Last week my friend sent me a video of herself doing presss up! Yes! the same friend who sent me a picture of her Back complaining about the non-existent or rather normal and healthy fat we all carry there.
My friend has been trying to eat better, and train smarter, so I have been obliging her with advice here and there. The first time she sent me a video of herself doing press ups she asked me to inspect her form and advise accordingly.
I’ve inserted a poor picture of my friend in press up mode below
A week after I gave her some pointers about her form, she sends me another video, this time her form was much better! But I couldn’t help but notice her amazing shape! Amazing for a mum of 3 who doesn’t lift weights! The definition she had was similar to someone who lifted weights consistently! Her waist was so tight and her bum looked like she squatted for days. I know for a fact that she doesn’t lift weights, but she runs on occasions and does the elliptical machine. And these are the least efficient or effective way to build muscles. I knew those two machines do not explain that body definition. And you know what? neither does her diet! I’ve known her a while, we spent too many times eating pizza express before I found healthy eating. She doesn’t eat much, but she doesn’t necessarily eat clean; biscuits and snacks her also her Achilles heel.
What explains her definition is genetics. Whether we want to hear it or not genetics plays an important role, not just in our shapes, (e.g whether we are pear or apple shape), but also in the ease with which we can develop muscle mass. I’ve been weight training for 5 years now, and my results are comparable to hers in some areas. Life is a bitch like that!!
A study that appeared in the International Journal of Obesity found that while you need physical activity in order to build muscle, people who have “muscular” genes require far less exercise than others to look fit. My friend has clearly won the genetics lottery, just like some win the lottery in height or even beauty. I have always known that if I wanted some ‘tone’ or muscle mass I’d have to work really hard, because even though I have always been slim, I’ve always been very soft, and after children I got softer. And research suggest that that softness gets worse after menopause, so that means training into my 50’s!!
So yes, genetics plays a role, but that’s not the be all and end all. Studies also suggest that while your genes may determine up to 80 percent of your weight and body shape, environment and personal choice still play a significant role. I haven’t got my friend’s genes, it simply means unlike her, I will have to pick up some weights! And I may just need to work harder on my lifts, and harder on the diets that will get me where I want .
The truth is at the end of the day, you’re in the driver’s seat of your own life. No matter what your genes or your environment might be, you can’t gain weight unless you’re taking in more calories than you’re expending (unless there is a medical condition, which is rare). You may not be able to change being apple-shaped, or get my friend’s natural muscle tone, but it’s certainly well within your power to be the healthiest, fittest ‘apple’ shaped possible and to develop some muscle with resistance training.