Joseph Curtis Hise: Breathing Squats

Joseph Curtis Hise (born 1905) used a straight 20 reps in the squat, and soon found that he weighed 237lb/107kg at 26 years of age. He continued his experiments and finally reached a bodyweight of 298lb/135kg and had an arm of 19 ½ inches (49.5cm), chest at 56 inches (142cm) and thighs that measured 33 inches (83cm) at 5’10“ tall. In February, 1935, he could squat around 580lb and deadlift 700lb.

Joseph Curtis Hise never bench pressed – mostly shrugs, squats and pullovers. Breathing Squat will build up a big chest, the wide shoulders and the great bodily power that everyone nourishes.

John Grimek Strength and Health

Even bodybuilding pioneers Reg Park and John Grimek favored the combination of squats and pullovers for building up their physique.

Do you want to look like the golden era bodybuilders?! Then read and train like the following workout philosophy! In this article you will learn how Joseph Curtis Hise used to set up the squat, breathing and diet!

Breathing technique
The gainless lifters use only a 20 breath time space to perform 20 squats while the exercises who hunt gains use 60 or more breaths time for 20 squats. You have to take a lot of breaths to make this squat efficient. Joseph Curtis Hise squatted 6 or 8 times and then commenced to stall, took several breaths in the interims and then did 2 or 3 squats more.

By the time he hit 20 he would have the draft on. If he did like the addled exercises and did 20 squats in a 20 breath space of time he would finish with a slight heavy breathing for a FEW SECONDS..then breathing returned to normal..

According to Joseph Curtise Hise this is the style of squat breathing done by the Egyptian lifters who do it for springy legs and to avoid gaining weight. They don’t gain an ounce – nor neither will you if you are of average size for your skeleton potential. If you do 20 squats in a period of 60 breaths or so, you will feel breathless for some minutes following and your thighs will be stiff, not springy,

Do 20 squats and try breathing 3-4 times each squat rep! Don’t squat 20 times and breath once per rep.

Breath is important!
The fellow using 20 squats in 20 breaths will breathe deeply for perhaps a minute and then his breath returns to its seemingly normal tempo. His thigh muscles will feel springy and if it wasn’t for his memory he would scarcely know that he had ever done the exercise. On the contrary, the one who does 20 in 80 breaths will breathe strenuously for minutes, feel exhausted and his thighs will feel so stiff that he can scarcely go up stairs.

The mechanics presume that there is an identical amount of breakdown of muscular food and tissue.

Why should one style of breathing force on to breath so vigorously?
According to Joseph the theory of what happen is this: There is equal breakdown of tissue (the law of mechanics proves this) but to cause such a difference in breathing (extreme breathlessness from doing squats 20 in 80 breaths and no breathlessness doing them with one squat per breath – 20 squats in 20 breaths) proves that this “pumping of the blood stream” by rapid breaths in the pausing interval between performance of each squat forces a great change in the rate of elimination of the muscular wastes of the thighs into the bloodstream. It is this that is the secret of great gains in chest size, shoulder spread, and great strength.

Abdominal breathing vs. full breathing
Abdominal breathing will not give results excepting in bodyweight gains. Chest gains will be no more than that which can be expected from ordinary squats. When practicing the breathing squat do it in the manner that assures you of all its benefits. That is, breathe coastally and not abdominal.

When you breathe do it in such a manner that your chest will rise and fall, not your abdomen. This is stretching, concussion effect on the ribs loosens the cartilage attachments of the sternum and results in greater flexibility of the entire region. It gives you a greater expansion, as it were.

Your job then is to carry yourself erect. In addition, incorporate the pullovers, rowing motion and the exercise with a cable that affects the latissimus muscles in order that greater tone will result in the back muscles which will in turn, hold the chest in an elevated position.

For the beginner three deep breaths are about right but as he progresses he should take more breaths between squats.

Should I use Heavy Weight?
If you use a pausing interval after every squat of the twenty you will find that you cannot use “heavy” weights. It takes too much effort! When you get to using poundage beyond the bodyweight in the squat in this style you are wandering into shaky territory.

Many can use 30lb over, but with more the chest growing results disappear. You exercise for results. Your ability to squat with heavy poundage will increase, although you never use heavy trials.

What weight squat does the beginner need?
The answer is, “Not very much”. No beginner (ordinary) should use over 50 or 60 pounds to start with in the squat.

