High-Intensity Training has been the source of many studies across many different populations.
I am a fan of a wide variety of training modalities and write my programs accordingly. However, there is a significant portion of the Alpha program dedicated to High-Intensity with good reason.
Let’s face it. Aging and staying active can be a challenge. It requires a methodical and comprehensive approach if you want to continue to grow muscle and keep crushing PRs.
The changes that take place in your body extend all the way down to your cellular structure. But the damage incurred by cells in older muscles is especially severe because they do not regenerate easily and they become less efficient as the mitochondria, which produce energy, diminish in numbers and how robust they are.
A study published in Cell Metabolism, however, suggests that certain style of workouts, such as high-intensity training, may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria, even if you have been unable to train in any meaningful way prior to starting a new program.
Science is still developing in the area of how exercise can provide benefits on a cellular level.
So researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently conducted an experiment on the cells of 72 healthy but sedentary men and women who were 30 or younger or older than 64.
After baseline measures were established for their aerobic fitness, their blood-sugar levels and the gene activity and mitochondrial health in their muscle cells, the volunteers were randomly assigned to a particular exercise regimen.
This is where it gets interesting in my view. Some participants did vigorous weight training several times a week; some did brief high-intensity training three times a week on stationary bicycles (pedaling hard for four minutes, resting for three and then repeating that sequence three more times); some rode stationary bikes at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a few times a week and lifted weights lightly on other days. A fourth group, the control, did not exercise.
After 12 weeks, the lab tests were repeated. In general, everyone experienced improvements in fitness and an ability to regulate blood sugar with the exception of the control group that did not exercise.
There were some unsurprising differences: The gains in muscle mass and strength were greater for those who exercised only with weights, while the high-intensity training had the strongest influence on endurance.
But more unexpected results were found in the biopsied muscle cells. Among the younger subjects who went through interval training, the activity levels had changed in 274 genes, compared with 170 genes for those who exercised more moderately and 74 for the weightlifters.
Among the older cohort, almost 400 genes were working differently now, compared with 33 for the weightlifters and only 19 for the moderate exercisers.
Many of these affected genes, especially in the cells of the high-intensity interval trainers, are believed to influence the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells; the subjects who did the interval workouts showed increases in the number and health of their mitochondria — an impact that was particularly pronounced among the older cyclists.
It seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was “corrected” with exercise, especially if it was intense, says Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, a professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic and the study’s senior author.
In fact, older people’s cells responded in some ways more robustly to intense exercise than the cells of the younger people — suggesting that it is never too late to benefit from exercise.
To wrap this article up I want to suggest to you that if you are just getting started you can still do high-intensity training exercise without risking injury. However, it must, in fact, be High-Intensity training, such as a program like Alpha. If you are able to talk while you are in the middle of an interval it will not have the desired effect. You must be pushing at a level that consumes your energy and takes everything you have.
To boost aging muscles try doing Alpha and watch the transformation that overtakes your body both mentally and physically.