5 Common Myths of Athletic Performance

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Believe it or not in our age of instantaneous information sharing there are still some ideas regarding human athletic performance that are wrong and are continually being perpetuated.  I wanted to briefly cover five common athletic performance myths, the actual truths and help you reach a higher level of athletic dominance.

#1) Super Human athleticism is purely genetic:
In my article titled “Compex: The Genetic Override”  ¾ of the nation had a 50/50 ratio of slow twitch to fast twitch fiber types and that 40% of everyone’s fiber type variance is environmentally influenced. To suggest that athleticism is purely genetic is asinine.  Everyone has a genetically limiting factor, a ceiling for performance if you will, but that does not mean you can not develop into a freak.  You just need to train the right way.  


#2) You have to be big to be strong:

Mass does not correlate to force production (Strength).  True an increase of size to the cross sectional area of muscle fiber leads to greater tension load handling and thus greater strength, however it does not mean that a smaller better trained muscle cannot produce more force.  To give you the best example I can think of just research Richard Hawthorne.  Pound for Pound the strongest man on the planet and yet he only weighs 130lbs.  Here’s a video entitled Journey To Capo.  Richard wins the competition by having the highest coefficient of strength to weight ratio.  To put into context what I mean Richard deadlifts 601lbs at an astonishingly light 130lb that’s a strength to weight ratio of 4.62.  Brandon Lily deadlifts 815lbs at a bodyweight of 315lbs. That is a strength to weight ratio of 2.6.  A massive difference despite the massive difference of mass. Funny how I worded that right!?:) This unfortunately is a long standing fear among young women in sports.  The idea of lifting heavier weights in order to build sufficient strength is met with a substantial amount of resistance because they’ve been fed the idea that they would become bulky.  This is simply just just not the case.  


#3) Olympic lifts are the best lift for explosiveness:  

 Power = Force/Time. In athletic terms this means doing a specific movement with great force in as little time is possible. Olympic lifting only targets a few specific movements, which translates to very few sports.  For someone in MMA learning how to throw an opponent, doing clean and jerk after clean and jerk would do very little for the power development of the “Prime Movers” for the MMA athlete. The same would hold true for a Rower, doing power cleans would not target the prime movers effectively enough.  For OPTIMAL power development movements specific to that sport, or sport specific prime movers need to be trained.  


#4) I need to be agile for my sport so I should only train fast movements:

Tudor Bompa writes in his book “Periodization For Sports” “This training philosophy contradicts the fundamental physiological principle that a given type of work results in a proportional adaption. An athlete who maintains the same type of work for longer periods of time will experience a plateau, stagnation of improvement, or even a slight detraining, resulting in performance deterioration.” Let me set one thing straight agility IS power.  Without power you can not be agile or quick.  It is the ability to accelerate and decelerate quickly (Concentric strength & Eccentric strength).  Tudor Bompa also mentions during his studies he found that an increase of power was 95% strength and 5% speed.  If maximal strength is the greatest limiting factor in increasing power, only performing “agility” drills with little or no load will result in little or no power development over time.  


#5) More is better:

I would think this one is a no-brainer but it’s all too common. Athletes spend countless hours training their bodies for increased performance. These training sessions take their toll though; neuromuscular fatigue, lactic acid accumulation, glycogen depletion, ATP & CP depletion, faulty joint mechanics, (due to muscle adhesions or improper motor patterns) & exogenous stresses etc…  The term “The Law of Diminishing Returns” perfectly applies to this constant exertion without restoration scenario.  Athletes, you will hit a wall, lose performance, and possibly get injured if you do not restore and recover. Days off and active recovery days are crucial. When I say days off I mean a day where you don’t do anything. Sit on the coach and finally relax.


Avoid these myths, adhere to the truths and reap the benefits of greater physical performance development.  




Brandon Talbot

Super Human Performance