Monday, January 24, 2022

Proper Spacing of Exercise Periods -- Harry B. Paschall


All men were created equal, but each one has his own individual reaction time, just as there are race horses and plow horses, and never the twain shall meet. 

Do you recoup beaucoup? 

Pardon the French, but what we are trying to say is, briefly, how long does it take you to recover after an exercise session? 

If you can check this with reasonable accuracy, you are well on your way to assuring better results from your training. A great many guys are simply knocking themselves out with over-training while they think they are doing the thing according to the book.

The whole trouble arises out of the difficulty in writing schedules for everybody at one time. Magazines and books of necessity set up somewhat arbitrary programs.  Mostly the book says work out thrice per week, with rest days in between. 

For most people this is okay, but a considerable number of our customers may find themselves some day in the same boat with Bosco himself. Three big workouts a week for us, at this late date, would amount to Murder. As you get older, you don't snap back quite as fast as you used to as a beardless youth. Some people also, as my Uncle Ben used to say, are "born tired and never get rested." 

We used to have tremendous energy; we could lift every day and enjoy it. We will never forget good old Mark Berry and his astonisment on several all-night lifting sessions we put in at Sig Klein's N.Y. gym back in the mid-twenties. Mark's eyes used to start sinking into his head at twelve o'clock, and by dawn he looked like a walking zombie. Yet we could lift within 10 pounds of as much in the gray dawn as we did when we started the previous evening. Such was our early recuperative power. 

Even in our forties we still possessed this to a great degree, but very suddenly, at 43, the zing went away, and we have been looking for it under the bed, like an old maid hunting burglars, ever since.

This is not to say that now, in our middle fifties, we are a doddering member of the Iusta Club. We can still lift fairly respectable weights and throw flip-flaps, but we find that out exercise periods are getting wider apart. Twice a week seems better for us than thrice, and at this late day we realize what we overlooked before . . . that many people do not have the energy quotient we were fortunately born with. This is true for many lads of sixteen as it is for men of mature years. 

Some people simply get a bigger hunk of the cake when they're born than others, and don't let any Socialist tell you differently. [No worries with the lefties here, Harry! Ah yes, the gang with all the ideals and no realistic plans. The group that couldn't see straight. The lot that oughta stop already. That bunch. Pardon my French as well, but baise-les and bon debarras]. We are all for the Common Man, but we reserve a great deal of admiration for the Uncommon One. Fact is, what weight training is trying to do is to make Uncommon Men out of Common Ones. 

We have finally smartened up to a point where we think we know what we are doing when we exercise. We used to give ourselves a bad time by forcing the issue many times when we felt like a wrung-out dishrag. In youth this doesn't matter too much, for you can stand almost anything, but during the last dozen years we have learned a lot of lessons. Now we take a workout whenever we FEEL like it. This may sometimes be thrice a week, and sometimes a great big NOTHING. It averages up to about twice. But we are through forever with browbeating our weary bones into heavy exercise just because it may be Monday or Wednesday. 

This, of course, is a mature attitude, and is not at all recommended for beginners. Most newcomers to bodybuilding are so lazy they need the touch of the whip and three workouts a week should be the minimum, for several very good reasons. One; because they use starting weights so low as not to unduly tax their strength, and, two; because the first several months of barbell training should be as regular as possible. Irregular training is only for the very advanced man.

For the most part this book goes to men of experience, and our personal findings may be interesting to such exercisers. One of the recent discoveries was the usefulness of the tape measure. Throughout our weight lifting career we have been wont to speak disparagingly of this adjunct of the sewing basket, with the feeling that many muscleheads attached too much importance tot measured girths. 

We still feel this is true, for many became so obsessed with their desire to sport an 18" bicweps that they measure it ten times a day, and any slight loss in the bulge drives them to a few sets of cramp curls to get back instantly the 1/4 inch deficiency. But we have found the tape may be used constructively.

The barbell bug who takes all-round workouts may wonder sometimes why he feels so lethargic on an appointed workout day. He feels that he would rather loll in an easy chair and read a book than spend an hour or two in slingling iron, and this causes his Conscience to get up on its hind legs an whisper sweet nothings in his ear, "So -- you big slob, you're backing down. You haven't got the guts to take a good workout. Come, come, shirker, this is Wednesday -- it is barbell time. Are you a man or a mouse. [Yes I am, yes I am.]

So you take the workout, and your first exercise tells you that you are in for trouble. You have difficulty in squeezing out 7 or 8 reps instead of the usual 10. You determine to slug it out, however, and you go on through the whole weary routinem, and as you drag your aching bones to the shower, you have at least the satisfaction of knowing that you saw your duty and you done it -- just as a certain poet advised in a poem which has caused more sore heads than anything ever written in the English language -- "Beneath the bludgeonings of my Fate, my head is bloody but unbowed . . . I YAM the Master of my Fate -- I YAM the Captain of my soul!"      

Here . . . 

by William Enrnest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
     Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be
     For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
     I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
     My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
     Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
     Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
     How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
     I am the captain of my soul. 

