Edited by Kate Findley and proofread by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily
Have you been sidelined by an injury? Professor Ormsbee explores the road less traveled when it comes to maintaining a weight training regimen.
Blood Flow Restriction
Typically, workout regimens are designed specifically to build muscular strength, endurance, and power. And now, other techniques are being designed to optimize muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth, and increase muscle mass. If you’re working with a trainer, you can discuss whether any of these new techniques would work well for you.
One technique is called blood flow restriction, or occlusion training. Essentially, you perform low-intensity resistance training—about 20% of your one repetition maximum.
You do this while also occluding blood flow with a tourniquet or tight wrap. While this may sound more like a torture device than an exercise routine, this type of training does offer many proposed benefits.
These benefits range from improved endurance training during aerobic exercise, such as walking; to increased muscle protein synthesis, through one of the main growth-promoting signaling proteins called mTOR; to the recruitment of more muscle fibers during exercise. Some research has even shown occlusion training to increase growth hormone, which may influence many beneficial physiological outcomes.
Supporters of occlusion training say it can produce the same responses as if you were to lift heavy weights, due to the buildup up of specific metabolites like adenosine monophosphate, inorganic phosphate, and lactate, as well as the depletion of phosphocreatine and a decrease in muscle pH, meaning increased acidity or muscle burn. Is it any better than doing traditional training, though?
“The short answer is not really,” Professor Ormsbee said. “It can be added as a supplement, but it shouldn’t replace your normal training program. In my opinion, you might use it when you are injured and can’t lift the same weight as usual. This way you can still use light weight and get a pretty good muscular adaptation.”
Increasing Muscle Mass
In summary, maintaining and/or increasing muscle mass is possible for the young and old and for women and men. You can perform many exercises and routines to build muscle mass or prevent the muscle loss that typically accompanies aging.
You just have to find what works best for you. Your routine should be fun, motivating, challenging, and safe.
If your exercises are fun, you will be far more likely to stick to the program. Evidence also shows that you’ll be more likely to choose healthy eating habits when you enjoy your workout.
“Keep in mind that for real changes to occur, you’re going to have to sweat, and that means pushing yourself and putting in hard work,” Professor Ormsbee said. “It also means you’re going to have to pay attention to what you eat and how you fuel yourself to feel better, look better, and perform better.”
Implementing these measures will change your body composition by helping you lose fat mass and increase muscle mass. This one-two punch combination will lead to the most optimal improvements in body composition.
According to Professor Ormsbee, we need to shift to a mindset of improving body composition rather than losing body weight. See if you can find a dependable personal trainer and start lifting weights at least one time per week.
This article was edited by Kate Findley, Writer for Wondrium Daily, and proofread by Angela Shoemaker, Proofreader and Copy Editor for Wondrium Daily.
Michael Ormsbee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences and Interim Director of the Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine in the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University. He received his MS in Exercise Physiology from South Dakota State University and his PhD in Bioenergetics from East Carolina University.