Tuesday, January 19, 2021

So You Can't Gain Weight - Roger Eells (1940, 1941, 1948))


Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed
 J. C. Hise
 This excellent article was so popular that it was twice published in the American magazine Vim [1940, 1941]. We have secured permission to reproduce it for the benefit of Vigour readers [1948]. 

It is not a gross exaggeration to say that nine or out ten letters received by us requesting information about the development of the human body concern the methods whereby increased bodyweight may be attained.
We have come to the conclusion that the vast majority interested in body-building is made up of those individuals who have been thin and underdeveloped over a period of years. Aside from the necessity of adjusting themselves to the remakes occasioned by their lack of physical development they have, in most instances, also found it necessary to adjust their way of living to the amount of strength, endurance and vitality that is at their command.
The thin man is very often a bundle of nerves, constipated, irritable, lacks energy and endurance. He finds it difficult to complete his day's work. The day closed, there simply isn't anything left in him for his own enjoyment he crawls early to bed in order that he may drag through another day.
All this is so unnecessary! No man need be thin, or lacking in energy. There are simple rules to follow to overcome this deficiency in bodyweight and we propose to set them up for you\ Let it be understood, however, that the exercises mentioned are movements which we have found by experiment to produce results. Any substitution is your responsibility and failure to obtain results can in no way be charged against the routine suggested. We mention this point because no day goes by without a letter from some correspondent who has written for advice and, upon receiving it, immediately writes and informs us that he has substituted the Two Hands Snatch movement for the Dead Lift or the Half Squat for the Breathing Squat. 
We leave it to the individual to decide whether he desires great strength or an increase in bodyweight. If he chooses to exercise for strength then there are no better means of achieving it than through the practice of weight-lifting and weight-lifting movements. But let me warn you that precious little development or added bodyweight will result from such a routine.
While we are on the subject of differences between the methods of training for strength and training for development it might be well to point out that the champions of the various weight classes may compete in and defend their title for several years in that particular class. During this time, in order that they may remain at that particular bodyweight they are careful to do no weight-gaining exercises . . . especially do they omit the Deep Knee Bends. Then the day arrives that a decision is made to move up into the heavier class. What do they do now? They discontinue their weight-lifting as a regular diet and practice the movements that result in the speeding up of the metabolism. They create the demand for added muscular size; they work at higher repetitions than when practicing weight-lifting movements in order to thoroughly flush the muscles in question with blood, and they place particular emphasis on the Squat.
You may argue that there is a happy medium between the two, and to this I offer no objection if one were to maintain the happy medium. But even then I hold that there are exception even to this rule. 
In the first place there is no happy medium for the beginner. If he wishes to gain weight and added size to his musculature he must, for a period of several months, refrain from all forms of weight-lifting proper. There is not only the danger of strain but the supported fact that he will so toughen his muscles that increased size becomes more difficult. 
In the second place I have yet to see anyone who followed the middle path. To be sure, their intentions were good in the beginning. It has been my observation, however, that these good intentions lasted no more than a week, two at the most. Each workout finds the enthusiast incorporating more weight-lifting movements and fewer body-building exercises. It follows that he gains in strength but very little in size.
This weight-gaining program can be readily divided into three parts: 
 - Diet to be followed;
 - Number and type of exercises; and
 - Personal habits. 
Diet for Gaining Weight 
Discussing them in the order as outlined above, we are first concerned with out diet. To build muscle and increase the bodyweight, good food is an absolute necessity. The diet should be well balanced in every respect, an effort being made to include milk, vegetables, meat,  cheese, cereals, honey, fats and fruits. An effort should also be made to eat a greater amount than has been your daily habit in the past. You would not be far wrong to stuff yourself just a little. Eat, eat all you can comfortably hold and exercise hard . . . you'll gain weight.
The Training Routine 
The exercise enthusiast who has been accustomed to performing 12 to 20 exercises should prepare himself for a shock at this point. This program is somewhat different in that we advocate but SIX exercises - 
Breathing Squat
Rowing Motion
Dead Lift (preferably Straight-Legged on a Hopper) 
The first two movements (curl, press) are executed with a weight that will permit you to perform the exercises 12 repetitions. The remaining four exercises (breathing squat, row, SDL, pullover) are executed 20 repetitions. We wish to make it clear that the entire number of counts [reps] are to be done at one time. That is, if you are doing the Breathing Squat, you should place the bar on your shoulders and keep it there until 20 repetitions are completed. The exercise is not meant to be done in two sets of 10 each.
With reference to the amount of weight to be used, little need be said other than that you should use a weight in all the exercises, excepting the Breathing Squat, that will permit you to complete the movement the full number of repetitions correctly. 
In the Breathing Squat you should under no circumstances use more than body-weight on the bar. If you can use more than bodyweight in the Breathing Squat a full number of repetitions, refrain from doing so and remain at a bodyweight poundage and go to higher repetitions. Too much weight held on the shoulders tends to cramp the chest and prevent the beneficial spreading of the rib box. The weight used is far less important than the rapid breathing to rid the body of carbon monoxide formed through exercise.
To build one's chest, strenuous leg exercise is an absolute necessity. Oh yes, an inch or perhaps two can be added to the normal girth without leg exercise, but just try to add six, eight or 10 inches to the circumference of your chest and you are doomed to disappointment. It is not beside the point to mention here that if you are successful in adding to the size of your chest your other measurements will stay in proportion. And doesn't it follow that increased size means increased bodyweight? At least I have never seen a 45-inch chest, 25-inch thighs and 16-inch arms on a man of normal height and weighing around 150 pounds.  
Now as to the method of performing the Breathing Squat. Place the bar on your shoulders and taking three very rapid deep breaths squat on full lungs, breathing out as you come to the erect position. Take three more deep breaths and squat again on full lungs. Repeat the movement 20 times. It's as simple as that and you get results that will astound you in just a couple of weeks.
Personal Habits
The third and last part of this program deals with your personal habits. This may prove to be the most difficult to many of you for the reason that one's habits are often firmly embedded. However, if you are serious in your desire and intent to gain weight, you should be willing to make some sacrifice for the rewards in store for you.
Whether or not you stop smoking is a problem for you to decide. Many people are not bothered by ill effects from this habit. Others find that by discontinuing the practice they are in better health. You should make the effort to get at least eight hours' sleep while on this program. While not many exercises are incorporated, they are fairly strenuous and it is important that you get sufficient rest in order to aid nature in increasing your bodyweight. Encourage the habit of taking things easy, slow down, conserve your nervous energy. Many people fidget themselves thin. It is not as difficult to take things easy as it may appear. One must, of course, consciously prevent himself from practicing the many little nervous habits formed over the years in order to break off the addiction completely.
One last word with reference to the number of exercise periods per week. Determine this for yourself. Three sessions have proved best for most, but on occasion four or five workouts a week will result in gains more rapidly for those individuals who have rapid recuperative powers.     

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