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Published:September 2nd, 2007 03:59 EST
Muscle and Sports

Muscle and Sports

By Subash Lamichhane

A person’s sporting ability is tremendously affected by the size, strength and endurance of their muscles. If a sport person has a good muscle with enough stamina, then he is never far away from holding the medal in his hands. Why are the stamina, size and strength of muscles so interrelated with sports? To answer this question we need to understand how energy is produced inside the muscle. We need to consider different ways in which energy can be supplied to a contracting muscle. Energy is stored in our muscles in the form of ATP, Adenosine triphosphate, so ATP is the immediate source of energy. A muscle usually contains ATP for around 3 seconds of activity, so more ATP must constantly be produced while muscle is active.
The fastest way of doing this is to use a substance called creatine phosphate. This substance, like ATP, can be hydrolyzed to release energy, forming creatine and inorganic compounds. The energy released can be used to convert ADP and Pi to ATP. There is enough creatine phosphate in a muscle to provide ATP to last up to 10 seconds or so. This will help the muscle to remain active and this is almost enough for a high-class sprinter to run a 100m race, and enough for a high jumper to complete a high jump.
ATP can also be produced by glycolsis followed by lactic fermentation which is anaerobic respiration. By using glucose, ATP can be produced rapidly without the use of oxygen. But, the drawback is that the waste product, lactic acid, builds up after a short time so anaerobic respiration cannot be used for long activities. In this situation aerobic respiration is used. The long-term activities of muscles depend upon aerobic respiration; so, most runners of 200m and 400m and other sports that need energy rely largely on this type of respiration.  As a result, muscles build up a large oxygen debt. This is one reason why 400m is regarded as the toughest distance to run.
A high-carbohydrate diet can greatly increase the amount of glycogen stored. A marathon runner who has been eating carbohydrate diet will probably have enough glycogen in their muscles to last for long period of time, maybe 3-4 hours. While if the marathon runner takes fatty diet, then glycogen in his muscle may last only for 1-1 ½ hours. Training can help to change the structure and physiology, so that they make better use of these systems. As a person goes to a gym centre and regularly exercises, his muscles will grow by increasing the diameter of individual muscle cells because of the weights which act as the stimulus for the change. When these cells are enlarged, there is great benefit for the sport person. As the space within the cell increases within the enlarged cells, more mitochondria, more ATP, more creatine phosphate and more stored triglycerides are found. Thus exercise is very important to every sportsperson and to anyone performing a sport in which fast, powerful muscle contraction is required over a short period of time.

But this doesn’t mean that any of us taking training and exercise make ourselves a good sprinter or athlete. Unfortunately, there are important differences in people’s muscles which are genetically determined and which cannot be altered by any amount of training or exercise. One must be born with the abilities in their muscles to be a winner or a great athlete.  But, these days there are so many muscle stimulators or drugs which lure the athlete. These drugs are prohibited by the International Committee of Sport; but, by knowing or not, many athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs and they have faced severe consequence.