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Hello All!

Its been about 3 months and thousands of pounds of new muscle since the last HS:Report. There's quite a bit of news to share along with the usual research updates. We have a great issue this month, including new research on the perceived risk of injury from creatine supplementation, a new study by the good folks at Eastern Michigan on ribose, and as usual, more of the best info on muscle there is to be had anywhere.

But first, there is a new section added to the Hypertrophy-Specific Training Forum. Due to the rapidly growing interest in HST, new membership on the board is growing rapidly along with inquiries into the basic principles of weight training, diet, etc. This normally wouldn't be a problem, however, often after people have spent a lot of time on a particular message board, they grow tired of seeing the same questions asked over and over, and worse yet, grow impatient with those people asking them. In addition, as many of you know, much of the info on the Forum is quite technical, and if you're not "into" science, a lot of the info seems a bit esoteric. So we created a "Basic Training Principles and Methods" section where no question is too basic. Please feel free to ask any question that you might have whether it is about what the term "rep" means, or even what a calorie is. No question is a stupid question when you don't have the answer!

I'd also like to invite you to fill out a research questionnaire for one of our members. He is participating in conducting a study collecting psychological data from weightlifters and bodybuilders. I would encourage you to take a few minutes and fill out the questionnaire. It only takes a few minutes and all the info remains anonymous and confidential. All are encouraged to fill out the survey, regardless of your level of enthusiasm for bodybuilding.

I'd also like to apologize for the backorder on Primer and Driver. It is a long story and I won't bad mouth anybody, but let me say this, no matter how long it takes or how many batches of product further delay orders because they failed HSN's Quality Control, HSN products will remain at the top of the list when it comes to quality and effectiveness or they will not be shipped to store shelves. You have my personal guarantee on that.

Finally, I would like to offer my condolences to the friends and family of Dr. Mel Siff. I've always placed great value on Dr. Siff's and Dr. Verkhoshansky's work "SuperTraining" and enjoyed Mel's support when sharing this info with the bodybuilding community several years ago. Dr. Mel Siff was a senior lecturer for over 30 years at the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. His major areas of research were strength conditioning, biomechanics, injury rehabilitation, electrostimulation, and ergonomics. He received his Ph.D. in physiology, on a topic involving the biochemical analysis of soft tissues and a M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics, specializing in brain research. He has published widely and lectured in many countries including the U.S., England, Australia and Israel. He received two Meritorious Service awards for "exceptional contribution to sport" at this university, whose Sports Council passed a resolution (20/78) thanking him "for doing more for Wits (University) sport than any other individual in the history of the university". He also competed in Olympic weightlifting, karate, trampoline, cricket and track-and-field.

And now without further ado, Please take your time and enjoy issue #7 of The Report. And remember, we want your feedback!

Bryan Haycock

Blaming Creatine for Injuries

Title: Creatine Supplementation and Its Effect on Musculotendinous Stiffness and Performance.


Institution: Human Movement Department, School of Leisure, Sport, and Tourism, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia 2070

Reference: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: (2003) Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 2633.

Summary: Anecdotal reports suggesting that creatine (Cr) supplementation may cause side effects, such as an increased incidence of muscle strains or tears, require scientific examination. In this study, it was hypothesized that the rapid fluid retention and lean tissue accretion evident after Cr supplementation may cause an increase in musculotendinous stiffness.

Methods: Twenty men were randomly allocated to a control or an experimental group and were examined for musculotendinous stiffness of the triceps surae and for numerous performance indices before and after Cr ingestion.

Results: The Cr group achieved a significant increase in body mass (79.7 10.8 kg vs. 80.9 10.7 kg), counter movement jump height (40.2 4.8 cm vs. 42.7 5.9 cm), and 20-cm drop jump height (32.3 3.3 cm vs. 35.1 4.8 cm) after supplementation. No increase was found for musculotendinous stiffness at any assessment load. There were no significant changes in any variables within the control group.

Conclusion: These findings have both performance- and injury-related implications. Primarily, anecdotal evidence suggesting that Cr supplementation causes muscular strain injuries is not supported by this study. In addition, the increase in jump performance is indicative of performance enhancement in activities requiring maximal power output.

