When you first see a (male) fighter before he enters the ring, what’s the first thing you judge him on? Physical appearance. But…looks can often be deceiving. Some fighters might look tough on the outside, but when the bell sounds they can freeze or panic. On the other hand, you might have the most unassuming Thai fighters (who look completely out of shape and not at all like the definition of a fighter) who turn out to be absolutely killers in the ring.

The old idiom “Never judge a book by its cover” is very true in the world of fighting.

This fight between two heavy weights showcases what happens when you bulk up TOO much in the gym. In this day and age a lot of guys are obsessed with getting more muscle and size, not realizing that the added size actually works against them in a fight.

You see, size matters but skill matters more. Jacking up your beach muscles won’t help you become a better fighter.

There is a big difference between functional vs non-functional muscle when it comes to athletic performance. Yes, weight lifting (specifically STRENGTH TRAINING — see our article about the benefits of strength training for Muay Thai), can greatly benefit fighters (and in fact all athletes). However, pure bodybuilding does not provide the same benefits for athletes. The problem with body building is you put on muscle that has no functional purpose when you are punching or kicking. In fact, this muscle slows you down. You can see that here in the video — notice how much faster “Big Swiss” (the non-bodybuilder) is compared to his opponent.

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If you ever want to know how some of those big body builders you see on TV would do in a fight, this is a pretty good template as to what would happen. Although all that muscle might look impressive on a stage, such does not really translate into performance in the ring.

I’m not hating on bodybuilding, I truly do respect the hard work and dedication it takes for people to transform their bodies. As a sport, bodybuilding takes a lot of dedication and suffering and I respect that. But if you want to pursue bodybuilding, you should realize that the muscle mass isn’t going to translate into better ring performance.