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"Doing more exercise with less intensity,"
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Tendon and Muscle Belly Length

Dave Price

New Jersey, USA

Dr. Darden I have read many of your books and I am fairly familiar with the topic of muscle length. As you have always noted individuals who have longer biceps for instance, will have bigger arms or more potential to gain mass.

However, I have seen trainees who have shorter to average biceps and there arms are fairly large. One old school bodybuilder that comes to mind in Clarence Ross.

He definitely has short biceps yet they were very large and strong. My misunderstanding is, how much does the tendon length really play in determining the size of ones muscles and in this case the biceps? Any information will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Dave Price
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I would tend to disagree with you with regard to Clarence Ross. If you look at photos of him while posing, his arms definitely lag behind the rest of his physique. He has short muscle bellies in both his biceps and triceps. While he did a good job of posing to minimize this weakness, it can definitely be seen in a front double biceps pose.
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Here is my take on it after 30+ years in the game.....

Tendon length/muscle belly length is very important and perhaps the most easily, visually observable, characteristic to spot in an untrained physique (provided they are lean enough in body fat to be able to see the muscle belly clearly).

Long muscle belly w/short tendon attachments is a very good advance predictor of ultimate muscle size. But it is not everything....

There is another factor that I call "muscle density" (for lack of anything better). I've never seen this written about, but I think we can all agree that certain people just have MORE muscle fibers than others. They were just born with it. And it may not have much to do with their tendon length.

Now (for example) let's say that you and I are both in an untrained state and have similar tendon/muscle belly length in our biceps. The only difference is that I was born with 10 million muscle fibers in my bicep and you were born with 16 million muscle fibers in your bicep. While we are in this untrained state, you will probably look a little bigger than me, but probably not hugely different.

But put us both into effective weight training and you will blow past me. Yes, we will both improve. But I will never approach what you are capable of. The reason is that our number of individual muscle fibers is fixed at birth and not subject to change.

So, to keep it simple, my 10 million will "swell up" to a certain size and then STOP (even a tree doesn't grow clear to the sky). But your 16 million will far surpass me.

I'm not saying it's fair...But who said that life is.

What is your take on this? My main point is that I don't think muscle belly length is "everything". I think we must be missing something....What is it?

Good training to all!
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Ellington Darden

Having a long muscle belly is the most important factor in the ultimate size of of that muscle. Also, a long muscle will have more fibers than a shorter muscle.

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