Monday, August 14, 2000


Body mass has little to do with limb length

By David Patania

        Question: I am getting ready to start a program to build muscle mass. I am concerned because I have very long arms and have heard that people with long limbs have less success gaining muscle mass. What is the scoop?

        Answer: The scoop is that you can't believe everything you hear. It is true that people with short limbs have leverage on their side but that has nothing to do with your ability to add muscle mass. People who are shorter in stature have the appearance of gaining more muscle mass because they are more compact. When it comes down to measuring actual muscle pounds gained, the results differ only slightly between short- and long-limbed people.

        To add muscle mass you should adhere to a routine that is based on proper nutrition, hard work and consistency. Although it is very helpful to read and listen to other opinions and beliefs regarding fitness, go on your own journey and see what works best for you. Everbody is different and we all respond to training in different ways. Get in the gym, train hard, eat nutritiously, and you can't lose.

        Q: I starting going on long bicycle rides four to five days per week starting in May and find myself totally drained. What is causing this?

        A: This is a classic case of over-training. This is when people do an activity so much that it has a negative effect on the body such as fatigue, sleeplessness and muscle soreness. To avoid this, try to switch the intensities and duration of your rides.

        Rather than going for super long rides every day, try shorter rides that raise the heart rate higher than it would on long rides. Or do a shorter ride that has a lot of hills to increase your pedal power. This will keep your body guessing, which in turn keeps it fresh and less repetitive. Even professional bicycle riders have the problem of over-training. Most professional riders are either on their bikes or resting because bicycling takes a lot out of the body.

        However, bicycling is one of the best activities to be involved in as long as you give yourself ample rest and a wide array of training techniques.

        Dave Patania, a certified personal trainer, welcomes your questions. at


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