April 28, 2011

Try what is hard:

Most people tend to stick with what is easiest in fitness as well as life. For example, if you are flexible there is a good chance you enjoy yoga, though you may need it less than someone who is stiff.  On the other hand, you may find endurance type activities such as running or biking way easier than lifting weights or sprinting.  However, if you stick with what is comfortable, you will eventually find yourself in a rut, making results very hard to come by.
Our muscles are made of a mix of “fast twitch” and “slow twitch” fibers.  Slow twitch fibers can contract below their maximal strength for long periods, whereas fast twitch fibers will contract at maximum intensity for a short period.   We are born with either a predominance of high twitch or slow twitch fibers.  If you have more high twitch, you may enjoy weight lifting or sprinting more than aerobic or endurance type activities.  Marathon runners probably have a high percentage of slow twitch fibers.
This does not mean someone with a high percentage of slow twitch fibers must stick with endurance activates.  You cannot change your muscle fiber percentage, but that does not mean you are doomed to only one type of activity.  Practice and repetition will help your body adapt, and if you stick with it, you can be successful going against your genes.
In a similar way, if you consider yourself uncoordinated you might shy away from group aerobic classes and choose to spin or plod away on the treadmill.  Most gyms and studios have a “klutz friendly” class where no one will notice your two left feet, (or at least pretend not to notice).  Zumba classes are known for being easy to follow, and many fitness instructors are skilled at helping everyone feel comfortable in any class.  Try something new:  Our minds and bodies crave variety, and the best way to shake up your routine is to try something different.  I am not saying to give up what you love, or to slave away at an activity you hate, but if you push out of your comfort zone, you may see your body respond in a positive way.   Who knows, if you stay with it long enough for your body to adapt, you may find you enjoy the new activity as much as the old.

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