- Track and field
- Distance cycling
- Distance swimming
- Cross-country skiing
- Distance running
How Endurance Sports Influence Body Shapes
Committing to sports is the best way to lose weight, gain weight, and get an ideal body shape. Sports, as a physical activity, can help your body reach its peak physical condition. And this applies to all athletes with a wide range of body types, shapes, and sizes.
With that, let’s demystify the power of different endurance sports in influencing body shapes. Here are ten of the most common and demanding endurance sports today, together with their unique ways of toning and shaping an athlete’s body:
Triathlon is a demanding sport since it involves cycling, swimming, and running. Given this, it basically affects the entire body through different ways and conditions. Triathlon is one of the best sports that can trigger mind-blowing body transformations.
Swimming, for one, does the majority of its work in the upper body. It strengthens and tones upper-body muscles, especially biceps, triceps, lats, deltoids, and trapezius. When a triathlete transitions from swimming to biking, it will then cause blood flow and pressure to transfer from the upper body to the lower body.
Cycling can affect cardiovascular fitness; many studies have already proven that. But aside from good health, cycling can tone your body and help you reach your peak physical condition for triathlon. Cycling can tone lower-body muscles, arm muscles, and core muscles. The transition from cycling to running of a triathlete transfers the blood flow and pressure to force-producing muscles in the legs.
Running, meanwhile, can tone everything below the waist, particularly the calves, shins, hamstrings, and quads. Running can also massively expedite weight loss. However, the weight loss process is much faster for men than women, a systematic review published in the US National Library of Medicine stated.
CrossFit requires high-intensity and multi-joint movements made up of actions that you usually perform in your day-to-day life, such as pushing, squatting, and pulling. But sometimes, higher-intensity CrossFit training involves gymnastic-style exercises and weightlifting. These compound movements can keep your blood pumping during training and build muscles all over the body afterward.
CrossFit can also help you lose and manage weight while strengthening your entire body. In fact, most people start CrossFit training to lose weight, and they’re right to do so. According to a published study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, “CrossFit, just as any other high-intensity training, increases VO2 max, strength, musculature, and endurance, and decreases lean body mass.”
When you achieve your desired weight with the help of CrossFit, the next set of exercises could allow you to develop your preferred muscle size specific to your needs and performance. With proper training and nutrition, you can expect to see reduced intramuscular fat, improved and reshaped quadriceps, and broader shoulder muscles.
Lifting heavy weights is one of the best ways to improve an athlete’s endurance. But for those who actually treat weightlifting as a sport, they receive specific physiological benefits not present in other sports.
Weightlifting can change your overall body composition. It’s the best endurance sport to build muscle mass, decrease the fat percentage, and develop stronger bones. Proving the last physiological benefit is an article published by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, which states that “high-impact weight-bearing exercises help build bones and keep them strong.”
However, body changes vary per athlete as some choose to train specific muscle groups. General and repetitive exercises, like the ones included in standard CrossFit training, can only significantly improve the size and capability of large muscle groups. But weightlifting can target smaller muscle groups, which is often the goal of weightlifters who want to tone their bodies.
Weightlifting can broaden shoulders, create the illusion of longer-looking legs, emphasize upper-chest muscles, and improve posture and overall body shape. The ideal body weight of most weightlifters is the V-shaped body.
Surfing comes with interval training that combines short and high-intensity bursts of speedy exercise followed by a recovery phase. This process is repeated during exercise training. Since surfing is a unique water sport that allows athletes to be one with the sea, studies say that surfing is good for physical and psychological health.
Dwelling on psychological health, surfing is said to be an effective way to treat mental illnesses because exercising in natural environments can calm the body and mind. It is, simply, therapeutic.
Now, for the physical benefits, there are a lot. Surfing helps improve cardiovascular health, shoulder and back strength, and leg and core strength. The first two are brought about by paddling, while the leg and core strength are brought about by standing up on the board and applying some serious balancing strategies. Surfers usually work out their hip muscles when dealing with waves.
Due to the demands and benefits of surfing, surfers can tone their upper body and core muscles. With serious training and proper posture, they usually acquire a unique-looking physique with toned legs and firm butts.
Gymnastics is one of the best endurance sports that can test your body strength and flexibility at the same time. It is an aesthetic sport on the outside, but there’s serious training behind the scenes. Gymnasts are even required to achieve an ideal physique in order to join the competitive scene.
Gymnastics is mainly concentrated on dance, specifically ballet. As such, most gymnasts possess the typical features of ballerinas. Gymnastics can build well-defined muscles and develop extremely low body fat levels. They develop during training and routine performance, even if they aren’t part of the athlete’s fitness goals. If you’re the kind of athlete or gymnast with fitness goals in mind, you can diversify your routines to tone both your upper and lower body muscles.
