The Right Kind Of Big Fighter
In this episode we’ll break down exactly why a big fighter isn’t always stronger, and what the ‘right kind of big’ is for a fighter to become a dominant force in their weight class.
In the last video I explained that more muscle mass means a greater potential for strength, which is why we have both weight classes and male/female categories in combat sports, to keep things safe and fair.
‘More muscle equals more strength’ is generally true, but not always. How you train makes a big difference to whether the muscle mass you gain makes you stronger, or is merely bulk that slows you down and fatigues you.
Even using identical exercises, resistance training produces drastically different results depending on the weight used, the number of sets and reps, the duration of rest intervals, and the number of times a week movements are trained.
Before we explore how we get the results we want as a fighter, in this episode we must first build a basic understanding of the structure of muscle fibres. And how this relates to the strength you can expect to see as a fighter for your given muscle size.
Every muscle fibre consists of many parallel, contractile strands called myofibrils. Surrounding these myofibrils is a volume of non-contractile protein and semi fluid substance called sarcoplasm.
A muscle can gain size (hypertrophy) in two different ways, and your training can target one or the other, or a combination of the two. Bodybuilders target both types of growth, they just want to be as big as possible. But fighters must be more specific, or you’ll hinder performance with non-functional bulk that’ll slow you down without increasing strength.
Different Kinds Of Big Fighter
Myofibrillar hypertrophy results in an increase in the number of contractile myofibrillar strands, making the muscle denser and able to contract with more force. If you’re going to put on muscle mass, this is the kind that we want. You’ll get both bigger and stronger.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy results from an increase in the amount of sarcoplasm surrounding the myofibrils. This supports greater strength endurance but doesn’t make you stronger. We don’t want this kind of growth, it’s bulk that slows you down and messes up your strength-to-weight ratio.
It’s also important to point out you can increase neuromuscular efficiency – that is, make you better at recruiting the muscle fibres you’ve already got, rather than building more muscle. You get stronger without getting heavier, increasing your strength-to-weight ratio so you can move faster and be more powerful.
So you can see bigger isn’t always stronger, how you train hugely affects the kind of size you build, the amount of strength it can produce, and the effect on your speed and KO power as a fighter. Exactly how you train to achieve increased strength, either with or without muscle gain, and avoid wasteful muscle bulk, is the topic for the next video.
In the meantime, check out the Optimal Fight Camp Blueprint in the further resources below, if you want to better understand how to piece all this training together to become a better fighter.