UM Muscle Development Research Moving Forward

#OleMissMuscle studies ways to optimize results from workouts

Members of #OleMiss Muscle are (front, from left) Sam Buckner, Grant Mouser, Matt Jessee, Dr. Jeremy Loennek,Kevin Mattocks and (back) Scott Dankel. (Submitted photo)

Members of #OleMissMuscle are (front, from left) Sam Buckner, Grant Mouser, Matt Jessee, Jeremy Loenneke, Kevin Mattocks and (back) Scott Dankel. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A two-month study being conducted by a group of University of Mississippi researchers promises to provide insights into the time course/mechanisms behind increases in muscular strength following a resistance exercise program.

#OleMissMuscle, a six-member team of exercise physiologists, began the study, which is sponsored by the university, in mid-September by recruiting 25 female and 15 male subjects to work out on two different machines in the university’s Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory.

The researchers analyzed each participant’s muscle composition before they launched into the program. At its conclusion, the research team will monitor their muscle progression through post-test results.

“For this study, participants are exercising twice a week on chest press exercise for the upper body and leg extension exercise for the lower body,” said J.P. Loenneke, assistant professor of exercise science and founder of #OleMissMuscle. “One group is doing traditional resistance exercise, and the other group is just testing their maximal strength twice a week.”

The research is important, as some suggest that increasing and maintaining a high level of strength is essential for maintaining a high level of function throughout life.

“It does feel good contributing new knowledge to a field in which we actually do not know very much about,” said Scott Dankel of Howell, New Jersey, a doctoral student in health and kinesiology. “Finding out new information and being able to design a study the way you feel would unbiasedly answer a certain question is very rewarding.”

Other members of the team are fellow doctoral students Sam Buckner of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Grant Mouser of Norman, Oklahoma, Kevin Mattocks of Pittsburgh, and Matthew Jessee of Hickory, North Carolina.

“I have always been interested in learning how muscle tissue adapts to exercise, and Dr. Loenneke is a great resource to learn from and do research with,” Jessee said. “It isn’t always easy, and we work long hours sometimes, but we always make the best of it by always keeping the bigger picture in mind.”

Following this study, the team will start another project, investigating the blood flow, muscular and cardiovascular effects of resistance exercise with and without differing levels of blood flow restriction.

#OleMissMuscle has been studying muscular growth for approximately three years. While most studies incorporate muscle physiology and adaptation to resistance training, the UM team’s expertise is in the potential physiologic benefits of acute blood flow restriction, a technique that partially restricts blood flow into the muscle but does not cut off arterial flow completely.

“In doing so, we can increase muscle size and strength with very light weights, which are adaptations previously thought to only occur with heavy weights,” Loenneke said.

Results from previous studies have been published in journals such as Sports Medicine, Physiology and Behavior, Muscle and Nerve and others. The majority of the group’s work is on low-load exercise in combination with blood flow restriction, a technique being used more frequently in rehabilitation settings.

For more information about #OleMissMuscle, contact Jeremy Loenneke at