Nothing But The Truth Blog
# 24 Talker on Big Muscles Are Overrated
Ah yes, those days when arm wrestling and plain horsing around were every day occurrences, whether at work or play. Fun fist fights just for the sheer joy of it. Wrestling and rolling in the grass, dirt and at times a spot a dog walker didn’t pick up. Recall reluctantly arm wrestling a shorter than I, and almost skinny guy. Gads, it was pow and I was pinned. Found out later, this gent shoved coal all day for the coal fired locomotive in the railroad yard. Another incident was with a tad taller and huskily built farm gent that part timed, with us, in the electrical trade. Anyway this gent had me in a ‘around my arms’ bear hug, lifted up into the air, my feet not touching the floor, and shaking me like a rag toy. Our coworkers were making bets on who would physically poop out first. I wasn’t the favorite.
Well, it was getting hard to breathe and my ribs were squawking with hurt. So with some effort managed to inhale some air, wiggle downward, wrap my arms around ‘his’ body and start pulling, and drove my chin into the rib cage top by the shoulder joint and pushed. It took about ten seconds and this gent was now yelling for me to ‘stop’ hurting him. Yeah, I learnt that big muscles were nice to look at, but didn’t always win the battle. There are more stories, but for now……..
So I easily relate to this article.
Big Muscles Are Overrated
By Matt Furey
I don’t care what body part you’re talking about. Just because it’s bigger doesn’t make it better.
Bigger often has a hypnotic effect. You see a guy with big biceps, pecs, lats, forearms, thighs, calves, and so on – and it’s hard to take your eyes off him. And in the world of fitness and combat training, a lot of people think that if you’re bigger it means you’re stronger – that you’ve got more power.
In some cases this is true. But many big, muscular specimens are not strong. On the other hand, many folks who do not have impressive muscles are.
So I always get a good laugh when I read about how “important” it is to add size to your arms – or some such nonsense.
When I was young and dumb, I thought having big pecs and biceps was cool. I learned to jiggle my pecs on command, as well as my biceps and thighs. And when I competed against others, I compared their muscle sizes to mine and tried to figure out who was the better athlete. (I was wrong so often I don’t want to think about it.)
As a wrestler in college, I learned that bicep and pec size has almost nothing to do with how tough someone is. Or how strong.
One of the ultimate lessons came from none other than Dan Gable himself, the head wrestling coach when I was at the U. of Iowa. He didn’t have big biceps, thighs, calves, or pecs – yet he could beat the living crap out of everyone in the room who did.
When it came to running stairs with someone on your back, I remember struggling to cart Gable to the top – and he weighed about 155 pounds. Then, when it was his turn, he carried me to the top like I was no heavier than a feather.
Put our legs side by side and if you came from the big muscles school of hypnosis, you’d have assumed I was stronger. Not a chance.
Why is this?
Based on my study of martial arts, I believe that muscular size is way, way overrated. But I won’t stop there. I’ll go so far as to say that muscular strength is overrated.
What? How can I say such a thing?
I can say it for a few reasons:
1. Your internal organs. They have more to do with the strength of your muscles than you realize. Take a guy with big “guns” (biceps) and give him a kidney stone… and we’ll see how freaking tough he is. Every time you pull, curl, twist, jump, or squat, you’re not just using your muscles, your kidneys are working as well.
And kidneys are just two of the main organs that dictate overall body strength.
2. Your tendons. When properly trained and strengthened, they will give you a massive advantage over anyone with big muscles. Just because your muscles are large doesn’t mean your tendons and ligaments are strong. A little inflammation in the elbows or knees can sink your game very low very fast.
3. Your breathing. Most people with big muscles don’t know the first thing about how to regulate their breathing to maximize strength and endurance. Sure, they know how to inhale and exhale when doing a bench press – but that’s about as far as it goes.
How much further can you go? A helluva lot further. In fact, learning proper breathing, combined with exercises to strengthen your tendons and tone your internal organs, will do your body (as well as your mind) far more good than picking up a dumbbell or barbell to do a set of curls.
Nothing wrong with curls, if that’s your bowl of cereal. But let’s get serious. Big muscles don’t make the man – or woman. They may look nice. They may draw a crowd. But when it comes to doing real battle – mental as well as physical – they won’t help you much.
Far more important is what you cannot see.
It’s the difference between shallow external appearances and internal strength and power.
One exercise that builds both mental and physical strength is the bridge – especially if you do it at bedtime.
1. It creates a euphoric state. (Nice to feel that before you go to sleep, don’t you think?)
2. It energizes you. Not with the kind of energy that interferes with sleep but with the kind where you KNOW your brain is rejuvenated.
3. It makes you aware of energy at a more subtle level. (This helps you whether you’re a competitive athlete or someone who deals with people for a living.)
4. It increases sexual energy.
5. It helps burn off belly fat, as well as the loose turkey fat on your neck.
6. It increases the feeling of being grounded.
Those are only six reasons why the bridge is so great. There are many others.
In my book Combat Conditioning, you can discover core exercises (including several versions of the bridge) that can help you drop unwanted pounds… relieve lower back, neck, and shoulder pain… end fatigue and stress… heighten mental clarity… and give you confidence.
By the way – if you can’t do the bridges in my book just yet, if they’re too advanced for you, start with a light bridge over a Swiss ball. That’ll get you headed in the right direction.
[Ed. Note: Fitness expert Matt Furey believes in strengthening yourself on the inside as well as the outside – and what he has taught you today goes to the heart and soul of the matter in a way that you’ve probably never experienced before. And when you add Matt’s Combat Conditioning into the mix… LOOK OUT. You’ll become the master of your universe. Find out more here.]
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