Monday, July 19, 2021

The Old Standard Methods are Best - Mark H. Berry (1940)

Here is another rare treat, Courtesy of Michael Murphy. 
Thank You, Michael! 
From "Your Physique" Vol. 1. No. 2
 Ken Pendleton

  Walter Podolak

Ronald Walker, Mark Berry

Michael Murphy

There is much evidence to support the contention that the old and well tried methods are best for the purpose of strengthening and developing the musculature of the human body. This applies equally well whether the objective be that of training for great strength, the acquisition of that degree of superb shapeliness which leads to the classification as the possessor of physical excellence, or if one's aims be limited to the mere attainment of an improved condition of health and general physical efficiency. 
In considering the various angles to be met with the discussion of a topic of this nature one must realize that in this day and age, life is most complex, competition is most keen in every sphere, and practically everything is conducted under high business pressure. Business rivalry and the desire to make a living explains much that is fostered upon the public in the way of exercise ideas and health propaganda. Sincerity is often lacking and it becomes most difficult at times for the interested person to discern the truth. I suppose that it would be most fair to follow the suggestion of a well known man of wisdom -- that it hardly "behooves any of us to say ill of the rest of us."  [Edward Wallis Hoch - "There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us."]
Keeping this in mind, we shall refrain from dealing in personalities, or in the ridicule or criticism of any advertised or commercial system of exercising. Instead, our endeavors will be confined to analysis and discussion of certain measures which have proven tried and true for the purpose of bettering the human physique, with particular emphasis on the requirements of the masculine of the species. Even with a desire to confine our discourse within such limited channels there is a tremendous lot that might properly belong within this scope. 
One of the first things the novice must appreciate is the almost unlimited number of exercises that might be practiced for the improvement of the body. No one could attempt to include even a large percentage of them in a training routine. Another fact that must be realized is the vast difference in the requirements of the beginner as compared to the strength athlete who has had years of experience; here is positively no sense in any comparison of the two, and it would be futile, to say the least, for the average beginner to adopt advanced measures in hopes of efficiently developing himself. I shall now endeavor to give the reasons for this conclusion.
Assuming that you are a beginner, and that once you adopt bar bell training you will continue with such form of exercise for some years to come, there would be various periods through which you must pass in the attainment of the limit of your possibilities. The first period embraces the time in which the greatest amount of growth is to be expected; obviously, the length of time involved must vary with different individuals. Then, we might say, comes that period of technicalities, during which time you would do best to concentrate on mastering more advanced exercises, and perhaps feats of strength, and which might include the learning of competitive lifts. I should say that the period of actual specialization, that is, when one finds it necessary to specialize for further results should come rather late in the experience. This last statement may seem contrary to generally accepted ideas and especially so when we know that so many enthusiasts begin specialization almost from the very first.
Very well do I realize that some few persons succeed in spite of everything; and so with the adoption of advanced or specialized measures very early in the scheme of improvement. But, I should say from my experience that for every one of these exceptional cases, wherein results are obtained through the practice of advanced measures almost in the beginning, there are hundreds who fail to achieve satisfactory gains and become discouraged long before they have given their bodies a chance to develop. 

The process of muscular growth and strengthening is actually somewhat of a physiological mystery which cannot be explained to the absolute satisfaction of those who are deep students of the subject. Nevertheless, such improvement does take place, as we have countless examples to offer in the way of proof. However, to stimulate such growth amounts to a science and is something that does not just take place through chance or the practice of haphazard activities. 
Furthermore, there is a distinction to be drawn between growth promotion and means of hardening and toughening the muscles, and a tremendous difference exists between them. Unless these factors can be considered in the arrangement of your training course, a great mistake will be made and time will be wasted. I wonder if the reader has ever thought of the difference in muscular structure of the distance runner as compared to the wrestler or strength athlete. It will be noted that both have hard muscles, but it must be granted that the muscles of the average marathoner are small in relation to the massive development of the wrestler or strong man. The man who earns his living through hard labor will also acquire hard muscles, but such type of work is not an ideal means of enlarging or developing the muscles. One reason is that the efforts are repeated so often that the muscles are not given an opportunity to accumulate added size. They do become harder and acquire a certain amount of strength, as it is a rule of nature that continued usage will develop an ability along the lines to which one has been accustomed. On the other hand, correct exercise measures with a bar bell set will cause the muscles to become equally hard besides promoting maximum growth. And so you will literally "kill two birds with one stone." 

