What does an athlete look like?
March 7, 2011 12:49 AM   Subscribe

What does an athlete look like? (via Hacker News)
posted by zanni (51 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hm. It says it is pictures of athletes, but it actually looks like pictures of 113 athletes and a baseball player.
posted by Justinian at 12:59 AM on March 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


I looked everywhere for that bottle of oil.
posted by Felex at 1:18 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The rhythmic gymnast who's standing on the TOPS of her toes makes my feet hurt.
posted by The Tensor at 1:41 AM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Great resource for illustration, thanks. :)
posted by Drexen at 2:01 AM on March 7, 2011


I like that Aimee Mullins was in there.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:22 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


When everyone is wearing clothes, the startling differences in physical form don't stand out so much. These were neat to look at. The weighlifters next to the body builders were particularly striking, and I had no idea that marathoners were so tiny.
posted by Forktine at 2:53 AM on March 7, 2011


I'm an athlete. Actually, I'm an all-around athlete who competes in many different sports. It's difficult to compete in a wide variety of sports, because training is different for different sports. For example, I competed in a weight-lifting tournament recently. For this, I had to gain twenty pounds, mostly muscle. Then I competed in a marathon, so I lost those pounds and built up my slow-twitch muscle fibers. After that, I took first place in an underwater endurance competition, lowering my basal metabolism rate while diving 200 m. Then I grew six inches to compete in a regional slam-dunk tournament. A few months later, I forced my body to assume the characteristics of a large Japanese man to take third place in a prominent Sumo event.

It's hard to be a versatile all-around athlete, but I do it because it makes me feel better. Or bigger. Or smaller.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:09 AM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


The sumo wrestler got seriously gigantic feet. Never thought about it, but it makes sense that the size of them are critical. So the larger their feet the fitter they are!
posted by Catfry at 3:33 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the secret is a good greasing?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:34 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the case of Alonso Mourning, a little bit like Snoop Dogg.
posted by bwg at 4:00 AM on March 7, 2011


The potential for parody is staggering.

Nice post. The thesis of this reminds me of commentary I watched in some documentary - The Human Face^ with John Cleese, I think? - talking about how the ancient Greeks probably did not look much at all like ancient Greek statuary depicts. (or 300^)
posted by XMLicious at 4:08 AM on March 7, 2011


yeah, the differences between weightlifter, bodybuilder, and non-juiced bodybuilder were incredible.
posted by facetious at 4:09 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was really amazing, thanks for posting. I had no idea Allan Houston was that jacked; during his playing days he always looked so skinny.
posted by saladin at 4:14 AM on March 7, 2011


Brandon Slay and Lisa Leslie have the same underpants.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:28 AM on March 7, 2011


My all-around physique vote goes either to gymnasts or sprinters.
Man have I got some work ahead of me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:44 AM on March 7, 2011


It would appear from these photos that I have a way to go on looking like an athlete. Excellent photo series.
posted by arcticseal at 6:03 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


it seems that the most defining characteristic is the area below the abs and above the junk, i dunno what it's called technically i call it the awesome part i want to lick

these pics provide amazing perspective, thanks for sharing
posted by askmehow at 6:42 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not a single darts player!
posted by Abiezer at 6:50 AM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Very cool! The difference in body type was pretty astonishing. I live in Columbus Ohio, where there's this gigantic annual bodybuilding competition, the Arnold Classic. It's going on right now. We checked it out the other day... kind of freaked me out to be honest.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:32 AM on March 7, 2011


Also, I don't know if it's how she's standing or what, but I definitely expected Tara Lipinsky to have much more muscular thighs... she seems surprisingly trim for a figure skater. Go figure.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:36 AM on March 7, 2011


Why do the sprinters have so much upper-body strength? It almost feels like you wouldn't want to carry around the additional weight.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:38 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


fTFA: This is a photoshoot of various Olympic athletes

OK, I admit I don't actually watch the Olympics, so much as the recaps of bits that catch my interest, but... bodybuilding is an Olympic sport?

And, of course, "natural bodybuilding", which doesn't at all imply that the other kind is not possible without steroids...
posted by IAmBroom at 7:40 AM on March 7, 2011


The sprinter vs. long distance runner photo comparison is why I stopped trying to run long distances. I will never look like either in my time but I would much rather TRY to look like a sprinter than a distance runner.
posted by WickedPissah at 7:42 AM on March 7, 2011


You know, I'd really like to say something profound here, but all I can think is "Mmm, Alexi Lalas. I'd hit that."

Also, Patrik Elias and the discus guy on the far left.

INNNNNNNAPPROPRIATE!

posted by Madamina at 8:01 AM on March 7, 2011


Those cyber-legs on Aimee Mullins look awesome.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:02 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The scale on a few of these seems a bit off -- Tara Lipinski is only a foot shorter than the guys next to her, but appears about *half* their size.

Personally, my favorite is to see the crew teams standing next to their coxswains. In those, they usually *are* half the size of the rowers.
posted by schmod at 8:25 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those cyber-legs on Aimee Mullins look awesome.

