Roy 'Big Country' Nelson: Don't judge a book by its' cover
Every time I see Big Country compete, I am impressed that he can get such a high level of production out of that body. Roy Nelson is a perfect case study to better understand cardiovascular fitness or what MMA fans commonly call ‘cardio’ or ‘gas’ (Please no fart jokes).
Roy Nelson’s ample body and belly cause many viewers to make a common mistake. They make a direct correlation between physical appearance and cardiovascular fitness. As counterintuitive or backward as it may seem, significantly overweight people can have impressive cardio and thin and/or muscular, well defined people can have terrible cardio.
Why? - Because cardiovascular fitness measures the body’s ability to take in, distribute and use oxygen (Center for Disease Control).
Cardio is primarily a measure of the heart’s ability to efficiently pump blood and oxygen to the muscles. It is not a measure or function of physical appearance.
To properly assess cardiovascular fitness a serious athlete will undergo a test called VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake). Everyone has seen an endurance athlete on TV running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike with EKG pads/wires hooked to them and with what looks like a snorkel coming out of their mouths. That’s the VO2 max test. (I could get fairly technical here but I’ll assume that we’ve all got better things to do)
Simple test- Briskly walk up 3 flights of stairs. If your heart is pumping hard, your head is throbbing or a bit light and/or you’re short of breath. Guess what? Your cardio isn’t much regardless how you look.
The follow-up question to me is- how good could Roy Nelson be if he shed those excess pounds? He would be quicker, more explosive and more athletic in general. Also if he carried significantly less weight his personal cardio would improve.
Ever wonder why the most elite heavyweight championship contests rarely go to a decision? It is extremely difficult for the big boys to keep up the pace for rounds 4 and 5. Therefore, they try to finish early.
Did you see how hard both Junior Dos Santos and Roy Nelson were breathing in the third round? I loved the fight but I was glad when it ended…and I think they were too.