The Monday Memo
February 5, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
Student: Marcin Szczyglowski, Class of 2019
Q: Hello Marcin: Thanks for joining us today! To get started, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself: Where did you grow up? Where and what did you study for your undergraduate education?
A: I was born in Lansing, Michigan, but grew up in London, Ontario, Canada. I went to the University of Western Ontario for undergrad and studied Kinesiology. My undergrad program was mostly based in physiology and biomechanics, but also included electives in rehab, sport literature, sport law course, and more. I took a 5-year undergrad simply because our curriculum was rather strict and flooded with physiology/biomechanics, but there were a ton of electives I wanted to take.
Q: You have a Master Degree, don’t you? Tell us a little about that.
A: I completed my Master of Science at the University of Oklahoma. It was a degree in Exercise Physiology with a concentration in Muscle Function and Metabolism. My thesis topic was The Effects of Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage on Critical Torque and Mitochondrial Function. My lab also did quite a bit of work on pain science, ergogenic aids with endurance performance, carbohydrate mouth-rinsing for improved performance, and other various properties of muscle function. We were also jokingly termed ‘The Pain Lab’ because a) we studied pain quite a bit and b) a lot of our studies required strenuous physical testing as well as twitch interpolation, which, if you’ve never done, is not the most enjoyable experience.
Q: “No pain no physiological gain”, am I right? You’re also a published author. What are the titles of your publications and would you mind giving us a brief description of your involvement/the major takeaways?
A: Currently, my thesis is published in the European Journal of Physiology under the title The Effects of Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage on Critical Torque. Critical torque is an analogue of critical power, which is defined as the highest attainable work rate that still results in steady-state aerobic energy production. It is usually expressed as an individual’s exercise intensity, such as critical speed, critical torque, etc., and is arguably the best physiologic predictor of endurance performance. Any exercise above this ‘critical power’ will ultimately result in task failure. Exercise above critical power is thought to have a fixed amount of work (making time to exhaustion, or task failure predictable), and is termed W’. The article covers exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) and critical power in depth, however the main discussion points were as follows: EIMD significantly reduced absolute critical torque by ~14% as well as ∫T total, a surrogate for W′, by 33% following EIMD. These findings suggest that EIMD would lead to a decline in CT and ∫T total providing evidence that EIMD likely impacts aspects of both aerobic and anaerobic metabolic functions during exercise.
Literally as I was typing this interview up, I was notified that a second research study I was heavily involved in was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research under the title Carbohydrate Mouth Rinsing Does Not Prevent the Decline in Maximal Strength Following Fatiguing Exercise. CHO mouth rinsing without the need for ingestion is an interesting technique which has been shown to improve performance, whether that be in a time trial, time to exhaustion, repeated sprint bouts, or simply slow the decline of maximal voluntary contractions (so long as the given exercise is short enough in duration that glycogen stores do not become a factor). This is likely due to central mechanisms as opposed to peripheral. Our study added to the notion of peripheral fatigue not being impacted by CHO mouth rinsing. While % voluntary activation of the quadriceps did not differ between conditions or pre-post exercise, indicating peripheral as opposed to central fatigue, we observed no changes in muscle contractile properties vs placebo. To sum it up, while CHO mouth rinsing has been shown to improve performance, this ergogenic effect does not seem to extend to enhancement of high-intensity ‘one-off’ events such as 1-RM or a single sprint.
I also presented a poster titled Consistency of the Effects of Caffeine on Strength and Motor-Unit Recruitment at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in 2015. Caffeine, in the appropriate dosage (evidence ranging from roughly 3-13 mg/kg bodyweight), has been shown to improve muscular strength and motor-unit recruitment in athletes. This study was conducted on untrained individuals, and did not see the same ergogenic effect suggesting that caffeine has more of a fine-tuning effect on motor-unit recruitment.
Q: With such an extensive background in Exercise Physiology, the field of Physical Therapy was probably a natural transition for you. What got you interested in the field of physical therapy?
A: My undergraduate degree exposed me to physical therapy and rehab quite a bit, but science and research run in my family. I love physiology, which is what drove me to the University of Oklahoma. However, during my undergrad, I took quite a few ‘hands-on’ courses, volunteered in the field of physical therapy, and worked as a personal trainer/strength and conditioning coach at two gyms and for UWO women’s field hockey team. As much fun as research was, I missed this kind of treatment/training interaction. I got the opportunity to shadow the physical therapist for the Sooners’ track and field team and really enjoyed his treatment approach as well as the whole ‘behind the scenes’ atmosphere of collegiate sports. This, along with several long discussions with friend’s back home, swayed me away from doing a PhD in exercise physiology and, instead, a DPT.
Q: I know that you’re pretty involved in the sport of Powerlifting, so the competitive atmosphere that is collegiate athletics is probably a natural fit for you. What are your best lifts and how long have you been training?
A: I got into training powerlifting my sophomore year, and competed for the first time in my junior year. My undergraduate gym had a solid powerlifting culture led by a couple of the trainers I worked with, and I got sucked in. I’ve competed three times (last one in 2015…so I’m washed up). Best lifts (lbs): 505 Squat, 335 Bench (paused), 600 Deadlift. Best comp total: 650 kg / 1433 lbs at 93kg bodyweight.
Q: Any competitions in the near future?
A: Hopefully April (Comeback SZN!), and hopefully breaking a 1500lb total.
Q: What are your career goals or next steps after your graduate?
A: My main short-term goal is to get accepted into a sports physical therapy residency. Long-term I would love to end up working with a sports team, as well as contribute to the movement of therapists working toward bridging the gap between physical therapy and strength & conditioning. Long-long term dream goal? Own a hybrid of a physical therapy clinic and a strength and conditioning gym. Is Szczyglowski Strength too much of a tongue twister?
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
A: Pizza is kind of a boring food, and I don’t understand why people love it so much. Get something better, like a taco or a burger. But if you do get pizza, put some pineapple on it.
Q: Thanks for stopping by, Marcin! Good luck with the rest of the spring semester!
Links to studies:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29334582 – CHO Mouth Rinsing
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28900719 – Critical Torque