"A fascinating guide to the origins of our language. Wonderful stories reveal the real meaning of Adam's apple, nick of time, stool pigeon, armed to the teeth, raining cats and dogs, at sixes and sevens, dog days of summer, and scores of others."
Bearing in mind that which I have just explained, it should be the aim of the instructor to outline a schedule including movements that have proven of value in the promotion of growth; that is, of course, assuming that your primary objective is that of gaining in size and bodyweight; once a satisfactory bulk has been attained, it will plenty of time to switch over to a routine including the type of exercise that will harden the muscles to the limit; strength promotion of an advanced nature may then be adopted with an assurance of reaching the greatest powers that are naturally within you. 
The sincere instructor is likely to be hesitant in revealing the truth concerning a further factor that must be given consideration: the reason being that misunderstanding is apt to result in the mind of the uninformed, and particularly so if he be very young. This concerns the length of time required in the proper and complete development of the body; all advertising matter to the contrary being disregarded, it is impossible to acquire anything approaching the maximum of development within a few months time. Any man who has "been through the mill" can tell you as much [the book above looks even more interesting], and an investigation into the facts will prove that years instead of months were required in bringing to the peak the development and shapeliness of the outstanding examples whom you see on the published page. While it is extremely difficult to arrive at any exact figure as to the actual time required, and as the same will necessarily vary with different individuals, we can at least assure you that none of the muscular marvels attained any sort of peak within the short space of a year. It is for this reason that I prefer to outline a rather lengthy program for my pupils, and to take them step by step through the several degrees of progression to which I have briefly referred. 
Let there be no misunderstanding as to the principles involved. We have been referring to the development of an ideal degree of shapeliness, maximum size of the muscles, and practically the limit of physical powers. Very well do I realize that a high percentage of my readers will have no particular interest in striving for anything so exceptional; what they will have in mind is merely the betterment of their health, and the acquisition of muscular size and strength somewhat above the general average; many who are underweight will simply entertain the desire to reach a normal standard of bodyweight, while those who are extra stout will want to get down to more slender proportions; these same parties will, to be sure, seek the degree of physical efficiency that will assure them of everyday good health.     
When your aims are similar to those just mentioned, you can be certain of attaining such extent of improvement within a few months time. The fact of the matter here is that when your aims are so limited it will only be necessary that you apply the principle of the first period to which I have alluded in the early part of this discussion; in other words, exercises of a growth promotion type are the only essential that need be applied if your sole interest be that of adding to the bodyweight and toning up the musculature; those who wish to reduce should apply practically the same principles, excepting that some extra work be performed to burn up the excess adiposity. 
With reference to sincerity and exaggerated claims, there need be no misunderstanding if one is careful to distinguish as the aims and ambitions the beginner has in mind. "First class physical condition" may be attained within some "few months" if what you mean is a proportionate development of the body, adequate strength, and general physical efficiency. So far as the average man is concerned, I should be inclined to say there is no exaggeration in claiming that might properly be referred to as "first class." If we are to refer to perfection or the attainment to the extent of physical excellency that will lead to your recognition as the possessor of an ideal type of physique, then you are talking about something altogether different. Personally, I see a tremendous difference between the physical aims of the average man that might be referred to as "first class" and the achievement of an ideal physique.
I am impelled at this time to digress for a moment or so and quote the reflections of a few readers with the thought in mind that the same might be of interest; such testimonials should also serve to emphasize the points which it is my desire to put across. One devotee writes ". . . I was an adept at boxing about that time. Now I'm a judge, but I haven't lost a bit of my inclination for boxing, or my high estimation for bar bell exercise for developing purposes. Another thing, I have quite a few things that will be of interest on the subject of physical training . . . This is a sophisticated world and facts are listened to, while arguments -- I string heartily along with you on your common sense and sensible hints of advice you give on the matter of diet and sexual behavior. There are so many falsehoods written, and so many exaggerations! Like you, I've been through the mill; it's been a desperate struggle -- that of mine -- against sickness, weakness, and the harassing link of human misery and inefficiency that hangs on the wake of poor health and below-par organic force. I think I'm above average now, but this is not enough. A decision won't suffice. I wish to win by a K.O."
Another enthusiast writes: "Boy, you sure did answer the question that's been worrying me for years. I know now that my tumbling, hand balancing, running, swimming, and 'what have you,' have kept my weight down. I have gained five pounds in eight days on a new program." This was from a fellow who has been exercising for years and already has a splendid build, but apparently like a lot of others, he wanted to gain additional size and weight. It looks as though we may have steered him onto the right path. Nothing could please me better. 
Still another tells me: "I have been doing five exercises that I came across in your magazine. The results are really wonderful. I have gained 16  pounds and by brother 22 pounds.  

