Bruce Lee was great example of someone who had a great deal of explosive muscle power without a huge amount of muscle mass. I suspect that he would have been amazing on the Olympic style lifts for his weight class. He accelerated those muscles at an amazing rate and got them all firing exactly at once.
Haven’t we already agreed that you don’t have to have a lot of muscle to be considered strong, VERY strong, in an absolute sense?
I have no idea if Bruce Lee could squat 400 lbs, bench 50 lbs, do 1000 pushups in a row, or whatever. So he didn’t have a lot of muscle and wasn’t absolutely strong (if that’s true), so what?
I’m just saying that because you can see the muscle, that is to say that it isn’t covered by a ton of fat (please don’t interpret that to mean a LITERAL ton of fat), it doesn’t mean someone has a lot of muscle.
If you disagree, then tell me, in what sense did Bruce Lee have “a lot” of muscle (no snark, in case I’m sounding snarky)?
Why would you think that? He certainly didn’t train for that sort of strength, so I would be shocked if he was good at Olympic lifting.
Bruce Lee had an impressive physique and was very athletic. He also knew how to market himself. And I think it is very difficult at this point to separate his actual physical feats from his legend, which has certainly been livened up a bit.
I wasn’t around for that part of the discussion, so I wasn’t able to put my two cents in at that time. I agree that there is certainly individual variance in the amount of muscle fibers one can recruit, leading to variance in strength in individuals with the same amount of muscle. But how much of a difference are we talking? I always hear people bring up the idea of the person with tiny muscles who is really strong, but I have never come across this person. I have spent a lot of time in weight rooms with meatheads trying to impress each other and I have never seen somebody who was functionally strong without having developed muscles. I do not see how Bruce Lee could be VERY strong, in an absolute sense.
I was trying to make a point about your criteria for judging if someone has a lot of muscle or is strong. The point being that if Bruce Lee, under your criteria, is considered to neither be strong nor have a lot of muscle, perhaps your criteria is somewhat off. *
- I will admit that this has little to do with the topic at hand.
In the same sense that he was “strong.” That is, he had a lot of muscle for his slightly built frame. And he was very strong for someone with that frame. So, in a relative sense.
I think we need to step back and look at look at things more quantitatively. Sure there are individual differences, but quantitatively, there isn’t going to be a huge difference, other things being equal. Two guys with 5% body fat who weigh 180lbs show some difference in what they can bench, curl, etc. But it’s not going to be huge. Also, the guy who is 225lbs with 5% body fat will probably be able to do better than the vast majority, if not all of the guys at 180lbs. That’s why you have weight classes for any kind of individual competition. Yes there is some difference but there’s not so much that you can substantially ignore the amount of muscle mass a person has when determining how strong they might be.
Because Olympic lifts are all about coordinated explosive muscular effort and that was exactly the kind of strength he trained for.
“Tiny muscles and really strong”? Maybe not, but muscles that are sinewy and not huge and really powerful, more powerful than some with much more mass? Yes, I have met those people. An example - an acquaintance of mine in college was a rings man. My height and weight and while his percent body fat was much lower I was not fat. I could press my body weight. He could press more than twice his body weight. And hold an iron cross into an el. His build was impressive, chiseled sinews, but not big. And how he was is not unusual for a rings man:
From what I have seen, being really cut up from doing 100s of reps of body weight exercises does not translate into big numbers when lifting heavy weights, but who knows?
I don’t know if I would use a male gymnast for an example of someone who was much stronger than they appeared. Male gymnasts are insanely built. That combined with being small in overall size… I would expect that they would press at least twice their body weight.
Also, in your example, it seems quite likely that your friend had substantially more muscle than you. He was shredded and the same weight as you. Not sure how much the two of you weighed, but especially at lower weights, 5-7 pounds of extra muscle can mean huge differences in strength.
Reps build some muscle but you do that mainly to get cut when you’re fasting for a competition - i.e., create muscle definition. When I used to cycle regularly (only about 70 mile a week though), my calves got incredibly tight and well defined but I don’t think I added much bulk.
I’m going to have to agree to disagree with dseid. When I used to go to the gym (have one at home now), you could tell which guys would be able to lift the stack on the progressive resistance (ie, Nautilus style) machines by looking at them. I never looked at the person and then what they were lifting and was very surprised. Sometimes, a little surprised maybe, but never like OMG!
Mass does in fact correlate with strength. It’s just that the correlation isn’t perfect and can be skewed by your training method - ie, are you going for strength or size.
My experience as well. I never did bodybuilding, but I spent a lot of time in the weight room when I wrestled in college. And I never saw somebody with small muscles lifting a lot of weight. One thing that did tend to surprise me at first however, was the difference that leverage makes in certain exercises, such as the bench press. Guys who appear well built but have long arms can have a hell of a time with weight that a similarly built shorter guy lifts easily.
And what makes you believe that such was how Bruce Lee trained? He weight trained.
Of course he had substantially more muscle than I did. But remember this is in the context of this statement:
Paul Hamm was, per that article, 5 feet 6 and 137 pounds.