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Health and BodyBuilding.

(By Physical Culturist),,

We are all very familiar with the -'strong - man” idea; it is well ad.'vcitised and systematised and promised. ,We all fancy we understand the simple fact of "strength. But do we ? To what extent are we not led astray by the giant of the hoardings, with his mammoth muscles, into the erroneous and rather thoughtless belief that strength and size of muscle are identical or directly related as effect and cause ? Now, size of muscle is not by any metans the same as strength ; nor the necessary cause of it. Consider the case of the mighty dray horse and the slim racehorse. In the ordinary acceptation of the teim strength, the dray horse is much the stronger ; he is bigger and heavier ; ho can move a far greater load ; in a tug-of-war he would pull the other oh the held ; he has more muscle hy many pounds. His hind leg is stronger than the racehorse’s. But —the racehorse can hide much haidci . Why is this ? A moment’s thought suggests that there is quality in muscles as well as quantity, and that, bulk for bulk, the muscles of the racehorse, being of superior fibre, is the stronger. . Tbit this, though true. is not the whole story.. The power of effect ivenoss of a kick depends not merely upon sheer heavy strength ; it depends also on .quickness of action. Simply put, the power of a horse’s standing kick depends on the weight of its leg and the speed of the delivery, and the product of the dr a y horse’s heavier leg and slower action is not as great as the product of the racehorse’s lighter leg and much quicker action. In sum. effective strength is something different from sheer strength. _ This is important to grasp. For in athletics, and mostly elsewhere, it is effective, apvlicable, useful strength that we want. Does the bulging biceps, then, prove useful strength ? Not only are quickness 'and management factors of strength, in addition to mere muscle ; not only that, hut muscle itself is for effectiveness of action —for all action — quite powerless without the stimulous of nervous energy. It is the nervous impulse, of conscious or subconscious will, that makes muscle contract, that makes it work. Given two men of equal muscular development, and one may be twice as effectively strong as the other —if one has twice the nervous energy- of the other. When a man who has led a sedentary, inactive, unwholesome life, takes up some systematic course of physi. Cal culture he finds after a few weeks that he is much fitter and much stronger. He looks at his increased biceps, and may fancy that its increased size is the cause alike of his greater strength and greater fitness. He is off the mark. Regular exercise has improved his general health, and therefore much strengthened his nervous system. He is “twice the man he was,’’ and feels so mainly because of the increase in his nervous energy, and the better poise of his nervous balance.

I do not pretend that my terms are all quite accurate, physiologically ; but what I write here is the

truth. In athletics, and all else, nervous force is the generator of power. When a man in training grows stale and jaded it is often because ho_ ho has overworked, and is suffering - from slight nervous exhaustion. But the same effect is produced physically by so different a cause a s purely - mental worry or anxiety. A cricketer is put off his game when his nervous order is upset exactly in the same waJ > eithex - fi'om having played too much cricket or from being badly in debt. I h a ve seen the same man at different limes in two precisely - “oh:' states froixi these two separate and distinct causes. I could name him. People start with unequal equipments of muscular and of nervous force ; but both m a y be increased by exercise, by - systematic practice, and bv concentration of mind. They talk of the strength of a madman, 'meaning that the man is stronger in his frenzy than when sane and normal. Why so Because frenzy is a kind of demoniacal unconscious effort of concentration of " ill. The madman's mind is loosed from all ide a s but the one of his frenzy' ho is concentrated. Fear lends wings. I have a friend who Was always wanted to take me out tiger shooting, on the chance of my being chased. Ho says he wants to see how fast I can really run, and how far I can really' jump—as he puts it —even now’ He proposes that I have never had an occasion sufficiently stimulating to make my nervous force act to its full effect in sprinting or jumping. I daresay he is right. But Hhe point is t n at nervous energy is a very great part of strength. The mind, the will, has _ a most wonderful power of developing and of applying nervous -energy'. By much try - lug on right lines a man can, I believe teach himself so to concentrate and so to project his nervous force into his muscles for a desired action that he gains from himself by' pure, sane, quiet will effort the same effective strength as comes like Gan unbidden storm to the madman. Just consider this idea of the sane man who can produce the effective strength of a wild- frenzy'. It is a true picture. Attainable —with patience and the taking of trouble. The “strongest Man on earth’’ would not agree ; he would point an arm-like finger at a pair of 121 b 'dumb-belis. He is a humbug. Not such is the modern and reliable professor of physique, who mainly teaches sense and advices wisdom. —C. B. Fry' on “Strength : it’s application to athletics-.’’

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Bibliographic details

Health and Body-Building., Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 14, 20 July 1907

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Health and Body-Building. Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 14, 20 July 1907

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