Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Exercise Science - True of False? Large Muscles First for Growth? Cooling Works Before & After Workouts? Senior Olympians Have Healthy Bones? Hypoxia + HIT = WIN?

I know it's difficult to resist guys, but first things first: Study confirms, you better train the large muscle groups of the upper body first, before you go progress to what many of you probably love the most... no, not what you think now, I am talking about training arms ;-)
I know that you probably think that I had forgotten about the exercise science quickie I announced in Saturday's installment of On Short Notice. Today's SuppVersity article is written proof that this is not the case. With topics that range from the redundancy of hypoxia training and intense workouts and the beneficial effects of training the large muscle groups first in your workout to the usefulness of the internal and external application of cold water and other stuff before and after workouts to elicit performance gains and speed up recovery and the unique benefits only heavy resistance training has to offer to elderly bones, I'd hope that everybody will find at least one item he / she is interested in.

And in the fortunate case that you know all the "right" to the true or false", already, you may want to pick up a couple of recent SuppVersity Facebook news to satisfy your cravings.

Adding hypoxia on top of already intense workout is probably useless

(Holis. 2013) -- No further improvement if intensity is already high!? Yep, that's at least what a recently published study by scientists from the University of Exeter would suggest. The researchers subjected 9 physically-active male participants to three weeks of intensive single-leg knee-extensor exercise training.

Other than I initially wrote the study used identical training sessions for both legs with the sole difference being that one was trained under hypoxic and the other under normal oxygen conditions for 25 minutes (no cuffs here, thx David for the heads-up!).

Suggested read: A brief summary of a summary o the current state of the art as far as blood flow restricted (BFR) / Kaatsu training is concerned (read it).
When they evaluated the results, Holis et al. found that neither the most straight forward parameter, namely the time-to-exhaustion during incremental exercise nor the changes in muscle metabolite concentrations during the workout were significantly different between the leg that was trained under normal and that which was trained under hypoxic conditions. Now this does not necessarily mean that there may not be minimal or other benefits you could derive in the long run (I am thinking about mitochondrial biogenesis) by making an already intense routine even more intense by training under hypoxic conditions. However, if there was such an effect, it is  probably going to be minuscule and certainly not something anyone, but an Olympic athlete would benefit from.

Large muscle groups first! Common BB-wisdom confirmed once again

(Simã. 2013) -- You've certainly heard about the "growth promoting effects" of squats, deadlifts etc., right? Of course you have! And as a diligent student of the SuppVersity you will also be aware that this growth promoting effect is supposed to be the result of the workout induced endocrine response.
Want another Exercise Science Quickie? What about news on light training with high TUTs, the HIIT vs. Liss Formula for more T, DHT & cortisol and the effects your left leg has on your right one (learn about all).
"The results indicate that the GH concentration increased after both sessions, but the increase was significantly greater (p < 0.05) after the sequence in which larger muscle-group exercises were performed prior to the smaller muscle-group exercises. No differences were observed between sessions for TT [total testosterone], FT [free testosterone], SHBG [sex hormone binding globulin], C [cortisol], or the T/C [testosterone / cortisol] ratio at baseline or immediately after resistance exercise. These results indicate that performing larger muscle-group exercises first in an upper-body resistance-exercise session leads to a significantly greater GH response." (Simã. 2013)
Don't worry I am not going to discuss for the 1003rd time, whether the absence of any hormonal difference outside of the increased growth hormone response is good or bad for your gain. I just want your to memorize that the GH response corresponds with the workout volume, which was significantly higher, when the 20 male subjects trained the large muscle groups of the upper body before the smaller ones. So even if it was only a question of workout economy, the longstanding rule of thumb to train large muscle groups first would obviously still have its place in today's in parts sometimes ueber-scientificated workout planning.

Competitive sports is not a good means to protect your bone mineral density

(McCory. 2013) -- According to the latest study from the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Research Center old the mere participation in regular (intense), bot not strength specific physical activity alone does not offer any protective effect against age induced bone loss.
"Our results imply that participation in highly competitive senior athletics does not have a protective effect on BMD, perhaps because of a lower bodyweight or other confounding factors." (McCory. 2013)
Among the parameters which did apparently figure were (you guessed it) bodyweight, and calcium and vitamin D intake. The higher those three parameters were the better the bone mineral density.  Plus: The knee extension peak torque explained another 3.4% of the variance, but only in the hips.

Taking calcium supplement has been associated w/ prostate cancer and CVD in some, but not all studies (Baron. 2005; Spence 2013) With up to 14x elevated lead levels in some OTC calcium supplements the differences may well depend on whether you pick the wrong one (learn more).
That being said I personally believe we'd have seen very different study outcomes if the researchers had not made the common mistake of confusing "sports" with endurance exercise and would thus not have narrow-mindedly focused on those participants of the "Senior Olympics", who competed in running events longer than 400 m (n = 44; 28 males, 16 females), cycling events longer than 5K (n = 17; 11 males and 6 females), and any swimming event (n = 43; 25 males and 18 females). After all, a very recent study from the Catholic University of San Antonio did just confirm that high resistance circuit training (HRC) and heavy strength training can improve the bone mineral density in an elderly population (Romero. 2013).  And what's more, the high resistance had the added benefit of inducing significant improvements in body composition in the thirty-seven healthy men and women (61.6±5.3years) who participated in the randomized trial.

