What The Mirror Meant To Say

Every morning millions of Americans wake up and look into the mirror. They start pinching areas, sneering at others, and eventually they hear their reflection say, "Let's fix that." 

There are so many demographics of different body types. Everyone has their favorite, and most of the time it’s not their own. But I can’t say that’s entirely a bad thing; after all, it’s what keeps the fitness industry alive.

A study showed that 44 percent of people workout for one reason only: to look good. Another 28 percent of people workout because they believe it will make them look younger. Nearly half of your gym is full of people because they want to look good. Forget competing. Forget improving health. Forget any notion of non-narcissism; most people don’t care about anything past the mirror.

I don’t blame them entirely though. Having good body image is a sign of positive mental health. Plus, having lower body fat and more muscle is associated with better physical health. So why not shoot for some aesthetic goals? - It’s what the majority of people are doing.

I’d say go for it, but first understand what your reflection is actually saying.

When you look in the mirror you have 3 people to thank for what you see: God, your parents, and yourself. God gave you life, your parents gave you your genetics, and you determined what to do with them. If everything adds up just right, you might find yourself on a magazine cover.

People are like their fingerprints; all different. Unfortunately, our culture has adopted a “one body type” approach to desirability. You rarely pick up a women’s fitness magazine and see a muscularly developed model. What you do see is a lean framed person, wearing some bright colored clothing, and probably looking off in the distance.

But the dysmorphia doesn’t stop there. Grab a men’s fitness magazine and you’ll find one of two things: sub 200 pound, lean, chest heavy models, or a 300 pound monster-man.

Don’t get me wrong, being lean, 200 pounds, or a monster-man isn’t generally a bad thing. But for crying out loud, there are more than three different categories of people.

You should pick your parents well because if you’re not in one of the three above categories, it’s primarily their fault - but don't worry, most people aren't. From birth, everyone has a primary muscle type. Some people are born with primarily Type I muscle fibers, which are very long and skinny fibers. Other people are born with primarily Type II muscle fibers, which are short and thick. But no matter what, everyone has both fiber types, and the one that you work the hardest will grow the most.

“Work the hardest?” you may ask.

Type I fibers are trained with aerobic work (distance training and high reps.) Type II fibers are trained with power and strength workouts (squats, cleans, presses, etc.).

But there is more to the equation than just muscle fiber size.

Type I fibers are the only muscle that can break down fat DURING exercise. So naturally, our body will put fat close and even within these muscles. Have you ever noticed how lean, and yet so unmuscular, a runner looks? It’s not that they have low body fat, but that it’s hidden better than Waldo.

On the contrary, Type II muscle fibers don’t run on fat at all. During high intensity exercise only glucose (blood sugar) can be used as fuel. Since fat is essentially useless until the following 48 hrs post exercise, most of it is pushed away from the muscle and towards the skin. Have you ever seen a World’s strongest man competitor? They look fat, and lean at the exact same time – talk about an oxymoron.

This is the dilemma of training for aesthetics. A runner can have more body fat than a lifter, and still look leaner. It’s this very phenomenon that has thousands of people flocking to crossfit gyms.

Most people don’t care about improving their health and mobility. The fact that Rich Froning has a 12 pac and square jaw is what brings people into the “box”. Crossfit has a combination of strength and power work, with aerobic training as well. It’s the best of both worlds, and it helps people lean up and build muscle.

So if you’re a runner who wants to get more muscle/tone, lift some heavy weights. If you’re a lifter who wants to look leaner you have two choices: dial your diet in to the point of perfection, or start doing a lot of cardio.

No matter what you do, don’t do it to look like a magazine model. Because you need to remember that the mirror only tells you 2 things, what your body type is and how to HEALTHILY shape it into what you desire. Nothing more, nothing less. 

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.