What to do with low responders?
Posted: 28 November 2011 11:19 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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The ‘1/4/8 set’ thread got me thinking. see thread: http://www.exercisebiology.com/index.php/forums/viewthread/511/

We all know the standard advises given towards low responders (or hard gainers) to weight training: Eat more, train more intensely, get more rest, less stress, do volume, do HIT, do something else and off course the classic advise to get off the thread.

But what does the research tell us about what to do, training wise, with low responders? (don’t like the term hardgainers) These researchers http://www.springerlink.com/content/h42250t22j1x313k/ (also see ‘1/4/8 set’ thread) suggest too increase the volume, without having much evidence to prove this.

I have looked around on sholar, but can’t find that many studies about this. Most studies don’t even distinguish between low and high responders. If somebody got some research about this, please post it below.

I already have these:
http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2005/06000/Variability_in_Muscle_Size_and_Strength_Gain_after.10.aspx
http://jap.physiology.org/content/110/2/309.short
https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/abstract/sportsmed/doi/10.1055/s-2002-35076

Thanks

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Posted: 01 December 2011 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Really? No one?

Ok, let’s ask a additional, more specific, question then.

Is there any proof that low responders to high volume respond better to low volume training in terms of hypertrophy?

Because else I would say to everyone who is not growing to up the volume. (assuming they already work to failure)

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Posted: 01 December 2011 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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FD, you pose what I think are some very good questions. I have not seen a lot of references in resistance studies to the response curve of low and high responsive trainees. I have never seen a study where they took a group of what would be considered low responsive groups and tested them with different protocols. One of the facets that fascinated me in studying the effects of blood flow restriction was the response of populations(older females etc)who are thought to have difficulty in developing muscle hypertrophy.

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Posted: 02 December 2011 03:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Some people just don’t have the right genetics. It is just like any other sport or any other aspect in life.

I think we still haven’t figured out what is optimum when it comes to intensity or volume or frequency for just regular responders. We thought it was all 8-12 and now Dr. Phillip comes and say we got it all wrong.

I might have to read that study over. And mind you they just used squats. Most people do 2-3 exercises for 3-4 sets for legs. I wished they measured muscle volume.

And good questions.

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Posted: 02 December 2011 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I agree that genetics probably has a role on the physiological effects of resistance training. I think though one should also consider the long term effects of training and the chronic stress of heavier resistance training. Some long term trainees can tolerate higher load lifting till their later years, but from my experience these trainees are in the minority. Either you read about or have met or have had as patients those walking wounded who performed heavy squats, bench press etc. for five, ten or more years and regret the overall effects of their training.

The recent works coming out of McMaster U. and Wernbom in Europe suggests that perhaps similar results to traditional training may be achieved using a lesser load. They both seem to show a common thread that when a lower load is used for multiple sets and those sets are executed to momentary failure without a ballistic cadence and perhaps shorter rests between sets, you may create a response similar to traditional higher load resistance training. For those who intend on using resistance training as a long-term form of exercise, some may want to rethink their training.

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Posted: 02 December 2011 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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anoopbal - 02 December 2011 03:10 AM

Some people just don’t have the right genetics. It is just like any other sport or any other aspect in life.

I think we still haven’t figured out what is optimum when it comes to intensity or volume or frequency for just regular responders. We thought it was all 8-12 and now Dr. Phillip comes and say we got it all wrong.

I might have to read that study over. And mind you they just used squats. Most people do 2-3 exercises for 3-4 sets for legs. I wished they measured muscle volume.

And good questions.

First off: Genetics (alone) may not be the problem, although response to weight training seems to be static. see the identical twins study I posted above and the other one.

Knowledge of the optimum volume for regular responder may turn out to be as usefull as knowing everything about the average American. He/she does not exist. Scienctists may be missing a lot valuable information be not researching the outliners(high and low responders).

It is assumed that 90% of people is an average responder, but is this really true? Anyone got a study that adjusts for all selection effects? Because if not, most research may be considered useless in some aspects to the individual. However, most research does exclude extreme outliners from analysis to keep the statistics in order and eventually the study group is made large enough to temper the confounding effects of outliners. Then again, I do wonder if not considering outliners in research actually help cause the outliner study results in this research field. This may include Phillips study outcomes too, I don’t know.

You speak of regular responders, but how big is this group compared with the low and high responders? I know this is determined by setting the drop-off-points, but then still there is a point where the advise for regular responders becomes useless to low and high responders. And how far do the extremes actually lie apart?

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Posted: 02 December 2011 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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near60lifter - 01 December 2011 08:50 PM

FD, you pose what I think are some very good questions. I have not seen a lot of references in resistance studies to the response curve of low and high responsive trainees. I have never seen a study where they took a group of what would be considered low responsive groups and tested them with different protocols. One of the facets that fascinated me in studying the effects of blood flow restriction was the response of populations(older females etc)who are thought to have difficulty in developing muscle hypertrophy.

Good point and you just made this discussion more complicated. wink

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Posted: 02 December 2011 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Somebody else also may be asking some similar questions. http://jap.physiology.org/content/110/3/846.abstract

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Posted: 02 December 2011 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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near60lifter - 02 December 2011 02:01 PM

Somebody else also may be asking some similar questions. http://jap.physiology.org/content/110/3/846.abstract

Good find. Nice to see someone is focussing on low responders. I would be even nicer if someone would develop a training method aimed at and actually tested on low responders.(in this case, people who don’t respond well to low and high volume training) Instead, most training methods aimed at low responders earn their credibility with the results famous high responders get by using them.

I ones saw a study connecting low muscle satelite cell count with low response, but I can’t find it now.

