There is a lie that many of us like to tell ourselves when it comes to exercise: that lie is that different types of exercise will create different shaped muscles. It’s often touted that things like Pilates or Ballet will make long lean muscles, the kind of muscles we so covet of those pesky ballerinas. To counter that, it’s often thought that things like dead-lifts and the Smith machine will make Arnold-worthy bulges.
The sad, and often craptastic reality is that muscle shape is determined by genetics.
Sucks, I know.
I spent the majority of my formative years in a tutu, and yet I have legs like a linebacker. I blame my dad, I am the living, breathing, female version of my him. The family resemblance is really obvious when we wear shorts.
He’s pretty cute, right?
My mother, who is now well into her thirties (you’re welcome, Mom) has long lean arms and legs, my dad and I…not so much. Now that I’m older I’ve come to terms with my legs. I may not ever feel the urge to wear a mini-skirt, but my legs are strong and capable and I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished. Now, my upper body is another story. I have exactly the opposite problem. While a single lunge seems to be enough to have my hamstrings in prime shape, it doesn’t matter how many curls or pull-downs I do, my arms pretty much always look the same.
I’ve interviewed the paternal figure about it, and it seems that he suffered from the same problem back in his athletic days.
Am I doomed to a lifetime of strong legs and not-so-strong arms?
Probably, but with a wee bit of fidgeting with diet, supplements, and training I may be able to get a tiny bit of definition in my least cooperative of appendages. For the next few weeks I’m going to play around with my diet a bit, and I’m taking Branch Chain Amino Acid supplements. BCAAs are said to help to promote muscle growth and repair. I don’t usually do supplements but these ones seem relatively harmless, and I haven’t been able to find any real risks involved in their use.
So, if I’m eating more protein and taking silly pills over the next few days/weeks, don’t think I’m aiming for a complete lifestyle change–I’m just experimenting. I may not be able to change the shape my muscles come in, but I can at least try to show that shape off.
Do you have any body parts that just don’t seem to change, no matter how hard you work them?
Do you take any supplements?
Egg white omelet with spinach and goat cheese
The love of my life Coffee with almond milk
Strawberry protein shake (pre-workout)
I also had a chocolate protein muffin (post-workout)
Mini turkey meatloaf
Salad with tomato, cucumber, onion and beets
I had dinner at a class I was taking, salad and a vegetable wrap.
Exercise: Strength-triceps and chest, 35-min run, 35-min elliptical