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No. 5. Stand with back to chest weights. Handles grasped with palms looking inward. Arms extended directly in front of the body. Allow arms to swing directly backward, describing arc of a circle and being held exactly on a line with the shoulders. Reverse the movement from this back to first position. The breathing to be practiced as before directed. This expands the chest, straightens the shoulders, and enlarges the muscles of the latter.
Stand with side to machine. Grasp both handles in one hand, with arm extended on a level with the shoulders. Carry the arm downward and directly across the chest, taking a long breath as it returns to a horizontal position. This movement increases the fullness of the chest by developing the pectoral muscles.
No. 7. Stand facing the weights. Then practice the same movement as described in No. 5. This exercise not only expands the chest, but strengthens the muscles which sustain and straighten the shoulders.
In practicing the first five, particularly, the chest should be thrown well forward and held there. The arms should be kept perfectly straight and not allowed to bend at the elbows. To obviate the undue strain in the small of the back, one leg should be carried well backward. These movements should be made at the rate of from thirty to forty times a minute. Bear in mind that the breathing exercises form an essential part of all the chest movements. The latter must be supplemented by the internal and outward pressure which deep inhalations produce.
Use weights sufficiently light to enable you to practice each movement for at least five minutes without fatigue. Any undue exhaustion or sense of fatigue or strain indicates an improper use of the apparatus.
Begin with exercise No. I and go through the series in the order set forth. As you become accustomed to the work, increase the duration of the same. A half-hour night and morning is a fair allowance for the ordinary person. A half-hour three times a day, however, will give better results.
Do not expect prompt and immediate returns from this or any other system of exercise. Physical growth is almost as slow as mental development, and it requires as long a time to attain physical excellence as to master a science.
Measurements of the chest should be taken every six months, at least, in order that the amount and rapidity of development may be determined. In cases where the training has been begun at about the age of maturity, the limit of development will probably be attained in about three or four years. The minimum degree of chest expansion, compatible with health, is two and one half inches; yet no one should be satisfied with less than four. Careful and persistent exercisers often attain six or eight inches. These results when once acquired are comparatively easy to maintain.
While the varied results of physical training are to be attained at any time prior to middle age, yet the degree of development bears a close relationship to the age of the individual. After the age of fifty, for example, very little increase of lung capacity can be expected ; yet even here, I have noted a decided improvement in the contour of the chest, as well as the acquirement of increased respiratory power. It is during childhood, however, that the greatest successes of physical culture are to be noted, and it is not difficult to understand why this should be the case. All the conditions are at that time favorable for development. The bones and cartilages forming the framework of the chest contain a minimum amount of earthy material, and consequently are extremely pliable. The muscles are undergoing a formative process, and consequently are readily responsive to stimulus and capable of attaining a higher degree of development than at any other time.
The following table, compiled by Roberts, shows excellently well the progressive increase in the circumference of the chest as it occurs normally and without the aid of gymnastic exercises :
Here it is shown that, although there occurs a progressive growth from early childhood, the greatest increase takes place between the thirteenth and eighteenth years. The increase in height and weight, however, is noted for several years longer. There are other observers who maintain that the lung capacity is increased from the fifteenth to the thirty-fifth year, and at the rate of five cubic inches a year, while after the latter age it diminishes about one and a half cubic inches a year.
Sex exercises some little effect upon growth and development. The investigations of Bowditch have shown that until the age of eleven or twelve years boys are both taller and heavier than girls of the same age. At this period, girls begin to grow rapidly and surpass boys of the same age in both these particulars. Boys afterwards acquire and retain a size superior to that of girls, who have now completed their full growth.
The period of greatest growth is, as a rule, the one most favorable for lung expansion. Hence it follows that between the ages of ten and twenty-five years there is an important interval during which physical development of all kinds may be attained in its greatest degree and with the least labor on the part of the individual. The chest girth of 35.42 inches, as given in the above table, is therefore much less than might have been attained had proper chest exercise been employed during the period indicated.
The age at which such exercises should be undertaken depends