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How effective is your workout?

Published: 23rd March 2009

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Going to the gym needn't be as strenuous as you might think.

Scientists at MMU say there is growing evidence that to bulk up you might not need to lift weights at all!

Dr Neil Reeves and researchers at the University's Institute for Research into Human Movement have found that exercises that lengthen muscles cause them to grow up to 50% more than ones than shorten muscles.

"In other words, lowering weights produces much more gain than lifting them – and it's easier!" said Dr Reeves.

Over 65s study

The results came out of a study of the effects of exercise in the over 65s and were unexpected.

"It was quite surprising," added Dr Reeves. "The assumption is that the gain is in the lift because it is physically more taxing. In fact we believe the real gain could be in the lowering."

The MMU team now want carry out tests on younger men and have built a customised leg press machine which allows the user to lower weights without having to lift them.

They believe the results, if replicated, could have implications for strength training in athletes in a host of sports and in designing the next generation of exercise apparatus and gyms.

Molecular mechanism

"If this is happening, we need to know why it happens, and our study will allow us to identify the molecular mechanisms at work and pin-point the signals that are causing changes in muscle growth," added Dr Reeves.

MMU is seeking men aged 20-35, who do little or no gym work to take part in the three-month trial.

Volunteers will get free workouts three days a week for three months and also receive a deal of feedback about their individual health and fitness.

To volunteer, please contact Dr Neil Reeves on 0161 247 5429 or Martino Franchi on 07796030171 in the Institute for Research into Human Movement.