Osteopenia | ViiV Fitness Blog



By Brian Murray, M.Ed.
Director of Clinical Research, ViiV Fitness

Monkey Lifting Dumbells

Two monkeys walk into a lab.
They lift weights.
They get really strong.
How strong?

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it, because it's the truth: changes in your strength are all about changes in your nervous system, not changes in the size or strength of your muscle fibers.

Here's more proof:

A recent New York Times article titled "How We Get Stronger" explored the findings of Drs. Glover and Baker published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Their paper titled "Cortical, Corticospinal and Reticulospinal Contributions to Strength Training" is the first report of a strength training intervention in non-human primates and gives us even more insight into what is really happening within our nerves when we lift weights.

This study is unbelievably significant!

So let's get to the good stuff. Stay with me while I quickly set the table with a few key details:

You've got two main bundles of nerves that descend from your brain and direct movement: the corticospinal tract (CST) and the reticulospinal tract (RST).

In evolutionary terms, the RST is ancient. It arises from the more primitive areas of the brain. It is common in lower tier species such as reptiles. These nerves direct broad preparatory and movement related activity and postural control.

The CST is younger in evolutionary terms and more refined. It controls fine motor skills. It's found in monkeys and humans, but rarely in reptiles.

With tiny transmitters and electrodes implanted, the researchers tracked how each set of nerves responded and changed as the animals lifted with their right arm only. The monkeys trained 5 times a week for 3 months, increasing the weight load until they could complete the equivalent of "a human doing 50 one-armed pull-ups," said lead author Isabel Glover.

What drove this impressive gain in strength?

Answer: Progressively stronger and more urgent nerve commands to the muscles. But those messages came from, and strengthened only one set of nerves - the more primitive RST.

What does this mean?

First, as you will soon learn, the tract of nerves strengthened is significant. We never knew this before.

Second, "Strength isn't just about muscle mass," said Dr. Glover. "You get stronger because the neural input to your muscles increases."

See, I told you so.

So you still think you're making your muscles stronger when you lift those weights?

Think again.

You're really strengthening your nervous system, literally.

The key to all of this?


Here's why the tract of nerves involved is significant. The RST is bilateral and has the largest density of projections to the trunk and proximal limb (thigh and upper arm) muscles on both sides of the body, often engaging the upper and lower limbs at the same time.

It is the integrator of whole body movement.

Even though the monkeys only lifted with their right arms, their spinal circuits adapted to demonstrate a greater output even on their left side. Significant changes occurred in both the gray and white matter of the spinal cord on both the right and left side, with the trained side showing a greater effect.

The highest load lifted led to the greatest activation of all muscles in the right arm. But the really cool thing is, the same thing happened in the left arm that did nothing. The lighter loads lifted didn't have any effect on the immobilized left arm.

Get it?

Load is the key!

- Not fatigue

- Not time

- Not metabolic stress


So what's the bottom line?

With increasing loads, the brain (both higher and lower functioning areas) improved connectivity and efficiency of those connections to send information more quickly and strongly down the spinal cord, where spinal circuits got information out to the limbs more quickly and strongly, so more force could be generated by the muscles.

There was, however, one other interesting thing to note. Based on the locations of changes measured within the nervous system, the authors did not see any evidence that changes in motorneurons outside the spinal cord, i.e., the nerves that activate muscle (motor units), played any role in the ability to lift more weight.

Understand? The magic happens in a primitive area of the central nervous system much further upstream from the muscles.

Yet, we put our focus on muscle, while the changes that actually matter are within the brain and spinal cord.

With the ViiV you can experience the highest of loads safely and leverage the function of the RST to maximize physical fitness results with just a few seconds of time invested. This is why just 5 seconds of maximum effort on one exercise can strengthen your entire body and change your physical fitness overnight! (See my previous article titled The New Minimum Effective Dose, which details results of a study I did supporting this claim.)

So here's the deal:

Load is most important.

When you hop on the ViiV and give it everything you've got for 5 seconds, you will trigger the greatest improvement in the connectivity, strength, and efficiency of your nervous system.

- The greater the improvement in the efficiency of the nervous system, the less your muscles need to be activated to do anything below a maximum effort, which is almost everything you do every day.

- The less your muscles need to be activated to do the same given workload, the wider your comfort zone for any effort level becomes so you can do more, for a longer period of time. Your "gas mileage" improves at all effort levels.

The best part is you can get these results with just a few seconds of effort once in a while, and keep these results for a very long time.

You can workout less, play more, and your physical fitness will be great all the time.

Can you see the implications of this information?

Yeah, the ViiV way could change the world, if the world will let it.


Brian - HeadShot - Truth Not Trends Podcast 600px

Click to Listen:
Truth Not Trends Podcast Episode #81: ViiV Fitness - Motionless Strength Training with Brian Murray

TruthNotTrends podcast thumbnail

The Truth Not Trends podcast - where we teach you how to maximize your strength as safely and efficiently as possible!

Each episode we bring you strength training techniques, nutritional recommendations, and general health tips based on over 30 years of experience.

We also bring you interviews with fitness business owners, strength coaches, scientists, researchers, and people on the cutting edge of the fitness industry.

