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Strength is not just about muscle mass

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Ive known this,  but could never prove it. When I lifted heavily in my youth  I gainEd considerable strength, but ya wouldn’t know it by my looks. And it didnt matter how much protein I added. Muscles didn’t grow much or bulge. I wasn’t ripped looking. So Apparently strength is not as simple as more muscle. When I worked for Atlas Van Lines as a young man I could often Lift heavier objects than guys who were built and ripped. They had those Bulging muscles And I was jealous, but for example we’d grab a hide a bed and have to move it and maneuver and I often was better at doing that even though I did not look as nearly strong as they did. This, as I recall, were generally guys smaller than me. I am 6 2’ so the larger size probably had something to do with it. Longer arms etc. But it always mystified me!

Edited by Mike41
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Interesting recount which also explains how much individual variability biologically exists in this and other aspects of ther human physiology and metabolism.

The fact that the muscles didn't grow may be due to a variety of factors, among which a genetic overexpression of myostatin- related genes.

People who don't grow much mass have a definite advantage in all sports organized in weight classes where strength is one of the governing factors. For example, wrestling, boxing, martial arts, even in speed running where you need to maximize leg strength while minimizing body mass.

My own case was maybe the opposite of yours in that I could gain mass easily up to a certain plateau. After that I had to force growth by more rest (minimizing the AMPK signal), more strenuos exercise and more food. Interestingly enough, I never forced myself to gorge like bodybuilders do, but I followed the natural hunger which was a neurological signal of an intrinsic need of nutrients, needed to signal mTOR in musculoskeletal  tissues.

I wonder which of the two phenotypes is more favourable to longevity, bulging versus non-bulging muscles. Maybe none, other factors govern.



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No question we as humans vary in how we express muscle. Personally I can tense my abdominal muscles and they are as hard as rock. I can punch them and there is nothing like what fat does when punched. My fist bounces right of of them. But as soon as I relax nothing. It just goes away. My arms are the same flabby unless I tense them and even then long and thin not very impressive but you can see muscle and the arm is solid and a fist will bounce off of it. IAC, I was not blessed with that showy muscular build that all guys wish for, but I can do what needs to be done. Carrying things. Doing yard work etc. No problem whatsoever. Each morning I do resistance exercises, nothing extreme but I try to cover most of the major muscle groups and it seems to be enough to keep me FUNCTIONAL. Needless to say I gave up a long time ago on the body building goals! 😆 

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