Research can provide important information to health and fitness professionals, but trying to keep up…
February 23, 2016 | John Paul Catanzaro
Research can provide golden information to health & fitness professionals. If you’re a personal trainer, here are some recent findings to help you get ahead of the pack:
Recruit Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers for Rehab and Performance
“Lovering performed muscle biopsies of the rotator cuff and found the
muscles to be comprised of approximately 55-60 percent FT [fast
twitch] fibers. Furthermore, Irlenbusch performed muscle biopsies of the
rotator cuff in patients with rotator cuff injuries and found that the
FT fibers were most affected. Consequently, when trying to selectively
activate FT fibers in rehabilitation or performance enhancement the
therapist needs to perform activities to recruit the FT muscle fibers.
There are generally three ways to recruit FT fibers: 1) maximum
intensity effort, 2) electrical stimulation, and 3) fast movement
patterns like plyometric exercises.”
Note: High-rep protocols that develop the type I and IIa muscle fibers are often used during injury rehabilitation, but athletic injuries usually occur to the type IIb fibers. The training must be appropriate in a rehab situation in order to access the right motor units. You can read more about this concept in my 5-part article series Heal Like Wolverine.
Muscle Atrophy Due to Chronic Disuse Rather than Aging
“This study contradicts the common observation that muscle mass and
strength decline as a function of aging alone. Instead, these declines
may signal the effect of chronic disuse rather than muscle aging.
Evaluation of masters athletes removes disuse as a confounding variable
in the study of lower-extremity function and loss of lean muscle mass.
This maintenance of muscle mass and strength may decrease or eliminate
the falls, functional decline, and loss of independence that are
commonly seen in aging adults.”
Note: As I discuss in Injury Prevention Strategies for Aging Athletes, the concept is simple: Use your muscle or lose your muscle! I’ll be giving a talk on this subject for the Ontario Society for Health and Fitness in Toronto on May 14 and for Masters Swimming Canada in Etobicoke on May 22.
Resistance Training to Improve Flexibility
“While resistance training (RT) is recommended for older people for
the development of muscular strength, some studies have indicated that
regular participation in RT programs may also contribute to increased
flexibility. In fact, there is evidence that regular RT serves as an
active form of flexibility training and can improve range of motion to a
similar extent as typical static stretching protocols. Regular
performance of RT may improve flexibility by reducing passive tension
and stiffness of the tissues surrounding a joint. Thus, from a
time-saving standpoint, RT is a good way to develop both strength and
flexibility as well as achieve improvements in body composition within a
single session of training.”
Note: Resistance training can improve both active and passive flexibility if you balance agonists and antagonists and train in full range of motion. You can learn more about this concept in my article Flexibility 101: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Stretching.
Consume Creatine Post-Workout, Not Pre-Workout
“Creatine supplementation plus resistance exercise increases fat-free
mass and strength. Based on the magnitude inferences it appears that
consuming creatine immediately post-workout is superior to pre-workout
vis a vis body composition and strength.”
Antioxidant Supplements Before Training Interfere with Muscle Cell Adaptation
“A popular belief is that reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive
nitrogen species (RNS) produced during exercise by the mitochondria and
other subcellular compartments ubiquitously cause skeletal muscle
damage, fatigue and impair recovery. However, the importance of ROS/RNS
as signals in the cellular adaptation process to stress is now evident.
In an effort to combat the perceived deleterious effects of ROS/RNS it
has become common practice for active individuals to ingest supplements
with antioxidant properties, but interfering with ROS/RNS signalling in
skeletal muscle signalling during acute exercise may blunt favorable
Note: A great way to quench free radicals produced during a workout is to walk barefoot on grass directly after training. Do that instead of taking antioxidants before training. Also, many people complain about cramping when using creatine. This is usually remedied with proper hydration and taking creatine after training, not before. I discuss both these concepts in my book Mass Explosion.