Evolution - Dick and Jane Style
Does evolution happen every day? Or is it something that takes millions of years? Three quick looks at how modern day evolution occurs right in front of us every day across gymnasiums and track fields. Evolution happens a lot quicker than some people might think.
When you think of evolution, typically we envision dinosaurs or legless creatures slithering out of the waves, heading ashore. However evolution happens every day in every gym around the world. People who exercise are forcing adaptation upon themselves each time. How does the weightlifter keep throwing up bigger and larger numbers each month? That skinny runner, keeps setting new personal record times, how can that mile time continue to drop? What about the basketball player who sinks nine out of ten free throws? Practice? Yes. Of course dedication. Evolution? Yes sir. By exceeding the current capacity or limits of your own body, you have basically dictated "adapt or die." Not actually die, well maybe depending on how you work out, but probably more like "adapt or feel the horrible pain again tomorrow." Your body responds, it evolves, begins to evolve in order to be ready the next time you hit the gas and approach your own red line.
Microtrauma. This is what occurs when the weight you are trying to move is greater than the capacity of your muscles and you strain. Microtrauma can also cause the calluses to form on the hands of hard workers or weightlifters. In this instance microtrauma to us will mean the tearing of muscle fiber. Not only do these tears lead to that next day soreness, they generate a signal. A signal that is blasted out in hopes of avoiding any future pain similar to what just happened. In basic terms your body or brain tells the cells, fibers, whatever, here are some nutrients, I expect you to rebuild yourself a la the $6,000,000 man, come back stronger than ever. When you try to press that weight the next time, I don't want any pain. In response your body sends all sorts of cells to the damaged site, armed with essential muscle building nutrients, perhaps amino acids. These cells get to work, starting to make those little fibers into beefy cords. With repetitive microtrauma, soon your muscles will be like sinewy ropes. So what should you do the next time that exercise comes up in the rotation? Heavier weight, more repetitions, or both. Tear those fibers again and start the entire process again. Make evolution happen.
Running and jogging enthusiasts force adaptation upon their bodies each time they strap on their sneakers. Due to their workouts, their hearts have become more efficient when it comes to endurance type training. The heart is a muscle after all, right? The heart of a runner as they progress from beginner to marathoner evolves, it becomes more adept at moving blood through the circulatory system. These hearts can pump a greater volume of blood with each stroke when compared to couch surfers. They can exchange spent carbon dioxide for fresh oxygen at a greater rate. Their bodies needed an upgraded heart muscle so the individuals made it happen with dedication and time. Unlike the first two examples, the third means that we might be able to modify our performance with involves the nervous system.
This other form is commonly referred to as muscle memory. In this instance, we are not trying to inflict microtrauma on fibers, or are we conditioning our cardiovascular system through elevated levels of exertion. For muscle memory, we want repetition. As an athlete, whenever an action occurs that we need to respond to such as deciding and swinging at a pitch or parrying a jab in the ring, we want that reaction to be instinctual. We approach instinctual through repetition which alters our muscle memory for that action. Basically, you have performed an action so many times, you can do it without thinking, maybe even without looking, like shooting a free throw. Through this repetition you have burned a path from your brain, through the responsible nerves, and out to your muscles and body. Think of it like this - each morning you sit up in bed, place your gnarly feet on the floor and mosey to the bathroom. You could most likely do this walk in the dark or half asleep you've done it so many times. Now though you are visiting Aunt Jenn and staying in the guest room. That first morning, that path to the lavatory you had blazed is gone, this new route seems foreign. No longer can you walk it in the pitch black, you'd stub your toe. However by the end of the month, you'd be accustomed to it. This muscle memory is again, established through repetition. Another term could be practice. Or drilling. The basketball player who shoot 100 free throws after practice is forcing his muscle to get some memory.
Microtrauma, improved efficiency, and blazing fast neural pathways are all methods to force your body into evolving. Like artists who mold clay or chip away at marble, or the bodybuilder who focuses on this one pectoral muscle, we can be sculptors too. We have the ability to seek a change in our body and almost always have the ability to make it happen. Evolution every day right in front of us.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author, who currently resides in Memphis, TN, is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner. He grew up wrestling and fell in love with the idea of grappling as an adult in order to stay in shape. As a result of this lifestyle change several years ago, he also changed up his eating habits and exercises daily. There are cardiovascular days, grappling days, and strength/cardio days with a kettlebell. Outside of sports, he works at a hospital and tries to manage a very tiny website does creatine help? on the side. If you have a question such as does creatine help build muscle or are just curious if it's right for you, you should check it out.