T Nation

Does Bodybuilding Make Muscles Forget How to Work?


I grew up playing sports, what are you even talking about. I’ve spent A LOT more of my life under 150 lbs than above. I played basketball, baseball, golf and tennis growing up. golf and baseball on my highschool team. Good enough to play golf at a college level at a shitty school, not close to good enough to play where I actually went to school. I know exactly what it was like to move around at lower body weights and lower muscularity. At 125 lbs and 5’10, I could dunk a volleyball no problem, but couldn’t palm a basketball well enough to dunk it.

When I first got my weight into the 150-160 range, I felt huge, and slow, and sluggish. I was tired all the time, I had gotten slower, I couldn’t jump as high, etc. Then I got into powerlifting, and shit continued to get worse because of the things I was neglecting. Then, in 2014, my strongman journey began. Now, at 200 solid lbs, I can jump as high as I could when I weighed 125, I’m explosively strong, I’m faster than I used to be, absolutely a better all around athlete. I’m waaaaay better at basketball now than I was. The only sport I’ve regressed significantly is golf. I only play once or twice a year now. My short game is still pretty good, but my leverages have changed so much that I would need a lot of practice to adapt. Still could come close to breaking 80 every time though.

The overall point is this: I know what being not muscular is like in sports. I know what it’s like to put on muscle and become shitty at sports. I know what it’s like to put MORE muscle on and become better at sports again.


That’s why I’m a big advocate for anyone that lifts to play a damn sport or do something “athletic” that has you jump, crawl, pivot, sprint, back pedal, etc 2x a week minimum.

The first year of real training for me I got REALLY unathletic because all I would do is lift and maybe run once in a while. I was getting better at squats, but that was it.

But the past 2 years I have basically played a sport or something that moves my body all over the place 2-3x a week and my natural athleticism came back. As I’ve gotten bigger and stronger while still playing a sport 2-3x a week (basketball, ninja warrior type shit, snowboard) my athleticism has skyrocketed.

I just feel good man lol.

If I could re-do my training history for the first 3 years I would have followed the following setup. I think anyone not looking to compete could follow this template for the rest of their lives and be really well balanced overall. That way as you get bigger and stronger you can continue to be athletic and healthy.

Mon - Lift
Tue - Sports
Wed - Lift
Thu - Sports
Fri - Lift
Sat - Sports
Sun - Yoga/Recovery


The only problem being is that Mark Henry is a whole 6 inches taller than Phil. Rare to see even professional basketball players dunking at that height. Phil also needs a 35-45 inch vertical depending on his arm length.08%20PM
That would mean his vertical has to be higher than even the best of NBA players. They also weight much less and train for jumping.


I’ve known 8 people that are 5’6-5’10 that can dunk in real life. Dunking and jumping are also skills that can be developed. A regular dunk is much different than a dunk with authority.

This is an interesting read.


Do they weigh 250lbs?
At that height their BMI would be off the charts.(unless they train)


3 of them are for sure over 225. All 3 were D1 linebackers though so really strong and athletic.


well ok…but it was not posted specifically with you in mind.


Me too man! Still have a hitch in my swing that I can’t seem to get rid of.




Seriously, as a natural you’ll never be too muscular. Maybe on gear at some extreme point because you’ll lose some mobility because of your huge muscles allowing less range of motion but still…


You do realize a strict vertical vs a running/gathered vertical are two very different things right?


I think you’re underestimating how may 5’10ish dudes can dunk, honestly. First off, I’m not sure why you’ve decided this now has to be a conversation about a standing (no step) vertical leap. That’s a variable that you’ve just now introduced.

Second, you don’t have to believe Heath, but he definitely said on camera that he could dunk in college, and right after that he jumped up and grabbed the rim easily, without a running start. This was during his Mr O reign.

As I said above, I could dunk a volleyball when I was younger, and I’m a shitty athlete. Dunking is not the crazy difficult task that you seem to think it is.

yep yep yep yep yep.

I mean, I get it. I don’t think he does.


I used a dunk calculator, required arm length, height and weight. It showed that Phil needed nearly twice as much explosive power as a average NBA player.


Anything is possible … you just got to believe


Seriously underestimating.

I could dunk a miniball or volleyball when I was 18 and still 5’10ish. I never did a squat in my life at that point and I weighed somewhere around 190. I just played a lot of basketball growing up in Indiana, which meant a lot of jump drills. I ran and jumped a lot in general. I rode my bike everywhere so I had strong legs. I have long-ish arms too.

I could barely palm a full size basketball and I didn’t have the hops to dunk two-handed, so I was definitely not an in-game dunker. But I played with plenty of guys my height who could. At least 4 that I can specifically recall right now. It was not an uncommon feat in a state where probably 1/2 of the males played basketball seriously or semi-seriously at some point in their lives.


definitely an asset, probably why I could still dunk little balls while being a shitty athlete, lol. my arm span is about 6’2.


I know zero about basketball, It’s more an American thing. Its more football and rugby over here. All I know for me to get a dunk I’d need a ladder.


Long arms are good for blocking shots out of nowhere too, not to mention the most likely reason that the deadlift has always been my best lift.

Incidentally, I’m up to 6’00 now, almost 39 and around 270 with somewhere around a 500-ish squat if I were to test it. My old fat ass can’t grab the rim anymore, but I can still get my fingers maybe 2 or 3 inches from the rim. I’m still athletic enough to take my 18 year-old kid to school every time we play pick-up ball, but I also do things like move my ass, swim, play basketball and do jiu jitsu a few times per week, which is another great way to move well overall. Having a much improved base of strength helps me in all of those activities.

The notion that strength training or even pure bodybuilding will somehow diminish athleticism is laughable for most people. It goes without saying that most high-level basketball players wouldn’t perform better with 80lbs of muscle mass on their bodies. Or a marathon runner. Or an endurance cyclist. Almost everyone outside of high-level athletes in specific sports will generally become more athletic with a better base of strength and adding muscle mass. Big shocker there.


for sure. And even a lot of NBA athletes work to add bodyweight after college. Guys like KD and Curry, and actually even MJ are good examples of this.

Also kind of tangentially: it’s interesting to see how bodyweight varies throughout big guys careers. Tim Duncan is the first guy that comes to mind as someone who intentionally added bodyweight in the middle of his career, and that intentionally lost it a few years later to help with the longevity of his career. It’s definitely a case by case thing whether it makes sense for some of these guys to add or lose muscle mass for different reasons. There are always pros and cons.


Giannis has gained over 50lbs since getting drafted and he’s crushing the league right now.