This week the featured guest on the Truth Not Trends Podcast was Brian Murray, M.Ed. - Exercise Physiologist - Director of Clinical Research for ViiV Fitness.   Listen as we discuss how a motionless total-body maximum intensity strength training workout stimulates new muscle and bone growth and can be completed in under 5 minutes.

Apple Podcast Link


By Brian Murray, M.Ed.
Director of Clinical Research, ViiV Fitness

Fast Velocity Resistance Training

Did you know you can train fast without any movement whatsoever?

I recently stumbled upon a 2019 review article published in Strength and Conditioning Journal titled: "Why Fast Velocity Resistance Training Should Be Prioritized for Elderly People". This small review of 56 studies compared the improvements in muscle strength, power output, explosive force, muscle mass, and functional capacity after resistance training with slow or fast contraction velocities in older adults. 

The Summary?

Fast velocity resistance training is superior for improving maximal isometric strength, power output, explosive force, and functional capacity; all things that every person needs and should strive for, no matter what their age or level of physical fitness.  

But why are the results better with fast velocity training?

The Rate of Force Development is faster.

And so I realized this paper could easily be re-titled: "Why Five Seconds of All Out Isometric Effort Should be Prioritized for Everyone".


Five seconds of maximum isometric effort on the ViiV-Rx and intentionally moving a weight as fast as possible have something in common: the rate of force development is fast.

This is important. 

The faster rate of force development makes people more powerful, capable, and independent by protecting the larger, stronger neuromuscular units that become inactive and largely account for age-related weakness (See my previous article titled AGE-RELATED WEAKNESS: NERVE OR MUSCLE).

Roughly 80% of our population doesn't get any exercise. About 50% are Baby Boomers, the group of people that desperately need improved power output and functional capacity the most.

With ViiV, we have the ability to make older individuals more powerful without any movement whatsoever, and this capability is then ready and waiting for them to use as they move throughout their daily activities. 

Our bodies need to move regularly, but we can become better movers with a few seconds of no movement.  


By Brian Murray, M.Ed.
Director of Clinical Research, ViiV Fitness

age related muscle weakness

For a long time now it has been assumed that the primary cause of the age-related decline in strength is the loss of muscle mass. Consequently, medications were developed to act on muscle to enhance muscle function and physical capacity. Unfortunately, all of them failed, and for a good reason.

It's not about muscle.

A 2019 paper by Clark et. al. titled Voluntary vs Electrically Stimulated Activation in Age-Related Muscle Weakness studied the role of the nervous system in clinically meaningful age-related weakness in a cross-sectional group of 66 older adults (age range 67 to 85 years). Participants were characterized as weak (the oldest group with an average age of 78.4 years), modestly weak (average age 74.9 years), or strong (the youngest of the bunch with an average age of 72 years). The researchers specifically sought to determine if weak older adults exhibit reduced ability to activate their lower extremity muscles compared to their stronger counterparts. The degree of voluntary inactivation was calculated for each group by comparing maximum voluntary and electrically stimulated muscle forces.

The results of this study found that the weak older adults exhibited significantly higher levels of voluntary inactivation compared to the strong older adults (14.2% vs 7.1%). What makes these findings even more interesting is the fact that lean thigh mass for all three groups was nearly identical.

Think about this. Same muscle mass, dramatically different ability to activate that muscle mass. That's pretty strong evidence that age-related weakness is not necessarily a disorder of the skeletal muscles. In fact, Dr. Clark stated "It's confirmatory evidence that the nervous system is a key culprit in weakness."

In a 2009 study by Delmonico et al. titled Longitudinal Study of Muscle Strength, Quality, and Adipose Tissue Infiltration, 1,678 participants were followed for 5 years. It was found that loss of muscle torque was 2-5 times greater than the loss of muscle cross sectional area. In other words, loss of strength was weakly associated with loss of muscle mass. So something else accounted for the large drop in strength.

It's the nervous system.

This fact is why the ViiV-Rx Isometric Machine is the perfect tool for reversing age-related weakness, increasing strength with advancing age, and preserving that strength 'til death do us part. It's perfect because isometrics are the most effective and efficient way of producing changes in the nervous system that really matter for improving physical capacity.

Here's why:

Performing a maximum voluntary isometric effort in your most efficient joint angle for producing maximum force leads to the greatest improvements in strength and neurological efficiency (Read my previous article ViiV-Rx Makes Weight Lifting Obsolete?). Isometric contractions also yield far greater improvements in voluntary activation compared to concentric or eccentric contractions.

For nearly 20 years now I have had clients give it everything they've got for 5 seconds at 1-4 stations. I have worked with people of all ages for many years in a row, many of them in their 80's. I have yet to see someone max out their strength or lose their ability to voluntarily activate their muscles over time. My experience has shown me that no one is too old or too inactive to reawaken dormant nervous system pathways and achieve life-changing-long-lasting improvements in physical capacity.

Age-related decline in muscle strength? Nah. The muscles are just fine.

It's all about your nerves.

The ViiV-Rx is the perfect nervous system anti-aging treatment.

Problem solved.


Obviously someone noticed a change in Jill, and now three weeks after her first few sessions others have noticed a change in Jill as well. Even Jill's sister, who had not seen Jill in nearly 4 months couldn't believe how much better she was walking. And no, she still has not told anyone what she is doing.