Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Overcome strength-training plateau with accentuated ccentric loading

Posted on by Stone Hearth News    

 Hitting a plateau in strength training? The answer to overcoming it might lie in accentuated eccentric loading (AEL).

Many experienced strength trainers try to overcome a plateau by trying to adapt their strength programme, however this is sometimes ineffective. In just five weeks accentuated eccentric loading training considerably improved results for experienced strength-trainers, a study recently published in Frontiers in Physiology found.

This method is based on the principle of repetitive muscle contractions applying a greater external load during the muscle’s lengthening, the eccentric phase of the lift, than in the shortening, the concentric phase. The eccentric phase, for example, is the action of lowering the dumbbell back down from the lift during a biceps curl, as long as the dumbbell is lowered slowly rather than letting it drop.
This is different to the very popular isoinertial training where the same weight is used in both stages of the movement.

“It is important to train using actions that are highly specific to normal actions. I have always been interested in trying to optimize training because lots of people train hard, but I want those people to train smart allowing them to get the most out of their efforts; ” explained Dr. Simon Walker from the Department of Biology of Physical Activity at University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

He added: “It was clear that the force production capacity during eccentric actions was not being utilized during traditional isoinertial training.”

To determine the effects of accentuated eccentric loading the scientists conducted a ten week experiment applied to 28 experienced male strength-trainers separated into three groups: two groups (one using AEL and the other isoinertial training) were exposed to supervision, motivation, greater loading intensities, immediate post-training protein consumption and assistance at concentric failure, meanwhile the third group continued their normal unsupervised training program.

The results for the group using the accentuated eccentric load training were remarkable after the fifth week observing an increase of force production, work capacity, muscle activation and resistance compared to the other groups. However, both AEL and isoinertial methods were equally effective to increase the cross-sectional area of the quadriceps muscle, in subjects accustomed to resistance training.

“This information can modify people’s training methods and perhaps highlight contemporary training methods that can be included and periodized into people’s training regimes, this can range from patient groups to the elderly right through to athletes;” said Dr. Walker.

Evidently, the benefits of accentuated eccentric loading in already-trained individuals may take some time to manifest and, therefore, even several sessions of training may be insufficient to produce meaningful improvements.

“This is no magic pill that will suddenly create huge differences over systematic hard work. smart periodization, and nutrition; but it can give a boost or kick start to overcoming a plateau in strength and muscle mass development;” he continued.

However, it would be interesting to examine if adapting to even longer training periods of accentuated eccentric loading in the future will produce continued improvements or if otherwise the continuous high intensity may lead to over-reaching.

“There are lots of unresolved issues still, such as how AEL may affect recovery, training frequency, and also whether training intensity and volume should be adjusted to better suit the individual. Nevertheless, this study alone gives good evidence that athletes can work on a problematic area, for example to develop strength and muscle mass, by using this method when stagnation has occurred;” added Dr. Walker.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dietary fiber intake tied to successful aging, research reveals


Most people know that a diet high in fiber helps to keep us “regular.” Now Australian researchers have uncovered a surprising benefit of this often-undervalued dietary component.
A new paper — published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences by scientists from The Westmead Institute for Medical Research — reports that eating the right amount of fiber from breads, cereals, and fruits can help us avoid disease and disability into old age.

Using data compiled from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study that examined a cohort of more than 1,600 adults aged 50 years and older for long-term sensory loss risk factors and systemic diseases, the researchers explored the relationship between carbohydrate nutrition and healthy aging.

They found that out of all the factors they examined — which included a person’s total carbohydrate intake, total fiber intake, glycemic index, glycemic load, and sugar intake — it was the fiber that made the biggest difference to what the researchers termed “successful aging.”

Successful aging was defined as including an absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases including cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke.

According to lead author of the paper, Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath, PhD, from the Institute’s Centre for Vision Research, the study is the first to look at the relationship between carbohydrate intake and healthy aging, and the results were significant enough to warrant further investigation.

“Out of all the variables that we looked at, fiber intake — which is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest — had the strongest influence,” she said. “Essentially, we found that those who had the highest intake of fiber or total fiber actually had an almost 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up. That is, they were less likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional disability.”

While it might have been expected that the level of sugar intake would make the biggest impact on successful aging, Gopinath pointed out that the particular group they examined were older adults whose intake of carbonated and sugary drinks was quite low.

