How can Monkeys Make us Stronger?

An interesting week. I have two reasons not to talk too much about my result at Vault Cardiff. The first one is I’m pissed off at myself. The last two weeks I’ve written blogs on the importance of focus and of state management, yet I get to the competition and completely throw all this out the window. Pumping music and good competitors, excellent for arousing me, rubbish for me focussing on the technical components of my jump. The plus side is I opened at one of my highest bars ever, 5.05 and cleared it, the negatives being that my execution was worse than this guy. But re-focussed for this weekend now, Sainsbury’s British Championships here we come, live feed all weekend here for those interested in watching. (Not exactly all weekend, Saturday 8 February 15:30 – 19:00, Sunday 9 February 12:00 – 16:30)

The second reason I’m not going to talk about it too much is because my brother told me not to. Now generally as a rule of thumb, I would do the exact opposite of the advice given to me by my younger sibling, but whether he’s maturing or he was just drunk when I talked to him, he seemed pretty spot on this time.

Interview Technique

If you’re in a job interview and you’re asked a question like “Describe a time you had to use your leadership skills”, what the interviewer is really looking for is about 20% of your answer to describe the situation or story of this time, and 80% of the answer to discuss the application or how you did it. Generally people will get this wrong and go on 80% of the story part and only 20% application. You’re missing the point, and apparently so am I.

This is my new rule of thumb, I’m going to try and stick to 20% story and 80% application, or in my case, 80% crazy unprooven ideas on training and nutrition. And to that end, monkeys.


What makes chimps stronger than us? I was thinking this the other day, they’re 95% genetically identical to us and yet are so much stronger. In the good old days I could’ve wondered about this for ages, but luckily now we have Google, so I had an answer 10 seconds later.

I also found this on my google search, productivity was quickly halted
I also found this on my google search, productivity was quickly halted

Although some figures state numbers of 8 times stronger than a human, some studies show numbers more like two times. Not as impressive as first thought, but as an athlete if I could double my strength I’d be fairly confident of some performance improvement in my event, so I continued reading… They think that the strength difference comes from the nervous system, the chimps don’t seem to have the same capability for fine motor tasks which leads experts to believe that somewhere along the line we sacrificed some of our top end strength in order to carry out more delicate tasks. The chimps seem to have a more all-or-nothing type muscle contraction.

Now I found this interesting because you actually see this difference in human between limbs. In the jump events of athletics, it is common to categorize one leg as the “strong leg” and one leg as the “coordinated leg”. There are benefits of using each leg for different jumping events  depending on the take-off requirements. Similarly in soccer (wait, did i just say that? I clearly spend too much time reading articles written by Americans) you will tend to kick the ball with your “coordinated” leg allowing for refinement of ball placement, better targeting etc. and your stance leg will become the “strong” leg, a more gross motor task of just staying rigid and strong

But this started me thinking again, would we really evolve to have a different nervous system on each side of the body? Or has the coordinated leg become so because early on in our lives we had to select a leg for a more fine motor skill. Arbitrarily you picked one. From that point onwards you’ve been limiting your maximal strength gains in that limb because of its use in coordinated skills? Every time I bring a cup to my mouth am I limiting my bicep growth? Every time I complete another water-colour painting of the sun set have I limited the strength capabilities of my delts?

Probably not, but maybe.

See, I listen to constructive criticism. So please let me know if you like or don’t like what I’m doing here. Plus sharing on facebook or twitter or anywhere else really helps me out if you liked what you read.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s