Don't Miss
Subscribe to Mackie Mail and get a coupon for $10 off your next purchase of $30 or more at Mackie's local GNC franchise locations!

Optimum Performance: Research required when deciding if a personal trainer is needed

The International Health, Racquet, and Sports Club Association said as of 2011 there were 51.4 million health club members in the United States. IHRSA also noted that, health club usage declined from 102.4 days in 2009 to 97.5 visits in 2010 — the drop attributed to a younger, casual user.

More than half the members said “overall health/well-being and progress toward goals as reasons for sustaining membership.”

Researchers at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine evaluated the impact of using a personal trainer to realize a specific goal – to increase lean body mass (LBM) – within the scope of a health club setting.

“No published study”, according to the UCLA researchers,” has evaluated the application of exercise training methods by personal trainers outside the research setting, i.e., in a health club environment where exercise training methods and training guidance are less certain than in a laboratory setting.”

Only about 13% of health club members nationally take advantage of personal trainer services, opting for a self-directed program.

Teaming up with the Equinox Fitness Club, the researchers tested the following hypothesis, as noted in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: “Subjects (Trained) randomized to receive a periodized (phased Equinox training methods) by individually assigned (personal trainers) would accrue significantly greater LBM than those randomized to directing their own training (Self) over a twelve week period.”

Success at gaining LBM would be determined by the DXA, the dual e-ray absorptiometry scan, which I referenced in last week’s column.

The DXA can separate appendicular lean tissue (soft tissue) mass (ALTM) – a fat and bone mineral-free component that includes muscle and other components such as skin, tendons, and connective tissue. Skeletal muscle constitutes the largest fraction of ALTM.

I was the first person in this market to use the DXA to assess the various components of body composition in athletes and weight management clients. Remember, muscle (LBM) carries you around, while you carry fat around. Therefore, success at weight loss or muscle gain should be defined by the preservation or increase in LBM.

Forty healthy subjects with a history of exercising 5-7 days per week between the ages of 30-44 were recruited and tested both before and after the 12-week training period. “Volunteers (divided in two test groups) were excluded if they had a body mass index (BMI) > 30 (obese), musculoskeletal conditions or unstable cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, or other disorders that would precluded high-intensity exercise training.”

The subjects who were randomized to the Trained group received up to 36 coaching sessions over the twelve week period, with the exercise selection based on each participant’s results of a “screening method,” in advance of the supervised training.

Those Self directed participants “were permitted to train using methods of their own choosing but with the understanding that increased lean mass was the primary objective.” The study did not control for diet or have expectations that participants would depart from the protocol-specific training frequency (3 days per week).

However, “over 30 percent of both the Trained and Self subjects who completed training logs added 2 additional days of training, ” while no one added 4 days per week.

The major finding from the study was, “The significant increase in DXA- determined LBM (1.3 kilograms) seen in the Trained Group compared with no change in the Self group.” Additionally, the Trained group showed significant increases in the ALTM, which represented more than half of the increase in lean mass.

The moral of the story is if you are going to self-train yourself, you should commit to doing the appropriate research necessary to achieve your fitness goals. Then live it. And, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the right questions.

Source link