Although it is too early to use the study results as a basis for dietary advice, Gopinath said the research has opened up a new avenue for exploration.

“There are a lot of other large cohort studies that could pursue this further and see if they can find similar associations. And it would also be interesting to tease out the mechanisms that are actually linking these variables,” she said.

This study backs up similar recent findings by the researchers, which highlight the importance of the overall diet and healthy aging.

In another study published last year in The Journals of Gerontology, Westmead Institute researchers found that, in general, adults who closely adhered to recommended national dietary guidelines reached old age with an absence of chronic diseases and disability, and had good functional and mental health status.

Anabolic Steroid Abuse May Increase Risk of Abnormal Heart Rhythm and Stroke


Newswise — Research has already shown that taking anabolic steroids is associated with high blood pressure and an increased risk of developing heart conditions such as left ventricular hypertrophy.
Now research, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation and being presented on 6th June at this year’s British Cardiovascular Society conference, has shown that for some people misusing steroids can be particularly dangerous.

A team of researchers from the University of Birmingham have found evidence to suggest that, when taken by people with the inherited heart condition arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), steroids could lead to changes in heart muscle structure and problems with the heart’s electrical signals. These changes would then increase the likelihood that people taking steroids would suffer from atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm disorder which is itself a major cause of stroke.

ARVC is caused by a mutation in one or more genes responsible for producing the proteins that hold the heart muscle together. The researchers gave dihydrotestosterone, an anabolic steroid commonly used to enhance athletic performance, to mice with a deficiency in one of these same proteins.
They found that, in these hearts, the electrical signal that tells when the heart to beat travelled around the heart more slowly than usual. This slowing down of electrical activity put these hearts at greater risk of dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK have used anabolic steroids for non-medical purposes in their lifetime (1). Anabolic steroids are prescription-only medicines that are sometimes taken without medical advice to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance. If used in this way, they can cause serious side effects and addiction.

Larissa Fabritz, senior author and reader in cardiovascular sciences at the University of Birmingham, said:

“With one in every five men joining a gym in the UK using performance enhancing anabolic steroids the misuse of steroids is fast becoming an emerging global health problem. Our results show that the misuse of steroids could explain why seemingly healthy individuals are suffering from serious heart problems.”

Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:
“This study reinforces the evidence that using anabolic steroids can have untoward and possibly dangerous side effects, particularly in those who (often unknowingly) have heart problems.”
Find out more about the British Cardiovascular Society Conference at bcs.com/conference.

Pilates improves disability, pain, flexibility and balance in low back pain patients: new study

Posted on by Stone Hearth News    

Clin Rehabil. 2016 Jun 3. pii: 0269215516651978. [Epub ahead of print]
Results of a Pilates exercise program in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain: A randomized controlled trial.
Valenza MC1, Rodríguez-Torres J2, Cabrera-Martos I2, Díaz-Pelegrina A2, Aguilar-Ferrándiz ME2, Castellote-Caballero Y2.
Author information
1Physiotherapy Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Granada, Spain cvalenza@ugr.es.
2Physiotherapy Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Granada, Spain.



To investigate the effects of a Pilates exercise program on disability, pain, lumbar mobility, flexibility and balance in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain.
Randomized controlled trial.
University laboratory.


A total of 54 patients with chronic non-specific low back pain.


Patients were randomly allocated to an experimental group (n=27) included in a Pilates exercise program or to a control group (n=27) receiving information in a form of a leaflet.


Disability (Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire and Oswestry Disability Index), current, average and pain at it least and at its worst (Visual Analogue Scales), lumbar mobility (modified Shober test), flexibility (finger-to-floor test) and balance (single limb stance test) were measured at baseline and after the intervention.


A between-group analysis showed significant differences in the intervention group compared to the control group for both disability scores, the Rolland-Morris questionnaire (mean change±standard deviation of 5.31±3.37 and 2.40±6.78 respectively and between-groups mean difference of 3.2 ± 4.12, p=0.003) and the Oswestry Disability Index (p<0.001), current pain (p=0.002) and pain at it least (p=0.033), flexibility (0.032) and balance (0.043).
An 8-week Pilates exercise program is effective in improving disability, pain, flexibility and balance in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain.

