We have had no end of treatises on the sports, games, and gymnastic exercises that are reputed to give strength and symmetry to the body; but, unfortunately, the wise and good men of old have left us no standards by which to judge of symmetry or strength. The ancient masterpieces are models of symmetry and beauty, but they were made largely from ideal standards, certainly not from actual measurements; while the miraculous exhibitions of strength attributed to some of the Grecian athletes must, in the light of the present day, be regarded as a trifle mythical. Is this love of symmetry in form a myth, or has it a deep moral significance? I hold that it has not only a moral significance, but also a physiological significance, and that the size, shape, and structure of the body have a direct dynamic relation to all the vital organs, and appreciably influence the functions of the brain and nervous system.

Aside from the investigations of the Provost-Marshal-General's Bureau, of the Sanitary Commission, on recruits during the late war, and of the Anthropometric Committee of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, but little systematic effort has been made to obtain reliable information by means of physical measurements. As to the actual size or proportions of the body at various ages and among different nationalities, there are absolutely no data to which we can turn for assistance in shaping the course of growth and development. True, there is an abundance of data on the height, weight, and chest-girth of person-of different ages and nationalities, and the dimensions of other parts of the body have been taken at various times by artist anatomists, military surgeons, and gymnasiarchs, yet no one system of measurements has ever been adopted by any two examiners; on the contrary, each observer has taken measurements for a specific purpose, according to a system peculiar to himself, so that we look in vain for anything like harmony or congruity in the results obtained. In some cases the subjects are measured or weighed without clothing, and in others partly or completely clothed. In one class of measurements the height is taken with the boots on, in another class with the boots off, while by another observer the girth measurements are taken with the muscles contracted at one part of the body.

The Physical Proportions Of The Typical Man 7

Figure B.

What is most needed at the present day is a uniform system of measurements, and a common understanding among observers as to what points and under what conditions the various parts of the body are to be measured; a great step will then be taken toward securing valuable anthropometric data.

Having resolved some years ago to make physical training my profession, and believing that all teaching should be preceded by inquiries into the "nature, capabilities, and requirements of the being to be taught," I began a system of independent investigation with regard to the growth and development of the body under the various conditions of life.

Chart I., plotted from the original of Figs. A and B.

Chart I., plotted from the original of Figs. A and B.

I was moved to this undertaking by the conviction that whatever might be the nature of the physical training pursued, the ultimate object should be the improvement of the individual. "The indispensable part of the experimental observation of physical facts," says a distinguished philosopher, "is the measurement of quantities."

I resolved, therefore, to widen the range of observations, believing that on the simple factors - weight, height, and chest-girth - could not be based a true estimate of one's physical condition. I had seen weight obtained at the expense of structure, height at the expense of circumference, and the girth of the chest increased as the girth of the lower limbs diminished. I had found that increase of stature might be largely due to great length of neck and legs, with a comparatively short body, and that these proportions, which would indicate weakness rather than strength, could not be brought out by taking only the stature. Realizing how much depends upon the proportions of the different parts of the body, the comparative size of body and limbs, the difference between bone and muscle measurements, etc., I began my observations by an extended series of measurements.

My next aim was to test the strength of the most important parts, so far as this was practicable. As a general rule, the girth of the upper arm may be said to represent the potential strength of the biceps and triceps muscles. So, too, the girth of the forearm, thigh, leg, or chest is usually indicative of the latent power of the muscles in that particular region. These facts are familiar to any schoolboy who has learned from his daily experiences to associate size with strength. There are many exceptions to this rule, however; and the record of the tape-measure often needs to be confirmed by an actual strength test. In order to make these trials, I had recourse to three spring-dynamometers, a spirometer, manometer, a pair of suspended rings, and a set of parallel bars. With these appliances it is possible to test the strength of nearly every part of the body. I limited these tests to the back, legs, chest, upper arm, and forearm.

The Physical Proportions Of The Typical Man 9

Figure C.

The strength of the back and legs was tested by a dynamometer (see Fig. 2). The strength of chest, triceps, and back was determined by the number of times that the subject could raise his weight between the parallel bars while supporting himself on his hands. The number of times a person, while holding on to the suspended rings, could raise his own weight by contracting the arms was the manner of testing the biceps, chest, and upper back. The strength of the chest and triceps of all who were unable to lift their own weight was tested by means of a dynamometer constructed for the purpose (see Fig.1). The strength of the forearms and hands was tested by a Tiand-dyna-mometer (see Fig.3). The capacity of the lungs was determined by the number of cubic inches of air the individual could blow into a spirometer. The manometer was used to test the strength of lung-tissue and the force of the expiratory muscles.