Average bod? You might have stronger muscles than that pumped guy in the gym

Joseph McCormick May 25, 2016
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There may be an argument for putting down your weights and watching TV instead.

Well no, not really but new research suggests that those who don’t lift weights might have better quality muscle than those who lift a lot.


While the research found that bodybuilders were able to generate much larger forces than the average body, it also found that gram-for-gram, their muscle was less powerful than that of someone who does no weight training.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Professor Hans Degens, from Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Most of us are impressed by the enormous muscle bulk of bodybuilders and think that these people must be extremely strong, like the ‘Incredible Hulk’.”

The research suggested that bodybuilders compensate for having lower quality muscle by having much higher muscle mass.

Going on, he added: “The surprising thing, however, was that a gram of muscle from bodybuilders produced less force than that from non-bodybuilders, and it thus seems that the ‘muscle quality’ is less in bodybuilders.

“It appears that excessive muscle growth may have detrimental effects on the quality of the muscle, and one may well be better off with normal-sized muscles than with metabolically expensive large muscles.”

The research also suggested that power athletes such as sprinters had better quality muscles than average, compared to body builders.

“We had no indication that the proteins generating force – muscle motor proteins – work less in bodybuilders, but it could be that they have fewer motor proteins per gram muscle,” Professor Degens added.

“It would be interesting to see what aspect in the training of bodybuilders causes this decrease in muscle quality.”

The research was published in the Experimental Physiology journal took muscle samples from 12 male bodybuilders, six power athletes and 14 physically active men who did no weight training.

The contrasts in quality were seen in individual muscle fibres after isolation and testing.

Professor Degens said the type of training undertaken greatly affects the muscle quality, which surprised researchers.

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