How Do Muscles Grow? Get The Skinny On The Science
July 14, 20163 min read
For many of us, muscles are a bit of a mystery. Sure, we know them when we see them, and we can feel them when we flex. We even know what activities build them up. But have you ever stopped to wonder why or how that even happens?
BodyRock has your answers!
When you have completed your workout, your body begins the repair process. It repairs damaged muscle tissue via a cellular process that fuses muscle fibers together to form new protein muscle strands. These strands increase in thickness and in number, creating growth. This growth happens when your body produces this muscle protein at a rate that is faster than it breaks it down. It is important to note, however, that this protein synthesis can only happen when you are at rest. It does not happen during your workout. That's why lifting for longer periods, or with a greater frequency, will not necessarily get you bigger results!
How DO you make muscles grow?
The key to building muscle is to stress the muscle. This level of stress disrupts your body's homeostasis. It is this shake up that sets off the three main mechanisms that can build muscle.
1. Muscle tension: To see growth, you need to put more stress on your muscles than it is used to. That means, you have to lift heavier than what your body has adapted to. Once your reps start to feel easier, you might want to consider grabbing some heavier weights. The extra tension this causes, creates chemical changes in the muscle, allowing various growth factors to take effect.
2. Muscle damage: Those aches and pains you feel after a good workout are actually localized muscle damage. This damage prompts an inflammatory response and causes your body to jump into action. This, of course, does not mean that you have to push yourself to the point of injury. Fortunately, this post-workout pain lessens over time as the muscle repairs. If you'd like to try to reduce the duration of your pain, try a natural recovery drink like this watermelon smoothie inspired by the BodyRock Meal Plan:
3. Metabolic stress: Metabolic stress causes swelling around the muscle which causes muscle growth without necessarily increasing the size of the muscle cells or helping you gain in strength. It is muscle glycogen that causes the swelling and the growth of connective tissue. Basically, your muscles will appear larger but won't really be any stronger.
Do hormones impact muscle growth and development?
Hormones play a fairly big role in muscle growth. In fact, Insulin Growth Factor (IGF)-1 and testosterone, are vital to the process.
Testosterone helps to promote protein synthesis, reduce protein breakdown, and stimulate anabolic hormones. The majority of testosterone is bound in the body and not available for use but strength training can actually make the receptor cells in your muscles more sensitive to testosterone. This is important because testosterone can help stimulate the growth hormones by increasing neurotransmitters at the site of the damaged muscle.
IGF, enhances protein synthesis, facilitates glucose uptake, aids the uptake of amino acids (the building blocks of all proteins), and activates the cells necessary for muscle growth.
But remember to rest and give it time
You cannot build muscle without taking time to rest. Skipping rest, and not getting the proper nutrition, can actually put your body into a destructive state, undoing any and all of the good work you just put in. We've said it before, working out more frequently will not necessarily get you greater gains. Working out too hard can increase your body's production of the stress hormone cortisol. When this happens, your body isn't able to properly interpret the stress signal, preventing you from properly converting your food into glycogen, or energy. Instead, those calories get stored in the body, and often around the middle.
Muscle gains will not happen overnight. It could take weeks, or months, to see the results you are looking for. Be patient with yourself. To make sure you have your bases covered, and are doing all you can to facilitate the process, be sure to eat complete proteins and carbohydrates. These macronutrients will help your body rebuild your damaged muscle tissue.
Visible muscle gains can provide a serious boost in motivation and confidence so we can understand your desire to get results fast. But, as in life, good things are worth the wait!
So, stick with your workouts (for hundreds of hours of workouts, check out Sweatflix℠), follow along with the BodyRock Meal Plan, and let your body take care of the rest! Stay the course!
Source: Built Lean
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