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questions on the lightweight dumbbel system

Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:14 am
by davidgjsc
Hello everybody!

My name is David. I´m from Germany and I´m currently living in Innsbruck, Austria. I´ve found this great forum while doing some researches on the lightweight dumbbel system. I´m generally enjoying bodyweight training since several years. Currently I´m working on my pull up strength (with extra weights) and I´m also working on my strength to perform a proper handstand push up.

Some weeks ago, I found something totally new to me (although quite old right now ;)). It´s both Prof. Attila´s and Eugen Sandow´s lightweight dumbbel exercises. I´m sometimes alternating between both exercise routines and they feel really good.

There are certain points however that I don´t completely understand. According to Eugen Sandow, the number of repetitions must be increased gradually by a given amount, Attila however is very vague about it and recommends 50 to 100, or 20 to 30 reps for example, depending on the exercise.
So should the number of reps be really increased over time? On the one hand I think that the endurance will increase. But on the other hand I think that someone who is very experienced with these exercises can flex his/her muscles very much, so the muscles are exhausted quicklier.

How exactely should I flex the muscles used? When doing bicep curls for example, I´m not sure whether I should flex my biceps and triceps simultaneously or not. Sandow just wrote that both muscles are used for this exercise. He adviced to "make tense the muscles of your arms...". About the muscles used he wrote: "This exercise will develop chiefly the flexor biceps muscle,and the triceps extensor muscle, of the upper arm". So should I flex the opponent muscles simultaneously to create the necessary tension for each exercise or should other muscles be flexed during the concentric and eccentric part of the movement?

I´m very much looking forward to your answers!
Thank you in advance!

Best regards,

Re: questions on the lightweight dumbbel system

Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:08 pm
by peter yates
First of all David, welcome to the forum.Glad to hear you have been building up your body weight exercises.Pull ups and Hand stand push ups are are terrific combination for the whole upper body. One problem with many of the old books and courses is that they were not always so specific with details leaving some trial and error to the individual.Of course they were living then and a trainee could always consult by mail. Sometimes the information is there but writen in such a manner that numerous readings are needed. Now i hope our Paul sees this as he is the man who has put the most work and investigation into this method. I am sure he will put you on the right track. Good luck with the training and hope you stick around.

Re: questions on the lightweight dumbbel system

Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:49 pm
by Paul Shaw
Hi David

I have put together my beliefs of how the system works

I’m sure others have their opinions that will differ so nothing is cast in stone.

Let us know how you progress


My Golden Rules for performing the exercises

Example used the alternate biceps curl

Grip the dumbbell and curl the arm from hanging to the shoulder position at the shoulder position move the elbow forward, drop the shoulder and contract the biceps.

Relax the biceps and allow the arm to lower still gripping the dumbbell as the arm reaches the hanging position the triceps should be contracting and by raising the shoulder and moving the arm past the body and to the rear a full contraction of the triceps takes place.

Relax the triceps letting the arm hang and relax the grip on the dumbbell. This movement is co-ordinated with the movement of the opposite arm so that as the biceps of the left arm is contracting the triceps of the right arm is contracting at the same time and vice versa.

The reps should be at least 20 reps per exercise and as many as 30 reps, I feel if there is a need to carry on the exercise beyond 30 reps then the muscle is not being contracted fully enough. If the reps become impossible before 20 reps are completed then the muscle contraction is too long and too hard.

The muscle should be tensed at the full contraction position as a deliberate objective and the contraction should hard but brief.

Once the contraction has been achieved then the muscle should be relaxed, the relaxation is made complete by tensing the antagonist muscle. So it becomes a tense, relax, tense, relax pace. So once the biceps has been fully tensed, the biceps is relaxed and the arm lowered, the biceps is elongated, the triceps then shortens and begins its full contraction.

There should be no “false tensing” where one muscle resists the movement of the other i.e triceps resisting the biceps.

The aims of exercising should be to promote circulation and produce fatigue products which promote muscle growth, hence the number of reps.

The ache in the muscles should determine when to stop the exercise. Another good indication is the pace of the reps slows down.

Re: questions on the lightweight dumbbel system

Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:50 am
by peter yates
Thanks for the reply and detailed description Paul. It appears that like Muscle Control the relaxing aspect is very important as that allows the blood to flow freely after the contraction. Also like Muscle Control the mind must be actively engaged at all times and breathing must be rhythmical.So true what you say about nothing being cast in stone and we have to often decipher what little directions are given in older texts.But with reading between the lines, consulting others and some personal experimentation we can discover ways that are beneficial for ourselves and others. This way we can all help each other and learn, which is the real purpose of the forum.

Re: questions on the lightweight dumbbel system

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 2:55 am
by David Gentle
Paul Shaw is a great advocate and example of the light dumbell, he has the most amazing forearms you will find. I remember one day we both went to a strongman show/contest and Paul had some tough grippers which i couldnt shut with two hands and my toes included. Paul casually closed the gripper than offered it to the strong men competitors to close. even the so called strongest man winner was unable to even shift the gripper making Paul not exactly popular. Another genuine feat he does is grip a pack of cards by one corner, then tear the pack off, leaving the corner in his fingers, this is the reason why wen he visits me now and then to nick a few dumbells or my latest book, i never shake hands with him and make do with a manly hug. I will try to find photos of his card tearing its amazing. p.s. being every man is a good woman, and with Paul its the lovely Sue, finally if he wants to buy "a bargain bundle of muscle mags for a fiver let me know) private joke . David GEntle

Re: questions on the lightweight dumbbel system

Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:40 am
by drob357
David Gentle asked me to publish this article he wrote about PAUL SHAW in the 'public' area of our website so that Forum members could access it.
I also posted the following link on our Facebook page for all to enjoy. ... paul-shaw/

Re: questions on the lightweight dumbbel system

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:03 pm
by colinkbell
Thank you folks. I too plan to start this tomorrow with my antique Terry Spring Dumbbells. I only just heard about this system yesterday from the excellent YouTube channel goldenerabookworm.

Re: questions on the lightweight dumbbel system

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:30 am
by peter yates
Colin, let us know how you go on with it mate.