What makes an exercise “super Responder”?
A Roundtable Discussion with Alan Aragon, Dr. Conrad Earnest and Dr. Jose Antonio
Most people most of the time people will respond to exercise in a fairly predictable manner. When doing research on a group of people put on a specific exercise regimen, the majority will respond in a fairly typical and expected fashion. However, what they will also find, are a small percent of people who fall on both ends of the extreme, what might be termed non-responders on one side and super responders on the other. They are always a very small percent of a study as expected, but have been a consistent finding since, well, forever. Those two groups that fall well outside the typical response of the larger group, were once considered a statistical anomaly, or perhaps non-compliant, or other possibilities, without much attention given to them. However, more recent studies have focused on those non-responders, and studies have found identifiable genetic differences in non-responders to more typical responders. I cover that topic in a prior post HERE for those interested.
What of super responders? What do we know of them? It’s my view if we can identify what makes these genetic elites respond as they do, we may be able to apply some of that information to us mere mortals in the future. There’s surprising little hard data on super responders, but anyone who has been involved in exercise physiology research, and or worked with athletes over the years has seen them.
What’s a super responder? As the name implies, a person who responds to exercise in a manner so unusually and un expectedly, you just marvel at their elite genetics to the point it’s hard to view them as the same species as the rest of us! I will admit my bias here in that I’m mostly interested in resistance training super responders, but they will exist in other endeavors too to be sure.
I have seen what I’d consider genetic elite super responders a handful of times in my thirty plus years in the “biz” and they never fail to amaze me. I worked with one guy who trained sporadically at best following a haphazard program and his nutrition, in a word, sucked. He’d diet for a few weeks, and win every local and regional show he did, then with a little actual effort – via my assistance with keeping him on track – won a national level show and got a pro card. After he won his pro card, he decided to take time off from the gym. Six months later he comes to a cookout I was having and after six months of no exercise, looked only slightly smaller! He still looked better than 99% of the people busting their butts in the gym year in and year out and I wanted to kill him. I kid!