‘Sportsmen, like geniuses, are born’, and this is not just an opinion but a fact and most coaches would not deny it even if their credibility and reputation would have to be sacrificed at the altar.
There are a few confirmed reasons strongly etched in stone and proven biomechanically and neurologically for this statement to be a devastating truth. Skill is a neurological ability — the ability to make effective use of the force produced by the muscles. Yet, no amount of skill can produce movement. The domineering force of producing movement resides in the ‘muscles’.
Favourable bodily leverage — which again is a genetic trait i.e., a sportsmen is born with it and it cannot be altered — provides an athlete a tremendous advantage. But, this advantage without the strength of his muscles proves to be of no significance.
Many coaches believe ‘Cardiovascular efficiency’ to be the corner stone of sporting activity. Though cardiovascular activity holds its chunk of weight in the sense that it permits work, hitherto no amount of cardiovascular ability has performed work — it’s only the muscles that will!
Another factor of significant importance is a person’s neurological efficiency; here again, it’s a trait that’s genetically imbibed. Its significance holds true only in the sense that it provides an athlete with an advantage to use higher than average percentage of whatever muscles he has. But again, it’s only the muscles that provide movement, the muscles that perform work, the muscles that provide energy, and it’s the muscles that protect an athlete from injuries.
In the face of these scientifically validated facts, many coaches still believe the same old myths that existed centuries ago. In plain English, many coaches and innumerable athletes the world over are literally afraid of muscles; fearing that building muscles will somehow impair their ability, slow them down, reduce their flexibility or otherwise limit their performance.
On the contrary, no amount of muscle will improve an athlete if he lacks skill to use it nor will any amount of muscle hurt his skill. Instead, increasing his strength will always improve his functional ability in any given sport.
Gargantuan muscle proportions will not be of any advantage if an athlete’s bodily proportions are non-linear to his chosen sport. But, he will at least perform better than he would with weaker muscles. A sprinter with a Herculean silhouette, but with a low cardiovascular efficiency, will fall flat on his face after a 100-metre dash. So he should not make the common mistake of assuming that either great strength or efficient cardiovascular conditioning only is achievable. In fact, it is highly possible to achieve both through progressive weight-training.
When the actual possibilities are evident to a large number of people, we will one day see a superman; thereafter, see quite a lot of such specimens.
(Author is a Fitness Expert)