Monday, September 24, 2018
Health

We can help shape how we look, despite genetics

Take a look around you and you'll see an endless range of body types: scrawny, lithe, pudgy, toned — even Hulk-like upper bodies paired with skinny chicken legs. We might tell ourselves we're fitter than one person because we're more dedicated or that we're scrawnier than someone else because of genetics. But how much of one's body shape is predetermined, and how much can we control?

"It's a bit of both," says Elizabeth Brooks, a personal trainer. "I've seen the most ectomorph person change their shape into a bodybuilder type." (An ectomorph body is generally lean, while endomorph is usually stockier. Mesomorph is muscular and athletic.)

Brooks continues: "Genetics gives us a certain base, but nurture is a huge part of how we look."

From an athletic perspective, genetics plays a part in determining what type of sport we might excel in, but there are also exceptions — athletes with extreme passion and discipline who overcome their physical baseline limitations. (Think Muggsy Bogues, an extraordinary 5-foot-3 NBA point guard in the '80s and '90s.)

No, you can't will yourself to be taller, but there are plenty of other things you can do to run faster, jump higher and respond more quickly. "There are more and more studies that show that the importance of genetics in determining sports specificity can be overshadowed by mental drive," says Eric Thomson, a sports medicine doctor.

So, what about the guy with the chicken legs?

"It usually has to do with not training properly," Brooks says. "A lot of guys will just work the upper body to get the big trapezius and shoulders and do nothing for legs."

Or they'll do the wrong things.

"Body-weight exercises are great for general conditioning, but to build strength and muscle mass, you have to add external loading," she says.

She suggests starting with high rep counts and lower weights and then eventually working up to low rep counts and higher weights.

To build calves, she recommends such drills as standing barbell calf raises and stair running.

On the flip side, though, there are people known as "nonresponders," who, no matter how hard they try, see no change in muscle mass or overall strength, says Max Prokopy, director of SPEED, a sports performance clinic at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

"Several studies indicate about 5 to 10 percent on each side of the bell curve will be 'nonresponsive' and 'hyper-responsive,' respectively," Prokopy says.

In other words, the hyper-responsive people are the ones we are all jealous of. They tone, slim and/or build easily.

And even if you are in the middle of the bell curve — you're the type who has some responsiveness to training — you still might have a hard time building muscle in a specific area of the body, Prokopy says.

It depends on the type of muscle fiber — fast-twitch (important for power and strength-building) and slow-twitch (important for endurance) — that is predominant in a certain muscle group.

"Certain muscles do seem to favor certain fiber types. For example, the biceps tend to be more fast-twitch dominant," Prokopy says.

But what if you're working out regularly and still not making significant gains? Can you blame your muscle fibers?

It's possible, but the issue is more likely nutrition-based, Brooks says. Achieving big muscles requires additional protein and, yes, calories. She recommends talking to a nutritionist about what that diet should look like.

"Bodybuilders say that 85 to 90 percent of how you look has to do with your diet," says Brooks, who earlier in her career was a bodybuilder.

In the end, genetics matters, but so do discipline and smart training.

Says Thomson: "We have a genetic baseline of what our body type will be — endomorph, mesomorph, ectomorph. However, what we do with that body is more influenced by our passion, support and adaptability."

Gabriella Boston is a fitness trainer and freelance writer. Contact her at gabriellaboston.com.

Comments
Too late for many, Florida’s prescription database is finally mandatory

Too late for many, Florida’s prescription database is finally mandatory

This is a story of success. Or maybe it’s a cautionary tale.The difference, I suppose, is whether you are haunted by the lives ruined and lost, or you are focused on the path going forward. Either way, you need to understand the history and the playe...
Published: 09/22/18
Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

TAMPA — As John Reisinger waited with family at Tampa General Hospital, grief settled in like a fog. So some of the details are hazy.But he remembers the moment when three women in white lab coats approached him.The day before, his niece, Jessica Rau...
Published: 09/21/18
I was hospitalized for my eating disorder. Here's what Netflix shows get right and wrong about it.

I was hospitalized for my eating disorder. Here's what Netflix shows get right and wrong about it.

It took me a year and a half to watch Netflix’s To the Bone. The movie, which debuted in January 2017, portrays Ellen, a 20-year-old woman battling anorexia nervosa, and her experience being in and out of various treatment programs. When it w...
Published: 09/20/18
Updated: 09/21/18
All Children’s unveils a $95 million research center. Next step: ‘Cure some diseases.’

All Children’s unveils a $95 million research center. Next step: ‘Cure some diseases.’

ST. PETERSBURG — "Vicky Hopkins" is 37 weeks pregnant and splayed on a bed at Johns Hopkin’s All Children’s Hospital. Four obstetricians surround her as she groans."My back is killing me," she complains, but she keeps pushing. Soon the round shape of...
Published: 09/20/18
Watchdog slams safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

Watchdog slams safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

WASHINGTON — Thousands of foster children may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, says a federal watchdog agency that found a failure to care for youngsters whose lives have already been disrupted...
Published: 09/17/18
Doctors dismissed her, but she turned out to be right after years of needless suffering

Doctors dismissed her, but she turned out to be right after years of needless suffering

The prominent New York City gynecologist didn’t bother to conceal his disdain."Stop practicing Google medicine," Lina Kharnak remembers the doctor chiding her when she asked about a possible cause of her worsening leg and back pain. The disease about...
Published: 09/16/18
Updated: 09/17/18
Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion advised not to use running water after water main break

Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion advised not to use running water after water main break

Since Saturday morning, patients and staff in Tampa General Hospital’s East Pavilion and Rehabilitation Center have been advised against using running water.As of Sunday afternoon, it was not known when the recommended ban would be lifted.According t...
Published: 09/16/18
Anger management: Learn healthy ways to handle it, and unlearn bad behavior

Anger management: Learn healthy ways to handle it, and unlearn bad behavior

What makes you mad? Dropping your new phone in the toilet — after deciding not to take the extra coverage that would have replaced it? Being cut off in traffic? Having a parking place "stolen" from you? Doing dishes after shopping for and cooki...
Published: 09/14/18
Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

The toxic algae bloom known as Red Tide has left a trail of dead fish in its wake up the western coast of Florida. The bloom that had been wreaking havoc on our southern neighbors has now made its way to the Tampa Bay area. High concentrations of the...
Published: 09/14/18
In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

The health care business in Florida and across the nation is the midst of monumental change as insurers, hospital chains and even retailers begin to venture outside their traditional roles. Hospitals are getting into the insurance end of the busines...
Published: 09/17/18