How often should I train and how many reps/sets should I perform?
Joseph Curtis Hise liked to train twice a week for maximum strength. But if you have time and energy, three times a week might the best for gaining bulk.

Twenty reps is about right for the beginner and may prove satisfactory for the more advanced man. However, two, three, and even four sets of twenty each are often needed on the advanced body culturist. Sometimes the problem can be solved by remaining at twenty reps and increasing the number of breaths.

On the other hand, if the fellow in question has exercised over a period of years, has become tough, and hasn’t registered gains for year or two he may find it necessary to increase the number of reps both in the squats and breaths between.

There is a solution in one of the above methods for every one of you regardless of your past experience. Make sure that you are performing the exercise correctly and then experiment to determine which is the method needed in your case.

One day Joseph trained with weightlifers (Parker and Munfrey) who squatted with the heaviest weight that they could stagger under. They held continual championships on the squat. At that time their records ranged from 240lb for Parker to 290lb for Munfrey.

Joseph: “I ordered them back to 180lb squats at 20 repetitions in breathing interval style. This sounded horrible to them for their squat records were second in importance only to their mothers. I told them that their squats won’t suffer and scare them into trying the unreasonable ways. Two weeks later they launched into another squat championship just to prove me wrong. Imagine their astonishment when they found their squats had jumped to 290lb and 320lb. Just previously they had been stuck for some time on their 240lb to 290lb records.”

These peewee squat had increased their strength in heavy squats. The promise of large chests meant nothing to them if they had to use such peewee squatting weights.

Parker’s chest moved from 40 1/2 to 47 1/2 at a weight of 195lb.
Munrey from 42 1/2 to 50 inches at 220lb.

Joseph’s fellow

Breathing Squat result

Left: Mr. Parker at 155lb in the same pose. Right: Lewis Parker of Sacramento weighing 201lb. His chest measured 48 inches normal when this photo was made. His waist taping a mere 32 inches.

Once he tried lighter weights and lots of breaths between squats he found the secret of rapid growth, bodyweight increased pound after pound, chest ballooned and his strength soared more rapidly than he dreamed possible.

Cambered Bar

cambered bar bruce randall

Joseph liked to use the cambered bar. According to him you have to try this kind of bar. With the regular barbell the bar will roll up and down the neck. A slight bend in the bar prevents the neck roll. Joseph called this the ROUND BACK SQUAT.

The round back squat is the natural style of rising from the squat of all men. But a straight bar is as good as any other in this style. Men with bad backs can not squat in the round back squat style.

Squat Set-Up
The performance of each individual squat is as follows:
After placing the bar on the shoulders, the exerciser places his feet to suit himself. No one ever used the same foot placement on two successive exercise days.
One day Joseph will squat with heels four inches apart and the next exercise period he has to place his feet eighteen inches apart.

Joseph cited that after you become experienced you will instinctively place your feet at the right distance for your most efficient muscular power at that time. Beginners had better start with heels about twelve inches apart until they practice enough to change at will.

To bounce out of the squat gives one the greatest efficient leverage for the largest muscular groups in the body, the thigh group, the haunch group and the spinal group. If you go down in the squat and stop, your muscles will sag, your favorable bone and ligament leverages will disappear.

Full breath and drop into the squat. Bounce off the calves and knee joints. Joseph called it a “bounce”.

Jopseph’s thought about leverage
Joseph: “As one comes out of the “bounce”, he naturally tips forward, his muscles and bones are in a most efficient position to exert great strength, he commences to rise with the back slightly rounded (he may not even know that it is slightly rounded – so that if you tip forward and don’t mind tipping forward, your spine is in the right position even though the nomenclature does scare all of the “view with alarm experts”), his hips, with very heavy weights will rise at a faster rate than his upper body, until the thighs are about two-third straightened, then the torso rapidly straightens, when the body is about seven-eights erect one will exhale the full breath from the lungs.

This breath is very important – squatting on full lungs stiffens the body so as to get the right leverage bounce or hop. If you squat on empty lungs you will weave like a drunken sailor when you hit the bottom of the squat and instead of bouncing you will be threatened with a tumble in every direction.”

Running for building chest size?
Joseph: “Some of the chest theorists think up the thought that beating the chest will give a concussion effect and swell the lung cells and make the chest grow. Anyone who squats with their lungs full of air have this concussion effect dozens of times more forceful than any mere first slugging on the chest. The kiddies think running takes “wind” and gives big chests. Running is a matter of training, not wind.

