MUSCLE QUALITY AND THE NEUROLOGICAL SYSTEM: PART 1
Welcome to our series on Muscle Quality. In our first post in the series, called Muscle Quality: Improving It Will Change Your Life, we discussed the many long term health benefits that improving one’s muscle quality can provide. In today’s post, we will focus on how improving our Muscle Quality through strength training can improve our neurological system.
As a huge sports fan, July 7, 2011, is still quite an unhappy memory for me. Along with millions of other basketball fans, I watched as LeBron James spurned my hometown Bulls and his hometown Cavaliers, to join forces with two of the best basketball players in the world to form a “super team.” That team, the Miami Heat, has become “the” dominant force in the NBA.
In the context of putting himself in the BEST position to win, it becomes apparent this was the best decision for LeBron. Improve your chance of success by increasing your sources of support. Go out and recruit the best to help you achieve your goals.
EXERCISE IS LIFE CHANGING, IT ALL STARTS WITH RECRUITING MORE TROOPS
This recruitment is exactly the first adaptation that occurs in the human body when you start exercising at The Exercise Coach®. This adaptation is neurological and allows your brain to put your body in the BEST position to improve the quality of your health by recruiting more muscle fibers.
As we delve into how muscle quality improves, and can change your life, we explore the various systems that have the greatest impact, and how our personal training approach here at The Exercise Coach® is truly life-changing.
Just as LeBron James recruited more help to improve his chances of winning a championship, our body must first recruit more motor units, more muscle fibers to increase our strength, and position itself to better realize the benefits of exercise.
The very first change that occurs with our personal training program takes place in the brain. More specifically, our program promotes change to the neuralogical system. When you begin your first set on an Exercise Coach® leg press, it doesn’t take long for your muscles to start burning, your legs to start shaking, and the direct impact of muscle fatigue to be felt. Your neuro response is just like Martin Brody’s response in the movie Jaws, “you are going to need a bigger boat.” Translation for us — we are going to need more muscle fibers.
We are a finely tuned species. Our body has numerous adaptive properties it can call on when needed, and the first is to recruit more motor units/muscle fibers that our body possesses but just aren’t being utilized.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…?
- We start to lose muscle mass around age 30 (3-5% a decade).
- The loss of muscle mass accelerates as we age (.5-2% a year over 50).
- The brain starts to lose nerve tissue around the age of 30.
- This doesn’t have to happen!
Throughout our blog series on Muscle Quality, when we refer to exercise, we are referencing exercise that is done at The Exercise Coach® and by our trained staff of personal Exercise Coaches. Our definition of exercise and the hormonal, metabolic, and muscular adaptations we are forcing the body to realize are unique to us.
HOW YOUR EXERCISE COACH WORKOUT IMPROVES YOUR MUSCLE QUALITY
As we age, and if we do not provide a significant stimulus to our muscles, our neural capacity to utilize those muscles diminishes. This is again because our body is adaptive. If we never need to call upon more muscle fiber to do any work, then that muscle fiber becomes really expensive metabolic tissue (it’s like turning the lights off in rooms you never go into). So we essentially wean ourselves off of needing it. This means muscles atrophy and our brain’s ability to recruit those muscle fibers, (our neural capacity), also diminishes. However, our specific form of exercise has been shown to access these motor units threatened by denervation, and reach deep into the motor unit pool to activate hard to reach and at risk muscle fibers. So even though it may be 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, or longer, since you have meaningfully taxed your muscles, they will respond. And it all begins by your nervous system calling upon these dormant muscle fibers to wake up and start working!
Even better, research has shown that no matter the age and condition of our muscles, we can literally change the genetic composition of these muscle fibers to resemble what they were at a much younger age. The catch is that the exercise must be demanding enough to force the body to make these adaptations and recruit the added help that lies within us.
Beginning, continuing or restarting our exercise program gives us the opportunity to unlock the full genetic potential each of us possess. This neural light switch that is flipped back on in our body is the first and most critical aspect in recruiting more help. Recruiting these dormant muscle fibers to amplify the metabolic, hormonal, and physical effects of exercise allows us to reap even more benefits down the road. Next week we will explore additional neurological effects that occur during and immediately following exercise, as well as nutrition’s key role in the process.
Read the rest of this series: