Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Training Problems of the Tall Man - George F. Jowett
Training Problems of the Tall Man
by George F. Jowett (1940)
from Vim: Vol. I, Num. I
The most important consideration required in physical training is an intelligent understanding of physical types. All people are relegated into various groups which are divided into distinct types. This is not a theory but an actual fact as evidenced by the varying heights among people with disproportionate bodyweights. Normally, many are not so unusual as to cause much concern, but others, due to their heights as compared with their low bodyweight present a condition requiring earnest consideration. These are those who appear to be the keenest to acquire a better balanced development, but seem to fail for reasons which are invariably blamed on some natural fault in physical make-up that cannot be corrected by them. In failure to identify their type they fail to recognize the common fault which is the detriment to success, nevertheless, a defect is not always a definite reason for unresponsive development except in rare cases which are few and scattered.
Let us first understand that nature has equipped each of us with certain physical limitations, adequately shown by the common diversity in stature. We identify type by age, height, weight, bone structure, metabolism, occupation, and environment which leaves an impression on individuals regardless of height, thus we find short men along with the medium-tall featuring a low bodyweight with a corresponding deficiency in muscular development equal with that of the tall who are underweight, though perhaps not as commonly noticeable among the former as it is with the latter. For this reason we find that the tall man with a pronounced deficiency in weight and development is more conscious of his condition. To him the problem of physical reconstruction seems to present more difficulties than it does for his shorter brothers. Actually, the major trouble is in the time element necessary in his case to procure results, rather then anything else, which is augmented by individual impatience that is always seeking unreliable short cuts.
From experience I find that this type are most inclined to develop a complex which automatically defeats their purpose before they begin. They become victims of their own psychology rather than victims of adverse physical conditions which, whether they are willing to admit it or not, makes of them defeatists.
To prove this, let me place before you a summary of their personal reactions made by themselves.
Some time ago I circulated a questionnaire among several thousand people who had expressed desire to improve their physical condition, but who had gone no further other than to inquire as to the benefits of physical training. An important question asked was, "Have you definitely decided not to improve your physical condition? If so, why?" Of those who replied to this question, 63% were tall and underweight, and of this group 87% stated in no uncertain terms that they did not believe it was possible for a tall man of their particular type to be able to secure the same beneficial results as was possible for a shorter man. They gave many reasons for arriving at their conclusions, all of which we can dispense with as they add up to the explanation already given. Mainly it was because they claimed they were either small-boned or were naturally thin, or else they believed their case was a condition of heredity. Of the other groups, only 16% gave similar reasons, which proves my contention that tall men more than others are inclined to develop a defeatist attitude where their physical condition is concerned. I was able to convince many of them, and later prove physically to their satisfaction that they were wrong, pointing out that while nature had determined for each of us certain physical limitations, making it not always possible for everyone to become 200 pounders, yet nature never ordained that man should be subordinated to a permanent low state of physical efficiency, which always exists among the underweight, and among the underdeveloped. Personally, I would not designate such conditions as an unhealthy state in the true sense of the term, as many do, but it is impossible to refute the fact that a low organic metabolism, responsible for these conditions, is a decided detriment to one's mental and physical efficiency. No doubt there are many who will not agree with me altogether on this statement, but statistics do not lie. Truly, we can all point out some long, lean individuals who have achieved brilliant success in life, but there are other scenes behind the curtain so to speak. Statistics prove that men in the higher mental brackets are less physically efficient, and the least sexually productive. They lack the vigor and endurance of those who have taken the time to create a balance between mental and physical efficiency. The former is dependable upon the latter for its longevity, and as I make this statement let me say that it is not a personal deduction, but a fact substantiated to by our leading biologists and physiologists, who though not physical educationalists do recognize the evidence.
Coming back to the facts in this discussion, let us see what is the hindrance, if any, that is supposed to exclude the tall thin man from acquiring the equal benefits in physical improvement from that of others.
First let me point out that our present mode of living has caused a submersion on much of the average physical qualifications, but, they are not lost, merely responding to an apathetic state waiting to be awakened to the response of vigorous stimulation so that man can enjoy the full physical blessings in health, strength and development that nature originally ordained for him.
The problem of the tall, underweight person begins with a study of his physical geography from which we can learn whether or not nature has made any mistakes, and if there are any compensative features that can make possible the balance of bodyweight for the difference in height. There are plenty, most of which the subject is apt to overlook. All he sees is his long, lean arms and legs, a stem-like neck, and a torso that looks very much undernourished. As for muscles, he says he "don't have any and can't get any." Well, perhaps I can change his mind. I honestly believe I can.
