Weights for Exercises (Chapter X, The Way to Live)

Some trainers recommend to their pupils for the training of all muscle groups one and the same (light) weight and believe they are able to obtain the same effect by frequent repetitions. My experience has taught me that this is wrong, for the muscles of men or animals who are distinguished for certain feats of endurance are by no means over-developed. A long-distance runner or long-distance cyclist always has comparatively thin legs, as have a racehorse, stag, or greyhound.

Nature does not act without aim and purpose. Hence there is a great difference between feats of endurance and feats of strength. One must consider that, although it is quite possible to enlarge muscles by certain light, prolonged exercises, at the same time the development of the sinews may be neglected, and it is the sinews which transport the action of the muscles to the bone xframe. The sinews can only be exercised and strengthened by correspondingly heavy muscle work.

Besides, to take a paradoxical example, it is quite impossible to improve strong muscle groups, as, for instance, the hip muscles, with light-weight exercises. A further illustration of the fallacy of attempting to develop the muscles by frequent repetitions with the same light exercises may be found in a comparison with any and every other form of athletics, in which a man would never think of merely repeating his training programme. In order to improve himself either in pace or distance, he must set himself a steady progression of arduous effort.

Exercise Without Weights (Chapter VIII, The Way to Live)

…It is my opinion that everyone–man, woman and child without exception–will find exercise with graduated and suitable adapted series of weights of the utmost benefit. Nevertheless, I do not expect everyone to be converted to my views, however convinced I may personally be of their merit. As to medical views on the matter, well, I have had the pleasure of hearing the opinions of every leading medical authority in the world who has really studied the matter, and they are, one and all, in agreement with those which I myself entertain and have set forth in these pages.

Medical men who are opposed to exercises with weights have never investigated them, and are totally ignorant of their value. No living person is so weak as to be unable to exercise in this fashion, all that is necessary being to graduate the weights. Even a weak heart can be strengthened by exercises with weights.

Still, I am aware there are certain people who may entertain a sentimental objection to strength, and who object, in consequence, to run any risk of acquiring a powerful muscular development. All these people are, however, anxious to preserve their own health and to avoid any necessity of incurring expense in the shape of medical attendance and drugs. As already pointed out, health cannot be divorced from strength. The body, in order to be healthy, must be strong, so that it will be found that the series of exercises set forth in this chapter, while being free from all inconvenient possibilities of great strength development, will yet, if conscientiously practiced, develop a fair average physique, as well as a sound, all-round physical fitness–in other words, a sound and healthy constitution.

Dr. Von Krajewski, the Father of Athletics and his System of Life (Chapter XIII, The Way to Live)

I have previously stated that doctors, surgeons, and other medical authorities who decry rational, systematic physical exercise–and particularly, exercise with heavy weights–do so simply because they have never properly studied the subjects in question.

They may have taken a prejudice, or rather evolved a prejudice, against the methods which I have ventured to style “The way to live”, and having taken up this attitude, have either refused to make a personal test of them, or have not been favored with opportunities for doing so.

For the sake, therefore, of any reader who may have these prejudices, or who may wish to combat them, I now propose to give a short sketch of a very eminent medical man, who, having his attention drawn to physical culture at the age of 41, felt himself impelled to make a thorough and complete study of the subject; and also of the results of his investigation.

…He, one of the leading physicians in St. Petersburg, was attracted to the subjected of physical exercise as a method of securing and preserving health, strength, activity and vigor (both mental and physical). The subject appeared interesting to him, he investigated it, approved–and immediately set to work to organize and systematize it.

…As I have said, he did not commence the practice of this until he was 41 years of age, and yet at 63 he always claimed, and was acknowledged, to look younger, and to be far more active and vigorous than he was at 40.

So satisfied was he of the great benefits from systematic physical exercise, that he spared no pains to extend its practice. His enthusiasm and interest was unbounded, while the pains which he would take to enroll adherents and to cultivate promising athletes were almost beyond belief.

Excerpts from: The Way To Live In Health and Physical Fitness by George Hackenschmidt, 1908