Exercise training seems to induce an antioxidant effect: Sports Med journal

Posted on by Stone Hearth News    

Sports Med. 2016 Jun 3. [Epub ahead of print]

The Antioxidant Effect of Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
de Sousa CV1, Sales MM2, Rosa TS2, Lewis JE3, de Andrade RV4, Simões HG2.
Author information

1Graduate Program in Physical Education, Universidade Católica de Brasília, EPTC, QS07, LT1 s/n. Bloco G Sala 15, Taguatinga, Brasília, DF, 72030-170, Brazil. cvsousa89@gmail.com.
2Graduate Program in Physical Education, Universidade Católica de Brasília, EPTC, QS07, LT1 s/n. Bloco G Sala 15, Taguatinga, Brasília, DF, 72030-170, Brazil.
3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA.
4Graduate Program in Genomic Sciences and Biotechnology, Universidade Católica de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil.



Physical activity has been associated with reduced oxidative stress (OS) in observational studies and clinical trials.


The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials was to determine the effect of physical exercise on OS parameters.


We conducted a systematic review of the literature up to March 2016 that included the following databases: PubMed, SCOPUS, and Web of Science. A keyword combination referring to exercise training and OS was included as part of a more thorough search process. We also manually searched the reference lists of the articles. From an initial 1573 references, we included 30 controlled trials (1346 participants) in the qualitative analysis, 19 of which were included in the meta-analysis. All trials were conducted in humans and had at least one exercise intervention and a paired control group. Using a standardized protocol, two investigators independently abstracted data on study design, sample size, participant characteristics, intervention, follow-up duration, outcomes, and quantitative data for the meta-analysis. Thus, the investigators independently assigned quality scores with a methodological quality assessment (MQA).


The agreement level between the reviewers was 85.3 %. Discrepancies were solved in a consensus meeting. The MQA showed a total score in the quality index between 40 and 90 % and a mean quality of 55 %. Further, in a random-effects model, data from each trial were pooled and weighted by the inverse of the total variance. Physical training was associated with a significant reduction in pro-oxidant parameters (standard mean difference [SMD] -1.08; 95 % confidence interval [CI] -1.57 to -0.58; p < 0.001) and an increase in antioxidant capacity (SMD 1.45; 95 % CI 0.83-2.06; p < 0.001).


The pooled analysis revealed that regardless of intensity, volume, type of exercise, and studied population, the antioxidant indicators tended to increase and pro-oxidant indicators tended to decrease after training. Therefore, we conclude that exercise training seems to induce an antioxidant effect. Thus, it is suggested that people practice some kind of exercise to balance the redox state, regardless of their health status, to improve health-related outcomes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Extended Rest Between Weight Lifting Sets Could Help Muscle Growth: New Data


Newswise — Researchers from the University of Birmingham have found that extended rest intervals between sets of weight-lifting could help with muscle growth.

The findings, published in Experimental Physiology, go against the conventional belief that favours shorter periods of rest. The study highlights that short rest intervals may actually impair the processes that control muscle growth.

16 males completed resistance exercises interspersed by either one minute or five minutes of rest. Muscle biopsies were obtained at 0, 4, 24 and 28 hours post-exercise and analysed to determine myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) and intercellular signalling.

In the early part of recovery, the increase in MPS from resting levels was two-fold greater in those with longer rest periods. They saw a 152% increase, versus 76% increase in those with short rest intervals.

Dr Leigh Breen, from the University of Birmingham, explained, “With short rests of one minute, though the hormonal response is superior, the actual muscle response is blunted. If you’re looking for maximised muscle growth with your training programme, a slightly longer interval between sets may provide a better chance of having the muscle response you’re looking for.”

The team recommend that novices starting out on weight training programs should take sufficient rest, of at least 2-3 minutes, between weight lifting sets.

Dr Breen added, “Over time, they may need to find ways to push beyond the plateau of muscle building that commonly occurs, and so may gradually decrease their rest periods. For experienced lifters, it’s possible that they may not experience the same blunted muscle building response to short rest intervals, particularly if they have trained this way for a prolonged period and adapted to this unique metabolic stress. Nonetheless, similar recommendations of 2-3 minutes between sets should help to ensure maximal muscle growth in well trained individuals”.

The research team are currently following up the investigation with a longer term study to see effects over a number of months, and further research into how individuals can maximise their training outcomes by manipulating variables, such a rest, in their training.

The paper ‘Short Inter-Set Rest Blunts Resistance Exercise-Induced Increases in Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis and Intracellular Signaling in Young Males.’ (doi: 10.1113/EP085647), was accepted in Experimental Physiology and published online on 29 April 2016.

