Friday, April 4, 2008
Does Ripped Mean Strong?
Here is a picture of me about two and a half years ago. This was a fun night/morning. I was partying with my wife’s childhood friends. We started at 8:00 in the evening. This picture was taken after a water fight at 5:30 in the morning. I kind of felt bad for her since her white tank top was soaked and her bra was starting to become, shall we say, transparent.
This is about as cut as I’ve ever been in my life. I was about 30 pounds lighter here than I am now and this was before I had any serious intentions of gaining muscle mass. So here I am, cut and shredded. The question is, was I healthy?
The answer is a resounding NO! We’re conditioned to believe that people who are strong display a lot of muscular definition these days. This does have some truth to it. When this picture was taken I was in Peru suffering from diarrhea for the second or third day. I was this ripped because I was struggling with dehydration. Dehydration is a trick that many bodybuilders use to appear more muscular. They’ll use diuretics and abstain from drinking fluids for shocking periods of time in order to get the skin shrink-wrapped around the skin. They often times mess up their electrolyte balance so badly that they’ll suffer from severe muscle cramps that temporarily paralyze a muscle. So, like me in that picture, when you see them in their routines, they’re actually at their weakest.
While I wasn’t doing them when this picture was taken, bodybuilders often use exercises that isolate muscle groups. Much of Bodyweight conditioning demands recruitment of at least two joints and multiple muscles. Bodybuilders do it to look more muscular. Bodyweight exercisers do it to be more functional.
I hope that I have thoroughly convinced you by now not to buy into the notion that being shredded means being strong. In some cases it might be a sign but most of the time it isn’t even close to being THE sign. There are other factors in the equation and chasing this “ideal” for the sake of itself contradicts the call for health and strength.