Chuck Sipes lumberjack
Bodybuilding legend Chuck Sipes

The only nearly complete muscular motion in running is running up steep hills, in which case the hero will gain chest size, at least up to 42 inches or more if average size. If he lives at high elevation he will be even larger. I have seen numerous hard rock miners and lumberjacks who looked like weightlifting champions. Their machines are heavy and are easy only for a strong man to handle. After a machine is set, there is little work on their part and thus their muscular development is not ruined by fatiguing work.

The climbing of ladders in the mines at high elevations throws great effort on their lungs. Climbing an elevation near Denver is 25% more difficult on the lungs than the same at sea level, while climbing at 10,000 feet is 60 to 70% more difficult.”

During his training Joe made sure to eat meat twice a day and drink plenty of milk. He also ate salt pork as he said this increased his thirst and caused him to drink more milk and thereby aided his weight gaining. He also believes in plenty of rest and sleep. He is not lazy as some seem to think. It is just his training philosophy!

You must have a diet rich in animal protein. If you do not – you cannot do the exercise – or if you do you will have fierce headaches for 2 or 3 days after the 20 squat exercise. Perfect gaining comes with perfect relaxation of nerves, which comes under perfect environment in food, rest and optimistic.

Assistance Work

Serge Nubret pullovers

Joseph Curtis Hise recommended the following three assistance work for chest size: Pullovers (for shape), Deep Breathing Hanging and Grimek Arch Exercise. They all have identical effect on chest growth, which in this case is “arching the upper chest”.

Two Arm Pullover
In performing the squat you must breath through your mouth in order to jam the lower AND MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE LUNGS full of air. The two arm pull over is very necessary for chest looks. In a large chested man his chest will be about three inches deeper from front to back if he uses two arm pull over shaping the upper chest. The squatter who does not use the pullover will have a chest as large, but it will not look as shapely.

Reason for using a weight no more than bodyweight is, the bar bell is so light it does not compress the shoulders and cramp the chest. It leaves it flexible…an extremly important condition if rapid chest growth is expected.

Elbows are unlocked. It is impossible for the exerciser to go through the “motions” without stretching his chest. These who own no weights can get a bar or broomstick and tie on bricks or iron to suit. The right weight to use is the one that gives the maximum stretch; heavy weights will not noticeably stretch the sternum, neither will those too light.

Nothing is gained by worrying over weights you use, worry over the “stretch” you get.

The exerciser lies flat on his back with hands on the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width (whatever width gives him the most stretch). The barbell rests on the floor behind his head, and with elbows slightly bent he breathes deeply and pulls the weight to arms’ length above the shoulders. With the weight over the chest the exerciser exhales and then inhales fully, letting the weight down slowly to the floor behind the head. This lowering, not the pull up, is the important part of the stretching exercise. There is a variation with heavier weights in which the elbows are kept unlocked to almost right angles – using the same breathing motions.

Pullovers are good because they have the stretching in the upper sternum, forcing the chest to grow. There is never a possibility of practising too often. Bent Arm Pullover gives both Mass and Shape. These exercises develop great lung and heart room, which assists the body metabolism.

Deep Breathing Hanging Suspended from a Bar or Trapeze
This is the first exercise Joseph tried. He used it one month before received a barbell and his chest grew from 35 to 37 inches. Holding a long deep breath, one hangs suspended woth bent elbows. (Slightly “bouncing” on the unlocked elbows throws maximum stretching effect on the upper chest and sternum.)
Breathe very deeply, hold the breath, and “bounce” exhale and repeat as long as possible.

Grimek Arch Exercise
John Grimek, father of bodybuilding, was the greatest observer of exercise efficiencies that Joseph ever met.
When Grimek was 21 years old, showing signs of his present fame, he visited a gym for the first time, and had to explore all the new things. While standing idly, he reached his hands up to the overhead ladders and rocked back and forth. Grimek at once noticed the maximum effect of sternum-stretching, superior to “locked elbow” pull over with a barbell, and proceeded to explore this discovery. He found that unlocking the elbows made it most effective.

It can readily be performed in a door-way by placing the hands against the top of the door-casing, or, if the door is too high, by placing the hands against the sides of the door-casing higher than your head with feet about two feet to the rear of perpendicular.

Lean forward, breathing very deeply as you lunge, “bouncing” up and down and throwing your hips back. You will discover all the motions to suit when you explore it; anything that throws the stretch on the sternum. The “unlocked elbows” are a most important secret. 

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