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Jason Dupree

Is size just an excuse?

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Jason Dupree

It comes up every single time someone talks about incredible feats of gymnastic strength: "They are smaller so it's easier for them." Yes, it is true that people with longer arms have to produce more force, because of leverage, but won't their bodies adapt by growing muscle capable of producing that force? Doesn't a bigger person with bigger muscles also have stronger muscles? It feels like this is said a lot by tall skinny people, or large people with useless muscle (bodybuilders). 

 

We already know that bigger people can do the things we strive to do on the forum. Does size really make that big of a difference on the ease of the goal? or is it just an excuse?

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Toni Laukkavaara

ofcourse a smaller build will be better

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Alessandro Mainente

Yes size it's a determinant factor more then simple leverage dimension.

This is simply explained by the inertia principle, that said that a body tends to maintain the same state of motion. if it's in quiet state it will remain quiet, if it is moving...same concept. well the ability to change the state of an object is in function of an external force the could stop the movement or create the movement basing upon the initial condition of the system.

The force that must be applied depends on acceleration and mass. for explosive movements the force needed will be higher due to the nature of accelerated movement. while in strength controlled movement the acceleration tens to be low and the limiting factor it's the mass. as the mass is higher then the force will increase a lot. Add to that the distribution of the weight when you consider multi planes movement with different weight component over different direction-vectors in a 3D space.

 

This is the reason of why the all arounders need to limit the mass gain to move freely.

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Rajan Shankara

This is simply explained by the inertia principle, that said that a body tends to maintain the same state of motion. if it's in quiet state it will remain quiet, if it is moving...same concept. well the ability to change the state of an object is in function of an external force the could stop the movement or create the movement basing upon the initial condition of the system.

The force that must be applied depends on acceleration and mass. for explosive movements the force needed will be higher due to the nature of accelerated movement. while in strength controlled movement the acceleration tens to be low and the limiting factor it's the mass. as the mass is higher then the force will increase a lot. Add to that the distribution of the weight when you consider multi planes movement with different weight component over different direction-vectors in a 3D space.

 

 

yup, that's why i got a D+ in that class, still would too.

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GoldenEagle

It is just an excuse.

For someone that is: A) Heavier than oneself moving a lighter bodyweight is going to be easier.  B) Lighter than oneself moving a heavier bodyweight around is going to be harder. 

However regardless of one's own bodyweight an individual must still develop the needed mobility, strength, and endurance to move that amount of weight around within the empty space around his/her body.

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James Price

Size is a factor. Google the 'square cube law'.

 

Simply put, assuming equal neuromuscular efficiency, output is proportional to cross sectional area of the muscle; and weight a function of the volume. This is a 2/3 power relationship. It's why Sinclair and Wilks formulas exist in strength sports - and it's easy to empirically demonstrate the relationship exists, just by fitting world records against weight classes (skipping the open classes, because proportion of bodyfat tends to remain relatively constant in other weight classes, and goes up in unconstrained classes) - fit a log-linear model, and you'll find approximately a 2/3 power relationship in pretty much all cases. If you're less interested in fitting models, you can see some data on olympic weightlifters, and the curvature in the relationship, here:

 

http://www.allthingsgym.com/weightlifting-statistics-2000-2012-olympics/

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John Kiggundu

It's an excuse.

 

I think the greatest impediment to progress is mental.

 

Many a so called "physical limit" that man has supposedly had have been shown to be false by an obsessed zealot who refused to believe the hype.

 

Four-minute-mile barrier, climbing 8,000 meters without requiring supplemental oxygen, are a few cases in point that come to mind.

 

Sure small folks can do stuff that larger people probably cannot do, but the emphasis should be on the word "probably."

 

It is impossible to prove a negative, and thus it is impossible to prove that a larger person cannot do stuff that a smaller person can.

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Jason Dupree

Alex, i didn't even think of it like that, yes, doing things like tumbling, more inertia making it harder makes perfect sense.

 

I was thinking more along the lines of strength work. I work in a gym, and hear this constantly, mostly about stupidly easy skills, in which case YES it is an excuse (as well as a dismissal of my smaller stature, but lets not get into that). 

 

Even if I was abnormally huge though, I wouldn't let the math stop me from trying.

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ForzaCavaliere

Yes, it's just an excuse, unless you're Olympic-level.

 

The only advantage in being bigger is that you have more raw strength. Also, taller physiques look more graceful on most apparatus.

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DiTi

have you ever seen the olympics? male gymnasts are usually around 1.60m tall so i dont think its an excuse

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Jonathan Pettit

It's not an excuse.  The vast majority of people, though, use it as an excuse.  "If I were taller I'd be a better basketball player.  If I were smaller I'd be a better gymnast."  As if size is the only thing in the equation.

 

I'm over 6ft, with long skinny arms, and I struggle with pulling strength.  It's not because I'm tall: it's because I've never trained pulling before.  There's a difference.

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Stefano Di Virgilio

It's not an excuse.  The vast majority of people, though, use it as an excuse.  "If I were taller I'd be a better basketball player.  If I were smaller I'd be a better gymnast."  As if size is the only thing in the equation.

 

I'm over 6ft, with long skinny arms, and I struggle with pulling strength.  It's not because I'm tall: it's because I've never trained pulling before.  There's a difference.

