Here at CHROME we really love keeping up with the latest news in the fitness industry, and what better source than directly from the scientific studies themselves. We all want to make the most out of the hard work we put in in the gym. Staying anabolic and warding off catabolism is at the forefront of all gym-goers minds. So by ensuring that we get adequate nutrition, rest and sleep, we can take care of anabolism. But what about catabolism while we are training? You see, exercise is actually a catabolic process as our muscles are being torn and eroded. By implementing the simple strategy of lifting light before getting into the serious weights, you will be able to ward off catabolism.  In a recent study posted in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Australian and Japanese sports scientists have found that this training method can help protect against the damaging effects of intense training sessions.

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The experiment saw one group of inexperienced students perform weight training exercises for their biceps using dumbbells. The weight that the participants used was 40% of their 1RM and they performed 6 sets of 5 reps. They concentrated on keeping a tempo where the eccentric (lowering) movement was 4 seconds in duration. For individuals who have never performed weight training, this concentration on the eccentric movement results in a bad case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and substantial muscle damage. Full recovery can take up to two weeks for these individuals. This group is referred to as the 40% group. The second group performed the exact same regimen as the first group, however, on two days before they started the “heavy” weight training session, they did an identical session with just one tenth of their 1RM. This training load is so mild that it cannot cause muscle damage. This group is referred to as the 10-40 group.

The figure below shows how long it took for the participants to get their maximal strength back. As you can see, the 10-40% group’s recovery was a lot faster than that of the 40% group.


If you have ever trained your biceps really hard and have had muscle pain and swelling as a result, you will know that it becomes difficult to stretch your arms fully, or at least be very uncomfortable. The students who performed the light training prior to the proper workout regained their ability to stretch their arm out more quickly than the 40% group. The researchers also measured the concentration of  creatine kinase for a week after each group had performed the workout. Creatine kinase is an important indicator of muscle damage. The below table shows that the 10-40% group had higher levels of creatine kinase than the 40% group. The higher the level of creatine kinase, the less muscle damage has occurred.


To further prove the relationship of the above graph, the scientists asked the participants to estimate the amount of muscle pain they experienced each day. As you can see, a similar curve was noted. The 10-40% group experienced less muscle pain as the days went on.

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The scientists theorised that the reason for the faster recovery of the 10-40% group was that light training caused the muscle cells to produce protective proteins which then helped them to recover faster after the heavy training. Another theory, which the scientists dug up in literature, is more specific. It proposes that the light training causes an elevated increase of haem-oxygenase-1 in muscle cells. This enzyme helps to protect the cell against free radicals which occur in response to intense exercise.  In conclusion, however this works, the principle of performing an anti-catabolic, light pre-training regimen is extremely useful for power athletes and bodybuilders alike. This will help protect against muscle pain and it may be a good means of fast-tracking muscle gains.




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