Friday, October 19, 2007

Muscle-Bound For the Big Fight?

As he steps into the ring for the first time after loosing his heavyweight title in the UFC, I remember Tim Sylvia's fight one year ago against Jeff Monson. It was a physically peculiar match-up: 6'8" 260 lbs Sylvia vs. 5'9" 240 lbs Monson. As I watched the fight, it was quickly apparent that Monson was, for lack of a better term, muscle bound. His legs didn't seem to hold his massively muscled upper body as he threw punches very well. He lacked any sort of foot speed needed to get inside of Sylvia's massive reach and get the take-down. Actually, all of his movement seemed mechanical. He was exhausted by the 5th round and lost the fight.

Now, the term muscle bound was coined nearly a century ago by some doctors who believed that exercising the muscles would eventually lead to the muscles being so overly developed that they'd tighten to the point that the joints wouldn't even be able to move. Hence the bound in muscle bound. While that isn't possible there is a deeper truth to the theory: The idea that the muscles can be exercised to the point were they hinder physical performance.

Such as the case with Monson. Now I shouldn't be bashing Monson since I know that he does extensive training with isometrics but his training didn't address his physical needs. He needed to be light on his feet. He needed to be quicker than Sylvia. His success depended on getting a take-down on the much bigger Champion. Instead, his training was focused on making him stronger and bigger rather than more explosive and fast. It was foolish for a former light heavyweight to even try to be stronger than a very large, career heavyweight. There was one point in the fight where Monson got a double-leg takedown but tried to pull Sylvia's legs with his arms. He just wasted energy. He wasn't going to be stronger than Sylvia. He was a little guy trying to be a big guy.

There's a lesson to be learned there for all of us: Train for the realities of your life. Take a look at your needs and shape your physical training based on that. Make it a point to balance all the needs of your body. If you don't do this, then you're going to render your body worthless to the tasks that you face in your life. In other words, you'll be muscle bound.

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