Nov 24th, 2012
Back in October, I was lucky enough to see Dr. Jonathan Sullivan give a talk on the importance of strength training at the Starting Strength Coaches Association Meeting. Sullivan is Attending Physician at Detroit Receiving Hospital Emergency Department, and Associate Director of the Cerebral Resuscitation Laboratory at Wayne State University. He has also become a big advocate for barbell training. The talk he gave that weekend is now available to the world at large. The video is just under an hour long and is well worth the time spent watching it. It is a substantial and occasionally profane discussion of how training for strength might be the best thing you can do for yourself. Here is a little snippet from around the 20-minute mark:
The default mode of a metazoan cell, of the cells that we all have, is not to live, but to die. Without growth factors, they will. Conversely, if you take a cell and you insult it with radiation, or a toxin, or a free radical, or something that will cause it to kill itself, you can rescue it. You can talk it off the ledge by administering growth factors. I, along with a lot of other people have now published a lot of material in the literature saying that the administration of high dose growth factors after a stroke or cardiac arrest, at least in certain models, will rescue brain cells.
What’s happening here is you are getting older. You are in a state of physiologic, senescent growth factor withdrawal. You just don’t make as much as much growth hormone and IGF-1 as you used to. Aging is characterized by atrophy. When we squat and our bodies squirt a bunch of IGF-1 and human growth hormone into our system, we are counter-signaling that. That to me is a profound effect. That’s what got my attention. It’s a way for me to self-administer growth factors and to tell all the cells in my body, “Hey, we’re still in this game.” It’s a way for me to send survival factors to all the tissues of my body. It’s just hugely profound.
The video was originally published over at Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength Website and discussion of it, along with responses from Sullivan can be found here and here. Sullivan’s other articles at the Starting Strength site, Barbell Training is Big Medicine and Stopping the Spread of Misinflammation are also not to be missed. Enjoy the video and remember to do your squats.