T Nation

Muscle Mass Pros and Cons


Another thing to consider is that guys who have a strength advantage tend to employ said advantage, and when it works, it’s great, but when it doesn’t, it’s not so great.

If you can Bob Sapp piledriver a dude and kill them, that’s pretty cool. HOWEVER, the amount of struggle and strain it takes to set that up is MASSIVE compared to a more conventional way to end a fight. Guys who try to overpower/outmuscle their opponents wear out quickly because it’s an exhausting way to fight compared to someone that is a little more strategic, picks their shots, rests when it’s time to rest, etc.

Take any guy in combat sports with great conditioning and have them wail on a bag for a full 3 minute round and they will be huffing wind. It’s just not a very intelligent way to fight if you wanna last a long while. HOWEVER, if you’re 300lbs of muscle, those 3 minutes might be all you need, and you MAY even be able to overcome a better fighter simply because they aren’t equipped to handle that much abuse in such short order.

We saw this with Mariusz. No one is going to question his conditioning, but his approach to fighting in the early days was just exhausting. Great when he could bully an opponent, but as soon as he ran into anyone that could withstand the charge, he got too gassed. He’s gotten smarter now, with a better record. Meanwhile, Bob Sapp still just goes with the 30 second bulrush and then lays down.


Try fighting this guy lolll. 435Kg squat, 400kg deadlift, 265kg Bench


That’s a great way to put it. I had been struggling to find a way to verbalize this, as it’s my primary concern with BJJ/grappling. I really struggle with “muscling” techniques instead of maintaining proper position. When I roll with higher level guys I either (a): gas out very quickly by going to my strengths or (b): struggle with anything offensively. I need to just relax and be tapped more in friendly gym rolling, but my pride struggles.


My conditioning and overall work capacity is probably the worst it’s been since starting BJJ 2 years ago (when I used to swing an 88lb kettlebell like a madman and lift weights several times per week), but I can roll longer than I’ve ever been able to. My instructor and I will roll for an hour straight when it’s just the two of us. I’m gassed by the end, but my whole approach is different than when I started. Back then I would be smoked after a couple rounds of all-out effort in the absence of organized responses to what’s going on.

Some of the younger, more fit guys have told me I’ve got a great gas tank for being an overweight guy coming up on 40, but I don’t. I just don’t use any energy without having a purpose behind it anymore, plus I’m much more aware of when I’m safe and when I’m not. I’ve made a lot of strides on my stand-up work lately, where I’m learning to relax while defending grips, takedown shots and staying balanced while choosing my moment and set-ups more carefully. Guys can really burn out fast if they’re trying to muscle you to the ground or hitting you with sloppy shots that are easy to stuff.

Struggling with another person takes a lot of energy, and it’s definitely not as easy to measure your gas tank as, say, figuring out who can go longer on all-out kettlebell swings or a sled.

I’m still betting on 20 extra pounds of muscle guy.


One other thought just popped into my head.

If we’re considering our “gas tank” in a fight to be how much work we can sustain, a measure like this is biased against the stronger person. Without knowing all of the numbers involved, you probably did a LOT more work than the other guys.

Strength is something we can tap into by choice in most situations. Let’s forget about the hypothetical "both guys lift the same, but one has 20lbs of muscle more) and go with something more realistic. You squat around 500, if I recall correctly. Let’s say the next strongest guy you’re training MMA/BJJ with can squat 365, which would be a very respectable squat in any BJJ gym I’ve been to.

Now let’s put 185 on the bar, which is probably an average male weight. You could probably hit at least twice the reps the 365lb squatter could. The effort needed to move 185 isn’t remotely taxing for a 500lb squatter until you start hitting really high rep counts. The beanpole with “great cardio” would be smoked in single digit reps if his max was 225. You could measure someone’s ability to move 185 pounds in any variety of lifts, and the stronger guy will be able to move it more times and over a longer duration. 185lb bench, strict press, deadlift, sandbag over bar, you-name-it. Stronger guy will do more work.

Now who has the bigger gas tank? Who can do more work?


I get ya, I think the problem relates to the initial point @T3hPwnisher made. Since the technique/strategy of being strength dominant is more draining than being technical, I tire regardless. Even if I’m in better shape than my opponent, it may not translate to having what one would typically consider a conditioning advantage.

I think the sets for dips broke down something like this:
Me: +100×10, +75×15, +50×15, +25×20ish, bwx5
Other person(s) : +75×10, +50×10++25×20, bwx20+
I understand that I did more work, but I’m also a lot stronger at loaded gym-type movements. I don’t know if either of them had done weighted dips in a significant amount of time if ever, but still handled a significant number of reps during the last set. Like I said though, might just be a pacing thing.


Yes I’m definitely in agreement here. I think having more muscle on your frame means that 100 percent effort will use up more oxygen more quickly than 100 percent effort from a guy who is equal in all respects (including technical) but somehow 20lbs of lean mass lighter.

That and BJJ/MMA guys tend to be in pretty good shape overall. Those numbers are not surprising at all to me. If you just did bodyweight across the board I’m pretty sure you’d be way ahead.


True, especially with upper body movements. Striking, I think, develops more strength than I originally thought. Also, the abundance of pushups associated with that type of training. Sadly, their squats were less than stellar though.