I agree that she is indeed an impressive and sexy woman. I wonder though at the fetishists that she must attract.
posted by Fizz at 8:25 AM on March 7, 2011


I wonder if there is some utility towards selecting the athlete whose body yours most closely resembles, then looking up the associated sport as something you might more likely be "built for."
posted by adipocere at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2011


I wonder if there is some utility towards selecting the athlete whose body yours most closely resembles, then looking up the associated sport as something you might more likely be "built for."

This idea is intriguing but I've noticed that if you train for a specific type of physical activity or sport, certain attributes will be more pronounced regardless of your natural build up. I just recently started long distance running the past four or five months and I looked specifically at the long distance runners and marathoners. I've already noticed that some of their more pronounced muscles and body features are developing on my own.
posted by Fizz at 8:55 AM on March 7, 2011


twoleftfeet, I think you forgot "But I have not yet gone to college."

I agree the scale is really distorted and I find that annoying - that on one page, 2 folks within an inch height-wise are not at the same scale (ie the look to be 5+ inches different in height).
posted by k5.user at 9:04 AM on March 7, 2011


The scale on a few of these seems a bit off -- Tara Lipinski is only a foot shorter than the guys next to her, but appears about *half* their size.

I think the scale is off, but for the guy to the right, although he's 6'1" to her 5'1", he's got his skates on, which I'm sure adds some inches to his height, making him taller than the 6'2" guy to the right of him. She's also not standing up perfectly straight and her legs are akimbo, shortening her further.
posted by clerestory at 9:33 AM on March 7, 2011


They aren't all Olympic athletes (Khalid Khannouchi is a former WR holder in the marathon, but he has never been to the Olympics).

The picture that actually surprised me the most was of one of the footballers (i.e. soccer) who looked like an ordinary dude. I always assumed that the physical conditioning required would give you a pretty awesome physique, but I guess not in all cases.

Why do the sprinters have so much upper-body strength? It almost feels like you wouldn't want to carry around the additional weight.

So that they can accelerate out of the blocks as quickly as possible. They need muscle pretty much everywhere. It's distance runners who don't want the extra weight.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:46 AM on March 7, 2011


Muscles weigh a lot. If you are in a sport that requires you to be on the move for a long time you would want the body to weigh as little as possible in order to be able to sustain high speeds without running out of energy. Of course there's a trade-off since you also want the strength.
posted by Catfry at 10:03 AM on March 7, 2011


The guy in the first image, all the way on the right, is Rulon Gardner. From the GQ article about him:
Olympic hero Rulon Gardner has fallen off trucks, tumbled off tractors, and gotten stuck in a baler. He has been impaled on an arrow, broken his neck, and gashed his knee clean to the bone. He has survived several catastrophic high-speed accidents, endured a frostbitten night in subzero temperatures, and most recently, swam away (barely) from a plane crash in Lake Powell. In between, he pulled off one of the great upsets in sports history and became an American legend.
posted by AceRock at 10:21 AM on March 7, 2011


Shawn Crawford looks like some Aeon Flux character. Crazy.

It occurred to me that the practitioners of sports that routinely take place shirtless (all of them, nearly now that I think of it), or nearly so (basketball, wrestling) look all around better than practitioners of those that don't (soccer). The weightlifters being the exception. I wonder if that has to do with the vanity of the chronically shirtless, or the paleness of the chronically white and therefore lack of apparent definition.

Also, there exists a man named "Breaux." :(
posted by cmoj at 10:46 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember this, except the version I saw was of just some of the female athletes in the collection. It was meant as an example for women, demonstrating that working out and training does not necessarily equate to the "fitness model" look.

At the time I kinda wanted a similar example for men. I'm glad to see a nice side-by-side look at all the photographs and models in one place.
posted by CancerMan at 11:06 AM on March 7, 2011


It occurred to me that the practitioners of sports that routinely take place shirtless (all of them, nearly now that I think of it), or nearly so (basketball, wrestling) look all around better than practitioners of those that don't (soccer).

Nah. If you stripped down some of the Winter Olympic althletes you would see some good looking, very-low-bodyfat bodies. Also uniforms are utilitarian, and decoration comes secondary.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:13 AM on March 7, 2011


I wonder if there is some utility towards selecting the athlete whose body yours most closely resembles, then looking up the associated sport as something you might more likely be "built for."

Heh, I thought about doing just this since I have a similar body type as the gymnastics. What stopped me is being way above the bone-setting age.

I <3 these pictures. It's sooo interesting to see the different body types; especially the differences between the runners! Wow!
posted by biochemist at 12:28 PM on March 7, 2011


Shane Hamman, the powerlifter, really fascinates me: the guy has a BMI of 54 ('overweight' is 26 and above) but could apparently clean and jerk a car. And he looks like the conventional village blacksmith, or Obelix: BIG dude, and strong as hell.

All kinds of bodies can do amazing things.
posted by jrochest at 2:09 PM on March 7, 2011


It is fascinating to see what is an effective body type for different sports. Many of these people have bodies that are so different from what people would expect a fit person to look like.