Is cooling a useful tool for performance recovery?

(Poppendieck. 2013) -- According to the latest review by scientists from the University of Saarbrücken, Germany, "the average effects of cooling on recovery of trained athletes were rather small (2.4%, g=0.28)" (Poppendieck. 2013) With a peak in performance increase roughly 4-days after the initially exercise bout and the greatest benefit being observed with endurance athletes, it does also look as if there were particular subgroups of athletes who'd benefit most: Those expose their bodies to several high intensity stimuli within a relatively short timespan, namely.
What about pre-cooling, then? With average performance increases of +8.6%, +6.0% and +4.2% endurance athletes performing open-end tests, graded exercise tests and time trials are the ones who benefit most. Similar effect was observed for intermittent sprints (+3.3%, g = 0.43), whereas performance changes were smaller during short-term, high-intensity sprints (−0.5%, g = 0.03). Across all sports included in the most recent review of the literature (Wegman. 2012), cooling the musculature before a training session will have a larger effect on performance in hot (+6.6%, g=0.62) than in moderate temperatures (+1.4%, g = 0.004).
The most promising cooling methods were cold drinks (+15.0%, g= 1.68), cooling packs (+5.6%, g = 0.70) and a cooled room (+10.7%, g = 0.49), whereas a cooling vest (+4.8%, g = 0.31) and water application (+1.2%, g = 0.21) showed only small effects. Regardless of the method, the best trained subjects (highest VO2Max) saw the greatest benefits.
For those who want to try it and don't have access to a cryotherapy chamber (effect +3.8%), I'd recommend to go "hard core" and do - irrespective of which muscle group you may have been training - a full-body water immersion. The latter has been shown to be 70% more effective than water immersion of individual body parts. The use of icepacks, on the other hand, will rather compromise than promote recovery (-1.4%).

Two bad, one good news: The first bad news is that this was it for today - at least if you don't count the facebook news that are already available, e.g.
  • Black cohosh for breast cancer prevention? The jury is still out there (learn more)
  • Adiponektin does not work in women? With a low type II fiber count and correspondingly lower receptor density it is at least not as effective as in men (learn more)
  • Whole grains taste like sh*t? That's at least what the participants of a recent epidemiological study thing and probably also the reason they won't eat them (learn more)

as well as as those I am still going to post within what probably would count as "today" at least for some of you.

These pics are more than 2 weeks old and I can tell you that Adelfo's "anatomy chart" physique has kept improving ;-)
The 2nd bad news is that there won't be a SuppVersity Science Round-Up tomorrow. I had hoped that my voice would recover, but since it failed me several times in the cause of the day, I heavily doubt that you would understand anything I would be grunting into the phone, anyway.

But don't worry, there is also good news. Tomorrow is one of those "every other week" Thursday's where Adelfo Cerame is "in the house" and will (at least that was the pan last week) fill you in on the differences between the current and previous content preps... and I can assure you that's going to be a post even those who are not planning to compete will probably find very useful (I hope you read this Adelfo, 'cause I am just rising the bar, here ;-)

  • Baron JA, Beach M, Wallace K, Grau MV, Sandler RS, Mandel JS, Heber D, Greenberg ER. Risk of prostate cancer in a randomized clinical trial of calcium supplementation. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Mar;14(3):586-9.
  • Holliss BA, Fulford J, Vanhatalo A, Pedlar CR, Jones AM. Influence of intermittent hypoxic training on muscle energetics and exercise tolerance. J Appl Physiol. 2013 Jan 10. 
  • McCrory JL, Salacinski AJ, Hunt Sellhorst SE, Greenspan SL. Competitive Athletic Participation, Thigh Muscle Strength, And Bone Density In Elite Senior Athletes And Controls. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Feb 25. 
  • Poppendieck W, Faude O, Wegmann M, Meyer T. Cooling and Performance Recovery of Trained Athletes - a Meta-Analytical Review. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013 Feb 02.
  • Romero-Arenas S, Blazevich AJ, Martínez-Pascual M, Pérez-Gómez J, Luque AJ, López-Román FJ, Alcaraz PE. Effects of high-resistance circuit training in an elderly population. Exp Gerontol. 2013 Mar;48(3):334-40.
  • Simão R, Leite RD, Speretta GF, Maior AS, de Salles BF, de Souza Junior TP, Vingren JL, Willardson JM. Influence of upper-body exercise order on hormonal responses in trained men. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013 Feb;38(2):177-81.
  • Spence LA, Weaver CM. Calcium intake, vascular calcification, and vascular disease. Nutr Rev. 2013 Jan;71(1):15-22.
  • Wegmann M, Faude O, Poppendieck W, Hecksteden A, Fröhlich M, Meyer T. Pre-cooling and sports performance: a meta-analytical review. Sports Med. 2012 Jul 1;42(7):545-64.