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Default Your Measurements
by BendtheBar 09-05-2012, 09:12 PM

by John McCallum

Do you know the childish game most bodybuilders play? This consists of pumping u the arm with exercise, passing a shrunken tape loosely around it, adding 5% for luck, and in a loud clear voice proclaiming the glad ridings that they, too have a 19#2 arm. They mitigate their fraud, if it bothers them at all, with the sad but undeniable fact that everyone else is doing the same thing.

This is a bad practice. Constant exaggeration is a bandit that has stolen something priceless from you. Measurements should serve for more than just wishful nonsense. Honest measurements would be a source of guidance and encouragement to beginners. They would represent something tangible. Something concrete. They would offer a picture of what has and what can be done with muscular development.

Accurate measurements of top bodybuilders would be of inestimable value to the novice, but are seen as rarely as herds of dodo birds. You doubt this? Take a tape measure to the next major physique contest. Ask the winner if you can measure him for publication. Your request will be greeted with the aversion usually reserved for tax forms and ransom notes.

Few Mr. Americas would dream of publishing their honest measurements, simply because everyone else exaggerates theirs. If Mr. A admitted he had a 17 – ½” arm, the great mass of trainees who in many cases the celebrity depends on for his livelihood-would consider him practically undeveloped in comparison with others claiming 19 and 20” arms; although in actual fact, the larger measurements are as far removed from reality as a politicians’ promises.

The most lamentable, though apparently profitable, factor in the encouragement of this mass chicanery is the highly questionable practice of some muscle magazines in printing a list of ridiculous measurements beside some physique star’s picture on their cover shots. The fact that these measurements are exaggerated anywhere from one to six inches – exaggerated to the point where they no longer bear any resemblance to the actual model – seems not to bother the editor at all. This is huckstering with a vengeance! The physique star’s true measurements might not make such colourful reading, but they would save youngsters a lot of time that is being spent on a fruitless and exhausting chase after embroidered proportions.

Let’s strip away the malarkey, and talk about measurements that are honest and realistic – measurements that have been acquired by others; measurements that can be acquired by you.

You want muscles – not fat! ‘Muscular’ should mean reasonably close to physique contest condition. Not an anatomy chart; but some definition.

Arms are the most measured part of the body; let’s examine some big arms.

From the claims these days you would think everyone but Grandma Moses has an 18” arm.

You may be surprised then when I say that although I have seen every top physique over the past twenty years, including every Mr. America but three, in that time I have seen exactly four men with muscular arms in excess of 18”! These four men are Maurice Jones, John Grimek, Reg Park, and Bill Pearl. If that sounds conservative, I once talked to a famous gym operator who has trained several of the Mr Amercias, and he told me he has never seen a muscular 18” arm.

The largest muscular arm I have seen graces the herculean physique of Maurice Jones of Vancouver, B.C Maury, as he is known to his friends, is perhaps the most massively muscular man in the world. He stands five-foot-eight, weighs about ten pounds less than a horse and resembles a combination of the Farnese Hercules and Boulder Dam. Maury’s arm has been measured at 18-3/4” cold. It looks half again as big as many that are claimed to be bigger.

A doctor once examined Maury for an insurance policy. He checked the pulse, gaped at the colossal arm, and muttered that it was amazing the blood got through at all.

The second largest arm I have seen belongs to John Grimek. When Grimek was on the West Coast for the Mr U.S.A contest (which he won) his arm was measured at 18-5/8”. Grimek’s arms were so large at that time they looked almost dumpy. They were anywhere from one to two inches bigger that his closet competitors. Compare some of the claimed 19” arms with those of Grimek or Jones.

You’ll see that people let their imaginations run away with them.

Honest 18” arms are as rare as honest men. A muscular arm between 17” and 18” is big; calling it 19 or 20 doesn’t make it any bigger – all it does is eliminate the basic reason for taking measurements. Honest measurements are valuable to everybody; dishonest measurements are of no value to anybody.

The insidious result of all the nonsensical claims is that, relatively speaking, you don’t know what you have accomplished, and if you don’t find out you’re destined to years of disappointment. Let’s work this out:

Take a fictitious character, and do what the novelists do – give him a name and a background.

Let’s call our hero Timothy Triceps. He is 27 years old, and has been training since his late teens. Along the way, in addition to an awesome batch of biceps, he has acquired a wife who thinks her Timothy is the greatest thing since Ben Casey, and two children who know with certainty that their Dad can lick any other six dads in town.

Because he has eaten sensibly and trained with heavy weights, Timothy glows with health. He strong and looks it. He stands five-foot-ten, weighs 215 pounds, and moves with the grace and agility of a ballet dancer. In a bathing suit he would stop traffic. He is the end result of sensible weight training. He is the finished product.

Watch as Timothy measures himself.

With an accurate tape (properly placed, pulled snug, muscles cold) he goes over himself and jots down the results. Timothy’s measurements are: neck - 18, chest - 48, waist - 34, upper arm - 17-1/2, forearm - 14, wrist - 7-1/2, hips - 41, thigh - 25-1/2, calf - 16-1/2, ankle - 9-1/2. Timothy has roughly the honest measurements of the composite Mr. America winner. If he cared to train down ten pounds for maximum definition he would win or place high in any contest he entered.

Now he compares himself with the measurements listed beside the full color cover shot of his ideal, Mr. Muscles.

Timothy is the same height and weighs almost ten pounds more. “Ah,” he says, “so far so good.”

But what the hell is this? Mr. Muscles’ arm is 19-1/2 and his chest is 53!

Timothy doesn’t feel so good anymore. He looks at Mr. Muscles’ repute 31” waist, and his own washboard feels like a washtub. He examines Mr. Muscles’ supposedly 28” thighs, and feels like an advanced case of consumption.

