|Image 1: If you don't want to be strong and look good naked, you better not train like "old school" like Arnold, Franco Columbu (img), Dave Draper, Frank Zane & Co.|
Bro, you know the revolutionary new "GHRWZAR-642421 training principle"?
|Image 2: If you are looking for a collection of proven routines, instead of bunch of old hats with funky new names, the Blueprint would be a good choice.|
Lifting heavy objects makes women ... dunno, but not bulky, to say the least ;-)
I guess, I better mention it right away in order to avoid that you get all to psyched out and are disappointed in the end: The study participants were 34 untrained young women (21.1 § 2.7 years). And just to make sure there are no misunderstandings, here - the downside for physical culturists is that these women were untrained not that they were women! The latter, is, as the scientists point out, actually an advantage, because "in pre-vious studies, it has been easy to find eager, untrained female subjects with excellent compliance to protocols", which by the way is another thing, Carl and I talked about in yesterday's installment of Super Human Radio ;-)
The reason that the subjects training status ("untrained") is somewhat of a downside, is yet that the early adaption which occur once you first pick up the weights, are fundamentally different from the painfully slow gains of an advanced trainee or elite athlete. In the end, the latter is yet also part of the reason that scientists don't recruit athletes for studies like this, after all the gains" (both strength- as well as muscle-wise) these subjects would have made over the course of the 6-week study period, in which the ladies in this study performed a total of 17 training sessions (two in the first week, three per week in the subsequent 5 weeks), would have been hardly "significant" - and in this case we are talking about both, statistical, as well as real-world significance.
|Figure 1: Graphical illustration of the three experimental conditions / training regimen in the study.|
Everyone who believes in "shaping your body with high reps and light weights" raise your hand!
I guess, for most of you it won't come as a surprise, when I am telling you that there were no changes in total body mass in the course of this 6-week training intervention, but what I guess will be surprising is that the body composition of the women did not change either (cf. figure 2)!
|Figure 2: Fat mass (in kg) and fat free mass (in kg) before and after 6 weeks with a total 17 leg training sessions (data adapted from Schuenke. 2012)|
If we take a closer look at what happened "inside" the vastus lateralis muscle from which the scientists took muscle biopsies before and at the end of the study period, it does yet become obvious that our "conventional exercise wisdom" is in fact much more reliable than its nutritional counterpart.
|Figure 3: Changes in relative fiber composition in vastus lateralis muscle in response to 6 weeks of leg training with different loading / TUT / rep schemes (data adapted from Schuenke. 2012)|
Training light does work, but does not really do the job
What is also noteworthy, is that the light, yet fast training with high reps, induced what you may call a "transition status", with initial changes in the type IIX fibers (becoming type IIAX), but without the a complete switch from the "unflexible" glucose guzzling type IIX fibers to the cornerstones of strong and big muscles - the type IIA fibers. In view of the fact that the scientists did not quantify the strength gains and that the "higher growth propensity" of type IIA fibers is somewhat of an urban myth, the study outcome with the greatest real-world significance is unquestionable the increase in fiber size, which, as the data in figure 4 goes to show was maximal in all three major fiber types in response to the classic training protocol.
|Figure 4: Changes in cross sectional area of the different fiber types (data adapted from Schuenke. 2012)|
Apropos diet, while the subjects did not have to log their calorie let alone macronutrient intake, I would bet that with a simple protein shake after their training and some general tweaks to their diets, those favorable changes in body composition, i.e. decreases in fat and increases in lean mass, which are at the heart of "looking good naked" would have come about... with the "I love my pasta and red-meat gives you cancer"-diet from the latest cosmopolitan, on the other hand, you better stick to baggy jeans and huge sweaters instead of bikinis and speedos, ladies and gentlemen ;-)