Lean And Toned from Bodyweight Training but Big and Bulky from Weight Training?

Posted on 09 Jan 2014 18:10

Some People think that Bodyweight Exercise and Martial Arts makes you Lean and Toned, While Weight Training Makes You Big and Bulky. Is This True?

There are two parts of this title and both contain a common misconception. However, the source of the misconceptions may not be what you think. I'll get into the weight training (strength training) part first. Strength trainees come in all shapes and sizes. Clear? You've got tall and lanky ones, short and fireplug-shaped ones. Big ones with huge guts. Little guys with lean and wiry bodies. Little guys who are stronger than they look. Big guys who are not defined and look a bit flabby but are unnervingly strong. And of course, I don't mean to leave out the females, I just know better than to talk about female body shapes! You look good. Honest! What else? Oh, guys that have blocky waists and are very strong. Guys who have tapered and thin waists but are also very strong (another myth don't ya know).

Now, I shall get on with the martial arts part of the title. Martial Artists come in all shapes and sizes. Including over-weight. And, we have the ever-so-popular bodyweight training. Bodyweight trainees, if they weren't on the light side, would not tend to stick exclusively to bodyweight training for very long and, logically, the most successful, and thus the most enthusiastic 'bodyweight aficionados' are not fat people. So, you see where the misconception came from? Guys who have a set-point of 250 are not likely to be drawn to body-weight training. It doesn't mean the big guys can't be spry and agile. But you're not going to see them doing Parkour, much.

All Gymnasts are Muscular and Ripped

To help illustrate what I am explaining here, think about gymnasts. Gymnastics, after all, is a "body-weight" activity. There is a huge myth that all gymnasts are very muscular and ripped. This is false. The ones that are likely to be very muscular and very ripped are elite ones you've been exposed to through the Olympics and other high-profile events that are broadcast on television. For the most part, these athletes tend to be very muscular and ripped.

What has happened is that we've confused cause with correlation. Gymnasts who are able to develop a great deal of body strength while maintaining a low body-fat percentage tend to be the more successful ones. Since they are the athletes we are exposed to and are familiar with, we associate them with representing gymnasts as a whole. But that does not mean that doing gymnastics type training will make you look like your favorite Olympic gymnast. This is simply selection bias at work.

Bryan Chung has a great name for this. Or, actually, a couple of great names. He calls it the "sport causality bias" or "the elite athlete selection bias"1

Body-weight and gymnastics-style training course demand a high-dollar price all over the web and if you are trying to sell this type of training, then it behooves you to tell people they will look like a gymnast!

Back into martial arts. Check out the following video about the legendary DEATH TOUCH of martial arts. I remember seeing this on television when it aired. And I laughed my ass off.

Martial Artists Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Here is a very good example for martial arts. It can serve two purposes. The first is to show how people will believe almost anything if you present it right, even the 'death touch.' The death touch is the mythical martial arts skill that allows you to knock people down, knock them out, or even kill them from across the room! Apparently, Stephan Bonner was one of those people who are immune to the death touch. That is because Stephan did not play along. The instructor actually provides this explanation for the large percentage of people who are IMMUNE to the death touch: "They don't believe".

I think you just discredited yourself.

People WANT to believe things. So keep telling them what they want to believe and they'll go for it.

The other purpose of this video is to illustrate what I said about martial artists coming in all shapes and sizes. Although the resolution of the video is not good, you should be able to see that the students come in all shapes and sizes in just ONE room.

For more on bodyweight training see Bodyweight Exercises: The Wide-Eyed Effect.

This page created 09 Jan 2014 18:10
Last updated 29 Mar 2018 21:53

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