T Nation

'The Truth About Exercise' Documentary


It's the name of a BBC documentary on exercise and health. Has anyone seen it? Sorry I don't have a link.
One thing that surprised me was that there's a lab in England that has isolated the genes responsible for determining how an individual responds to exercise. They devised a genetic test to tell you how exercise will affect you. They showed a population curve for the gene distribution and I couldn't quite understand it, but it wasn't a bell curve. At the top there were the "super responders". Their bodies take full advantage of exercise. What some of us call the mesomorphs.

At the bottom there were the non-responders. They said they haven't found a type of exercise that will benefit these people. They gave the documentary interviewer the test. He came out as a non-responder, but they didn't tell him the results. They asked the interviewer to do a month of exercise and come back to do VO2 tests, blood samples, etc, to see how the exercise had benefited him. As predicted, he didn't improve, except in the area of insulin sensitivity.

Surprisingly, they said their research shows that normal responders and beyond will get all the benefit of exercise from just 3 minutes a week. Three sessions of one minute each at full intensity in a stationary bike (peddling as fast as they possibly can).

In conclusion, I've always wanted to use the "it's my genes" excuse for how little progress I make, and now I feel validated! ;D jk


On the one hand I felt this progamme & others of a similar tone were pretty good in helping to dispell the myth that the only way to significantly improve your fitness/health is to strap yourself to an eliptical machines for 4+ hours a week like some kind of cardio-zombie! The fact that INTENSITY can often trump sheer volume of training is cetainly a highly important 'take home message' a lot of non OR inefficient trainees really don't get.

On the other hand, the term 'non-responder' is at best misleading OR perhaps even at worst irresponsible with regards giving lazy fuckers yet another means of not trying OR rationalizing their lack of progress. The term 'low responder' would be far more appropriate IMHO.


Lazy fuckers will always find an excuse though

too busy
exercise costs too much money
my partner like me the way I am - with a paunch and a fat ass - yeah right!
etc. etc. etc.


We've all said on this site many times that the way you look is 90% diet.

This news though would probably only be bad news for real hard gainers. I mean they're thin to start with and have nothing to build on.
At least endomorphs like me can always say we'll start our cut on Monday.


I caught the arse end of this docu. (the same guy also did one on longevity - test injections, starvation diets etc.) but wasn't the non-responder to exercise in relation to increases in VO2max i.e. cardiovascular fitness' as opposed to all fitness qualities? Well thats what I got from it anyway...

I'm sure if he lifted weights or took up MMA he would increase his strength, power, muscles mass, agility etc. and these are fitness qualities / fitness indicators aka 'exercise induced improvements'. So' non-responder to 'exercise' was a bit of an over generalistion esp. for joe soap watching tele at home who hasnt got a fuckin clue about anything fitness orientated.


There are way too many stimuli and options for adaptation to take place to isolate one single gene and say "Eureka!" within the spectrum of human performance.


Did you take photography lessons from RogueVampire?




"Passion trumps everything"

-Dave Tate


thanks for the heads up. There's a good BBC one where they take skinny bastards and have them stuff themselves. Interesting to see how much or little weight some of them gain, forget the specifics of their intake, but it was vastly junk food to get high calories.


It would still be great to see fat out of shape people test as mesomorphs.


The genes responsible for how you respond to exercise?

First, respond, how? everyone isn't trying to gain bigger muscles with exercise, so muscle gain can't even be used as an indicator alone unless only speaking to bodybuilders.

Are they referring to conditioning? Too many variables there.

Are they referring to an increase in metabolism?

Was there any real science involved in this or is it like it sounds...a bunch of pseudo-scientific responses to push a tv show?

I am betting the Olympic long distance runner may not build the biggest muscles from exercise...so does that mean he passes or fails compared to Ronnie Coleman? Does Coleman fail for lack of conditioning?


downloading this now, it's on demonoid


So the guy does anaerobic training 3 times a week and his aerobic capacity doesn't increase, so hes a non-responder? what the fuck?






They said they tested 1,000 people for the genes (11 of them), then did tests to see if how they responded to exercise correlated to their gene test and they said it did.

They said they haven't found a form of exercise that works on the non-responders.

So basically even though the test shown involved a stationary bike, done 3 minutes a week, the researchers said if that doesn't work, nothing will. The degree to which that simple exercise works will indicate how well/fast you progress in any exercise form.

A super-responder would show a tremendous improvement in those 3 minutes a week. He/she would be able to flourish in any sport.

IMO, I would be extraordinarily surprised if it ends up being that simple. "hey, I want to bodybuild"..."well, get tested first, you dont want to waste your time" yikes!


Well, I grew up a skinny kid and stayed skinny into adulthood. Worked out, but didn't grow much. So I kind of freaked out and stuffed myself with everything I could find. Got fat as a pig, but no strength. Had to diet it off and got smarter with my diet.


Where can I find genes that fit?


It's on the Horizon programme and was called 'Why are Thin People not Fat?'

They took ten (slim) volunteers and doubled their calorie intake for four weeks, while not exercising and limiting movement as much as possible.