From experience in observing and supervising the exercise of men of all classes, we have learned a few little points not generally understood by the average physical culturist. It is also probable that the average instructor has not the proper opportunity to observe these facts, which are so necessary when exercise is to be prescribed. In suggesting the starting poundage for different men, you cannot be guided entirely by physical proportions; not by the kind of work followed by the man.
One expects young farmers, due to the nature of their work, to be stronger than clerical workers or ordinary town and city dwellers. True, they may be possessed of a greater amount of strength and capable of standing the arduous tasks of toil. However, the young farmer as a rule has a poorer quality of coordination than young city dwellers, and for this reason we find it necessary to prescribe a rather light amount of weight at first. If we were to suggest weights in proportion to his evident strength, the average young farmer finds it difficult to correctly execute many of the movements. A somewhat similar condition is true of men who are unusually tall and proportionately quite slender.
The man of this type may easily adapt himself to some branches of athletic sport, as baseball, tennis, swimming, basketball, and even to some extent in boxing. He is, on the other hand, at a great disadvantage in wrestling and leverage movements requiring the application of strength of some degree. The unusually tall man may have to be started on the same poundage as a short man of much lighter bodyweight for this reason.
Another point which tends to cause confusion is the form of work followed by the man as a means of earning a livelihood. The general impression seems to be that a man will not and cannot be strong unless he works at some laborious occupation. Another opinion, just the reverse of this, is held by many men who do work hard all day long: they have an idea they use too much energy during the day to make any improvement in strength and development by exercising outside of working hours. Ordinarily, we might be inclined to think this last opinion was correct as the sedentary worker (he who does little or nothing during the day) should have plenty of time and opportunity to store up energy and grow stronger on regular exercise in the evening.
There is just one important drawback to this conclusion. Too many sedentary workers are afraid of exerting themselves when they practice their exercise course, consequently, they get into the habit of going through the program in a desultory manner, utterly void of any enthusiasm and eager only to get through with each exercise period. The man or youth who expects to realize results from simply going through the motions is wasting his time, to say the least. He should simply resign himself to the fate of growing old and feeble as quickly as possible. The fellow who exerts himself all day long will generally tackle his exercise with a great feeling of zest and ambitions to see what he can accomplish. We must judge each individual case accordingly.
Some men who do considerable lifting during the course of an ordinary day might fail to benefit from the instructions given to the average man. In the majority of such cases, it is best to limit the amount of work so far as repetitions are concerned but to accustom the pupil to fairly strenuous exercise as soon as we can with safety. The exercises to be beneficial must be of a more strenuous nature than the customary occupational exertions, referring of course to the effect upon the body as a whole and not to a few isolated muscles which may receive fairly beneficial exercise at the daily work. When a man becomes accustomed to more strenuous exertions at exercise than is necessitated at his occupation, he soon becomes capable of doing the daily work more easily.