The tall man should never lose sight of the fact that the territory of his muscular spaces are much longer than those of the short man. From shoulder to elbow the bicepital space is longer as is the length of the forearm from elbow to wrist. To a much greater extent the same condition exists between the hip and knee, and between the knee and the ankle spaces. The important fact to consider is that on the average there is not as much difference between the lengths of the two torsos. The difference is being that usually the short man has a longer torso in comparison with the length of his limbs which is one reason why the short man apparently obtains quicker results than his taller friend, and it is also the reason why the shorter statured men are often able to demonstrate a more rapid development in vital energy, or physical strength -- they have less to take care of.
Undoubtedly, the shorter man makes more headway in muscular appearance, but in comparing him with the progression of the taller man we can truly say that the matter or appearance is not the true measure of material, or muscular abundance. Unfortunately, the taller man too frequently compares his progressive development and muscular display with that of his shorter rival. When he does this he is unfair to himself, as the tape measure is no criterion between the two in this case. He forgets that by having a longer physical area to cover it requires far more material structure to make for him a pair of 16 inch biceps than it does for the other. The facts are that a man standing 5 ft. 4 in. with a pair of 16 in. biceps is only comparable witht the 14.5 in. biceps of the man standing 5 ft. 10 in. or 6 ft. in height. A six footer with a 44 in. normal chest does not look so impressive as the man standing 5 ft. 4 in. or less with a 40 in. chest. The taller man, instead of analyzing the facts allows comparative appearance to motivate his mental reactions which always creates disappointment, tending greatly toward discouragement. He should be factual.
In performance testing his strength, the taller man will find that his 14.5 in. biceps and other lesser measurements, except the chest, are capable of demonstrating physical power that is even more than comparable with that of his shorter friend of the same bodyweight. This proves that the law of averages holds qualifications of compensation which the shorter man sometimes finds as difficult to understand as does the taller man. Actually, this law is equally as effective and real with one as it is with the other. For example, the longer back provides a greater leverage advantage in lifting a weight from off the floor to the shoulders in one clean movement than does the shorter back. This movement is additionally aided by the longer ligaments in the longer biceps, therefore, the longer back and biceps of the tall man provide a stronger pull making him more capable in all one, and two-arm clean lifts from the ground to the shoulders, and in the one, and two-arm complete movements lifting from the ground to arms' length overhead in the exercise known as the snatch. In tossing a weight from the shoulders to arms' length overhead as in the one, and two-arm jerk both types are about equal. In either of these feats, the longer bicepital ligaments balance with the shorter arms of the shorter man, but in the one, or two-arms slow lift from the shoulders to arms' length, known as the press, the short-armed man predominates. The compact muscular efficiency of the latter permits him to excel in lifting a heavy weight a few inches off the floor, but if the muscles in the back are strongly developed in the taller man it is possible for him to slightly excel the other in standing erect with the weight once he has got it started from off the floor in the movement known as the two hands dead lift. Contrary to popular opinion that the tall man is always the weaker of the two in the small of the back and that his longer arms make it more difficult for him to toss a weight from the shoulders to arms' length overhead it is scientifically true that longer bones and longer ligaments provide better muscular leverage advantages for the tall man once he has developed his physical agencies. In the untrained condition he is probably not as effective in his efforts as the untrained short man. Being ignorant of positions, his longer back acquires a greater arch which defeats his purpose. The lifting efficiency of a back lies in the ability of the person to keep it flat in order to secure spinal leverage. The undeveloped long biceps are ineffectual in motivating a weight from the shoulders to straight arms because the brachialis anticus which forms in the fold of the elbow is usually much underdeveloped. This is the muscle that comes to the rescue of the arms at the crucial period of its straightening process. Incidentally, this is a much overlooked muscle by all body builders, particularly weight lifters. Nevertheless, it is there, and the longer it is and the better developed it becomes, the more effective is the arm straightening action in conjunction with the the triceps.
On the other hand, the short, compact muscles of the shorter man are compensative in many other ways, nevertheless, on the whole, a taller man, even though his muscular appearance is not so strikingly evident, will outclass his shorter rival of the same bodyweight. These are facts which if the tall man will only keep in mind will dispel any tendency for discouragement.
