By now you’ve probably seen the infamous video of Christina Ricci spanking Carson Daly in a one-armed push-up contest. Upon watching this, my second thought – right after “Carson Daly has a TV show?!? – was “her arms do not look like she could pull those kinds of party tricks.” And yet she does four of them, in high heels no less.
Me being who I am, of course had to immediately hop on the floor to see how many I could bang out. I got six if you count anything that involved me moving up and down a little. I got maybe one if you’re judging on good form. Although to be fair, her form sucks too. Me? Competitive? Nah…
Christina proves that little arms can pack a big punch! Conventional wisdom says that muscle size is indicative of muscle strength but it turns out that the two are not always correlated. Case in point: In college I took an Aikido class in an effort to boost my self defense skills. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Aikido, it is a martial art based on doing forward and backward somersaults until your opponent gets so dizzy just watching you and that he falls over or until you puke, whichever comes first. Okay, so that’s how you do it if you’re really bad at it, which I was.
Our teacher, however, was very good at it. Sensei was a tiny little guy, maybe 5′ 4″ and a compact 120 pounds. But looks were very deceiving. He routinely threw men way over six feet tall and twice his body weight all the way across the room. The best part was that he smiled the whole time. If I ever have to die violently, I really hope he’s the one that kills me. (Did I really just write that??) He was just so nice as he flipped you backwards hard enough that your heart fibrillated on and off until finals. Plus he looked like he was barely moving. His opponents would be all lathered in sweat and his gi always remained perfectly tied and dry.
Lest you think it was all technique, Sensei was deceptively strong as well. He had very little obvious muscle mass and yet he literally bench-pressed his assistant – an overly enthusiastic guy who was 6’4″ 280 pounds and shared Sensei’s odd propensity for smiling through incongruous circumstances like, say, getting bench-pressed by an elf.
Dispelling time-honored body building lore, recent research suggests that muscle size is not indicative of strength. So if you are more interested in that ripped look, you’re better served by losing fat rather than trying to lift heavier to bulk up. Another less superficial conclusion is that just because you don’t have fitness model biceps doesn’t mean you aren’t strong. It’s all about what you can do. And if you can smile through it.
Photo Credit: PhotoshopDisasters