The Oly Encyclopedia 7

Some Common fallacies About the Sport of Weightlifting

So many fallacies exist about the sport of weightlifting that a very lengthy book, could be written about them. while I want dwell in this book on the realities of weightlifting rather than the fallacies surrounding it, I believe that the process of learning about the sport will be greatly enhanced if some of the most common and most mistaken myths regarding it are addressed at the outset.

Fallacy #1 Bigger ''muscles'' are strong muscles.

Intuitively, people believe that bigger ''muscles'' (what they can observe merely by looking at a person) are stronger muscles. Exercise physiologists acknowledge that larger muscle fibers are able to contract more forcibly than smaller muscle fibers. Logic therefore suggests that the athlete with the biggest muscles is the strongest athlete. Unfortunately, this simple rule of thumb is simply untrue.

When you look at what we commonly refer to as a ''muscle'' with the naked eye, what you see is a combination of muscles fibers; tissue and chemical substances that are involved in energy storage and transport within the muscles; blood vessels; and fat. Those tissues are surrounded by several layers of skin and connective tissue. While you can get a limited sense of the degree of fat that is underneath your skin by a visual inspection, there is no way to tell how much of what remains is attributable to true muscle tissue versus the other types of tissue. Fortunately, research done by exercise physiologists can help us to understand the rest.

The research merely confirms and explains what experts in the area of weight training have known for many years - that there is little correlation between visible ''muscle'' size and muscle strength. Moreover, there is a fundamental difference between the large, unnatural looking, muscles of bodybuilders and those of weightlifters. science has helped to explain that difference as well.

It seems that the high volume and relatively high intensity (term that will be explained later in the book) training that most bodybuilders do tends to stimulate more muscle fiber types than the training that weightlifters perform. (Muscle fiber types, some of which are better suited for intense efforts and others suited for repetitive efforts are discussed fully in Appendix 2.)In additional, the kind of training that bodybuilders do increase the blood supply going to the muscles(capillarization),

as well as the effectiveness of the portion of the muscle tissue that furnishes energy to the muscles.

Stated rather crudely, under a weightlifter's skin are maximally developed muscle fibers of the type that are best suited for all out efforts of muscular contraction when supplied with enough energy for brief and intense efforts and just enough blood circulation to make this all happen. (Not visible is the ability that the weightlifter has developed through specialized training to contract more muscle fibers in a highly coordinated way to accomplish higher results with the same muscle fibers than could an athlete without such training.) In contrast, under a bodybuilder's skin is a combination of highly developed muscle fibers richly supplied with blood, ready to do the great deal of work over an extended period of time but not as well equipped to explode as quickly or forcefully as the muscles of a weightlifter. therefore, while the muscles of bodybuilder may appear larger and more well developed than those of a weightlifter (although the muscles of a weightlifter can also be very large(, the greatest size visible in bodybuilders is due to greater development of muscle fibers types that are not of great help in maximum efforts, capillarization of the muscles tissue and more effective energy transport system. Consequently, the muscles of two athletes can appear to be very similar in development yet have a very different functional capacity. So, in the usual sense of the phrase, bigger muscles are not necessarily stronger muscles (although, all other things being equal, am increased diameter in muscle fibers themselves leads to an increase in their contractile power).

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