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Posted: 03 December 2011 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I too remember reading about the low muscle satellite count. In my studying about blood flow restriction, this study of satellite cells was interesting-http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2011/05001/Rapid_Increases_in_Myogenic_Satellite_Cells.2154.aspx          

One of the reasons possibly there is so little about those who respond poorly is that much of the research has been developed to help the athlete. They are usually a high response group and so training to enhance their performance even further is the goal of the researchers.

My belief is that no matter how you train in the short term you will hit a plateau. Within two years you should have a good idea of your hypertrophy potential. The high response person will possibly gain 20-40+ pounds. The hardgainer perhaps 5-15 pounds. You can attempt through anabolics to become a “artificially” high response individual which I have done and have known many others who have gone this route. It is unfortunately a temporary condition and you join the mere mortals again when these substances are removed. The fraud that is today’s bodybuilding with images of oversized, overdrugged, trainees sets a impossible goal for the average trainee. I think it is best to train to reach your natural potential and find a healthy way to maintain it.

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Posted: 03 December 2011 06:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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near60lifter - 03 December 2011 12:22 AM

I too remember reading about the low muscle satellite count. In my studying about blood flow restriction, this study of satellite cells was interesting-http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2011/05001/Rapid_Increases_in_Myogenic_Satellite_Cells.2154.aspx          

One of the reasons possibly there is so little about those who respond poorly is that much of the research has been developed to help the athlete. They are usually a high response group and so training to enhance their performance even further is the goal of the researchers.

My belief is that no matter how you train in the short term you will hit a plateau. Within two years you should have a good idea of your hypertrophy potential. The high response person will possibly gain 20-40+ pounds. The hardgainer perhaps 5-15 pounds. You can attempt through anabolics to become a “artificially” high response individual which I have done and have known many others who have gone this route. It is unfortunately a temporary condition and you join the mere mortals again when these substances are removed. The fraud that is today’s bodybuilding with images of oversized, overdrugged, trainees sets a impossible goal for the average trainee. I think it is best to train to reach your natural potential and find a healthy way to maintain it.

“CONCLUSION: Five days (7 sessions) of low-resistance training using BFR led to marked muscle fiber hypertrophy (+37 to +48%) that was accompanied by highly upregulated satellite cell activation and myonuclei addition.” Isn’t a 37-48% increase in one week an enormous amount of muscle growth? Too bad they did not compare this routine with normal lifting at the same sudden frequency. It would be very cool if occlusion (or a high frequency blitz) turns out to increase ones response to following training sessions, if only for some time. It’s not likely, but I can dream, right?

Thanks for being so honest about your drug past, by the way.

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Posted: 03 December 2011 09:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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There are other studies demonstrating increases in satellite cells per fiber after performing resistance training. Many used maximum eccentric training. A paper from Wernbom using blood flow restriction also found a large increase in satellite cells post training. In fact they found 33-36% increase after one hour of training and the author notes that he could not find any other study that documents this rapid effect. Wernbom believes that this effect is due to swelling of activated cells. He found that when comparing BFR and free flow limb, both had the increases in SC and believes that the free flow limb result was because of the “ischemic” effect of the “no relaxation” form of exercise they used for training. In his recent paper, he gives some small hints that perhaps we should look at lower load training but with perhaps with a particular protocol. I wonder if the results that Phillips is achieving with lower load resistance training is also from the form of training that they are using that also has no relaxation-continuous motion?

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Posted: 04 December 2011 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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near60lifter - 03 December 2011 09:56 PM

There are other studies demonstrating increases in satellite cells per fiber after performing resistance training. Many used maximum eccentric training. A paper from Wernbom using blood flow restriction also found a large increase in satellite cells post training. In fact they found 33-36% increase after one hour of training and the author notes that he could not find any other study that documents this rapid effect. Wernbom believes that this effect is due to swelling of activated cells. He found that when comparing BFR and free flow limb, both had the increases in SC and believes that the free flow limb result was because of the “ischemic” effect of the “no relaxation” form of exercise they used for training. In his recent paper, he gives some small hints that perhaps we should look at lower load training but with perhaps with a particular protocol. I wonder if the results that Phillips is achieving with lower load resistance training is also from the form of training that they are using that also has no relaxation-continuous motion?

I am guessing you mean Wernbom’s dissertation?(2011) I am reading it now. The part about how the individual variation in response is very large is also very interesting. It can be 10-fold appearantly, which answers one of my questions.

Edit: Is there a large individual variation in response in the studies you have seen on occlussion training?

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Posted: 19 December 2011 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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The comment from near60lifter about looking at older people and women as low responders got me thinking. Off course we need to assume that what works well for these groups will also work well for young low responders, because all these groups have the same reasons for not responding well. This is a big assumption, but it does allow us to look at more research when wanting to find out how to help low responders.

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2011/07000/Exercise_Dosing_to_Retain_Resistance_Training.7.aspx

Using this logic we may even go a bit further and assume the study above may have some merit in this discussion. IMO this study imply that low responders need to train with greater volume (or frequency imo) to at least maintain their results than high responders. It could be assumed from this that low responders also need more volume to increase their strength and muscle mass. The only problem I sense in this assumption is that in higher volume and frequency routines recovery becomes an issue. Yet how large this issue really is is not clear to me.

Overtraining or underrecovery studies I have seen don’t focus on the impact on the results, but mostly on biochemical processes or they do investigate the issue, but use totally extreme routine that also involve a lot of endurance work for instance. In some studies overtraining is assumed by the authors to may have been a factor for unexpected small results, but assumption is not enough.

Anyone got some research to help me out?

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