This text is from Racing Weight, Matt Fitzgerald’s confirmed weight-management program designed particularly for endurance athletes.
It’s the obvious cause. We’ve all felt the heaviness that comes with fatigue whereas working or using uphill. Swimmers which have to maneuver bigger limbs get drained extra shortly, too.
Competitors for Oxygen
Some of the essential underpinnings of endurance efficiency is the power to ship oxygen to the working muscle groups at a excessive price. As body-fat ranges go down, cardio capability goes up, as a result of muscle has much less competitors from fats tissue for oxygen and gas.
The first perform of physique fats, in fact, is insulation. An athlete’s capability to dissipate warmth is a vital efficiency consider all types of long-distance racing. Whereas this capability is partly a perform of the ratio of physique floor space to physique quantity, this ratio is smaller in greater athletes. So extra physique fats impedes warmth dissipation. It’s simpler to remain cool on an extended experience on a sizzling summer season day when you’re very lean.
Fats-Burning vs. Carb-Burning
Certain, heavier athletes have extra mass to maneuver, however physique fats isn’t simply useless weight. Fats is a metabolically energetic organ that impacts train metabolism in essential methods that aren’t but absolutely understood. One factor we do know is that athletes with bigger quantities of physique fats burn much less fats and extra carbohydrate at decrease train intensities. For the reason that physique burns carbs throughout racing however can solely retailer small quantities of carbs, much less lean athletes will burn by means of their worthwhile carb shops earlier than leaner athletes.
Lighter cyclists can speed up extra effectively. Good criterium riders are sometimes smaller riders who can match surges within the race extra shortly than others.
Swimmers with heavier limbs have to make use of extra power to maneuver their legs and arms.
However small athletes are sometimes on flat programs. Why? Inertia and hydrodynamics.
In swimming, the quickest athletes are usually tall and rangy as a substitute of broad. Their narrower our bodies current much less frontal space within the water, making them extra hydrodynamic.
However Get This…
Extra fats hurts efficiency, however extra muscle is in actual fact much more detrimental as a result of it’s much more dense, which is why we’re as unlikely to see a muscle-bound Tour de France winner as an overweight one.
However what constitutes extra muscle may be very completely different from what constitutes extra physique fats since muscle is the engine of motion whereas physique fats makes no contribution to endurance efficiency past offering power for low-intensity train. Even the skinniest runner carries sufficient physique fats to gas 24 hours of steady train.
Too A lot Fats Is Unhealthy for Athletes in Many Methods
Not solely are top-level athletes fairly lean, but in addition physique composition is a superb predictor of efficiency in any respect ranges of endurance sports activities.