Now if you had  consulted your tape measure you would have had no horrible experience of this type, for its readings would have told you when it was time to take a workout. We have passed this stage ourselves, and no longer need consult the tape, for our muscles themselves speak to us, and tell us quite audibly when they are "ready". But, for a time, we found the tape quite a help in making decisions, and we will outline our technique.

You are all familiar with the "pumping up" effect of exercise. If you put the tape on your arm, for instancem, before working out, it may read 16 inches. This is what the blabbermouths call "cold" measurements. Now you do 8 or 10 heavy two hand curlsm, and follow this by 3 sets of muscle-molding curls while seated, using the swing bar for 12, 10 and 8 repetitions. Now slap on the tape. Oh happy day! It now reads 16-1/4 inches! 

Now rest a moment till respiration returns to the norm, and do a two hand press with a fairly heavy barbell for 5 or 6 reps. Then take two light dumbbells and perform three sets of triceps raises while bending forward. Your arms feel tight as a drumhead. You slap on the tape again -- this time, because the triceps are bigger than the biceps, the reading may even go to 16-3/4 inches! 

This same increase in size may be noted in greater or less degree for every portion of the body as you do squats, calf raises, chest and shoulder exercises. You swell up all over . . . sometimes even around the head. This is the Key to growth in weight training. When you reach a point where your measurements no longer increase during concentrated exertionm, you are at a dead end in your progress. So this "swelling" must be encouraged, if you are to continue to grow. You can easily check this with a tape. if you continue (we re speaking now to advanced pupils) to take thrice a week workouts, there will come a day when this swelling is less than before. This is a warning signal from Mother Nature: she is getting tired of being pushed around. 

If you have been training steadily for six weeks or more, this is the signal for a week of rest -- no barbells at all. But sometimes this happens at other times as well, and controlling it is the problem of the intelligent exerciser. It may be spotted in advance of actual training time by the use of the tape. We have found that our measurements on the day AFTER a good workout are DOWN slightly. Even the scales may show a pound loss. On the second day AFTER the workout we note a gain. If this is up to or slightly exceeds our previus HIGH, we will take a workout on Wednesday evening. But sometimes the measurements are still down on this second day -- and if so, we have learned to wisely forego any exertion. The next afternoon we measure again. The arm is back to a strong 16 inches -- so we take our next workout with two days of rest between. Sometimes this recovery takes longer -- we have sometimes wasted five days between sessions, and this was not our normal Holiday between changing routines. 

The way you feel will enable you to check on this. If you are full of (soya) beans and rarin' to go, the chances are that you will find, by the tape check, that your muscles are ready too.

Exercise time should be a happy time. If you begin your workout in an aura of gloom, there is something wrong. You should feel eager -- as full of anticipation as when you sit down to a tasty dinner. Barbell exercise, normally, is stimulating and pleasurable. We have found it much more pleasant since we found out how to regulate it so there are no wasted sessions -- and WASTE is a good word for these periods when the effect of growth is missing. They are not only wasted, but they may do damage and hold you back.

The use of the tape to check our exercise sessions has resulted (for us) in a feeling of continual growth. Now we are better able to use the Principle of Progression -- that is, to add either weight or reps at EVERY workout. And this, also, is an indication as to properly spaced exercise sessions. 

If you can add a rep or two somewhere along the line in your workout -- for instance, one more rep in the curl, one in the squat, one in the calf raise -- you have a feeling of progress. We have NEVER failed to do this since we started taking workouts when we were READY, instead of forcing them at certain predetermined intervals.

We have come to the belief that overwork is as bad as no work at all, and that a lot of this wild talk about "forcing" exercises is the blabbering of incompetent muscleheads. After all, the purpose of barbell training is primarily better health -- that SUPER feeling that only we weightmen know. 

Grinding out reps with our tongues hanging down to here is not the way to strengthening the body and soul, nor the heart and lungs. Conversely, we are not for cream puff exercises either. The weights must be heavy enough to tax our muscles, and they must be consistently increased.

How much exercise is enough? This varies with the individual. We like to work out leisurely, and generally take about two hours for a workout -- resting between exercises until respiration returns to normal. 

We use the HEAVY AND LIGHT system ourselves, for the most part -- doing one heavy exercise for strength, following it by three sets of molding movements for shape. We even do this for the thighs -- never failing to do one set of some 15 reps with a pretty heavy bell in the flatfoot full squat with back straight, and then following with three sets of "hack" squats for shaping, with a much ligher bell, and running the reps on this around 12, 10, and 8. After this our thighs are usually swollen from 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. If they aren't -- we know we have been training when we should have stood in bed.

When our pal John Grimek reads this, he is going to have fits because he will think old Bosco has deserted him in his battle against the "tape happy) pseudo-scientists, because nobody would have ever figured that we would come to recognition of a tape measure as a useful article. But, as we have so often told you, we reserve the right to change our minds whenever we find a better way of doing things. And now we have got to a point where the tape is unnecessary,m so maybe JGG will forgive us after all.

But we believe all of you advanced lads will find this method of properly spacing exercise periods very much worthwhile. 

Remember, we are always trying to find ways to make barbells easier to use; muscles easier to acquire/ and in general make Life happier for our fellow iron fans. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!    

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