Monday, January 19, 2009

Recovery...Get Into It

It’s really easy to “get into” muscle growth – work out hard and stay dedicated, and the muscle will come, right? Maybe, but it’s not that simple.

While many bodybuilders have no problem training all-out, many don’t give recovery the respect it’s due. But the fact is, working out builds muscle, but it can also hurt you – for days after you’re out of the gym.

A new study by Greek researchers examined the effects of a hard workout on oxidant levels and the effects of oxidant activity on lipids, proteins and DNA. Researchers found that a hard workout increases the oxidation of fatty acids (lipids) and proteins and increases damage to your DNA. This is well-established, so this study confirmed what we already know. But researchers also found something else: A hard workout also causes oxidative damage to your muscles – regardless of fiber type – and this damage can persist for days after you’ve gone all-out.

So here’s your FUSION FACTOID: If you want to grow, you’ve got to “get into” recovery. Make it a habit and a priority. Immediately after going all-out, give your body the good stuff – proteins, fats and carbohydrates – and drink plenty of water. And keep it up, because it can take days – not hours – to recover from a single workout. Finally, don’t be afraid to step back and take it a little easy from time to time. Sometimes your best growth can come from doing nothing at all – especially if you train all-out all of the time!

- FUSION Research Team

Source: Nikolaidis MG et al. The effect of muscle-damaging exercise on blood and skeletal muscle oxidative stress magnitude and time-course considerations. Sports Med. 2008; 38(7):579-606.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Maximum Power...

When it comes to muscle growth, nothing is more important than power. But have you ever wondered just how strong your muscles are? In other words, how much you can lift to hit your maximum power threshold, driving your muscle growth even further? Now you can find out.

Scientists investigating the relationship between load and muscle power output had 55 males and 48 females do power movements such as squats and bench press at various percentages of their one-repetition maximum lift (1-RM). After crunching the numbers, researchers found that the optimal muscle output range is between 50 and 70 percent of 1-RM. Further, they found that the optimal load during the “acceleration phase” – when you’re pushing up the weight – appears to be more important for muscle growth than any other phase of the exercise movement. Applying the optimal load during this phase is the key to muscle and strength. In other words, power counts!

At the conclusion of the study, researchers made it clear: “Based on these results, we suggest that the load to be lifted should not be based on 1-RM but should be based on the relationship between the 1-RM, the maximum power output, and the speed of movement.”

So here’s your FUSION FACTOID: Powerful muscles are big muscles that just keep getting bigger. If you want to get stronger, it’s simple ­– calculate your 1-RM, and then focus on perfecting your speed and power output during the “acceleration phase.”

- FUSION Research Team

Source: Jandacka D & Vaverka F. A regression model to determine load for maximum poweroutput. Sports Biomechanics. 2008;7(3):361­–371.

Monday, January 05, 2009


If you work out hard – if you hit the gym with the kind of gusto and ferocity that builds real muscle – chances are you do squats and deadlifts. And chances are that you’ve gotten back pain in the past, or you’re going to.

Naturally, there are treatment options for the severest of back pain, including physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic treatments. If it gets too bad, sometimes surgery is needed. But there’s another option, and it’s one that many personal trainers tout as superior to most other non-surgical methods: stabilization exercises.

A study examining the effects of stabilization exercises on low back pain reviewed the existing research – 18 studies in total. It found some evidence favoring using stabilization exercises for chronic back pain, but not much showing that they were superior to conventional medical treatments.

So here’s your FUSION FACTOID: If you work out hard, your back is probably going to get sore, so use every tool you can to treat it. Do stabilization exercises along with whatever conventional treatments your doctor recommends. By doing this, you’ll say goodbye to the pain and be back in the gym faster than ever!

- FUSION Research Team

Source: May S, et al. Stabilization exercises for low back pain: a systematic review. Physiotherapy. 2008;94:179-189.