Thursday, December 28, 2023

Don't Neglect Your Dumbbell Training, Part Two - Bob Hoffman (1947)

                                                                               Steve Reeves at 15. 

Calls for "More cowbell!" left the dumbbell feeling lonely, 
hence the need for this two part article . . . 

Continuing from Part One

with the exercises in the York Swingbell Course, able to be performed with dumbbells, or anything you can hold on to that offers resistance: 

11) Teetotum or Twisting Dead Lift. 

Start with the usual position. With the legs as straight as possible, bend and twist to the side so that the bar touches the floor or ground at the side of the right foot, back to center and then down to a similar position at the left, back to center and continue the movement.   

12) Compound Swingbell Exercise. 

To practice a compound exercise you select any three good movements from this course, and without stopping at the end of the first or second continue until all three are practiced. 

 Back now to the original article . . . 

The side press, which has proven to be one of the best shoulder and upper back broadeners, single curls, back and front hand, while leaning with one arm resting upon chair, box or bench, the one arm rowing motion in the same position, the one hand swing, the one hand snatch, the one hand clean & jerk, the military press. 

While most articles on developing the legs point to the necessity of developing the lower extremities because half of the muscular bulk of the body is in the legs and hips, we must remember too that the other half of the muscular weight of the body is in the upper part of the body. It is just as essential to develop the upper part as the lower when one hopes to increase strength, muscular proportions and bodyweight. 

While much strength and muscle can be built with the barbell alone, which owing to the ease of handling great weights, has proven to be the number one piece of body building equipment, even greater strength and better looking body, a more efficient, stronger and more capable body, one which includes broader shoulders, deeper, more muscular chest, a broader back and a more classical torso, will be built when heavy dumbbell training plays an important part in the body builder's program.

As so often mentioned before, the body is made up of an estimated 720 muscles, each of these consists of scores or hundreds of thousands, even millions of muscular fibers, a full 4 billion in all anatomists estimate. These muscular fibers and the muscles they make up are designed to move the body and its parts in every conceivable manner, to exert force from ever possible angle. 

The barbell has a tendency to strengthen and operate the muscles in the same direction or the same groove always. From the floor to the chest, and overhead, up and down in the rowing motion, or in the curl. While dumbbells permit a much greater range of movement, while they can be utilized over a greater range, and in more directions, as the hands can be turned not only down and up but at all sorts of angles, placing the muscles in operation in various manners, one of their greatest values is the fact that much more strength and muscle is developed by controlling them or balancing them than with the barbell. 

The muscles of the body operate or synchronize together in performing any task asked of them. While one group of muscles may seem to do all the work, such as the front of the arm in curling, the back of the arm in pressing, all other muscles are simultaneously in action. They serve as balances, stabilizers, controllers, and much resulting benefit is received in strength and development. 

You don't need to take my word for it, you can make your own tests. 

Consider the sort of training you have been doing lately. Have you been following the easiest method, using the barbell alone? Like many others I have a tendency to do this, it is so easy and simple when training at home to practice a few to a dozen exercises with the barbell alone, and end off with the two arm pull over with dumbbell. If the complete York courses were practiced, including dumbbell exercises, superior results would be obtained. 

Over a period of years we have offered many self improvement stories relating how men who had difficulty in gaining weight, with a special program of heavy dumbbell training had gained fifteen or twenty pounds. In the past I personally have benefitted greatly by a period of comparatively heavy dumbbell training. 

Note: before I forget . . . here's some things on hanging a dumbbell or bells, thanks to Mr. Al Myers. Also, search "dumbbell" at that USAWA site for plenty of interesting things you can do with a dumbbell: 


If I had more time I would use dumbbells more as I am urging you ambitious body builders to do. Take a leaf from the book of experience of the great strong men, the most magnificent physical specimens of the past and present and include in your training program, not less than once or twice a week, a heavy dumbbell program.