Discussion: Probably the most common misconception I hear from coaches, parents, and even uninformed athletes, is that creatine causes injuries. Before gently debunking their concerns I ask why they think creatine would cause injuries. Nine out of ten times the answer is dehydration. Dehydration? What?! Ok, ok, rather than get sarcastic I'll simply explain that the osmotic effect of creatine doesn't affect your body's hydration state. On the contrary, creatine supplementation increases total body water. (1,2)

Another injury related misconception about creatine is that it causes cramps. Recent research indicates that in fact, creatine may produce the opposite affect by increasing the muscle's ability to relax. (3,4) To further corroborate this, recent research found that creatine supplementation actually decreased the incidence of muscle cramping in haemodialysis patients. (5) Muscle cramping is a common and frustrating complication of haemodialysis treatment.

This study is only one more in a growing line of research done to explore and confirm the safety of creatine supplementation. Nevertheless, as with any supplement, there will be uninformed skepticism, and as long as there is a lack of information or worse, misinformation, we will continue to share research to establish the truth for the benefit of all, whether you chose to use supplements or not.

Additional References:

1: Hultman, E, Soderlund K, Timmons A, Cedarblad JG, and Greenhaff PL. Muscle creatine loading in men. J Appl Physiol 81: 232-237, 1996

2: Ziegenfuss, TN, Lowery LM, and Lemon PWR Acute fluid changes in men during three days of creatine supplementation. JEPonline 1: 3, 1998.

3: van Leemputte M, Vandenberghe K, Hespel P Shortening of muscle relaxation time after creatine loading. J Appl Physiol 1999 Mar;86(3):840-4

4: Hespel P, Op't Eijnde B, Van Leemputte M. Opposite actions of caffeine and creatine on muscle relaxation time in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2002 Feb;92(2):513-8.

5: Chang CT, Wu CH, Yang CW, Huang JY, Wu MS. Creatine monohydrate treatment alleviates muscle cramps associated with haemodialysis. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2002 Nov;17(11):1978-81.


Ribose Fails to Perform

Title: Effects of Ribose Supplementation on Repeated Sprint Performance in Men


Institution: Applied Physiology Laboratory, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197

Reference: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: (2003) Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 4752.

Summary: This study used a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover design to evaluate the effects of oral ribose supplementation on short-term anaerobic performance.

Methods: After familiarization, subjects performed 2 bouts of repeated cycle sprint exercise (six 10-second sprints with 60-second rest periods between sprints) in a single day. After the second exercise bout, subjects ingested 32 g of ribose or cellulose (4 _ 8-g doses) during the next 36 hours. After supplementation, subjects returned to the laboratory to perform a single bout of cycle sprinting (as described above). After a 5-day washout period, subjects repeated the protocol, receiving the opposite supplement treatment.

Results: Ribose supplementation lead to statistically significant increases in mean power and peak power only in sprint 2 (10.9 and 6.6%, respectively) and higher (although not significant) absolute values in sprints 1, 3, and 4.

Conclusion: In conclusion, ribose supplementation did not show reproducible increases in performance across all 6 sprints. Therefore, within the framework of this investigation, it appears that ribose supplementation does not have a consistent or substantial effect on anaerobic cycle sprinting.

Discussion: Before we touch on this study, lets review what exactly ribose is for a second.

Ribose is a naturally occurring 5-carbon sugar called a "pentose". It is found in several foods we eat, but our body makes most of the ribose it needs from scratch. It is active in many of our body's systems, usually in its D-form (the L- form is it's mirror opposite). D-Ribose plays an important role as a structural component of high-energy phosphates such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as well as nucleic acids like DNA. As you can guess, ribose is an important substrate for every system and tissue in your body. When we consider taking ribose as a dietary supplement we are mainly focusing on its role as a substrate in ATP production, theoretically to improve exercise performance.

This is exactly the kind of research that we need on ALL supplements we spend our money on. Imagine if prescription drugs didn't have to be effective to be sold by doctors. It's a ludicrous thought! So why do we continue to spend our money on supps that haven't really been tested to see if they in fact do anything beneficial? If you're like me, its because we are desperate to make gains, desperate to see changes in our body, and desperate to find a way to ensure that all our hard work in the gym is going to pay off.

That brings us to our present study. The recommended dose for Ribose when you buy it as a supplement is 3 grams per day. Lest there be any doubt, they use 32 grams per day in this study, eliminating any doubt that they might not have used enough to see an effect.