The matter of muscular development to equal the appearance of the shorter man is simply a training process involving a longer period of time for the reasons explained before, but as the taller man progresses in his developing stages he becomes by far a stronger example than is possible for the shorter man, as evidenced by the fact that the world's most famous kings of strength were men of lofty stature standing between 5 ft. 10 in. and 6 ft. in height. Naming just a few of the strong men of yesterday I recall such giants as Louis Cyr, Apollon, Steinbach, Swoboda, August Johnson, Holtgrewe, Barre, Tureck and Elliot. With the men of today, the reader is undoubtedly familiar. To name a few, Stanko, Davis and Walker. Yet at thhis point it is well not to form too many illusions. I am frequently asked what is the ideal stature of the strongest men. A survey of the strongest group indicates that men of standing between 5 ft. 8 in. and 5 ft. 10 in. with proportionate bodyweight are the most powerful in physical performance, nevertheless, this does not lessen the fact that the taller man as much more to reap if he is willing to work for it than has the short man. Of course there are a few examples where shorter men have prevailed in the realms of strength, such as Karl Moerke, who only stood 5 ft. 2 in. t all, but such is an exception rather than the rule.
While I have pointed out that the shorter man will acquire his physical appearance more quickly, we must realize that this is only because he reaches the limit of his physical possibilities the sooner. The taller man must keep on because he has longer spaces to cover and fill, and therefore, more to gain, and with this goal in view continued progressive body building should be the driving urge.
I realize that all men naturally crave to be strong, but at the same time my experience shows me that the original urge with the majority is an impelling desire for super appearance rather than for super strength, believing rightfully to an extent that strength will follow development, so, knowing that physical development for the sake of a better physical appearance is the major aim I will devote my discussions to that theme. Unfortunately, it is not possible to completely cover the subject in one article, therefore, I am obliged to resort to generalities, nevertheless, it will serve as a potential guide th those who fall within the scope of this subject.
You will recall earlier in this article I mentioned the importance o remembering the little difference between torso lengths of the two types. Except where the very tall are compared with the very short it would appear that the shorter man gains the advantage. He does, but only to the extent as I have already stated because he has shorter limbs and spaces. We can explain the difference in torso length by saying that the short man was meant to be taller but became stunted in limb growth for various reasons which did not materially effect the size of his torso. Actually the tall man gains in somewhat the same manner as illustrated in the difference between two fertile plants,the one being pot bound and the other not, enabling the fertility to spread into a longer range. Within the torso exist all the organs of vital life -- the chemical laboratories wherein are created the secretions that provide nutrition an energy for the the motive muscles. Only through some derangement, or an unusual lethargy o one or more of he many internal systems do the muscles become deprived of sufficient tissue fuel. Paradoxically as the following, yet it is the condition of inertia that causes a glandular overactivity. The glands are compelled to work overtime in their effort to supply a balance. This they cannot actually accomplish as they also depend on other sources for their fertility, the result is increased nervous tension which dissipates body energy, defeating the natural act of replacement and neutralizing any possibility of multiplication which is responsible for the low bodyweight and the other physical deficiencies. The body is deprived of its normal oxygenic level and balance, and since oxygen is the vital life fuel, to the abundant stimulation of this our attention must be turned. We must turn back to the first lesson in physical training so sadly overlooked, which demands that all people, tall or short, thin or husky, must commence their body building by first developing the tone of the internal systems. Only be doing this can one healthfully stimulate the vital processes to secrete abundantly the substances that are necessary for tissue growth. There is an old saying that, "If we take care of the organs they will take care of the muscles," which is sound common sense, for seeds best germinate in fertile soil. The seeds of the body are the tissues, or muscle cells which are governed by the natural law of replacement and multiplication. To fulfill this purpose the cells must be nurtured with natural fuel, the basis which is oxygen. The organs, and particularly the muscle tissues are greedy for oxygen, the latter are capable of absorbing and storing great quantities of oxygen for replacement and as a safeguard against depletion, therefore, it is easy to understand that a starved body as represented by a low bodyweight is the result of a loack of oxygenic supply and balance. this is conclusively proven by the chest dimensions of the underweight particularly among the tall underweight. In the latter case their chest measurement is invariably less in proportion with that of the shorter, consequently, the first step to be taken is to improve the development of the thorax both inside and out.
