Size Matters.

Size Matters

At least as far as athletics go.phelps

We live in America so of course we usually have a strong belief that bigger is better.

This is not necessarily the case, though, when it comes to sports.

We love the little guy, the underdog.  We cheer when that undersized guard hits the free throw or when Rudy is carried off the field after finally getting his chance. And let’s face it, we’re way more likely to root for David than we are Goliath.

If we were to take a step back though, we would realize that the reason we fall in love with these moments is because while nice, they are uncommon.

The bigger stronger guy often does win which is why we root against it. The simple truth is size does often matter.

In the not too distant past strength training was frowned up for many sports outside of football. The prevailing thought was that trying to get bigger or stronger would leave athletes “musclebound”, stiff slow and lacking mobility.

Now, there may have been some truth to that if we were following some of the bodybuilding routine of the 80’s and early 90’s.  Machine based training revolving around getting pumped and simply looking good in the mirror may not have had the transfer over to the field of play that other forms of training do.

We have evolved quite a bit since then though and our understanding of movement, mobility, flexibility and how to package that in a program has evolved quite a bit.

What often is missed when discussing adding size for one’s sport is the quality of that mass. It would be silly to think that adding large amounts of body fat would offer a great competitive advantage over your opponent. Adding quality, explosive muscle can however make a big impact on performance and health.

Let’s take a look at three major benefits of adding mass.

 

  1. More explosive- Simply put, a bigger muscle produces more force. Increasing the size of a muscle creates the potential for more force. We have seen this time and time again at our facility. Increasing strength will often lead to increases in speed with little to no speed training at all. These increases in vertical jump or linear speed are often occurring while the athlete has added mass to his or her frame.

 

Even though we see this quite often we still hear “speed training” being the buzz word. I think it is important to remember that the equation for force is F=MA. Force equals MASS+ acceleration.

 

  1. Increased durability- We fall in love with the small fast speedy guys. How could you not? The way they just seem to stop on a dime or hit another gear its graceful and impressive. Yet, these are often the guys we worry about the most. Can a running back take the pounding? Can the little guard drive the lane? Can a pitcher’s slight frame hold up over the full schedule? These questions pop up often. Added size seems to add a little bit of insurance (when all other avenues continue to be addressed). Coach Dan John refers to this as “armor building” and I don’t think I could ever think of a better term.

 

  1. Decreased Effort – Often overlooked is the effect some additional size can have on effort levels. Additional mass can make tackling easier, can transfer for power into your shot on the ice and can help make your delivery easier is on the mound. We often think about additional size and strength allowing us to put more into each movement or action but we don’t recognize is how additional mass also allows us to use less effort. This allows us to maintain the same level of performance over a longer period of time and also leave a little extra in the tank for late in the game.

 

 

In conclusion, the old school view that size can have a negative impact on athletic development and performance is dated and uninformed. The modern athlete requires the right combination of size, speed and strength to enhance athleticism, not inhibit it.  If you have been afraid to encourage your young athlete to add mass then it may be time to take off the reigns and see that bigger can definitely be better.

 

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