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Factors such as sleep, nutrition and stress levels can all affect exercise response WHAT WORKS FOR ONE PERSON MORE THAN LIKELY


percentage of the population are more prone to weight gain and fi nd it more diffi cult to lose weight. Previous research had already identifi ed genetic infl uences. Early research by Bouchard (1990) involved overfeeding pairs of twins, resulting in a weight gain that varied wildly from 9.48lbs to 29.32lbs. Bouchard and Tremblay (1990) estimate that 40 per cent of the variability in metabolic rate and energy expenditure is genetically related. Various authors have since shown the contribution numerous genes make to predisposition for weight gain. In fact, Tercjak (2010) suggests that over 100 genes infl uence obesity, while Faith (1999) found evidence that genes play a role in calorie intake.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EXERCISERS? At face value, the term ‘non-responder’ may be taken to mean that any positive adaptations to exercise are unachievable, and that exercise undertaken to improve health is a waste of time. Indeed, as previously mentioned, a superfi cial review of research offers an alarming fi gure of up to 30 per cent of members potentially classed as non- or low responders. Thankfully this is far from the full

picture: while it’s true that a large percentage of the population may be classed as a non-responder in one outcome measure, they are perfectly capable of making gains in others. This was the subject of a 2010 presentation published in the journal

Acta Physiologica. The authors argued that, while an individual may not see much improvement in their VO2


there are hundreds of other potential adaptations that occur. They cite research published in 2009 by Vollaard and colleagues which showed that, although some subjects did not increase their VO2

max in response to aerobic

exercise, they still showed positive adaptations at a muscular level. “VO2

max is only one measure of

fi tness,” says Steve Collins, fi tness manager at Freedom Leisure in the UK. “Besides, it’s been shown that VO2


scores don’t determine who’s going to win a race – there are plenty of other factors that can infl uence performance.” Therefore, a client with an interest in running, but with low VO2


max,” adds Collins. What the research really highlights is the need for a bespoke approach to training. “What works for one individual more than likely won’t work for another,” says Daniel Sheppard from training provider Sideways8. “The genetic infl uence only serves to strengthen this point. Trainers and operators should be able to measure progress and have access to a range of alternative approaches to help a client reach their goals.”

responsiveness, shouldn’t be discouraged from taking up the sport. “By improving their running technique, economy of movement or lactate threshold, it’s still possible to improve their running performance without a change in their VO2

60 Read Health Club Management online at

EFFECTIVE PROGRAMMING With this in mind, if one approach isn’t working, it’s time to try something new in order to see results. “One person might respond to following the standard food pyramid to lose weight, but another may not. At this point it’s time to change your approach – as a trainer, you need to be fl exible,” says Collins. “Maybe they will respond better to a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet, or maybe they need less protein and more fat or intermittent fasting. “This applies to training too: some people need less cardio, more weights. Everyone is human, but there are going to be some genetic variations. Don’t assume that what has worked for you will work for your clients as well.” The ability to suggest a range of alternatives may, however, extend beyond the knowledge of the ‘average’ PT or instructor. “A good PT will have a thorough understanding of the wide range of different methods of training they can use. They will also understand the need for regular evaluation of how their client’s body is responding to the exercise and nutrition programme and adapt accordingly to reach their goals,” explains Dan Reilly, lead tutor at The Training Room personal trainer academy. This need for a sound knowledge base extends beyond those working on the gym fl oor. “We recommend studio classes to a lot of our members because of the social element and the group support they offer,” explains Michelle Bletso,

February 2013 © Cybertrek 2013



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