAINING IS REALLY ALL ABOUT ANYWAY.
It always amazes me that kids - beginners - think that by following the routine that any famous bodybuilder, or whoever graces the cover of whatever mag - they too can become like that person. Few seem to realize, or WANT to realize, that after the beginner's stage when ANY routine will benefit them, they assume different, persona training attitudes and problems. They are as unique as their fingerprints, as any snowflake, in their potentials, their training needs are unique one in that they can only be solved by paying attention to THEIR OWN PERSONAL NEEDS and not seek to gain the mountain top by trying out something that has been successful for others. It might not suit them at all. Never was there a truer phrase coined than the one which says, "One man's meat is another's poison." But don't try to tell them that. They readily seek, and enter entirely the path of generalization, when it is the path of their own special needs that should be sought. I could no more look like Frank Zane or Sergio Oliva if, given my health and youth back again, than I could coax my gonads into becoming kippered herrings. I AM ME and I can only develop MY OWN potentials and become a BETTER ME and not an Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Yes . . . I know Leroy Colbert VERY VERY WELL. I worked with him, that is in the same establishment back when I was Weider's editor and he was one of the "shipping clerks." He went back a lot further than than the '60s. He was already going strong in the '50s You of course have seen some of his shots. Remarkable for his arm development and very small waist. But he didn't compare with Melvin Wells, whose only fault was that he was TOO good. Amazing development that would have, if he had been in his prime these days, won him many a contest. About the only thing wrong with Melvin was his calf development, that could have been a little bigger.
But an amazing upper body, arms and thighs. Poor calves in comparison.
Getting back to Colbert. He claimed to have had 20" arms. He may have. I recall measuring them at right on 19. I can't remember how much he weighed, but he must have been around 5'10" and at least 200. I know a lot about him but nothing I'd care to write about.
I had a shock about a month ago. I was leafing through the pages of British mag STRENGTH A______ when I saw an article under the authorship - so it said - of a Graham B______ It was an article about the Shoulder Belt, but word for word, title, sub head and body copy, it was MY ARTICLE which I wrote for Muscle Power and which appeared in the October 1952 issue. I wrote at once to the publisher pointing that what had been done was illegal in that it was plagiarism, asking what he intended to do about it. No reply so far. So keep at these birds. In their latest issue they also published an article by T_____ ______ without his knowledge or consent. They are also using articles written by Armand ______, Fred ______, and Ellington ______.
Enjoy Your Lifting and Lifting History!