Monday, July 4, 2022

Upper Arm Development -- David Willoughby (1947)

From this Issue - October 1947.
Courtesy of Joe Roark's IronHistory website and 
Liam Tweed. 

"Powerful Arms for You" by David Willoughby, here: 
Yes, it's all there.  

NOTE: I will be posting this 3-part series in a different order from the original presentation. First, this article on training the upper arms. Second, an article on the lower arms. Third, one on the functions of the arm muscles and strength records. 

We have now seen how the muscles of the arms work [link to part 3 here], and how certain principles apply to muscular action that make it possible to devise exercises for any desired group of muscles or part of the body. 

If, for example, the muscles on the front, or palm, side of the forearm and upper arm flex, or bend the arm, then to reach and develop those muscles the arms must be given exercises in which they are brought from a straight to a bent position against resistance that tends to keep the arms straight. 

As previously recommended, one of the most practicable and effective kinds of exercise for this purpose is "curling" weights, using either a barbell, a single dumbbell, or a pair of dumbbells, and varying the effects on the muscles by holding the hands in different positions while raising and lowering the weights. 

Needless to say, some of these "biceps" exercises can also be performed with a spring or rubber chest expander (by holding one of the handles on the floor with one foot while "curling" the other handle to the shoulder). However, since most readers are, or will be, training with weights, I shall recommend and describe mainly exercises to be performed with barbell and dumbbells.

Since such exercises for the arm flexor muscles have already been described [be patient, the future will soon catch up to the past on this one], let us now give attention to exercises for building up the muscles of the back or the arm, chiefly the triceps and anconeus.        

While a huge, "baseball" of muscle on top of the flexed arm can be very impressive, a tremendous development of the triceps, or under portion of the arm, is no less imposing. 

Fortunately, there is no need to sacrifice one for the other. By giving equal attention to all the muscle groups, the practical student should duly attain a pair of arms that are strong and well-developed from all angles and of a size approaching the limit for his arm bones and size of frame.  

Whereas the biceps and associated flexor muscles are developed by bending the arms against resistance, so the triceps and associated extensor muscles are developed by straightening the arms against resistance. 

One of the best exercises for this purpose is simple "pressing" a weight from the shoulders overhead. Many of the early-day strongmen obtained marvelous arms simply by curling and pressing dumbbells, but they did it by performing such exercises countless times, day after day, year after year. 

Nowadays, most recent lifts are performed with barbells; but in the early days of strongmanism in this country, and by that I mean away back from, say, 1860 to 1900, more lifting and exercising by far was done with dumbbells than with long-handled barbells. In those days "repetition" lifting was a popular form of strength demonstration, and frequent contests were held to see who could "put up" a dumbbell from shoulder to arm's length overhead the greatest number of times. The dumbbell selected usually weighed from 40 to 75 pounds, but sometimes a bell of 100 pounds or over was employed. 

On the other hand, there were "endurance" enthusiasts who made impressive records by using ridiculously light dumbbells and lifting them, up and down without stopping, thousands of times in succession. Some of the better of these "repetition lifting" records, with dumbbells of different poundages, are, I think sufficiently interesting to quote.  

On November 25, 1875, G. W. Roche, of San Francisco, "put up" a 25-pound dumbbell 450 times consecutively from the shoulder. A. A. Hylton, also of San Francisco, "put up" 50 pounds 94 times. This was surpassed, perhaps twenty years later, by the famous professional strongman, William P. Caswell, who "put up" a 56-pound weight 100 times in 5 minutes. This record, in return, was surpassed by another English strong-man of splendid development, the famous Staff-Sergeant Moss, who, at a bodyweight of perhaps 180 pounds, put up the same amount of weight (56 pounds) 100 times in much less time (2 minutes, 52 seconds). 

All the foregoing "put ups" could have been one-arm jerks for all one knows; but if they were pushes, it is fair to assume that plenty of body "swing" was used with them! 

On February 22, 1915, G. W. Chadwick, of New York City, put up a 100 pound dumbbell 30 times, but in what style it was not said. 

The best "repetition" one arm dumbbell press of which I have record is that of the giant Austrian heavyweight, Josep Grafl. In 1913, using a dumbbell of 50 kilos (110.23 pounds), Grafl pressed it, with feet together, 20 times with his right hand, then 17 times with his left. (No wonder he had 18.5 inch arms!).

