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Desmond And Desmin

The Early Stages Of Strength Gains

Sports Illustrated Magazine

Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, that Desmond and Desmin have a lot in common.

I was fortunate to have an opportunity to be Desmond Howard’s Strength and Conditioning Coach while he was in college.  His freshman year was relatively uneventful and to speculate he was going to be a Heisman Trophy winner was not under consideration at least by us.

Sports Illustrated Magazine Late in the winter of his sophomore year Desmond Howard exploded on to the scene.  When we timed Desmond at the end of the winter conditioning program we were shocked, he was not only faster, his speed as well as his quickness was unique. Desmond had been laying the ground work for his eventual success.  We just did not know how much he had progressed and suddenly before us was a  great athlete seemingly out of nowhere.

In skeletal muscle part of the groundwork or the prelude to increasing the cross-sectional area is laying down the cytoskeleton.  The cytoskeleton is the structure or scaffolding of the molecular skeletal system used to remodel tissue.

Obviously, there is much more occurring in the initial gains of strength in a weight lifting program than just the suspected neural changes that come from the lifting of a progressively heavier load.  Desmin and his molecule constitutes like Desmond are hard at work building the structual foundation without visible increases in muscle mass.

Desmin expression precedes that of all known muscle proteins and desmin cytoskelton adaptations are thought to be completed in the early stages of strength training, as levels are known to plateau after about 4 weeks.  The advent of muscle seems sudden, yet a lot of sub-cellular things have been occurring.


What is most interesting is that the quickest way to get desmin synthesis is with eccentric training, that is training the lowering phase of the repetition exclusively or emphasizing the lowering phase of a repetition.  Studies have showed a threefold increase of the protein from the high tension eccentric load.

It seems training on a leg press 15-20 reps controlling the descent of the weight wasn’t a bad thing for Desmond or Desmin to Get Strong.

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