Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
It takes so much work and time to train to become outstanding at any endeavor that there are very few people who have risen to the top of the world's stage in more than one field. At age 26, Micheline Ostermeyer of France won Olympic gold medals in both the shot put and discus, and a third place bronze medal in the high jump. She was the niece of composer Lucien Paroche, and three months before the Olympic games she graduated with high honors from the Paris Conservatory of Music. She said that piano gave her strong biceps, and a sense of rhythm. She celebrated her victories with a recital of Beethoven at France's team headquarters and went on to become a famous concert pianist.
Her accomplishments compare with Paul Robeson, who was an All-American football player at Rutgers, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell and a great opera singers. Or Kent Wilson, who won the Ivy League two mile runs in 1954, 1955, and 1956 and in his senior year at Harvard won the the Putnam Competition, in which mathematicians take an examination that is called the most difficult intellectual test in the world. At age 27, Kent Wilson won the Nobel Prize in physics and today is professor of physics at Cornell.
How could Michelle Ostermeyer have the huge muscles needed to make her the best shot putter and discus thrower in the world, yet still have the coordination and power to finish third in the Olympic high jump and to become one of the best concert pianists in the world? In 1937, Dr. Peter Karpovich of Springfield College in Massachusetts published a ground breaking paper showing that lifting weights helped men and women improve coordination. At that time, his paper was ridiculed by most athletes in professional sports, because the prevailing belief was that lifting weights made you muscle-bound. Baseball players at that time never lifted weights because they thought it would interfere with their ability to catch and hit a ball. But violin players, watchmakers and others who require extraordinary coordination and dexterity to do their jobs should know that there is no such condition as "muscle bound".
Training for strength improves coordination. Your brain is a master switchboard that coordinates your muscles. Lifting weights does not interfere with brain function, it improves coordination in events that require strength, such as playing sports, working as a carpenter or beating drums. Strength training makes you faster. Muscles are made up of slow and fast twitch fibers. The slow-twitch, red fibers are used primarily for endurance, for running long distances or performing continuous work. The fast twitch, white fibers are used primarily for strength and speed. The same fast-twitch fibers that are strengthened by weight-lifting are used for speed, so the stronger your muscles are, the faster you can move them. Lifting weights will improve your performance in every sport that requires power. It can help you to run faster, jump higher, throw further and lift heavier.
Today, high jumpers do squats with heavy weights on their shoulders. Javelin throwers must strengthen their arms and legs, and sprinters have to strengthen their legs. To be great at almost anything, you must have innate talent, start training at a very young age, and devote seven days a week and twelve months a year to your chosen endeavor. Micheline Ostermeyer died October 18, 2001 in Rouen, France at age 78.