Does Muscle Make You Slow?
There’s always been this belief that building muscle mass will make you slow. This is a myth that trails back to ancient time. For most people, they envision a hulk of a bodybuilder; you know, the guy with big legs who appears clumsy and can’t turn his head to see to the side. For those concerned with remaining quick and agile, they fear that lifting weights will turn them into this hulk and performance will suffer.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not all muscle fibers (the scientific name for the cells of your muscles) are not created equal. Different muscle fiber contract at different velocities, meaning that the muscle can lengthen and shorten (think flexing your biceps) at a different rate depending on the muscle fiber type. An athlete like Usain Bolt has a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers which allows him to be the fasted man on Earth. Muscle building will only make you slow if you deliberately train…to be slow.
So you can see if that you want to build explosive power, you need to train. How do you do that? By strength training. To go back to high school physics, a body standing still needs to overcome inertia to move quickly; the only way to overcome inertia is to apply more force. You teach your body to apply more force through strength training and getting stronger. In fact, researchers found a strong correlation to squat strength and power output in high school football players (1).
So no, “bulk does not impede movement” unless that bulk is body fat – then you’re in trouble.
1. Bonnete, R. Spaniol. F, et al. “The Relationship Between Squat Strength, Vertical Jump, and Power Score of High School Football Players.”(2011)Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25, 85-86