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The Why Exercise (Part 3)

Welcome back everyone! Have you been looking forward to the next installment in this series? I hope so. This third part will cover the physiological effects of why exercise should become, if not already, a part of your daily routine.

For those of you that may not be familiar with terminology, by physiological I mean what actually happens to the muscles during exercise. At some point in your life you have most likely seen people that have tons of muscle while others don't. Why does this occur you ask?

There are many reasons. Some of which are not safe or smart so those I will not be talking about here. In a future post when I cover the topic of supplements, I will briefly touch on them. But for now, it will be limited to the more natural approach.

A great deal of why we look the way we do comes from our genetic makeup. Quite often I hear of people "taking after their parents" or "following in their footsteps." This is especially true of high level athletes. You may also hear the term "natural ability" used from time to time. Is it that they were just born to be a great cyclist, gymnast, runner or swimmer, etc? Well...actually...yes.

While we don't get to choose our parents, they do play a fairly large role in eye, hair and skin color, height, and amount of muscle that shows on the surface. Each parent has dominant and recessive genes they can potentially pass to an offspring. What many don't realize is muscle type is one of them. Muscle type you ask? Aren't there only two...big ones and little ones?

Well...yes...sorta. There are indeed two types but they are classified as fast twitch and slow twitch. Depending on what kind you were born with determines what your athletic (or not athletic) capabilities will be. For this reason you will see generations of individuals that participate in the same or a closely related sport. The NFL Manning family is an example of that.

Typically fast twitch muscles allow for short bursts of exercises such as sprints or sports that change direction quickly like basketball, power lifters and volleyball, whereas slow twitch, on the other hand, are seen in endurance athletes such as cyclists, distance runners and swimmers. However, being that there is an exception to every rule, this doesn't mean that because you were born with let's say fast twitch muscle fibers that you'll drown; you may just have more difficulty swimming the English Channel than someone with slow twitch muscles.

Being that you have two parents, and four grandparents, and eight great-grandparents, etc., etc., you could also be born with a little of each type in which case your potential to become a multi-dimensional athlete increases.

Although, you are born with more of a certain type, neither are developed w/o effort. Here is where phase two comes in to play...that of making them strong enough to be seen externally and getting that toned look we all desire. As you exercise, you break down small muscle fibers (called myofibrils). Assuming these myofibrils have enough rest between workouts and proper recovery fuel, they begin to heal by creating new muscle tissue which increases the density (how close together the fibers are) of the overall muscle. The more dense a muscle is, the stronger it becomes until eventually it reaches a point where it starts "popping out." This is what you see on a normal muscular person.

With this being said, incorporating a multi-faceted workout plan that trains both muscle types and includes both cardio and weights is beneficial to the physiological aspect of why everyone should get up, get out and get moving. Join me next week for the last chapter of this series where I discuss why a partner or group can help achieve fitness goals. Until we meet again...

"Start every day thinking of your why."

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