"During the summer I was lifting with a friend. Both of us would put the same weight above our heads. Since then my friend has been working as a coal passer on a boat. Last night we were lifting again, and I succeeded with 50 pounds more than he in the same overhead lift. That's what I call results."

Although it is perhaps true that we could get along just as well in the preparation of this article without presenting the foregoing communications, I feel that they may lend confidence to those who might doubt the efficacy of the information we offer towards your physical improvement. 

Just what are these standard exercises which we advocate as the best means of improving and developing the body? 
In our estimation there is nothing superior to a routine which included such movement as pressing from the shoulders, from behind the neck, and while lying supine on the floor; curling in both regular and reverse styles; the so-called rowing movement of pulling a barbell to the chest while bent forward; the deep knee bend and straddle lift exercises; the pullover; and special movements for development of the side, abdomen, calf, neck, and forearm. The routine might include the stiff legged deadlift exercise either as an addition or substitute. Granting the possibility of arranging a routine that is equal to the foregoing makeup, we doubt very much that one of superior qualities may be devised. There's no thought in mind that the uninformed reader should attempt to arrange an exercise schedule from the above brief outline of movements; for one thing, there is a definite sequence in which it has proven most productive of results to practice them; moreover, certain explanations and instructions pertain to each and unless one has thorough definitions available serious errors may be made. Technical illustrations should be studied as well if you hope to derive the anticipated benefit of your efforts. Therefore the necessity of having a course laid out to suit your requirements with consultation privileges towards the solution of any problems that may arise. 
To reiterate a previous statement, there are numerous exercises of both a preliminary and advanced nature which you may practice with benefit at the right stage of your progress. 
For example, in specialization on the upper arms you might concentrate on various forms of curling: regular two arm, reverse, single arm, and with a supinating movement of the forearm.
As the greatest bulk of the upper is to be found in the triceps on the rear of the arm, all manner of pressing should be included in the thoroughly specialized program for this purpose, military, behind neck, pushing, lying press, shoulder bridge, single arm side press, and bent presses of both a light and heavy nature. 
In the way of forearm specialization, curling helps, also gripping exercises of a wide variety, dead lifting, winding a weighted cord on a stick, twisting movements while holding bars, discs, and other objects in the hands. 
For the neck, the wrestler bridge is standard but there is the forward bridge, teeth lifting, the shrug, dead lifting, and special resistance exercises against the pull of cables, pulleys, and head locks and manual resistance applied by an assistant.  
For the calves, rising on the toes, walking, hopping, and jumping in like manner.
Thigh and general leg specialization might include a great number of actions of the lower limbs, embracing strenuous exertion as well as leverage: the deep knee bend, straddle, dead lifts, leg presses while lying on the back, stair climbing and stepping up on a stool, single leg squats, jumping, extending the leg at the knee with a weight attached to the foot, leg curls executed while both standing and lying, Roman apparatus work, and actual Olympic lifting. 
Really, there are so many specialized movements one might practice in his exercise program in striving for the utmost development of each part of the body; but, as the serious-minded student will observe, it becomes a human impossibility to include even a fair percentage of them in one routine. 
The ingenious fellow may think up a long array of stunts for the development of his abdomen; the possibilities are almost unlimited. There are all manner of situps, with and without resistance; these may be done while lying on the floor, while bent back over a bench or chair, or on an inclined type of apparatus; these same situps may be executed by finishing with a twist of the body, that is, in leaning alternately well to each side as the sitting position is attained as well as in the orthodox fashion. Then, the procedure may be reversed in doing various forms of leg raises, lying of the floor, on an inclined board, or with the legs extended over the edge of a table; and, as with the situps the leg raises may be performed with a twist and sidewise movement. This type of work may likewise be done while hanging on either a rope or horizontal bar. The Roman apparatus is splendid as an adjunct to the rest of your abdominal training. 
Exercises that may be used for furthering the development of the pectorals on the front of the chest are as numerous as those to to be devised for any other part of the body. If one is to get the best results from the use of a bar bell it will be essential that patience govern your endeavors and that specific movements be employed in advantageous positions. 
