For years, I’ve been hearing claims that fitness methodologies such as Yoga, Pilates, and the more recent Bar Method create “long, lean muscles.” While I realize that much of these claims just amount to marketing terminology aimed at targeting naive women, I can’t help but think that many of the zealots involved in these regimens actual believe their own claims. Let’s examine the facts.
1. Muscles Have a Fixed Origin and Insertion Point
You can’t change where muscles begin and end – these are anatomically predispositioned. I suppose that if you badly break a bone, you could end up with shorter muscles after healing. And I recall stories of Russian sports scientists surgically breaking and reattaching muscles at different lengths along the bone with their experimental athletes to see if it altered their athleticism. Longer muscle moment arms have better leverage, can create more torque, and are better suited for strength, but shorter muscle moment arms shorten more rapidly and are better suited for speed, so there is a trade-off (THIS article addresses the relationship). But tampering with attachment points negatively impacts coordination, which is vital for sports performance, so to my knowledge this experimentation was quickly discarded.