In the "lightweight" dumbbell class, perhaps the best feat was that of Anthony McKinley of Ballycastle, Ireland, who, on December 26, 1904 (at the age of 61!) "put up" a dumbbell weighing 12 pounds 1.5 ounces 16,000 times consecutively during a period of 2 hours 57 minutes and 50 seconds! 

"Pressing", then, will develop the extensor (triceps) muscles of the upper arm. In this movement, however, the shoulder (deltoid) muscles are equally well exercised. While to press with a single dumbbell gives the muscles more "balancing" work, or demands more control than when the bar is grasped with both hands, still there are many readers who have only a long-handled barbell and are without a short-handled dumbbell. Such readers (if they do not equip themselves with a pair of dumbbell handles), have the choice either of confining their pressing to two-arm barbell exercises, or doing the one0-arm press with a barbell

Fine as the two-arm press is for developing the deltoids and triceps (especially when done in the "military" style, with body perfectly erect), it is of advantage to do also the one-arm side press, using either a barbell or a du9mbbell. 

If, while doing this exercise, the feet are kept together, it will permit less bending to the side and put more developing work on the arms and shoulders. 

Keep the lifting elbow clear of the body at all times, keep your eye on the weight throughout, and lower the arm each time just as slowly as you raise it. Use a weight that you can repeat with from 8 to 12 times, then, when 12 repetitions become easy, increase the poundage in the manner already described. The same method of increase applies to the two-arm military press as an exercise.

A variation of the two-arm press, especially effective for developing the triceps, is to raise and lower a barbell from behind the neck. Since at the start of this exercise the elbows are held higher and the forearms more horizontally than in the regular two-arm press from in front of the neck, in raising and lowering the weight more leverage is put on the elbow joints and accordingly a greater developing effect on the triceps.  

The closer the hands are on the bar, the greater the effect is on the back-arm muscles. In fact, if it be desired to practically confine the exercise to the arm extensors, the bar can be grasped with the hands touching each other the the palms up. This, however, somewhat violates the principle (which should be observed as a rule) of exercising the muscles in groups.

The amount of weight to be used in the "press from behind tghe neck) should be 5 or 10 pounds less than in the regular two-arm press. However, if the hands are held close together, a still further reduction in the weight of the barbell will be necessary.

Another form of pressing, using both arms together, with either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells, is where the exercise is performed in a lying position on the floor, as shown in the photo below.   


This is is very effective exercise for developing the muscles of the front chest, as well as the shoulder muscles and the triceps of the arms. Increased effects can be obtained by lying on a narrow bench, rather than on the floor, so that the arms can be lowered clear down until the barbell handle touches the chest. This stretches the muscles of the chest and shoulder, and, by so causing these muscles to work in a more disadvantageous position, develops them even more than does the regular "floor press."  

The amount of weight to be handled in the usual "press on back" (on the floor) should be about 1/3 more than in the two-arm standing press. That is, if you are using, say, 75 pounds in the standing press, you should use about 100 pounds in the floor press. And if you perform the latter exercise son a bench, perhaps 80 or 90 pounds will suffice.

A variation of the "press on back, lying flat" just described is the "press on back, with shoulder bridge." 

In the latter exercise, the knees are bent and the feet kept flat on the floor close to the hips, throughout. As the barbell is pressed, the hips are suddenly raised and the back arched up off the floor. As the weight is lowered, the body is likewise returned to the lying position. This exercise, or lift, permits more weight to be handled than does the press while lying flat. 

It can be applied appropriately during the last few counts of the lying press, when the arms are beginning to tire. So far as the chest, shoulders, and triceps are concerned, it develops the muscles in almost the same manner as when the body is kept flat on the floor.   

If the reader has access to a gymnasium, there are a number of good "arm" exercises that can be performed on fixed apparati. Chinning and rope-climbing, while affecting mainly the muscles of the broad of the back, are also good general developers of the upper body, including the flexor muscles of the arms. 

For the front of the chest and the back of the arms, one of the best gymnastic exercises is "dipping" on the parallel bars. This, like chinning, is such a well known exercise as to need no description. When, say, 12 "dips" become easy of accomplishment, a light barbell should be held across the upturned toes [yes, there's other ways] to promote greater strength and development. A variety of parallel bar dipping that is especially effective for the triceps muscles is to grasp the bars throughout with the backs of the hands uppermost and the thumbs facing the body. 

The familiar exercise of "floor dipping" or "pushups" is somewhat similar in its developing effects to the exercise of pressing weights while lying on the back. Since the floor dip is, however, more of a chest than an arm exercise, irt will be discussed in a later chapter on chest development. 

