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Strength Training May Not Be Necessary due to Gene Tweak

One of my members sent me through the following link and asked my opinion.

I’ll let you have a look over it first before hearing what I have to say…. click the picture and it’ll open in a new window:

Click for entire article

Read it? What do you think? Leave me comment below and we may get a nice dialogue going. But as this is my page, I’m having first say.

And I say Bollocks.

Now lets clarify what I mean by that. Strength training, and all forms of fitness training, will never be unnecessary. Activity and movement are the cornerstone of intelligent life. I came across this video on TED recently that proposed that the primary function of the brain is to provide movement. It is a well researched fact that we only use a small portion of our brain and that most of our conscious and sensory faculties seem to occur on the surface of the brain, our unconscious vital systems seem to happen mainly in the Medulla Oblongata, which leave a huge amount of space unused in the deeper portions, the core of the brain. Is this space used for movement? Think about the complex movements of an athlete, a Goal keeper making a save, a gymnast on the bars or a fighter in the ring.

We also know that the little phrase “use it or loose it” is true. If we break a limb and spend 6 weeks in a cast, the muscles atrophy and coordination suffers. It takes weeks of physiotherapy and concentration to get the movement patterns back and the strength up.

Essentially the point I’m making is that the brain and the body are unavoidably linked. Remove the brain and the body dies. Remove the body and the brain dies. The fact that we can tweak a gene and unlimit the amount of muscle growth does nothing to address this fact. In my opinion it could be the worse thing to happen. As a species we are lazy by nature. We like to conserve energy for the times when we really need it. this makes sense when you live in the Jungle, but not when we live in a comfy house with a supermarket just round the corner and a car parked in the drive. If we can maintain and even increase our muscle mass and enjoy the knock on metabolic effects this brings, will that make us more or less lazy?

If we don’t have to train to build muscle, do you think we will?

The experiment in question was carried out on mice. Mice don’t have TV’s, playstations, cars and Starbucks. Mice don’t get served chocolates with coffee and have not been brought up to believe that gyms are for dumb meatheads. Mice are not people. Mice think along the lines of Eat, Sleep, Reproduce. People think along the lines of “He has a nice car, i want one”, “Who’ll be kicked off I’m a Big Brother get me an X Factor tonight”, or “Shall we go for pints later or go to the gym?”

I’ll put money on the fact that gyms and sports clubs would become ghost towns if people can simply take some gene therapy and have the muscle development they wish.

Why is this so bad? It comes down to movement.

The Central Nervous System (CNS), ie the Brain and Spinal Cord, are linked to the body. The primary function of the CNS is to contract muscles and create movement. The more we practice movement, the more the CNS has to work and it as a result becomes stronger and more efficients. Stop moving and the reverse happens.

Now while the study does mention certain population types that may benefit from the research, again I have doubts. Diabetics can exercise, many do. Yes, they must be very careful, but it’s not impossible. Type II diabetes has been “cured” by introducing exercise and changing to a largely plant based diet, akin to the Paleo Diet. The reversal of the diabetes came as a result of the bodies hormones coming into balance. Hormones that are are stimulated by food and exercise started to work properly.

Frailty? I’m not entirely sure what they mean here. I’m assuming they mean the elderly. With the elderly it is not just about muscle mass. It is also about Bone Density and the CNS. The bones become more dense when stressed, how do we stress them? by loading them. I used to know a retired female powerlifter turned coach. She had an elderly lady start training under her, when she started she had quite bad osteoporosis, a year later it was gone. Also because of the nature of her training her intra muscular coordination had improved, which meant that she was less likely to fall, but if she did she was better able to withstand the impact.

In my opinion more time and money should be spent on looking at the brain and psyche. In a recent TV series “Darren Brown’s Experiments” Darren told us that he was performing these experiments on TV because he could get away with so much more on the telly than would be allowed in a scientific setting. Perhaps luminaries like Darren need greater access and freedom to lead research into the mind. My father is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist, some of the issues he’s fixed through changing perceptions are stunning. He helped take away some of own shoulder pain and helped my childhood Karate instructor to deal with the arthritic pain in his neck. Everything starts and finishes in the mind, this is well known in elite athletes and martial arts, but the medical community and general population seem to be in the dark and looking for magic pills to improve physiques and performance. Perhaps research in the Will Power or Discipline Genes would be helpful…..

Immobility, now here we may be onto something. Could this therapy get people moving again? This we don’t know, but immobility due to lack of muscle mass? How often does that happen? is it not more often a nervous system disorder. MS causes immobility, the Irish MS Society train at BodySmart up in Dublin’s Mount Merrion estate where the Powerplate sessions are working wonders for them. People suffering from strokes have made great comebacks after taking up gentle martial arts practice such as Tai Chi. It seem CNS stimulation is more important than sheer mass.

So is the research a waste of time? No, not really. I just think that in terms of muscle mass, there isn’t much need to remove a limiter. Very few people train to their genetic limit anyhow. Many of the movement and strength issues would be better solved by looking to the CNS rather than the actual muscles themselves.

But looking at the inhibitory molecules within cells has one massive potential use. The halting of cancerous growth.

This month is Movember where lads grow moustaches to raise funds and awareness for Prostate cancer, one of the main killers of modern man, it killed my Uncle three years ago. If the inhibitory gene research had been around then, could they have stopped the spread and saved his life? Who knows.

If this research starts on muscle cells then moves to other cells, well that’s fantastic. but to say that strength training will become obsolete is dangerous.

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