Keeping Up with Current Research (September 2016)

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:

A New RPE Scale for Resistance Training

“Ratings of perceived exertion are a valid method of estimating the intensity of a resistance training exercise or session. Scores are given after completion of an exercise or training session for the purposes of athlete monitoring. However, a newly developed scale based on how many repetitions are remaining at the completion of a set may be a more precise tool. This approach adjusts loads automatically to match athlete capabilities on a set-to-set basis and may more accurately gauge intensity at near-limit loads.”


Note: On page 19 of The Elite Trainer, I discuss the main limitation of RPE scales in strength training. The repetitions in reserve-based scale seems to be a more accurate method of determining near-limit loads. Consider adding this scale to your training log as an additional variable to track.

Alternate-Day Fasting

“This study is the first randomized trial comparing ADF [alternate-day fasting] with moderate daily CR [caloric restriction]. Results suggest zero-calorie ADF is safe and tolerable, and is equivalent to moderate CR in producing short-term weight loss and improving body composition and metabolic parameters.”


Note: During a Q&A period, Dr. Christopher Gardner mentioned that caloric restriction is difficult to do for a long period of time and you wouldn’t be happy in the process. One option he suggested that may be viable is to fast every other day. Well, this study shows that alternate-day fasting is indeed safe and tolerable, but if you do plan to go this route, make sure to fast on days that you do not exercise.

Stressed Parents Produce Stressed Offspring

“In summary, our data support an intergenerational epigenetic priming of the physiological response to stress in offspring of highly traumatized individuals.”


Note: There are traumatic events in life that you just can’t control, and research shows that these stressful events may effect the health of your offspring. Chronic low-level stressors that you do have control of, such as sleep deprivation, food intolerances, overtraining, etc., and the way you react to stress may also have an adverse effect on your offspring. If you are concerned about the health of your children, stress management techniques should commence before they are born!

Steroid Abuse May Haunt You For Years

“Former AAS [anabolic androgenic steroids] abusers exhibited significantly lower plasma testosterone levels and higher frequencies of symptoms suggestive of hypogonadism than healthy control participants years after AAS cessation.”


Note: For more insight on this topic, read The Power Rack And The Power Pill and How To Restore Your Alpha Male Status.

Use Mental Imagery Before You Lift

“Overall, the results reveal that the combination of mental imagery and physical practice is more efficient than, or at least comparable to, physical execution with respect to strength performance. Imagery prevention intervention was also effective in reducing of strength loss after short-term muscle immobilization and ACL [anterior cruciate ligament]. The present review also indicates advantageous effects of internal imagery (range from 2.6 to 136.3%) for strength performance compared with external imagery (range from 4.8 to 23.2%). Typically, mental imagery with muscular activity was higher in active than passive muscles, and imagining “lifting a heavy object” resulted in more EMG activity compared with imagining “lifting a lighter object”. Thus, in samples of students, novices, or youth male and female athletes, internal mental imagery has a greater effect on muscle strength than external mental imagery does.”


Note: For a great way to implement this method, check out the section “A Mental Warm-Up” in my book The Warm-Up (now available on Kindle).

Blame Inactivity, Not Aging

“While physiological changes accompany aging that may negatively affect the performance of physical tasks, far too much credit has been given to the natural aging process rather than the effects of inactivity. Emerging evidence indicates strength or skill training interventions induce significant neuroplasticity in an aging population.”


Note: Whether the goal is to increase contralateral strength and muscle activation or to promote successful aging, one thing is clear: inactivity is not good!

High-Dose Fish Oil After A Heart Attack

“Treatment of patients with acute myocardial infarction with high-dose omega-3 fatty acids was associated with reduction of adverse left ventricular remodeling, noninfarct myocardial fibrosis, and serum biomarkers of systemic inflammation beyond current guideline-based standard of care.”


Note: Magnesium may also be useful, but be careful with calcium. By the way, if you have a hard time swallowing large pills, use the lean-forward technique.

Don’t Do Blood Flow Restriction Post-Exercise

“The application of blood flow restriction post high-load training did not augment muscle growth for either sex, and appeared to attenuate muscle growth among females.”


Note: The question is this: Is occlusion training even necessary? You be the judge.

Start Light

“This study suggests that starting with a lighter initial load results in the same improvements in strength as starting with a heavier initial load when employing a progressive wave loading strategy. It may therefore be advantageous to start with a lighter initial load, as the same results can be achieved for the exertion of less effort. This result tends to support the commonly espoused training recommendation to “start light” if employing a progressive wave loading strategy, such that an athlete does not train harder than is necessary to achieve a given improvement in strength.”


Note: Check out pages 22-25 of The Elite Trainer where I show you how to manipulate strength training parameters in a gradual, systemic manner to ensure continual progress.

Encourage Full Range of Motion

“The findings of the present study support the commonly held belief amongst athletes and coaches that a large ROM [range of motion] results in a higher level of muscular stress, which promotes greater muscle soreness and muscle damage.”


Note: If your goal is to increase muscle size, the greater the ROM you train in, the more muscle fiber you stimulate, and thus the greater the potential for hypertrophy. As Tom Platz used to say: “Half squats will give you half legs!” You can read more about this in Weight Training as a Tool.

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