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Musclebound Women                                                                  


describe the imageIt was assumed in the early era of weight training that athletes would develop inelastic overdeveloped muscles.  The condition was deemed 'musclebound'.  Becoming musclebound dominated the early conversations of strength training.

The newly created position of Strength and Conditioning Coach in the 1970's was dubious.  Strength Coaches not only had to introduce players to the rigors of weight training, but also had to assure the team coaches and athletes that weights would not slow the participant nor reduce his or her athleticism.  Part of the strength and conditioning specialists job was to debunk the concept of becoming musclebound.

There are still many myths about weight training and they will persist as each generation seems to revisit the same issues.

describe the image

Women in general fear becoming too big due to muscularity, especially in the head and neck region of their anatomy.  Conversely this is the very part of their musculature which will help them improve athletic performance and protect them against injury.


Ralph Cornweel Jr, a Doctoral candidate at Virginia Tech, gathered a group of courageous women from rugby, softball, dance, art majors and even a librarian  to participate in a study to strength train the Head and Neck musculature and dispel the myth about women becoming musclebound.


Exercising the lower trap on the Pendulum 3 Way Row

His goal was to use the same protocol with women that he had previously used in a study with men that elicited the remarkable gains of up to 4 inches in neck girth in 8 weeks.

After 8 weeks of training all the women who participated in the study had noteworthy strength gains without an increase of muscle size.


1 Arm Shrug on the Pendulum 5 Way Neck

"We did have a increase in circumference with one of the girls, a ballerina dancer. Her neck increased 1mm or 1/32 of an inch, 0.039 decimal inches.  She was okay with it.  All the girls are very unhappy the study is ending."

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Tags: and, concussion, conditioning, cornwell, female, medicine, neck, prevention, project, ralph, More…sports, strength, strong, study


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Comment by Jeff Diritto on March 15, 2012 at 2:52pm

Have these studies been published in the NSCA journals yet? I am putting together info on concussion prevention for my AD and some coaches and could use them.  keep spreading the good word about neck training!!


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