Take Up a Sport to Get in Shape – Everyone knows someone who’s a keen amateur or casual sportsperson. Everyone knows someone who takes it very very seriously, and is in great shape because they live and breathe their chosen sport. These people, unfortunately, give rise to a logical fallacy that is commonly embraced by the rest of the world when it comes to improving body composition and physique. After all, look at these elite athletes you see competing at the Olympics, who wouldn’t want to be in great shape like them?
This fallacy is further reinforced in the beginning, when you begin practicing and playing your chosen sport, and you begin to see some changes. Your body responds to nothing better that inefficiency. If you’re performing an activity you’re not yet very good at, you will see greater physical adaptation that once you master it and begin improving your performance. You see great changes in the beginning, but they quickly fall off, and all too often no-one can tell you why.
Take Up a Sport to Get Better at That Sport – So, your friend (the one we were talking about in the last paragraph), may well be in great shape. He may also play soccer on weekends, but there’s a good chance that this relationship might not be as causative as you think. What I mean by that is that if you take up soccer, you’re not guaranteed to develop a physique like his. Here’s how it works; your friend (let’s call him Tim) loves his soccer. He works during the week and he plays a game each weekend. In order to be prepared for the game he attends practice twice each week, and in order to be in shape he hits the gym a couple of times each week on top of that. Tim does play soccer, but he’s also training very hard, and eating a diet that’s consistent with his training and sporting goals.
So, maybe, maybe if you emulate Tim you’ll start to look a little like he does. Why is this still not a guarantee, though? Leaving aside for a moment the fact that everyone is different, and no-one can predict how the same stimulus will manifest in an individual body (we can guarantee muscle growth, or fat-loss perhaps, but not exactly how it’s going to look when we grow it or lose it), what is Tim actually training for?
Tim is training to be better at soccer. He is training his body to perform the tasks required to make him an asset to his team. That’s his goal. Sure, he’s lean, sure, he’s got some tone, but if his body was getting better at soccer and the upshot was that he looked like he spent his life sitting on the couch, he would still be training for the same goals. Tim loves soccer.
If your goal is to change your body composition, then training to improve at a sport isn’t necessarily going to do that. It might help, but it’s not the goal of the training, it’s an incidental side effect. The moment these two goals diverge (soccer is a good example of this, often soccer players have to run large distances over the course of a game, this can interfere with muscle mass, which can negatively affect metabolism and promote fat storage, so in the off season it’s much easier to store fat), you are required to chase a goal that wasn’t your objective.
Decide what your goal is, and gear all of your training towards it.
This Doesn’t Mean We Don’t Use Sporting Protocols in Our Training – Did you see Usain Bolt competing at the Olympics? Yeah, he’s the fastest man on Earth. The fastest man in history, no less. Now, once again, all of his training has been geared towards this goal, and a mixture of endless dedication and genetic predisposition has gotten him there. In terms of body composition, did he have to make a sacrifice in order to get where he wanted to go? The answer is that I don’t know. I have no idea what kind of body shape he might have wanted had he not been a sprinter. He is, however, enviably lean, and this is a direct upshot of his training.
High intensity interval training, which improves your performance at short-distance running (and almost everything else for that matter), also happens to be an awesome way to burn fat. This doesn’t, however, mean that you should find out what Usain Bolt’s training protocols are and try to emulate them. They’re designed for him, for his needs, towards his goals. You could, though, take the best from them for your own needs. He no doubt performs some level of resistance training to prevent against injury, meanwhile your resistance training needs to be geared towards muscle synthesis to up the metabolism, but when you perform your conditioning (less frequently than our hero), short distance running at high speed is great for fat burning.
Take what works best for your goals and leave the rest. Don’t get caught up in the training protocols of people who are training towards a different purpose to yours.
Have a great week guys,
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