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Would you rather look like a Sprinter or a Marathon Runner? by Matthew Romans

Our modern society often uses pictures of athletes to depict how the ideal physique should look. "ESPN the Magazine" dedicates one issue per year (called "The Body Issue") to showing pictures of semi-nude athletes striking various athletic poses. Whether this is done in good or poor taste is debatable; everyone has their own opinion. One can also question the wisdom of using a genetically superior, but infinitely small percentage of the population as the gold standard to achieve. However, if you could wave a magic wand and magically transform yourself into one of two types of track athletes, which would you choose? Would you rather look like a sprinter or a marathon runner?

Let's get some historical context. In the 1940s a classification system was designed to classify three body types known as somatotypes: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. The ectomorph described a body type that was skinny, weak, and usually tall. The mesomorph was classified as hard, muscular, and thick-skinned. Finally, the endomorph characterized a person who was short, fat, and had trouble losing weight. While most people were not purely one somatotype or another, most people were thought to show more characteristics of one particular type over others. It should be noted that these somatotypes are very rarely used anymore. That being said, if you were to stand a sprinter and a marathoner side by side, you would see a stark contrast in their body shape. Why are these two athletes so different?

Some basic muscle physiology is helpful here. For the sake of simplicity, there are three types of muscle fibers in the human body: slow twitch, fast twitch and intermediate. Slow twitch fibers fatigue slowly and are low on force production; fast twitch fibers fatigue quickly and produce high amounts of force; intermediate fibers share properties of the two. The bodies of sprinters tend to have a higher preponderance of fast twitch muscle fibers than other athletes.

Of course, there is such a thing as selection bias, which means that people seek out activities or sports at which they excel and are most physically suited. Mesomorphs likely select sprinting, weight lifting, etc. Ectomorphs would typically select distance running. You don't start looking like an Olympic sprinter just by running sprints, just as you don't get taller by playing basketball. Both elite sprinters and distance runners are incredibly genetically gifted. Just because we may look physically similar to one or the other doesn't mean that we can do what they do.

Activities that are of lower intensity, but longer duration (like distance running) use a greater percentage of slow twitch fibers. Events that are of higher intensity, but shorter duration (like weight training) will use more fast twitch fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers are more prone to growth than slow twitch fibers.

Why is Total Results exercise superior as a form of exercise? Regardless of what activity you pursue, muscle fibers are recruited sequentially based on demand. If the activity is of low intensity, only the slow twitch fibers will be recruited. Generally, only slow twitch, and possibly some intermediate twitch fibers will be involved in steady state activities like walking and jogging. If the demand is high, then slow twitch fibers will be recruited, followed by intermediate twitch, and finally fast twitch fibers. Fast twitch fibers have the greatest capacity for growth, and going to momentary muscular failure with Total Results exercise protocol is the most effective way to inroad all of your muscle fibers and grow larger, stronger muscles throughout your body.

Muscle is the type of tissue that has the greatest positive impact on your body's shape. The Total Results exercise protocol will also boost your metabolism and your immune system. On the other hand regular steady state activity can compromise your immune system and lead to low-level infections. Regular jogging or distance running also promotes sarcopenia, which is muscle wasting (note: this is why champion marathon runners look so frail). This loss of muscle leads to a decrease in basal metabolic rate, which can lead to the body storing fat. It also leads to a decrease in functionality and a greater risk for injury. With regular steady-state activity, it's not really a question of if you're going to get injured, but rather, when.

Which of the athletes looks healthier to you: the marathoner or the sprinter? Marathoners often look emaciated and sickly; sprinters usually look muscular and powerful. While the vast majority of us do not have the genetics to be either elite sprinters or marathon runners, you can maximize your genetic blueprint and your lean muscle mass with regular Total Results exercise. You will build muscle, lose body fat, protect against injury and ward off chronic disease with less than one hour of exercise per week. Why put it off?

Start your journey today.

Posted February 25, 2020 by Tim Rankin