Your obsession with muscle mass could be harming you: here’s why

Rest assured: we are not going to tell you that bodybuilding is bad, that proteins are doping, or that you should not lift too heavy at the risk of becoming too muscular.

Gaining muscle is hard: no one gets too muscular by accident!

This article is not aimed at bodybuilders: everyone has their own goals.

On the other hand, it is aimed at all those who train with the aim of sporting performance or health.

In these contexts, training with the sole objective of gaining muscle mass is very far from optimal…Even if it’s already good!

Hypertrophy* can be part of a fitness program, functional training** or training for health and longevity.

However, it should not be the only element of a good sports program.

Find out how being too focused on gaining muscle could be counterproductive.

*Hypertrophy: muscle growth;
**Functional training: training aimed at helping to perform better in as many physical actions as possible.

Although muscle is difficult to gain, it is still possible to gain too much.

Building muscle without doing speed work or plyometrics will increase your strength.

Past a certain point, however, it risks becoming counterproductive for almost all sports, which require movement in space.

By only doing hypertrophy, you will in effect add mass “not optimized for speed”.

On average, your muscles will be less adapted to activities where you need to move as quickly as possible.

It’s a bit like adding “non-explosive” muscle that has the effect of weighing you down more than helping you move quickly.

Consider incorporating plyometrics and speed work to stay fast, responsive and as athletic as possible.

It’s perfectly possible to be fast, agile and strong at the same time, but then you can’t just work on hypertrophy.

If you are significantly lacking in muscle mass, focusing on hypertrophy for a period can still be very worthwhile.

Taken to the extreme and no matter what you do, adding muscle mass can become a liability in sport, especially if you have a high body fat percentage.

When strength makes you more vulnerable to injury

If you are very strong, but lack joint mobility, you risk injury.

In fact, you are not going to have the right movements, the right technique to perform your movements well.

By having muscles much stronger than your joints, you subject them to much greater stress than they can withstand: you put them at risk.

Are you in this situation?

In this case, it is better to pause your strength development to gain mobility and work on your technique.

You will only be more efficient in the long term!

The idea is not to say that you must at all costs have the most impeccable technique and the strongest joints…

But a minimum is still necessary, especially when you start lifting heavy!

In other words: just because you can lift a weight or perform a movement doesn’t mean you should.

When muscle makes you more vulnerable to injury

There is also one scenario where muscle can increase the risk of injury: if you choose to take steroids.

No moral judgment here, just facts.

Steroids will maximize muscle gain at a supernatural speed.

The problem is that your tendons continue to evolve at a natural pace.

Individuals doped in this way end up having muscles much more developed than their tendons.

They risk lifting loads that are far too heavy compared to the capabilities of their tendons and therefore injuring themselves.

It’s like having an ultra-powerful engine, but normal bodywork and tires: by pressing too hard on the accelerator, you risk technical problems, breakdowns… and even an accident!

Read also: When teenagers play Superman in the weight room: alarming dive into the dark world of anabolic steroids

The false belief that causes a lot of harm: strength and endurance are incompatible

While there are reasons to avoid becoming too muscular to perform in a sport like cycling or running, there aren’t really any reasons to avoid becoming stronger.

Today it is a truth well known to all physical training professionals: to become stronger (provided you do not have a delay in the joints as mentioned previously) is synonymous with reduced risk of injury and increased performance.

The opposite is also true: being more endurance will help you in strength sports.

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By improving blood circulation to the muscles and promoting your recovery.

The part of “cardio” in strength training is very often underestimated: improving your cardio-respiratory capacities will also help you from this point of view!

By thinking that he must completely exclude strength or endurance (depending on his personal case), an athlete leaves gains on the table.

Be careful, however, to avoid that the fatigue generated in your physical preparation does not prevent you from performing as you should in your main activity: the idea is to stay intelligent.

What is optimal training?

If you are an athlete aiming to be the best you can be at a sport, you should know what to do.

As a reminder, the principle of specificity applies. The best way to progress in your sport… Is to practice it!

However, physical preparation also plays a key role. You probably know that gaining muscle mass shouldn’t be your only goal in physical preparation, but a reminder can’t hurt!

Surround yourself with competent people who will help you identify the areas of work most relevant to you and reap the benefits of strength and endurance training…

Without compromising your main objective.

Is your goal to optimize your health and longevity? The same advice applies! Generally, consider working on the following physical qualities:

endurance ; strength ; mobility; agility. Updated by Quentin on: 04/12/2024

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