Research-Based Exercise Program Turning Preschoolers Into ‘Fit Kids’: UVM



Newswise — It’s a weekday morning, and senior Reuben Brough is running around a gym at King Street Youth Center waving his hands in the air and screeching like a cheetah. A stream of children is in hot pursuit of him and four other UVM students who implore the preschoolers to “catch the cheetah.”

It looks like total chaos as Brough, now a shark, yells “fishies, fishes cross my ocean,” daring the children to run past him at half court. But there’s a method to the madness, which is really a highly structured, research-based fitness program designed by Betsy Hoza, Bishop Joyce Chair of Human Development and professor of psychological science, called Children and Teachers (CATs) on the Move.

“We have an agenda, responsibilities, and plenty of unexpected daily obstacles with the children that we have to attend to and be ready for,” says Brough, an exercise science major who manages to run, jump and dance along with the children for 30 minutes. “Overall, it’s a very fulfilling experience, and the kids learn and practice important executive functioning, motor and communication skills.”
The innovative program, co-developed by Alan Smith, professor and chairperson of the Department of Kinesiology at Michigan State University, is having positive physical and physiological impacts on children at five local preschools and one elementary school. It is run by teachers with the help of 31 students in Hoza’s Fit Kids Applied Research service-leaning course, which covers the science and practice of promoting school readiness and performance through structured physical activity. Students engage children in aerobic activity for a half-hour using developmentally appropriate games from a manual assembled by Hoza and Smith with names like Sharks and Minnows, Monster, Inc., Chinese Ribbons, and Animal Locomotion.

Hoza, whose research focuses on evidence-based treatments for the social, academic and self-system issues faced by children with ADHD, came up with the idea for CATs while conducting studies on the effects of aerobic activity on the cognitive, social, and behavioral functioning in both ADHD-risk and typically developing children. Her articles in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and the Journal of Attention Disorders showed that physical activity interventions reduced the severity of ADHD symptoms such as inattention, moodiness and other impairments, but also showed similarly positive outcomes for typically developing children.

Hoza launched a pilot program in the fall of 2016 with an extensive manual that included directions, graphics and photos for dozens of developmentally appropriate games. “It’s not rocket science, but what’s different is the philosophy behind it,” Hoza says. “We are trying to find ways to get young kids to do sustained aerobic activity so that it feels like fun and games to them.”

The main idea behind the course, Hoza says, was to find a mechanism for working directly with community partners wanting to promote physical activity in their kids. “Teachers liked the idea, but said they were busy and would need support, which gave me the idea for Fit Kids,” she says. “Everyone wins: schools get a cost-effective physical activity program; children benefit from it; and students get hands-on experience with populations they may work with down the road as well as experience collecting data and being involved in a research project.”

A variety of data are collected to measure the success of CATs. Students solicit pre- and post-program teacher ratings and observations; record results of tasks that assess cognitive functioning in children; and take information from accelerometers — a device that children wear to measure levels of activity in real time. Sometimes the results are purely observational.

“When we first started the program kids couldn’t last the whole time,” says Leisa Halligan, a preschool and special education teacher at Flynn Elementary School. “But we had a prompt that if the kids weren’t running they had to walk. The number of times that we used the prompt greatly diminished throughout the sessions. The kids are now running and running and running. Having UVM students coming in four days a week with lots of energy and positive vibes has been an overall really positive experience for our kids who just love it.”

Teachers and UVM students are required to go through a rigorous training program before they launch CATs at a school. Once implemented, they complete either five- and eight-minute stations along with the children who start a new exercise every five minutes. Most of the children, as well as the adults leading them, appear a little tired, but exhilarated and happy by the end.

“It’s a truly rewarding experience building friendships with these children who are so happy to see us when we arrive and are always so excited to jump right into the day’s activities,” says psychological science major Shaelynn Hickey. “Disguising the intense aerobic exercise as a fun and innovative game works wonders with the children. The program is a truly ingenious approach to assisting our youth’s cognitive development. I’m so excited to see where the future will lead Fit Kids.”

Hoza plans to expand the program by designing developmentally appropriate curricula for older elementary, middle and high schools interested in the program. She also plans to include faculty from other disciplines including Connie Tompkins, assistant professor of exercise physiology, who runs a successful weight loss program for children and Lori Meyer, assistant professor in early childhood education and early childhood special education, to create more inclusive curriculum for kids with developmental disabilities.