Using over 10 times the recommended dose, these investigators were unable to produce a statistically significant and consistent effect. There own conclusions tell it all, "This investigation has not revealed any clear performance increases with oral ribose supplementation using doses even higher than those commonly ingested. Therefore, with the current high-price tag of oral ribose supplements, ribose does not appear to be a cost-effective supplement for athletes." Might I ad that it clearly is not a cost effective supplement for bodybuilders either.

Before wrapping this up I wanted to mention one other thing about attempts to prevent ATP levels from dropping. There are some beneficial adaptations to exercise that actually require a temporary reduction in ATP levels. This drop in ATP levels serves as the stimulus for metabolic adaptations. One of the most important ones is the increase in insulin sensitivity and/or glucose uptake into muscle cells after training. Studies have shown that if you artificially maintain ATP levels during the initiation of a high intensity exercise program, you don't get the up regulation of glucose transport into muscle cells. 1

Let me qualify these statements by saying that these studies were done on animals, and that ATP levels were maintained by means other than ribose supplementation. Nevertheless, these studies should tell the discerning supplement consumer that trying to reduce the metabolic consequences of training might be good for short-term performance, but in the long run, it also reduces the potency of the training stimulus.

Additional Reading:

1: Yaspelkis BB 3rd, Castle AL, Ding Z, Ivy JL. Attenuating the decline in ATP arrests the exercise training-induced increases in muscle GLUT4 protein and citrate synthase activity. Acta Physiol Scand. 1999 Jan;165(1):71-9.


Muscle Growth Without Working Out!

Title: Bodybuilding Without Power Training: Endogenously Regulated Pectoral Muscle Hypertrophy in Confined Shorebirds.

Researchers: Dietz MW, Piersma T, Dekinga A.

Institution: Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, Zoological Laboratory, University of Groningen. The Netherlands and Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)

Reference: Journal of Experimental Biology. 1999 Oct; 202 (Pt 20):2831-7.

Summary: Shorebirds such as Red Knots (Calidris canutus) routinely make migratory flights of 3000 km or more. Previous studies on this species, based on compositional analyses, suggest extensive pectoral muscle hypertrophy in addition to fat storage before take-off. Such hypertrophy could be due to power training and/or be effected by an endogenous circannual rhythm.

Methods: Red Knots of two subspecies with contrasting migration patterns were placed in a climate-controlled aviary (12 h:12 h L:D photoperiod) where exercise was limited. Using ultrasonography, we measured pectoral muscle size as the birds stored fat in preparation for migration.

Results: At capture, there were no differences in body mass and pectoral muscle mass between the two subspecies. As they prepared for southward and northward migration, respectively, the tropically wintering subspecies (C. c. canutus) gained 31g and the temperate wintering subspecies (C. c. islandica) gained 41g. During this time, pectoral mass increased by 43-44 % of initial mass, representing 39% (C. c. canutus) and 29% (C. c. islandica) of the increase in body mass. The gizzard showed atrophy in conjunction with a diet change from molluscs to food pellets.

Conclusion: Although we cannot exclude the possibility that the birds' limited movement may still be a prerequisite for pectoral muscle hypertrophy, extensive power training is certainly not a requirement. Muscle hypertrophy in the absence of photoperiod cues suggests the involvement of an endogenous circannual process.

Discussion: Some of you may be thinking, "What do we care about shore birds?" Well, admittedly, if you are not a bird watcher, which I am not, we don't really care about shore birds. But these shore birds are no ordinary shore birds! The pecs on these guys actually grow once a year without any kind of exercise. Now that is interesting...

Essentially what these researchers found was that these birds have a circadian rhythm of sorts that acts on a yearly cycle, causing significant muscle growth every year, right on schedule. This is just one more amazing physiological adaptation involving muscle growth we find in nature, but not in humans. Another nifty adaptation we find is in bears that hibernate. They are able to go a few months without food and yet not lose any muscle mass. Their bodies, with the help of willing kidneys, are able to recycle amino acids so that no muscle mass is lost despite not eating any food at all.

Of course these two examples have little to do with what I or you are going to do in the gym today, but it does expand the mind to the possibilities of the future...a little genetic tinkering and presto! Muscles that grow on their own just in time for summer, and at the same time are entirely immune from the ravages of dieting. Not a bad future wouldn't you say?



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