Timothy has a choice now; one of two avenues he can follow. If he believes all that nonsense – and thousands, alas, apparently do – he’s off on a super-duper, six-hour-a-day scramble for measurements he never will get. He can fatten up for bigger arms and lose his physique; he can starve for a smaller waistline and lose his strength; he can alternate both and lose his marbles. In any case, he is certain to lose his perspective and any semblance of a normal life.

But if he knows better, he can see that the published measurements have no bearing on Mr. Muscles’ actual physique at all. He can accurately analyze how bad the distortion is and forget the whole thing.

Now he enjoys himself! He doesn’t have to make the sacrifices he used to because he is the finished product and knows it. He still works out two or three times a week because he likes it and because he is so full of energy. Besides his lifting he practices and plays other sports, and because he is a superb physical specimen he is good at them. His extra free time enables him to develop broad and varied interests. His conversation is not limited to pecs and lats and traps and delts. He has a happy, contented outlook on life. He is a walking, talking advertisement for honest, sensible weight training. He will inspire and encourage more youngsters than all the phony claims ever published.

You’re aiming for the finished product, so let’s look at some figures that will tell you when you’ve reached this happy state. This isn’t an essay on calculus; you’re not another Albert Einstein. Let’s keep it as basic and workable as possible.

First, take an accurate tape (check it against a steel rule) and measure your wrist. Now multiply your wrist measurement by 6-1/2. This will give you very close to the maximum size you can reasonable expect for your chest in muscular condition.

Your chest is a governing factor in your overall body mass. Use this projected chest measurement for the rest of your calculations.

Take 70% of your projected chest measurement. This will give you your expected waist measurement with very little surface fat.

36% of your chest measurement gives you a big upper arm.
29% for a forearm like Grimek.
85% of your chest means trim hips.
53% for terrific thighs.
34% for calves like Reg Park’s.
37% for your neck and you got trouble buying shirts.

Those figures are based on the average of the winners of all major physique contests ever staged. With those measurements on your framework you will be from 5 to 15 pounds above your best defined weight. Carry that much for your health. One month’s training for definition will put you in contest condition.

When you attain those proportions you have it made – forget about other measurements.

Here’s how it works out with three wrist sizes: 7” (fairly small), 7-1/2” (a good lifter’s average), 8” (large):




Remember – as you progress or grow older your wrist will thicken. Reassess your possibilities periodically.

Forget those 20” arms, 53” chests, and 31” waists on the same body. No one ever had such proportions. They are an insult to your intelligence. The next time someone quotes you measurements that exceed these tables by more than a fraction, whip out your tape and make an honest man of him.

There is a biblical phrase which goes; “When I was a child, I spoke as a child; I thought as a child; I understood as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things”. Become a man; put away childish exaggeration.

Work hard at your training. Set your sights on the finished product; and when you send in your picture and measurements for publication – use honest measurements. They will be impressive.

Originally printed in The Complete Keys to Progress by John McCallum. Reprinted with permission from MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes and IronMind Enterprises, Inc. ironmind.com
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:24 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
First, take an accurate tape (check it against a steel rule) and measure your wrist. Now multiply your wrist measurement by 6-1/2. This will give you very close to the maximum size you can reasonable expect for your chest in muscular condition.

Your chest is a governing factor in your overall body mass. Use this projected chest measurement for the rest of your calculations.

Take 70% of your projected chest measurement. This will give you your expected waist measurement with very little surface fat.

36% of your chest measurement gives you a big upper arm.
29% for a forearm like Grimek.
85% of your chest means trim hips.
53% for terrific thighs.
34% for calves like Reg Park’s.
37% for your neck and you got trouble buying shirts.

Those figures are based on the average of the winners of all major physique contests ever staged. With those measurements on your framework you will be from 5 to 15 pounds above your best defined weight. Carry that much for your health. One month’s training for definition will put you in contest condition.

When you attain those proportions you have it made – forget about other measurements.

Here’s how it works out with three wrist sizes: 7” (fairly small), 7-1/2” (a good lifter’s average), 8” (large):
Curious, regarding the applicability of these guidelines for folks with extremely thin bone structure (wrist less than 7").

As an aside, the numbers here are pretty much the same as you would get from Casey Butt's calculator.
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Old 09-05-2012, 10:31 PM   #3
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My wrist is 6.4 at about 15% bodyfat.

6.4 x 6.25 = 40 Expected Chest

40 x 0.7 = 28 Waist

40 x 0.36 = 14.4" Arms

===================================

I think overall the numbers are on the low side. My arm has always been about 10" above my wrist up to about 240 pounds, or 25% bodyfat (give or take a hair).

After that point my arm grows must faster in size compared to my wrist. Right now my wrist is 7.5" and my arms are 18.75".

Because men do not generally store a lot of fat in their arms while relatively lean, I'm assuming this curve is quite common. I believe the arm grows over 10" greater than the wrist when we close in around 30% bodyfat. I could be wrong.

I am also gifted with a relatively small waist. I only reach 28" though around 160-165 pounds. At 190-200 pound with a good amount of muscle I was around 32", at about 15% bodyfat max.

I don't think my chest was less than 43" back in college. It may have even been 44 or 45. I really can't recall.

Overall fairly reasonable numbers, but I think generally a bit low.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:32 AM   #4
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Looks like I have some work to do. 7.5 wrists. Waist down I am getting close to the projected max, upper body has a lot of work to go.
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:03 AM   #5
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With a wrist of 6.5", I"m a bit off on the neck and upper arm, but otherwise right around the projected measurements.
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Old 09-06-2012, 10:31 AM   #6
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Looks like I have some work to do. 7.5 wrists.
Had no clue you had giant genetics.
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