Yes and no.
Obviously, different exercises and movements produce different responses and adaptations from the body. Arnold got that way because of hard strength training.
However, you and I probably can’t look like Arnold no matter how much lifting we do.
Doing someone else’s workout won’t make you look like them. If it’s a well written workout it will change your body, but not necessarily in the same way it will change someone else’s body.
An effective workout program will make you look like a more fit version of yourself, which looks different for everyone.
Why is this important?
Because knowing how your body responds to different exercises is an important piece of information.
But mainly because I don’t want you to spin your wheels, unnecessarily doing workouts you hate that don’t get the results you want. Or fall into a never ending cycle of comparison and self hatred. Been there. Not productive.
I want you to actually enjoy the process of improving your fitness (novel concept, eh?). I don’t want you to hate life trying to get a “runner’s body”, when you’re simply not built to run marathons.
I want to guide you towards the training that will balance your goals with types of activity you enjoy doing.
The best type of workout is the one you do repeatedly, which is the end game here.
Yoga woman didn’t get that body from yoga. She got it from her parents.
How your body responds to yoga will be specific to you.
Now, how do we get these body stereotypes anyway? Why do we associate a certain body type with yoga, or running, or CrossFit, or any other sport or type of exercise?
Because people like things they’re good at.
The fact you mainly see certain people with certain bodies doing certain activities can lead to the conclusion that doing those activities will make you look like that person.
However, certain body types lend themselves to certain activities. Not the other way around.
The fact you see people with “yoga bodies” being really into yoga doesn’t mean they got that body from yoga. Because of their body type they probably noticed yoga came easy to them. So they stuck with it and metamorphosed into a yoga person.
There are also plenty of people who do a shitton of yoga who don’t fit that mold. Though, I’m guessing they don’t end up on the Lululemon ads.
The type of activity you do will only influence how your body changes to a point.
Different activities don’t shape muscle differently. There is only muscle and not muscle.
Certain sports do stress certain muscle groups and fibre types more than others. But that doesn’t mean you can “sculpt” muscles. You can only build muscle or not build muscle.
We’re ultimately limited by our genetics.
How you carry muscle, or how it appears on your frame, is largely a function of your body type rather than style of training.
For example, taller, longer limbed people have a harder time looking “bulky”. Why? Because their muscle bellies are longer, which means any muscle they gain is spread out over a greater surface area. Turns out geometry is actually useful. Who knew?!
Say someone puts on 5 lbs of muscle on their arms (jealous), this 5 lbs would look different on a 6’1 person's arms than a 5’5 person’s arms. Because on the shorter person’s arms, the muscle has nowhere to go but out. So the shorter person’s arms would appear to have more muscle even though, objectively, both people have the same amount of arm muscle.
This is an important aspect of how genetics and body type can influence how your body responds to training. There are countless others because genetics are freaking complicated.
However, discussing specifics isn’t what I want to do with this blog. Instead I‘m using this example to make a point about genetics and how you respond to training as a whole. The idea being to help you find a style of exercise that works best for you.
Now it’d be remiss for me to say all workouts will cause the same changes to the body, that nothing matters and no matter what you do the effect is the same. Far from it. Otherwise, there would be zero point in tailoring an online client’s workouts specifically for them. And my bias towards strength training would be completely unfounded. Hint: it’s not ;-)
However, an intelligently designed workout program done by two different individuals will yield two different looking bodies. They’ll both be stronger and have more muscular definition, but where they put on muscle and lose fat won’t be the same.
One might have a really easy time growing their quads, so their quads have the most noticeable results. The other’s shoulders might have the most noticeable changes. There can be any number of differences in proportions and response to training.* It all just depends.
Strength training gives you the most control over how your body changes, but even then, your body will still be your body. It will be become more toned, muscular, and/or strong in a way specific to you.
And it doesn’t mean that doing yoga will give you the body of someone with a completely different bone structure.
Point is, everybody is different. Your body is your own.
It’s natural to see someone’s body you envy, and want to know their workout routine. However, they might have got that body in spite of their nonsensical workout routine, not because of it.
Speaking from experience, comparing your results to somebody else’s is a losing battle. You could do everything right and still not look like them. You simply might not be built that way. Unless you have very similar genetics, in which case you’d probably already have that body by now.
Right now, the point is just to get moving and keep showing up. Don’t worry about what’s most effective, just worry about working out somewhere that’s so fun it makes you excited to take action on a consistent basis.
The most important thing for fitness success is that you consistently show up. If you keep showing up, success isn’t an “if”, it’s a “when”. And if you don’t show up, there’s zero point talking about the best diet or workout.
So whatever style of exercise you like, whatever you find yourself drawn to — do that.
I’m obviously a strength training guy. If your goals are physique or health related, doing strength training in some capacity will be greatly helpful.
However, that doesn’t mean this is the only way to do things.
Have fun and experiment with different exercise modalities to see what your body can do and what you like.
Think of exercise as something you get to do, rather than you have to do.
As kids we just want to run and play and move in different ways. Unfortunately, as we slip into adulthood, this attitude wanes and we start to view movement as a chore. It doesn’t need to be this way though.
We just need to reframe and reprogram how we think about exercise.
When trying out different exercises, make fun the goal. If you’re showing up and having fun, you’re doing it right.
Put aside for a minute what the best routine is and look for somewhere you look forward to going to and get moving whether that’s spin, Muay Thai, Zumba, Pilates or CrossFit.
Whatever gets you to show up, and keep showing up is priority number 1.
Just find a fun way to show up. Figure the rest out later.