Here is where the first error creeps in. From the beginning many adopt a wrong working procedure -- their attention is bent on the development of the superficial muscles with no thought for internal toning, which has he effect of developing the muscles at the expense of the organs. Popular conceptions of exercise have camouflaged the importance of toning the internal systems, and particularly the development of the concealed muscles -- those invisible muscles which, while functioning in many cases as accessories of the visible muscles, are really the controlling factors in stimulating the vital organs and other systems with an undulating massage. Body builders in their eagerness are impatient to see results. Unfortunately, it is not possible to watch the progress of the concealed muscles as we can in the mirror the visible muscles, which is inclined to misdirect our efforts. Nevertheless, the improvement of the concealed muscles can be registered by the improved tone of the respiratory system. At this time, let me point out in all seriousness that heavy exercise for the beginner, regardless of the degree of muscular efficiency, will retard the development of the concealed muscles. It also lessens the tidal breathing (normal rested breathing) because heavy movements, being mainly governed by external muscular action, cannot be performed slowly enough with heavy weights to harmoniously coordinate with the vital respiratory act of tidal inhalation and exhalation. The tall man particularly must understand intelligently the true concept of what is termed progressive exercise. He must commence from the beginning graduating into the advanced training stages progressively. Do not be fooled. There are no detours or short cuts. Nature cannot be bent to ignorance, indifference nor unproved theories. We must be factual, following the natural law. Above all else, first develop the internal fields of vitality, gradually progressing as you would build a house, one brick on top of the other. As the concealed muscles respond the thorax will develop in depth and width. The tidal breathing act will become copiously improved, garnering the oxygen into the blood stream where it is caught up by the blood corpuscles which deposit the nutrition along the course of circulation into the organic and muscular tissue throughout the body. With this increased and improved nutrition, fertilization of the body tissues adequately takes place. Muscular exercise carrying on the progressive theme will cause cellular increase in natural sequence registered in muscular growth, thereby increasing all the physical proportions, and naturally, the body weight.
Let us examine these important concealed muscles that govern the respiratory act. Perhaps you are not familiar with them, and if you are, then revive your acquaintance and become more familiar.
There are two groups of muscles forming on each side of the chest between the ribs, known as the internal costals and the external costals, collectively known as the intercostals. Offhand they appear like one double sheet of muscles spreading over the rib spaces, but they are actually attached between each rib and composed of a highly elastic texture. They are very interesting muscles, a study of which depicts their unusual functioning ability over that of any other muscular group. They fit diagonally between the ribs, the internal costals slanting in one direction, and the external costals, immediately covering their mate, slant in the opposite direction. They are the only motor muscles, or true body muscles that have involuntary action. Ceaselessly, from the day you are born until you die they constantly function, being denied the voluntary, and long rest periods of relaxation associated with other costal muscles. Waking and sleeping they never relax from the vigilance of their operation. Operating in accordion fashion they expand and contract the ribs creating the bellow breathing action of the lungs. As development improves in these muscles so does the vacuum process of the respiratory organs increase, voluminously determining the consummation of oxygen and the discharge of carbon dioxide for the healthful conditioning of the body. The other costal muscles with which all are mostly familiar are those which heavily clothe the chest, known as the serratus magnus muscles and the breast pectorals. There are powerful agents in providing vigorous voluntary action of the chest. Mainly, they are protective agencies designed to respond in growth and strength to permanently maintain the constructional chest girth, thereby permitting the intercostals to better function. Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that the intercostals must be developed first, and the others developed only as called for in the graduating process of progressive body building. Always remember that the intercostals are delicate members, and that when the body exists in an indeveloped state the intercostals, like other muscles, exist below par. The exercises selected must be such as will provide a complete act of respiration in all the costal movements which are four in number -- contraction, expansion of the ribs, elevation of the chest in the clavicular area, and widening in the diaphragm. Use light weights so as not to interfere with the natural breathing act, heavier weights can be used later when developing the surfacial costal muscles. Ineffectual results in body building are the result, so to speak, of putting the cart before the horse. Many whom I have treated, who previously could get no results, were amazed at their progress and among these I can number the best results being gained were with the tall underweight. It is conclusively proven that being lank and tall is no hindrance to the achievement of success if one will only strive and follow intelligently the natural route of training procedure. As I have point out, nature has provided compensative features among all types regardless of height. Plan your training program according to the demands of your particular type. You cannot change your physiological processes, neither can your anatomical scheme be diverted contrary wise to the physiological order. Each are dependable upon the other for mutual coordination, but the secret, if there is one, is in developing the body from the inside out.
The enthusiasm of youth with its avid desire for speedy accomplishment is only too often misleading, driving many into the spectacular field of exaggerated muscular display, making of them exhibitionists, which has a tendency to promote pronounced isolated development of a commonly more noticeable group of muscles. This becomes their undoing, and becomes later a barrier to effective progress in balanced muscular development. It creates a false vanity. We all should have personal pride in ourselves, but let it be sane. Big biceps or large pectorals alone are never reliable criterions of natural body power. Physical perfection for the tall or short is only achieved in the harmonious symmetry of balance, and with it a superior degree of strength is gained. Keep this in mind always, and you who are tall, slim and underweight take courage. Follow the true principles of teaching. Such are not my particular system of teaching any more than they are those of any other well informed instructor. It is the code and system of nature that has created the physiological and anatomical order of our stature, plainly placed before us all to read and to follow intelligently so that we may enjoy the full harvest of a vigorous body that is ever exemplified in its superb development.
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