By Ken Hutchins
Yes, other approaches other than inroad have been shown to effect muscular growth. Or, more accurately, other forms and means of inroad, perhaps, have been shown to effect this.
In the Nautilus heyday we did battle against those promoting transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) in physical therapy. Sure, low-level electrical pulses will have some adaptive response on the muscle. But beyond the resurrection of almost-dead tissue, electrical stimulation does not offer a continuous, progressive improvement beyond a slight initial one.
I would not be surprised that some muscular growth occurs from a near-miss lightning strike… or for that matter, from someone jumping out from behind a tree and saying “Boo!” to the unsuspecting.
The limitation with the Boo process is that the subject is unsuspecting only once. Perhaps if it is performed differently each time it is possible to keep the subject unsuspecting. I guess this would merely lead to chronic paranoia.
And the foregoing principle sometimes works even with the suspecting. When I was 14, we kept a grown bobcat (Actually we had two at different periods of time.) in a large cage at one of the rear outside corners of the house. I was always aware of its presence and braced myself to be jolted by its ferocious scream and lunge at the side of the cage whenever I came around the house. No matter how prepared I was to remain calm, it consistently caused every muscle in my body to seize as though I jumped out of my skin. It seemed to have the same effect on my dogs.
When I was 15, I practiced trumpet in a small building just outside our back door. I regularly practiced between 5 and 7 every morning and often late into the night. About once a week, Philip Alexander (before he went to medical school) delighted in sneaking around the house in the dark just to startle me. As I expected Philip to do this in the late evenings—as he was a night owl who studied all night—I remained particularly vigilant during that time. He knew how to wait until I was immersed in a particularly difficult passage to open the door and shock me out of my melodic trance. It worked. Perhaps I owe my surge in muscular strength in those days to Philip’s repeated fright games, and less to the barbell work on the bench he built me?
Also at Nautilus, we grappled with staunch advocates from the yoga and massage communities promoting the strengthening effects of stretching. Yes, there is muscle strengthening—with such poor efficacy and high risk of injury that one’s time and mobility must not be worth much.
For eons, the medical community has recognized walking as a way to strengthen the body, especially early on after bedridden states. This has great value to those patients who are so disposed, but it has no meaningful muscular strengthening effect past the minimum to enable walking.
There are amazing CAT scans contrasting the muscularity of triathletic and sedentary elder men. It is apparent that destroying your body in a triathlon can, at least, maintain your muscularity. Or, perhaps the difference is completely due to a genetic aberration whereby the above-average muscularity of the elder man merely enables him to destroy his body in the triathlon. Of course, it is also true that such activities are sarcopenic.
Also, in the late 90s, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about a program whereby I, with a cane, beat the muscles of a subject named Joel Waldman while he was tied in a partly-suspended position in the middle of a large room. Although this was imaginary, I expect, without trying it (assuming Joel is still cooperative and agreeable to this), that the muscles will respond positively if the dose/response is controlled. However, even if the improvements surpass those possible from strength inroading, I don’t believe that this will catch on for the masses or pass the rigors of any internal review board for human research. I am surprised, however, that there is not a certification program for this by now.
I would not be surprised if muscular growth occurs from being injected with water, stuck with needles, branded with hot or cold irons, or by prayer inducement. In fact, some, if not many, readers are already aware of the story—told by Ellington Darden, PhD—wherein big John McWilliams revealed his secret to his massive arms… drinking large quantities of water and praying that the water go to his muscles. Truly, muscle is mostly water, you know.
And then there is the remark by Arthur Jones. He claimed he felt his muscles begin to grow merely by the anticipation of resuming his workouts after a long layoff.
As far as I am concerned all of the foregoing is wasteful drivel. It may be amusing drivel to some of us, but as far as the development of a methodical, practical process that can be ubiquitously applied for study, research, and beneficial application, it is still drivel.
And the only meaningful pathway to putting exercise on a scientific footing—so far—is the inroad theory. Renaissance Exercise is not going to waste our time—or yours—being distracted with any other head trash.
Almost all people are grossly confused about exercise. They need an easy-to-follow explanation and plan of what it is and how to implement it. The inroad theory accomplishes this. Yes, there are other ways—terribly stupid ways, inefficient ways, inaccessible ways, pie-in-the-sky ways, gym-rat ways, dangerous ways, and ways that don’t lend to research and practical education for the average man and woman concerned about their health.
A major part of our creed is the inroad theory. It is the fundamental operational basis of what we do. To discuss otherwise is a distraction that unnecessarily serves to confuse and slow our pace of progress in our analysis of protocol, equipment design and research implementation. And such discussion certainly does not help the confusion harbored by the general public.
When the path along the road diverges into several possible directions, resources demand that we must decide for one and forego the others. To choose all, we go nowhere.
We are committed to the inroad theory. We inroad on inroad tools. We design and sell inroad tools and teach inroad methodology.
I, for one, will not be bothered by so-called other possible stimulus possibilities until someone can show me something better—more practical, teachable, repeatable, researchable, safer, accessible, etc—than the inroad theory. To be clear, inroad might not be the stimulus, but it is probably the process of choice for the stimulus of choice—whatever that turns out to be ultrastructurally—for muscular growth. And within this constraint, inroad theory IS the only stimulus for muscular growth.
Note the diagram entitled, The Unified Theory of Exercise, by Renaissance Exercise. The inroad theory is a fundamental part of The Definition, the central nucleus around which the other fundamentals revolve. Also, it is the reasoning for the Real Objective as well as the support for the Ideal Environment and the Exercise vs. Recreation argument.
This diagram not only enables us to contemplate the vastness of these concepts, but also provides a rough impression of how they interrelate.
In addition, the mere fact that we take the trouble and time to render such a diagram staunchly implies that we are committed to the inroad theory. This is our future. This is the future of exercise, and for us, there will be no going back to the old ways of thinking!