You’re not a non-responder, you just need to work a lot harder! Yay?

From death to stock photo
From death to stock photo

I’ve written before about the good/bad news for non-responders.

More research just in confirms what I suggested then. There aren’t any true non-responders. Instead, there are just people who have to work an awful lot harder to see improvements in fitness.

See The Myth of Exercise “Non-Responders.” It’s subtitled, “New research suggests that everyone gets fitter with training… if they do enough.” It reports on a new study which shows that non-response is a function of exercise dose.  Subjects were divided into groups that exercised different amounts each week and while some people who exercised one or three days a week didn’t get any fitter,  there were no non-responders in the 5 day a week group.

Think about this when you’ve signed up for a running clinic, for example, and you see that some people see improvements in running fitness working out just one or two days a week. Other people might do the recommended three days a week and still not get any fitter. It may be that for those people three days isn’t enough. Some people may need to train 5 times a week or more to see improvements. We’re not all alike although you’d never know that from standardized training plans.

Link to actual study: Refuting the myth of non-response to exercise training: ‘non-responders’ do respond to higher dose of training. The Journal of Physiology, January 30, 2017

(Abstract: One in five adults following physical activity guidelines are reported not demonstrating any improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). Herein, we sought to establish whether CRF non-response to exercise training is dose-dependent, using a between- and within-subject study design. Seventy-eight healthy adults were divided into 5 groups (‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘5’) respectively comprising 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 × 60 min exercise sessions per week but otherwise following an identical 6-week endurance training (ET) program. Non-response was defined as any change in CRF, determined by maximal incremental exercise power output (Wmax), within the typical error of measurement (±3.96%). Participants classified as non-responders after the ET intervention completed a successive 6-week ET period including 2 additional exercise sessions per week. Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), haematology and muscle biopsies were assessed prior to and after each ET period. After the first ET period, Wmax increased (P < 0.05) in groups ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘5’, but not ‘1’ . In groups ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘5’, 69%, 40%, 29%, 0% and 0% of individuals, respectively, were non-responders. After the second ET period, non-response was eliminated in all individuals. The change in VO2max with exercise training independently determined Wmaxresponse (partial correlation coefficient (rpartial≥0.74, P < 0.001). In turn, total hemoglobin mass was the strongest independent determinant of VO2max (rpartial = 0.49, P < 0.001). In conclusion, individual CRF non-response to exercise training is abolished by increasing the dose of exercise and primarily a function of haematological adaptations in oxygen-carrying capacity.)

Thanks Sarah for sharing this with us.

2 thoughts on “You’re not a non-responder, you just need to work a lot harder! Yay?

  1. Interesting…I wonder how this could correlate to things like overuse injuries and the like for people trying to force their bodies into higher levels of physiological markers of fitness…

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