Which type of exercise could be the key to your your chronic health problems?


Skeletal muscle accounts for approximately 40% of your total body mass and is a major player in energy balance.

Muscle is the site of greater than 30% of energy expenditure and is a key site for  carbohydrate and fat  metabolism.

Fat  breakdown supplies up to 70% of the energy requirements for resting muscle. While initially aerobic exercise utilizes  muscle glycogen (carbohydrate),  as exercise continues, glucose and stored muscle triglycerides become important  sources of energy.

Consequently, skeletal muscle has a significant role in insulin sensitivity,  blood lipids  and obesity.

Moreover, caloric excess, obesity and physical inactivity lead to skeletal muscle insulin resistance, a risk factor for the development of type II diabetes.

In this context, skeletal muscle should be  an important therapeutic target in the battle against cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death and disability worldwide.

The major risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:  dyslipidemia, hypertension, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes. These risk factors are directly influenced by diet, metabolism and physical activity.

Metabolism is largely regulated by hormones  and  gene expression.

Metabolism and activity, which directly influence cardiovascular disease risk factors, are primarily driven by skeletal muscle.

Many receptors expressed in skeletal muscle have been shown to improve glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia, as well as  strength, stamina, balance and mobility.  Therefore building and maintaining skeletal muscle should be a critical strategy in the battle against cardiovascular disease risk factors, weight management and type II diabetes.


Key strategies to increase lean body mass (Hypertrophy)  include exercise and diet.

Exercising for Hypertrophy




In prior blogs, I discussed the OPT model of exercise, which is an evidence based model designed to help someone reach their goals by integrating flexibility, cardiorespiratory, core, balance, plyometric and resistance training.

The OPT model has its foundation in stabilizing (the core) upon which strength and power are built.

Hypertrophy training falls under the strength block, thus having adequate stabilization (core strength)  is a prerequisite.

Adaptations to exercise that result in hypertrophy should have the following resistance training acute variables:

1. Repetitions: 6-12

2. Sets: 3-5

3. Tempo- 2 seconds eccentric, 0 seconds isometric and 2 seconds concentric, e.g.Bench press:  lower  for 2 seconds and then press for 2 seconds without resting at the bottom.

4. Intensity: 75-85%

5. Rest between sets: 0-60 seconds

6. Frequency: 3-6x/week

7. Duration: 4 weeks, then change programming

8. Exercise selection: 2-4 strength types of exercise per body part, e.g. Bench press, shoulder press, pull-up, row, squat, lunge and dead-lift.

9.Work out time: 45 minutes plus a warm-up and warm-down

Keep in mind that concurrent endurance training can  interfere with increasing lean body mass, as these two types of training stimulate different muscle fiber types, enzymes and gene expression that promotes muscles anabolism vs catabolism (breakdown).

In addition, endurance training does not promote the same hormonal response as resistance training and can interfere or adversely affect the production of growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor which are all essential for hypertrophy.
Eating for Hypertrophy

The intensity needed for hypertrophy training  requires adequate glycogen in the muscles and liver, thus a low carbohydrate diet is not conducive to creating this type of adaptation. In addition, given the role of insulin as a storage hormone, a post-workout meal with fast absorbing carbohydrates is important in conjunction with adequate fast acting protein. An  example would be a smoothie with coconut or almond milk, a banana, berries, flax seeds and  20-30 g of whey protein, depending upon one’s weight. This can also be a pre-workout meal and snack.

Other meals should consist of half a plate of colorful vegetables and the other half divided in half with 50% grass fed pasture raised organic animal protein and a “healthy starch”, such as sweet potatoes, squash, beets and peas.


Snacks can be raw nuts, fruits (especially berries and cherries) and avocado.
Other Factors

Adequate sleep, supplements, self myofascial release and acupuncture can all help with muscle repair and growth
Which type of exercise could be the key your your chronic health problems?

If you want to increase your metabolism,  strength, stamina and mobility, lose fat, reduce your risk of type II diabetes and heart disease, then the evidence clearly points to resistance training to increase lean body mass- Hypertrophy.

About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin