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Earle Liederman on Focused Muscular Tension
 
 
Andy62 Andy62 is offline
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06-30-2012, 05:52 PM
 
Earle Liederman sold exercise equipment - primarily expanders,but later barbells as well.

He referred to Focused Muscular Tension exercises as "Extreme Contractions" and while understandably his bias disparaged them for not being as effective at building strength as the equipment that he promoted and sold he certainly recognized their effectiveness in building muscle.

The following quote is from, "Secrets Of Strength" by Earle Liederman which was published in 1925:

" The last few years have witnessed the growth of a great interest in muscular development for it's own sake. There is a way of producing muscular tissue in large quantities, of making individual muscles big and shapely,but without adding very much to the strength of the muscle. This method, which is called by several different names, is really a system of development from "Extreme Contractions".

It is fascinating, because of the ease with which muscle is created, and disappointing by reason of the little strength that it brings. Undoubtedly it has its origin in light dumbell exercise. It soon became apparent that if a man used in his exercise, a pair of 2-pound dumbells, the resistance offered by the light weight was not sufficient to make the muscles really work.

So the work was made harder in the following way: At the end of any movement the muscle was vigorously tensed by an effort of the will. This made the muscle contract to it's full extent and it soon appeared that the more intense the mental contraction of tensing the more rapidly the muscle would grow.

The importance of the voluntry tensing overhadowed the value of the weights used; and so the small dumbells were disgarded as they added nothing to the effectiveness of the method. To explain, If you clinch your fist, bring your arm close to your shoulder the muscles called into play are the flexors of the arm, of which the principle one is the biceps muscle. Now after the arm is bent, try and harden the biceps so as to make it stick up in a round lump. Repeat several times, and your bicep will turn and get slightly sore. Do this everyday for a month and by the end of that time you will notice considerable difference in the size of the muscle, especially when it is under tension. From day to day you will be able to put more force into the final contraction; and as that is a form of work each day the biceps will grow slightly larger. If you keep it up long enough you will get so that you can make the biceps protrude in a very imposing lump indeed.

Exactly the same thing can be done with most of the voluntary muscles. All you have to do is to learn the position most advantageous to extreme contraction; and then tense the muscles strongly by an effort of the will. When the muscle is tensed,or used,blood is drawn into it, which accounts for the increase in size."

Last edited by Andy62; 06-30-2012 at 06:09 PM.
 
 
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Andy62 Andy62 is offline
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06-30-2012, 07:31 PM
 
Dr.Frederick Tilney and Charles Atlas ran their first advertisement for the newly published Charles Atlas Course in November of 1922.

The fact that this book by Earle Liederman was published in 1925 tells me that Liederman, who had pretty much dominated the physical culture publishing field by himself up to that point, was starting to feel the competitive pressure from the Atlas course at the time.
 
 
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Greg Newton Greg Newton is offline
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06-30-2012, 08:38 PM
 
Andy,

What is interesting to me is that Liederman believed this method created size, but no real strength. Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but if you can contract the muscle fibers at will, wouldn't that mean you could utilize the muscles to exert an even greater force? The only exception would be if you had not practiced a skill such as lifting a weight.

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Andy62 Andy62 is offline
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06-30-2012, 09:06 PM
 
Greg, I think that the whole explanation for that is that this was directed at the Charles Atlas course which at about that time was starting to eat Liederman's lunch.

This is an awfully long explanation of what he calls Extreme Contractions that resemble very closely Dynamic Tension for a man who sells equipment.

Sure Focused Muscular Tension builds strength [Isometrics are a form of FMT] as well as muscle,but it seems that he was willing to concede the development of muscle for the development of strength strictly as a marketing strategy to try to retain some advantage, even if it wasn't there, for the products that he was selling. Really interesting stuff and it shows the marketing power of Focused Muscular Tension type exercises ,when properly promoted, if they could get that much of a reaction from Earle Liederman, who had been the King of mail order muscle building courses. Gordon

Last edited by Andy62; 06-30-2012 at 09:10 PM.
 
