Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Ant, The Fly and The Importance of body Composition

Alright, during a previous workout I saw this ant carrying a fly, which was almost the same size as the ant. Grasping it in its mouth, I was in awe of the ants awesome strength and power. Its ability to move, rather quickly, carrying such a large object got me thinking about muscular strength and body control, not only in athletes, but also for improving quality of life.

In a literal sense the weight of your body isn't all that important. In fact, it only references how much force there is between you and the ground. You know this force well, its called gravity. Every particle of matter has gravity, we just are incapable of feeling it because of the relative strength of the earths' gravitational force. Realistically, you should be able to move the weight or your body with ease in a number of different directions and planes. Which means...body composition on the other hand, is very important in terms of the overall health and performance of your body. Simply put, body composition is the tissue make up of your body, and is usually categorized as lean mass (LM) and non-lean mass (NLM). LM incorporates just the muscle tissue in the body. Where NLM includes everything else: fat, water, organs, bone, and nervous tissue. A healthy body composition is a range from 8% - 25% NLM, with males being on the lower end of the spectrum. Having the muscle and coordination to control your own body weight is very important to increasing your quality of life. Here are a few things I feel everyone should incorporate in your lifestyle in a habitual manner.

Strength Training - Call it power lifting, Olympic lifting, circuit training, resistance training, P90X, Yoga, Pilates, Body building, Cross-fit, whatever...the purpose is to stimulate your bodies muscle cells to adapt in a way that allows for greater manipulation and control of the skeleton. Sure circuit training, P90X, and cross-fit improve the work capacity of muscle, body-building focuses more on the aesthetics of muscle, power and Olympic lifting improve the force output of muscle, yoga and Pilates improve the coordination between muscular and nervous systems. These are all specific adaptations imposed by the demands of each of these activities. Practice in each of these areas would ultimately give your muscles the best stimulation, but is probably not important to everyone's specific goals. Choose whats right for you, improving your weakest link first. If you've never strength trained before, be sure to start with simple non weighted exercises: squats, lunges, step ups, push ups, pull ups.

Following a consistent diet - consistent means 80 percent of the time. Include protein and vegetables with every meal. Eat whole grain carbs in proportion to your activity level. Have your fruits early in the day or following a workout. Drink enough water, at least 64oz a day. Get 25 - 50g of fiber. And incorporate plenty of mono and poly unsaturated fats, found in things such as olive oil, fish, nuts, and avocado.

Light to Moderate Cardio - just having an elevated heart rate (above 120 bpm) for 20 - 30 min each day can help to improve your body composition and your heart health.

For an athlete, being able to manipulate and control ones' body weight is critical to performance and reaching the elite levels of competition. Being able to put force into the ground and react to certain situations is the name of the game in almost any sport or activity. Muscular development and control is a must if you are serious about being a competitor.

Which do you want to be the Ant or the Fly?

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