The lying press, shoulder bridge, and pullover will all be found to have some value in development of the pectorals, and if the press and pullover be performed while lying on a bench or other raised surface the effect will be more pronounced. The pulley machine is especially valuable in bringing these muscles into full play and I have constantly advocated the use of this type of exercise; various types of dipping will be found of untold value. In spite of the apparent popularity of a pronounced development of the muscles on the front of the chest, I, for one, am not in favor of specialization to the point where these muscles are caused to bulge without commensurate size and bulk of other parts of the body; I feel that prominence of the breasts is more of a feminine attribute and not so desirable for the masculine of the species. Please do not misunderstand me, in relation to the foregoing reference, for I am well enough aware that some very fine specimens of the manly physique have acquired such prominence, and should never go so far as to say that it detracts from the appearance, providing of course that the rest of the body is equally well developed. But, as one grows older there is very likely to be an inclination to accumulate some little extra avoirdupois, and then the extreme pectorals may take on the rounded appearance that is more typical of the feminine of the species; that is nothing more than a side comment we might add, but it is nevertheless true that one can go too far in some respects. Perhaps, during your youth it may seem altogether improbable that any accumulation of fat will ever be tolerated by yourself, but the man of experience knows that business and social cares, plus a lot of other things, can bring about great changes in both the attitude and the manner of living. 
The size of one's chest is effected to a very great extent by the size of the muscles on the broad of the back, with particular reference to the latissimus and associated groups surrounding the shoulder blades. The so-called rowing movements with a bar bell, and a certain manner of doing the stiff-legged deadlift exercise can be relied on to effect such development, but there is no question concerning the efficacy of the bent press for the full development of this part of the body; reference is made particularly to this movement as a repetition exercise, but its use as a lift has unusual developmental value; in fact, all advanced lifting has some value in this connection, with emphasis being placed on the cleaning, snatching, and jerking movements. Here again, we find use for the wall pulley machine, with movements of both a backward and downward nature being implied. Chinning, and dipping, it is to be acknowledged, may be used to decided advantage, providing one has advanced to the proper extent and follows a well-planned scheme of progression; I do not, however, favor any sort of extreme specialization in this form or work, and believe that more satisfactory results may be achieved through the use of other measures; but, on the other hand, there can be a place for this type of training in the well organized program of him who has gained sufficient experience.
The proper shaping of one's chest, let it be understood, may be effected through inclusion of such work as will proportionately improve the tone and pull of the muscles of the broad of the back and spinal column, which included strengthening of and development of the latissimus; this is a principle that must not be overlooked by him who is ambitious to bring about a fully developed and ideal shapeliness of the physique. Herein we find the value of dead lifts (as a form of repetition exercise), the deep knee bend, and the overhead lifts. 
Complete development of the shoulders must result if the principles so far mentioned are given due consideration; the shoulders are, in a sense, the connecting links between the powerful lower body muscle groups, and the efforts of the upper limbs; one may thoroughly employ the arms only when the shoulders cooperate in the movements; use the arms in a wide variety of overhead exertions and the shoulders will benefit. Special lighter resistance leverage work may be adopted, but only as an adjunct or aid to the complete development of these parts, and should not be depended upon solely for this purpose.
It would now seem as though we had omitted particular reference to no part of the body other than the back in general, and supposedly this would imply the lower back more than any other part thereof. Surely, if all the training so far referred to were thoroughly incorporated in one's routine there should be no reason for believing that the lower back were in any sense neglected; the strenuous leg movements take care not only of the lower limbs, but the buttocks nd so-called small of the back; nor can one expect to raise substantial poundages to the shoulders, or overhead, without similar effort. 
Before terminating our discussion, it should suffice to say that as much as we appreciate the value of the many other exercises, and methods, that may be adopted towards a similar objective (and there are at least hundreds of movements that may be performed with the adjustable bar bell set, not to mention the possibilities with other forms of apparatus), the fact remains that the burden of proof is entirely in favor of the particular means of improvement to which we have so far referred. He who seeks gratifying results will do well to adopt the measures that have proven so profitable to the thousands who have preceded him in the realization of physical improvement and to rely on the tried and true OLD STANDARD METHODS. 
Editor's Note: This article is a reprint from "Physical Training Notes" by the kind permission of M. Mark H. Berry, who in future will contribute to us exclusively. 
Enjoy Your Lifting!             


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