Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who Are You Talking To?

We’ve all seen him: the guy at the gym who goes there more for a social gathering than a workout. And we’ve all seen his physique, the one that looks the same year after year – the same size, the same conditioning. While he does a lot of talking, he doesn’t do much working, so he doesn’t grow. No surprise there.

But if you go to the gym, research shows that you should be talking ­– to yourself.

A study has examined the effects of “self-talk” on exercise performance and found that although talking to yourself during exercise doesn’t produce overly dramatic effects, the results are pretty impressive. By talking to yourself, the scientists say, you give yourself time to take stock of your workout and how you feel, and to better concentrate and direct your efforts for that next gut-busting set. In short, talking to yourself and getting yourself “in the zone” really does improve your exercise performance.

So here’s your FUSION FACTOID: Avoid Mr. or Mrs. Loose Lips and talk to yourself instead. Although talking to others can be fun, you’re most interested in building muscle, and by talking to yourself, you can build more of it.

- FUSION Research Team

Source: Gibson ASC, et al. The role of self-talk in the awareness of physiological state and physical performance. Sports Med. 2007;37(12):1029-1044.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Stretch and Grow?

Experts have long preached about the virtues of stretching. It keeps you strong, limber, flexible and injury-free, and can even cause you to grow more muscle.

While there’s no doubt that stretching is essential for bodybuilders, some experts have taken this one step further, claiming that by stretching, you can selectively recruit and activate specific kinds of muscle fibers – especially the white, fast-twitch muscle fibers that get you huge and strong in a hurry. But is this true? Can stretching really activate these specific fibers more than others?

Not really – and now we have proof.

A study examined the effects of stretching on the activation and stimulation of both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. The researchers found that rather than triggering fast-twitch muscle fibers specifically, stretching was more general in nature, equally affecting the activation of both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers.

So, here’s your FUSION FACTOID: While there’s no doubt that stretching is extremely beneficial and can keep you limber, flexible, functional and injury-free, the science proves stretching can’t activate one specific muscle fiber type to trigger growth.

- FUSION Research Team

Source: Chalmers, Gordon. Can fast-twitch muscle fibres be selectively recruited during lengthening contractions? Review and applications to sport movements. Sports Biomechanics. January 2008;7(1):137–157.