All my life I have battled with S.C.S. (skinny calf syndrome).I did all I could to get thicker calves which included calf raises with extremely heavy weights, ran miles, worked out with ankle weights, walked on the tip of my toes constantly, I did it all, but I always just had toned, but skinny calves. It was not until recently that I learned why and began to accept and embrace my small calves.
Each of us born with a muscle growth factor called myostatin. Myostatin is basically a hormone gene that regulates the size of your muscle development and prevents muscles from growing too large. Those with higher myostatin levels do not develop large muscles and those with lower myostatin do. I am sure we all know that person that doesn’t work out or lift a single weight, but has great muscle tone and definition. These people are born with lower myostatin levels.
There are also lifestyle factors that can increase your myostatin levels which will make it difficult to grow large muscles. Certain diets and extreme calorie counting deprive your body of the nutrients needed which will increase myostatin levels. Stress is another factor that can increase myostatin. Stress elevates the body’s level of cortisol. Cortisol promotes the release of myostatin.
Although your myostatin level is something you are born with, there are lifestyle practices you can make, other than performance enhancing drugs, to make certain you are not increasing your myostatin and can maximize the effects of your workout.
- Workout. Of course, you can’t build muscle without working them out. Certain workouts done consistently such as strength training, push-ups, weight lifting, resistance training and Pilates all lower myostatin levels and facilitate muscle development.
- Proteins. Another obvious solution. Many fitness professionals and bodybuilders load up on whey proteins because they are an essential macromolecule and play a crucial role in muscle development. Amino acids are the foundation of proteins and proteins are the foundation of muscle tissue. So since muscles serve as the largest holder of amino acids in the body, filling your body with amino acids and proteins is the best way to develop them.
- Iron-enriched foods. Foods rich in iron such as lean meats, fish, nuts and beans are great for muscle development. They are high in vitamin B and antioxidants which prevents oxidation brought on by cortisol.
- Bodybuilding supplements. There are many supplements on the market that can help with muscle development. You just have to be careful and make sure you find the right ones. Look for supplements such as Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) or creatine; these are natural supplements that promote muscle growth.
- Sleep. Sleep repairs the body and reduces stress. While you sleep you are repairing your body and reducing cortisol levels.
- Be happy with your own body. We all cannot look like Serena Williams if that is not our body type. We are all created uniquely and we should embrace that. We need to be happy with our own body type and the way we were created and work hard to make sure our body is in the best shape it can be in. If you take steps and make the best lifestyle choices for your body, you will love the shape you are in and be an inspiration to those around you.