 
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Greg Newton Greg Newton is offline
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06-30-2012, 09:20 PM
 
Andy,

I've got a copy of Liederman's 1924 book Muscle Builidng. At this point he was switching over to apparatus and weight training in his marketting. The advice is contradictory and all over the place. John and I discussed that it was much like George Jowett's Molding booklets. They said a lot without actually saying anything. The Atlas course was probably the most straight forward course available at the time and for a long time to come.

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John Peterson John Peterson is offline
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06-30-2012, 09:48 PM
 
Hey Friends,

If you read what Liederman is saying he is saying that "Extreme Contraction" is the fastest way to gain incredible muscularity and strength based on the fact that the muscle can contract with greater and greater force. As far as developing strength as applies to lifting weights is concerned, well, let me just say this, that is a no brainer. Strength as applied to lifting a heavy weight is a skill and not just strength. And it's true with any endeavor requiring skill whether you're shooting baskets, hitting homeruns, or refining your patterns at 30 yards at the archery range.

As Greg has pointed out if one can develop the contractile force of his muscles and contract and relax them at will, he will be stronger at anything he does. Granted, it may take a few sessions to get the mechanics of lifting down but once that happens the muscle contraction man would be off to the races because he has built his musculature directly without doing anything to compromise joints, tendons, and ligaments.

Also consider this, whether lifting weights or performing Extreme Muscular Contraction, if you wanted to hit home runs I'd recommend that you spend time in the batting cage in order to learn technique.


---john Peterson
 
 
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gs300tx gs300tx is offline
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07-01-2012, 08:48 AM
 
Alright guys, based on with Leiderman says I will follow exactly what he says for a month and post my results.

For a whole month starting today, I will 3-4 ISO power flex contractions for the bicep and the triceps everyday and at the end of the month will report my findings. I will also report any increases in strength that may come along as well.
 
 
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duff duff is offline
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07-05-2012, 08:09 PM
 
In my experience, the ability to do these kinds of all-out peak muscular contractions (Isometric Power Flexes as called in IPR, or whatever we are calling them now) are the #1 key to muscle growth, and can even grow muscles without much of any other exercise to those muscles.

When I was at my lowest of underweight, I had lost all muscle in my glutes, making me look really horrible. So I did just 1 to 3 contractions for the glutes every day by pushing the hips forward while standing and arching the back, contracting to the absolute maximum for 3-7 seconds. There is actually an interesting feeling that happens as you pass a threshold of muscular contraction, then the intensity seems to ramp up to another level and burns like crazy. I would do just one set if I could get a good contraction, or if I couldn't I'd try again.

In any case, I have otherwise neglected my leg work but my glutes have grown considerably without doing much else for them. Having now done more Iso power flexes, it seems to be the case that the muscles which grow for me are precisely the ones I can get that intense, burning, peak contraction out of. Those that I can't are somewhat "asleep" and refuse to grow. I've been working on waking up all of those sleepy muscle groups...
 
 
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duff duff is offline
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07-05-2012, 08:10 PM
 
So I guess my point is that Liederman may have been half right, that one can build muscles without necessarily building a whole lot of other ability to use those muscles, just through these peak contractions. I would say though that the strength is there if you can contract the muscle, but the skill and the conditioning might not be there yet.
 
 
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07-07-2012, 09:14 AM
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by duff View Post
So I guess my point is that Liederman may have been half right, that one can build muscles without necessarily building a whole lot of other ability to use those muscles, just through these peak contractions. I would say though that the strength is there if you can contract the muscle, but the skill and the conditioning might not be there yet.
Duff,

This is very interesting. I have a few follow up questions


a) As the size of the muscle increased did you also gain weight? Were you paying any special attention to your diet(i.e eating extra calories etc)

b)How long did it take for you to notice that there was an increase in size?

Thanks!
 
 
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