With heavy dumbbells there are three basic movements for the upper body, and scores of variations in these movements. There is the dead weight lift and the various forms of deep knee bends, these five exercises develop most of the major muscles of the body. If you add the two arm pullover in its various forms and some of the abdominal exercises, and if you like the wrestler's bridge or some form of neck exercise with a head strap, you will have a good all around course. 

As an illustration of the great number of dumbbell exercises which can be practiced, consider the following forms of curling. The front curl, the back curl, done simultaneously or alternately, the curl with the thumbs up, and the twisting curl. 

They can be performed while leaning forward or while sitting. Curling leaning forward is particularly valuable, for the body builder will not curl with the elbows resting against the side as he may do while standing, a position which robs the arms of considerable of the developmental effect.

Rowing motions can be practiced while leaning forward with the upper body at right angles to the legs, and the upright rowing motion, either with arms working simultaneously or alternately. Rowing lying face down on a high bench is valuable for then there is no back movement to assist the pulling power of the arms. 

In pressing there is the one and two arm military press, the continental press, the side press, the bent press, the press while deep knee bending, the sitting press, the press on the inclined chair, pressing alternately or regularly while lying upon the floor or bench. 

To develop the back as well as the entire arm and shoulder assembly, there is the one and two arm swing, the one and two arm snatch, the one and two arm clean, the flat back and the stiff legged dead weight lift. 

While the barbell lends itself particularly well to deep knee bending, deep knee bending with heavy dumbbells is different and builds strength from other slightly different angles. Flat foot deep knee bend and on toes while holding the dumbbells at the side, deep knee bend, pressing while going into the squat position, deep knee bend and pressing while rising are all good leg developers. 

The rowing, curling, pressing, back and leg developing exercises already offered will make it possible for you to select a good, result producing routine of exercises, and there are many other good ones which will bring you excellent results. 

In the Big Arms book alone, there are 101 dumbbell exercises to develop the arms . . . 

Chapter Twenty One, here: 

Some of these not already mentioned in the five categories offered are: Alternate curl and press, arm swing to side while leaning, swinging from overhead far to the left, down and up to the right, then reverse, swinging from position at side of foot to overhead down to side of other foot and continue. Triceps exercise while straightening arms to back of body while leaning forward, forward raise, using some body movement so that heavy dumbbells can be employed, alternate forward raise, some of the best strength athletes perform this with a pair of 50's, John Davis, while training in Paris at the world's championships, sometimes used a pair of 77 pound dumbbells, much to the astonishment of the regular French patrons of the gymnasiums who too often train with dumbbells of five pounds or less, wrestler's bridge and press two dumbbells, flying exercise while lying upon bench. Keeping arms bent at elbows draw the bells together over body until they touch, extend to side and down while keeping the elbows bent and continue the movement like a bird flying except that you are in the upside down position as compared to the flying position. Pullover lying, alternate curl and press to arm's length back of head while lying on your back, alternate press while lying, hold arms out to the side at shoulder height, curl to shoulders with palms up, curl under arm pits, two hands clean and jerk with dumbbells, two hands clean and press with dumbbells. 

Note: rather windy, eh. 

This latter exercise is one of the best in the entire line of physical training, if you develop the ability to perform 15 repetitions in the clean and press with a pair of 75's you will be quite a man, a champ, a shaven ape, a chimp with tricks, the same number of repetitions with a pair of 50's requires the effort of an advanced heavy dumbbell man, hold bell overhead, touch toe, carry dumbbells while walking, running, or climbing stairs, dropping and catching bell from hand to hand, hold the dumbbells at shoulder height, knuckles up, press without moving the hands, this is a good triceps developer, hold dumbbells at chest, lean forward as in the good morning exercise with barbell back of neck, back to the erect position and continue. 

The scores of exercises I have offered will illustrate the unlimited possibilities of dumbbell training, the regular practice of heavy and comparatively heavy dumbbell training will do things to your physique which will please you. 

Permit dumbbells to play a more important part in developing your body. 

If you have apparently reached a sticking point, spend a few weeks with heavy dumbbell training alone. It is reasonable to expect important gains during this exclusive dumbbell period. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!   



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