Density of Fat vs. Muscle & implications for Michigan

Submitted by StephenRKass on October 5th, 2010 at 11:05 AM

I enjoyed reading the diary by Blue Heron on the myth of Big 10 size ( A comment in the diary by CRex on body fat mass per conference got me thinking. While that level of data would probably be hard to compile, we can be reasonably sure that under Barwis, fat has decreased and muscle mass has increased.

According to The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 56:B191-B197 (2001), muscle is almost 20% denser than fat. If, in fact, Michigan lineman, both on offense and defense, have decreased fat content and increased muscle mass, say by 5%, I think that our lineman could appear smaller, but actually weigh the same as a lineman who had higher fat content.

This also doesn't account for changes in strength, agility, endurance, and stamina. I believe that both at the end of games and the end of the season, superior conditioning will weigh heavily in Michigan's favor.

I remember attending the 2004 Rose Bowl, and being struck by how our linemen were often winded, with their hands on their hips, manhandled by USC. I am so glad that under Barwis, we can look forward to Michigan playing hard and keeping up with any opponent they face.




October 5th, 2010 at 11:17 AM ^

In our offense, it is essential to get 1st and 2nd level blocks. Having quick, strong and agile lineman the reason we lead the nation in rushing. (Denard helps, but it's not 1 vs. 11)

Our lineman dictate the tempo and are laying the hits instead of receiving the blows from the linebackers and lineman. I think that as the season progresses, you'll see Michigan start to wear down these oversized lineman and linebackers because we're using their size against them. 

Additionally, dipping any offense player in Barwis' urine essentially makes them Ulysses. 

That is all. 


October 5th, 2010 at 11:31 AM ^

You can be pretty sure that mass increases are not strictly muscle. The players that gained a decent amount of weight added additional fat as well. That's just how it goes, unfortunately. Things to also take into account are fluid and glycogen retention at the time of being weighed. I would imagine guys of that size can have 10 pound swings in bodyweight depending of fluid/carb intake. Just something to consider

Also, I think you're worrying way too much about it. They won't appear smaller, you're splitting hairs at this point. And who's to say our o lineman have lower bf percentages than other programs? Do we have caliper numbers?


October 5th, 2010 at 11:55 AM ^

I'd say they could easily have a 10 lb swing in a day. (they being 300lb athletes)

I weigh around 195, and my weight can fluxuate about 5lbs any given day. Think about just hydration. If you have 4 - 8oz glasses of water (1 nalgene bottle) that's over 2lbs. You just gain the weight


October 5th, 2010 at 11:40 AM ^

Just speculation on my part. I do think that Barwis is paying more attention to this than Gittleson, but I don't think they would easily release this kind of data.

Harvest Wain

October 5th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

I don't know, but it's obvious Barwis is doing something right when you watch Patrick Omameh crushing people, then barely losing a step chasing Stonum down the field vs. UMass.


October 5th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^


If fat is more dense than muscle, that would be telling.  On the other hand, if muscle is more dense than fat, that would also be telling.

<assumes "The Thinker" pose>


Barwis is badass, but the advantage Michigan has over other teams (also using modern methods) has been greatly overstated.


October 5th, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

You can't say that! Barwis = God. But in all seriousness, the Guy can only do so much. Stamina wise, they look good. Other than that, I think they're about the same as they were before or nothing noticeablely different. FWIW, I have a buddy who walked on and is training with them now. We both lift competitively and some of the things the interns are telling my buddy about exercise form are questionable at best...