Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Optimal bodyweight

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. What is the ideal bodyweight for a person? What is the optimal weight for maximizing all the basic qualities one needs to function well in life? What is the correct strength to weight ratio for having some of all the strength qualities( limit strength,speed strength, strength speed,etc,starting strength,etc) and still having decent cv and muscular endurance as well as maintaining normal joint mobility and function?

I've spend so much of my athletic life either trying to gain or lose both body mass and muscle that I really dont know what my ideal weight is. I've been watching MMA athletes talk about getting down to fight at a certain weight ;" its my natural weight" they say.

natural weight training six hours a day or natural weight basically just living life?Training competitively for a sport changes everything.Or does it?

I was 135 lbs , 5'7" tall at 18 years old all the while eating anything that wasnt nailed down and training in competitive gymnastics 4-5 hours a day 5-6 days a week.I had great relative strength, low body fat, good power and starting strength and great mobility and quickness.
Actually this was probably me at my "crossfit"( for lack of a better term) best.

then I went lower to 125 as a marathon and ultra runner. too thin and very weak.
Up to almost 200 for bodybuilding and powerlifting.Lots of muscle but poor endurance,mobility,and limit strength as well.
One of my best bodyweights was at 154 lb. as a road cyclist riding 300-400 miles a week. this was a good weight. Had good leg strength( my calves have never been as good) endurance, power, speed agility,leaness and my upper body strenght and size maintained very easily;actually too easily as I was always carve it off so I could look like a real cyclist.

Just goes to show that whatever muscle is natural and easy to put on is hard to get off. Its the fake stuff, the muscle WE decide to add that seems to come off so easy.

Of course what you do always decides what happens physically. Grow up on a farm pitching hay and cranking on wrenches you will get very strong How big will be determined by genetics and how many calories you stuff in.

watching these fighters lately has made me re evaluate the strength to weight ratio thing as well as how to balance strength, mobility, endurance, etc.Of course I realize its all individual and will vary acording to goal. BUt I wonder what I would weigh if I grew up in a natural environment and ate according to appetite not a program design for gaining or losing mass?

Just like the less I eat the more I realize how little I really need, the lighter I get the more I realize that really functional( not necesarily sport) strength is more neurological than musclar and trying to alter that might be folly, in the long run. Of course competition changes everything;you mold the body to the will and the desire, and ego.

I am thinking more about what is "natural" and best for the long haul; now that I am an old guy and can ponder these things, :))

One thing is sure; the less need there is for limit strength the more that is left for training many more training qualities. the intensity is so high from overload training and the body stiffness required to lift truly heavy weights kind of squashes so many things out.

Movement is life. I'm so glad I can move again.Being really strong was fun, but this is better.I'm 160-163 now who knows where I will end up?


Franz Snideman said...

Interesting post Rif. Mark Twight on the gym jones website talks a bit about this how when he was a world class rock climber / mountain trecker, his bodyweight was a huge issue. Not only for relate strength reasons (efficiency) but it was a huge deal for the rest of your fellow clmbers. Suppose you are the guy who bodybuilds for all the extra mass and you get injured. Now all of the other guys have to carry and move a person with extra bodyweight. The extra weight all of sudden is now harming and putting in danger your fellow climbers. Twight brings up the "moral" responsibility a climber has to keep his body in world class shape but without getting bigger.

Of course this is a different context Rif but there are some parallels. Interesting debate though. I believe that for the average person who does not need extra tissue, better to get freakishly strong,mobile, fast and functional. If the extra weight does not help you, dump it!

Tom Shook, RKC said...

All I can say is that back when I was boxing it really sucked trying to dry out and make weight...made me a very grumpy boy. Now I just eat to live and sustain my output, I actually have trouble keeping weight on, although a little extra protein and enough strength work helps. I feel that a lower overall body weight, while maintaining an acceptable level of strength is best. Probably better for overall long-term health as well. If you are lean, fit and feel good and are able to do what you enjoy...that's probably where you should be.

Mark Reifkind said...

I spent some 23 years trying to get bigger for bodybuilding or powerlifting so its such a different mind set for me now.I remember trying to get smaller for running and biking but is been awhile. this definitely feels easier on me thats for sure.
If your on a team and bw is a potential issue I agree with you, the right thing to do is to be as light and strong as possible.

Ken Black said...

Excellent post Rif. Damn you have done a lot of things.
It would seem the external view of ideal is what tends to lead the internal rather than the other way around. I know that I had thought up until my mid-twentys that bigger was always stronger. Now that I am learning to use the body more effectively, my weight is less but strength is way more. I feel and move a lot better than I ever have. The older you get the more you have to think about longevity and health in general.

Very thought provoking topic thats for sure.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks ken. most of my life, from age 14 to age 40 was spent trying to be either an olympic or professional atlete of some kind. when that wasnt going to happen the focus shifted to gaining official "elite" status in powerlifting.

nowadays I'm happy if I have minimal pain and can train at all!LOL! Hell, everything has a price and I am paying mine.no complaints; I would do it all again, albeit a but differently this time around.

of course sport competition really changes the focus on bodyweight but I was wondering more about optimal strenght and health for the 'average' person. Now that I grok that
average' activities are way more important than I gave them credence for in my youth.

I always had to be the best, or at least trying to be the best, at what I was doing at the time. folly for sure in the long run, but how great things are accomplished as well.again, no free lunches.

Pete Diaz, RKC said...


If it is ok with you, I will use your post as an example of lifetime fitness for class of recruits starting next week. I am looking forward to seeing you again on saturday.

Mark Reifkind said...

no problem Pete, let me know how it goes over.

Mark Reifkind said...

no problem Pete, let me know how it goes over.

Pete Diaz, RKC said...

Defintely Rif!

I will be teaching my class in a couple of mondays.