A really effective gymnastic exercise for the triceps is the "breast-up
 or "full mount" on the Roman rings. In this feat the performer first "chins" on the rings until his shoulders reach the level of his hands; then, continuing, by a powerful downward pressure on the rings he raises his body until his arms are as straightened as possible and a position of "rest" is attained. 

During the chinning stage of the breast-up, the rings are grasped not in the usual manner, but with what is known as the "double grip." This grip is taken so that each ring crosses the palm of the hand diagonally, coming close to the wrist on the little finger side. While using this hold on the rings, the wrists are kept bent. Without the use of this "false" grip, a breast-up becomes extremely difficult of accomplishment. The effect of the breast-up on the development of the triceps muscles, with which we are here particularly concerned, is most potent at the half-way stage where the effort is changed from pulling to pushing. It would be hard to find another exercise or feat that brings the arm extensor muscles into as sheer and powerful action as does the breast-up at this point. And of course, weight can be added in this feat also -- if one ever reaches the stage where the breast-up is easy without it! 

Since one of the portions (the "long" head) of the triceps, or arm-straightening muscle, acts also to draw the arm backwards, to fully develop this portion of the back-arm you should include in your routine at least one exercise in which, while bending forward at the hips and keeping your upper body horizontal, you pull a weight, or weights, up to your chest from a straight-arm position. This exercise has been called the "rowing motion," which just about describes it. 

This exercise can be made less tiring on the lower back, and more, effective for the upper back and back-arm muscles, by performing it with a dumbbell, one arm at a time. If this is done, the free hand can be placed (keeping the arm straight) on a stool, or a bench, to support the body while the bell is being raised and lowered by the exercising arm. 

In this exercise, to obtain the fullest results, the dumbbell should at the top of each pull-up be raised as high as possible, so that the shoulder blades are pressed vigorously together. 

Also, in touching the bar to the body, bring it high up on the chest, not against the abdomen. If a dumbbell is used, it should weigh about half the amount used with a barbell. 

Do from 8-12 repetitions, as for the other arm exercises. 

Chinning, rope-climbing, and similar gymnastic exercises in which the arms are forced downward and backward against the resistance occasioned by the weight of the body, also develop the "long head" of the triceps muscle and so add to the fullness and shapeliness of the back of the arms. 

Paul Hebert

 Bill Smith

In connection with gaining the utmost possible development of the upper arms, it should be pointed out that HAND-BALANCING is an almost indispensable aid to the weight-lifter who really wants to attain his maximum "pressing" strength and overhead lifting ability. 

Starting with simple handstands on the  floor, the work should be gradually increased in difficulty until one can perform handstand dips on the parallel bars or on high pedestals, press up out of an elbow stand, jump while holding a handstand, etc. While such gymnastic feats are most readily performed by small-sized but relatively big-armed individuals, still they are by no means restricted to lightweights! Later on, I shall cite some of the hand-balancing feats performed by famous strong-men and "muscular marvels, who used this form of training as an aid to acquiring supreme strength and development in the shoulders and arms.

Many additional exercises could be prescribed for the upper arms if it were of advantage to do so. Any so-called "different" upper arm exercises would be, however, mere variations of those here recommended. 

Many more in this book, divided over many posts: 
And in Chapter Twenty-One through Twenty-Three

While an extensive program of specialized arm exercises might be advantageous for one who had spent a year or more on general developing exercises but was still below par in the arms, such a program should not be embarked on by the beginner. 

The best exercise program, for the first year, at least, is one which, while not neglecting the arms, consists mainly of "general" exercises -- that is, exercises in which the developing effect is shared by various parts of the body rather than confined to one part. Such "general" exercises, besides building up the entire body, teach the various muscle groups to perform in an efficient, coordinated manner. For this reason, in a body-building program of, say, a dozen exercises, not more than 5 or 6 should be used for the upper arms, shoulders, chest, and upper back. The remaining exercises should cover the remaining parts of the body, neck, forearms, waist, lower back, and legs. 

If too great a number or too tiring a series of exercises is attempted, the very purpose of the training (to build the muscles by enjoyable effort) is apt to be defeated. My object in this series of lessons is to acquaint the student not only with a series of unsurpassed developing exercises, but also to remind him that in physical development, as elsewhere, the best results are obtained where the course of action is intelligently and systematically planned and followed. If, therefore, each reader will plan his training program according to the principles and precepts here imparted, he can be assured that he will be following the best possible course for building his body to its individual maximum of muscularity, shapeliness, and strength. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive