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24 September 2012

Aesthetics Vs. Function

When someone decides to start an exercise programme, the first thing they think about is how do I lose this weight? Or how do I make my biceps bigger? Or something along those lines.

On the other end of the scale someone will ask how do I get faster for my sport? Or how do I make my body stronger so that I get less injuries over the course of a season?

Although these two scenarios sound very similar and they sound like one will help the other, it is not always the case. It is like comparing the bodybuilder who has build his or her body with a lot of hard work, but purely for the purpose of looking good on stage with. On the other hand is the athlete, for example a sprinter, who has developed their body to get from the start line to the finish line in the quickest time possible. They are not concerned if their pectoralis major is not as developed as the next person. Or if their left deltoid is not in symmetry with their right deltoid.

The type of training to develop the human body aesthetically is completely different to the type of training required to make someone faster. In fact if an athlete was to train like a bodybuilder, then they would actually get slower.
The main function of a bodybuilder is to increase muscle size - hypertrophy. A great way of doing this is with high volume and moderate to heavy weights.
If an athlete competing at the Olympics were to train this way, he or she would actually become slower. The main difference with this type of training is speed of movement, ie how fast the weights can be moved.

So if you are looking to get faster at your sport you need to look at the specifics of your sport and work out what are the physical requirements of it. If it requires you to be bigger and have more muscle mass, then you will require a cycle of training focussing on this.

However, if you require speed without too much muscle mass, then you will need to focus on more of the performance type movements and speed of movement. A good example of this is a cyclist. A cyclist is has extremely strong legs, but they do not weigh a lot. This means that their power to weight ratio is very high. A great example of this is Mr (soon to be Sir) Bradley Wiggins. Over the last few years he has maintained, or even improved his power, but he has decreased his weight. Therefore increasing his power to weight ratio and helping him to move a lot faster down the road. He has a gold medal and a yellow jersey to prove it.

So whether you want to improve your overall body shape or improve your performance, you need to look and the specifics of training and determine what will be the best approach to you.

For more information and advice about which type of training would be best for you, contact Lyndon Littlefair today.