Various arguments claim that gymnastics can stunt growth, especially in women who often start training during puberty. However, scientific research debunked that claim. One study published in the US National Library of Medicine said that “gymnastics training does not appear to attenuate pubertal growth and maturation, neither rate of growth nor the timing and tempo of the growth spurt.” What the sport slightly affects is the occurrence of menstruation. As an adult, you won’t have to worry about any negative consequences when you try gymnastics but make sure that you follow proper training and forms.
Track and Field
Track and field combines the various skills and demands of running, jumping, and throwing. In terms of duration, it’s not as long as triathlon, which also combines various sports activities into one. However, track and field is also a demanding sport in the strength and flexibility department.
The sport is mainly beneficial to youths since it’s one of the most common competitive sports for middle-grade and young adults. It can help athletes develop a healthier body weight, better sleep patterns, bigger learning capacity, and stronger balance.
In terms of shaping the body, many studies have shown that track and field is beneficial to weight loss as it can speed up metabolism. “Coaches and athletes are often convinced of weight or fat loss benefits based on personal or anecdotal experience, intuition, and ‘trained eye’ observation of successful competitors,” said a study published in the US National Library of Medicine.
Following weight loss, track and field can shape and tone core muscles, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles through routine extension and flexing of arms and legs.
The use of bikes in cycling can be considered a sport, recreation, or transportation. Since we’re talking about endurance sports, let’s tackle how distance cycling shapes the body.
Cycling is one of the best sports and fitness activities that offers numerous physical benefits. It doesn’t just burn fat; cycling can also help build muscles, especially around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. In general and during repeated training sessions on bike, cycling primarily targets the lower body as it releases impact on the legs and feet.
Cyclists with more muscles can even burn more calories during every training session. Do you know what this means? Cycling can promote healthy weight management while continually building stronger and bigger muscles! However, note that hormonal limitations can affect muscle development between males and females. We’ve mentioned in the triathlon section that men generally lose weight faster than women. In cycling, men can build and define muscle mass faster than women because women hold more body mass. The body transformation may be much faster in males, but nonetheless, cycling can effectively tone and define lower body muscles.
Regular swimming also has its own unique ways of shaping a person’s body. But distance swimming, as an endurance sport, involved longer distances and more rigorous training. Due to its demands, distance swimmers can swim much faster and have more flexible bodies than regular swimmers. The same can be said for triathletes.
Water movements and exercises in swimming are completely different from other sports. For one, there’s the existence of different swimming strokes—butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. As such, swimming, like gymnastics, triggers the development of a unique-looking physique. Competitive and long-time swimmers often have elongated and broad shoulders, thin but fit body shapes, large muscles in the middle bak, well-defined tricep muscles, and toned legs.
Regular swimming, however, is a whole-body exercise and sport that can tone every muscle of the body. So one can expect changes all over their body during training, especially in the weight department. A study published in the Metabolism journal revealed that swimming could help individuals lose more weight and achieve thinner waistlines faster than walking, especially in older women.
Cross-country skiing is the ultimate endurance sport for achievers. It’s one of the most demanding sports in the world—definitely not for the faint of heart. Anyone can actually ski, but serious, competitive, and long-term cross-country skiing demands every single part of the body to cooperate and function at their optimal level.
For this sport, the individual relies on their locomotion to move their body and cross terrains. The three most important joints skiers use to move and navigate are the ankles, knees, and hips.
Due to the unique environment and demanding movements in skiing, it offers numerous changes in the body. According to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, “successful cross-country skiing, one of the most demanding of endurance sports, involves considerable physiological challenges posed by the combined upper- and lower-body effort of varying intensity and duration, on hilly terrain, often at moderate altitude and in a cold environment.”
Specifically, skiing engages muscles in the upper body, tummy back, legs, as well as the glutes in the bottom. Further, it can also tone core muscles up to the abdomen. This transformation helps skiers support their backs efficiently while moving in challenging environments.
Running alone, when done regularly, can influence one’s body shape. But long-distance running as an endurance sport can do so much more to your body and help you achieve your fitness goals and desired body type.
Running can significantly help athletes lose weight. And lower body fat is one of the factors that can improve speed. The more endurance you build through long-distance running or continuous regular running, the more fat your muscle fibers eat to keep working with the right amount of energy.
When the body establishes the right weight, long-distance running then works its way to your lower-body muscles, such as the glutes, hamstrings, and quads, then to the core muscles like the obliques and rectus abdominis. Running strengthens and tones these muscles, limiting the risks of injury and improving performance.
All endurance sports we’ve mentioned here, as well as other regular sports, have their own way of influencing an individual’s body. There’s no particular sport that can give you the best physique as it all depends on your training level, frequency, environment, fitness level, and fitness goals. It’s not just the sport that can influence your body; it’s also your discipline, purpose, and determination. After all, the reality is we all have different body types, shapes, and sizes.