I agree with you. I know a lot of people that think they are strong but when I have asked them to do something like 10 pullups, 1 muscle-up or another easy-intermediate bodyweight exercise I have received this answer: "I'm too big for doing that". I'm 6' 3'' tall,

and I weigh 200 lb. I know that for me it will be probably more difficult, but I'm going to do it anyway and without using that as an excuse.

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Lee

It's an excuse unless at you're at the elite Olympic level. Square cube law applies to the best of the best.

For layman like us, assuming 2 persons with same body composition like muscle mass percentage, body fat percentage, PLUS the same conditioning, the rate of perceived exertion should be the same. Bigger guy has more muscle to execute moves. Smaller guy has less muscle mass, so why doesn't anyone say smaller guy disadvantage?

My take is that bigger people with higher fat, lower muscle percentages use this as an excuse. But at elite levels, wilks coefficient and other factors come into play. Just my two cents worth.

Really hope to hear from Coach Sommer on this!

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Alexander Egebak

This should be a discussion of HOW MUCH size matters instead of talking in absolutes.

 

Size generally mean slower progress and less potential of reaching the same peaks of smaller people. But this there are so many more factors that matters; level of commitment, genetics, quality of training etc.

 

I agree that size is being abused as an excuse of not achieving even close to their full potential, but to a small extent they are right.

 

But who cares really, just do your thing to prove how long you can go with your own unique potential.

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Chris Hansen

It appears the answer depends on who you ask and how you look at it.

 

There's a reason there aren't many tall gymnasts in the Olympics but being big or tall doesn't mean you can't strive to develop yourself. It might be harder for taller or bigger people to perform certain types of exercises but they can still benefit from working towards them.

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Ivan Pavlovic

I dont even see why to discuss about this. How many 6 ft+ tall people you have seen doing full planche or something harder then full planche ? Guess why they cant do it.

Tall people can be strong in gymnastics but not strong ass short people, same as short people can be good in basketball but not as tall people. :)

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Colin Macdonald

Size and genetics is obviously a factor in all physical endeavours, there are ideal traits for any activity. But gymnastics still has absolute requirements like any other sport.

 

If you decide to play basketball, you may in fact be too short to dunk, that's a physical reality. But regardless you still chose to play basketball and there are rules that need to be followed, you can't decide you're going to play basketball but all you're going to do is dribble the ball around the court.

 

Our Coach has told us that a handstand with correct form is essential to gymnastics, so that's what we need. I'm tall with tiny wrists and weak forearms, which I imagine isn't ideal for developing a handstand. I can acknowledge that insofar as it helps me identify my weaknesses. But regardless, I still need to develop a solid handstand if I'm going to train in this sport. So I can either whine about it or get cracking.

 

Body proportions are absolutely fundamental to how well and how easily you'll learn skills. And the best students undoubtedly combine hard training with fundamental physical advantages. But since we're not competing, I don't see how it's really relevant.

 

'The Sports Gene' is an excellent book that talks about this stuff and where excellence comes from. (spoiler alert, it's not all blood, sweat and tears  :D ). It has a lot of interesting things to say. But when I'm done training, all that I care about is whether I gave everything I had that day, everything else is just noise.

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Keilani Gutierrez

Colin...you should take a look at Yuri's forearms. he's got some popeye action going on...mine have been growing too, especially from wrist pushups and doing the headstands for time. but Yuri's look like they can grip a hole into a watermelon or something. lol i can only imagine the strength gains from working one arm handstands.

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Keilani Gutierrez

and also on the size thing, i can see how people can play to their individual strengths, i have a close friend who is in the range of 5'3- 5'4 and he's the best basketball player in our group of buddies and he's competed in collegiate level basketball i think. he's husky and short but man can he run. >_>

as for me i feel the comfortablest moving in the water. but i enjoy riding a bike more which is in a cramped space. so it's like the styles within style's of things that you do are the real things to be mastered along with developing a body that can handle it, i think at least. it'd be cool to know the science of it but i wouldnt dwell on it. we stop progressing when we stop moving, so theres always mountains to climb. especially if you're moving up a pretty tall mountain. especially if its tall. >_>

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Rajan Shankara

No one told this fellow size mattered

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Colin Macdonald

Colin...you should take a look at Yuri's forearms. he's got some popeye action going on...mine have been growing too

 

Muscle growth, what's that?  :P My forearms are way stronger now, but I'm pretty sure they're the exact same size they've always been. I'll just have to keep eating my spinach.  ;)

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Minh Vu

I believe size does play a role in determining whether one achieves a skill faster or slower. When it comes to leverage the heavier one end is the other end is going to suffer. Don't get me wrong! You will still get the skill in the end! However it's going to take a hell lot longer if you're heavy and big. This is especially true when it comes to planche training IMO. I know a guy, ex-sprinter, big dude with massive legs, who has been training planche for 2.5 years and still can't get a straddle. His training program is the usual e.g planche leans, tuck hold till 60s, adv tuck hold till 60s etc. So yes I do think size matters A BIT!

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Ronnicky Roy

It's an excuse. Only at the elite levels does every single factor matter. The skills we are working are beginner to intermediate. It's completely about consistency, hard work and heart at this level. Get to the point where you are considering Olympic training, then it will be a factor worth noting. Because those athletes have to fine tune absolutely everything

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Ronnicky Roy

That said, Eddie Tolan was only 5'7 and held the world record 100 meter dash of 10.4 seconds.....Usain Boly is 6'5 and he's only roughly 1 second faster

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