Powerlifting and bodybuilding are most definitely sports. Spending 4+ hours a day lifting combined with a strict diet regimen ranks up there with some of the most classically respected sports. I question golf and NASCAR as being sports, but I do recognize that many of the best also adhere to a strict physical fitness plan.
posted by hellslinger at 2:40 PM on March 7, 2011


Many of these people have bodies that are so different from what people would expect a fit person to look like.

That's because some of them aren't actually fit in the sense we mean the word. Soccer players, for example, are hugely fit so long as they don't take too many blows to the head. Bodybuilders? Some of them are actually quite un-fit. And have you seen the mortality statistics for football players?
posted by Justinian at 3:41 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nah. If you stripped down some of the Winter Olympic althletes you would see some good looking, very-low-bodyfat bodies. Also uniforms are utilitarian, and decoration comes secondary.

I'm sure of that, but I doubt they'd take a coat of baby oil very well either.
posted by cmoj at 3:43 PM on March 7, 2011


I question golf and NASCAR as being sports, but I do recognize that many of the best also adhere to a strict physical fitness plan

Not sure about stock car racers, but in Formula 1 (probably most other series that primarily race on road tracks) neck strength is a key factor to being able to physically finish a race. Top Gear had a feature where they sent one of their hosts to drive several open-wheel racing cars, working his way up to Renault's then-current F1 car. He ended up only being able to complete two laps of the track (minuscule compared to the Grand Prix circuit) before his neck gave out.
posted by clorox at 5:13 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This rekindles my dreams of being a world-famous "Before" model.
posted by nickjadlowe at 5:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


With a challenging post title like that, I was prepared to be surprised more. It seems to me that an athlete pretty much looks like a traditional Greek god(ess), with a sliding muscle mass scale according to the needs of the sport. The only exceptions are some of the wrestlers, and the weightlifters. And the sumo dude, obviously.

How and why do weightlifters keep that extra fat on? I realize that there is an immense amount of muscle under there, but you'd figure that any olympic-level training regimen would burn any amount of fat off in short order.
posted by CaseyB at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2011


Hm. It says it is pictures of athletes, but it actually looks like pictures of 113 athletes and a baseball player.

Oh, har har. I'm happy to have lived long enough to see Carlos Delgado almost naked. Painting my Carlos (as a Jay) bobblehead brown wasn't cutting it.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 6:41 PM on March 7, 2011


Ok, so according to height, weight, and body fat percentage/distribution, I should either be a fencer, climber, sprinter, or a female body builder.
posted by porpoise at 6:52 PM on March 7, 2011


These are great. I'd love to see 360° turntable shots of these athletes similar to what 3d.sk(nsfw) provides. It would be a great reference.
posted by the_artificer at 7:07 PM on March 7, 2011


How and why do weightlifters keep that extra fat on?

How? Lotsa eatin'. Why? Why not. Assuming you are training properly, and unless you're in one of the lower weight classes, you might as well gain as much mass as possible. Fat isn't going to be detrimental to competition.

but you'd figure that any olympic-level training regimen would burn any amount of fat off in short order.

Those guys also have olympic-level ways of sitting-around-doing-nothing "training".
posted by P.o.B. at 8:49 PM on March 7, 2011


Oh, har har.

It's a reference to John Kruk's semi-famous quote when asked how he could be a professional athlete and still smoke, be kind of a pudge, etc. He said, "Lady, I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player."
posted by Justinian at 2:04 AM on March 8, 2011


How and why do weightlifters keep that extra fat on? I realize that there is an immense amount of muscle under there, but you'd figure that any olympic-level training regimen would burn any amount of fat off in short order.

I haven't checked into the sports science of it but I would think per simple physics that weightlifting burns drastically fewer calories than something like jogging, swimming, skating, walking or basically any exertion that involves moving your entire body over great distances.

For example, if you bench press 200 pounds, that's really hard to do because all of the work^ has to be performed by just your arms and upper torso; but if you also weigh 200 pounds then the bench press has only involved as much work^ as climbing a staircase three or four steps, right? (i.e. the same expenditure of calories as climbing up the staircase for whatever the length of your arms / distance the barbell moves is)

So then if you do that for 15 reps, depending on what kind of shape you're in you may be totally exhausted (if indeed you can bench press 200 pounds at all, I certainly can't) from your body reconfiguring itself and figuring out how to pump enough chemical energy to the muscles of your upper torso to pull it off and various other physiological effects from the exertion and dealing with the aftereffects. But the actual amount of energy / calories you've expended may be approximately the same as climbing one flight of stairs, multiplied by a small factor representing a difference in efficiency for the body to do work^ in those two different configurations. (A real flight of stairs, of course, as opposed to using a stair-stepping machine.)

None of this means that weight training is easy, it's just not aerobic exercise, the kind where you're stoking and testing the limits of your body's power plant; for an aerobic workout the objective boils down to "let's see how much fuel we can put through this system", but with weightlifting the throughput is at most a secondary goal or effect. (I'm pretty sure that my own body's power plant involves a hamster on a wheel somewhere behind my belly button, judging by how well I respond to aerobic exercise.)
posted by XMLicious at 3:06 AM on March 9, 2011


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