The Science of Muscle Growth

If you’re a guy in the gym working with weights, not only are you probably trying to lose some fat, but also gain some muscle.
This article discusses the mechanisms of how muscles grow, plus why most women won’t gain large amounts of muscle when working with weights.
Although there are different types of muscles, such as cardiac muscle (your heart), for our concerns, we will talk exclusively about skeletal muscles. Skeletal muscle is composed of thread-like myofibrils and sarcomeres that form a muscle fiber and are the basic units of contraction.
The 650 skeletal muscles in the human body contract when they receive signals from motor neurons, which are triggered from a part of the cell called the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Motor neurons tell your muscles to contract and the better you become at having those signals tell your muscles to contract, the stronger you can get.
When someone like a powerlifter is able to lift very heavy weight despite not looking very muscular, it’s due to their ability to activate those motor neurons and contract their muscles better. This is why some powerlifters can be relatively smaller compared to bodybuilders, but can lift significantly more weight. Motor Unit recruitment also helps to explain why, after practice, certain movements become easier to perform and most of the initial strength gains will be when you first start to lift weights. Muscle growth tends to occur more steadily after this initial period of strength gain because you are more easily able to activate the muscles.

The Physiology Of Muscle Growth
After you workout, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy (growth).1 Muscle growth occurs whenever the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown. This adaption, however, does not happen while you actually lift the weights. Instead, it occurs while you rest.
So how do you actually add muscle to your muscle cells? This is where Satellite cells come in and act like stem cells for your muscles. When activated, they help to add more nuclei to the muscle cells and therefore contribute directly to the growth of myofibrils (muscle cells). Activating these satellite cells may be the difference between what allows certain “genetic freaks” to grow massive muscles and what makes other people “hard-gainers.2”
In one of the most interesting studies in the past 5 years, researchers showed that those who were “extreme responders” to muscle growth, with an incredible 58% myofiber hypertrophy from an exercise, had 23% activation of their satellite cells. Modest responders, who had a 28% growth, had 19% activation of their satellite cells. What is interesting to note, though, is that some people known as “non-responders” in the study had 0% growth and had a concurrent 0% activation of their satellite cells. Therefore, it seems the more you can activate these satellite cells, the more you’ll be able to grow. So then the question becomes, how do you activate these satellite cells to increase muscle growth?

3 Mechanisms That Make Muscles Grow
Underlying all progression of natural muscle growth is the ability to continually put more stress on the muscles. This stress is a major component involved in the growth of a muscle and disrupts homeostasis within your body. The stress and subsequent disruption in homeostasis causes three main mechanisms that spur on muscle growth.
1. Muscle Tension
In order to produce muscle growth, you have to apply a load of stress greater than what your body or muscles had previously adapted too. How do you do this? The main way is to lift progressively heavier weights. This additional tension on the muscle helps to cause changes in the chemistry of the muscle, allowing for growth factors that include mTOR activation and satellite cell activation.3
Muscular tension also most dramatically effects the connection of the motor units with the muscle cells. Two other factors help to explain why some people can be stronger, but not as big as other people.
2. Muscle Damage
If you’ve ever felt sore after a workout, you have experienced the localized muscle damage from working out. This local muscle damage causes a release of inflammatory molecules and immune system cells that activate satellite cells to jump into action.This doesn’t mean that you have to feel sore in order for this to happen, but instead that the damage from the workout has to be present in your muscle cells. Typically soreness is attenuated over time by other mechanisms.
3. Metabolic Stress
If you’ve ever felt the burn of an exercise or had the “pump” in the gym, then you’ve felt the effects of metabolic stress. Scientists used to question bodybuilders when they said the “pump” caused their muscles to become larger. After more investigation, it seems as though they were onto something.
Metabolic stress causes cell swelling around the muscle, which helps to contribute to muscle growth without necessarily increasing the size of the muscle cells. This is from the addition of muscle glycogen, which helps to swell the muscle along with connective tissue growth. This type of growth is known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophyand is one of the ways that people can get the appearance of larger muscles without increases in strength.
So now that you know the three main mechanisms of muscle growth, the next question is: how do hormones affect muscle growth?
How Do Hormones Affect How Muscles Grow?
Hormones are another component largely responsible for muscle growth and repair because of their role in regulating satellite cell activity. Insulin Growth Factor (IGF)-1, in particular Mecho-Growth Factor (MGF) and testosterone are the two most vital mechanisms that promote muscle growth.4
Testosterone is the main hormone that most people think about when working out with weights, and there seems to be some validity to the thought that testosterone increases protein synthesis, inhibits protein breakdown, activates satellite cells, and stimulates other anabolic hormones. Although most testosterone is bound in the body and therefore not available to use (up to 98%), strength training seems to help not only release more testosterone, but also make the receptors of your muscle cells more sensitive to your free testosterone. Testosterone can also stimulate growth hormone responses by increasing the presence of neurotransmitters at the damaged fiber site, which can help to activate tissue growth.
The IGF regulates the amount of muscle mass growth by enhancing protein synthesis, facilitating glucose uptake, repartitioning the uptake of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) into skeletal muscles and once again, activates satellite cells to increase muscle growth.
Why Muscles Need Rest To Grow
If you do not provide your body with adequate rest or nutrition, you can actually reverse the anabolic process and put your body into a catabolic or destructive state. The response of muscle protein metabolism to a resistance exercise bout lasts for 24-48 hours; thus, the interaction between protein metabolism and any meals consumed in this period will determine the impact of the diet on muscle hypertrophy.5 Keep in mind there is a certain limit on how much your muscles can actually grow dependent on gender, age, and genetics. For instance, men have more testosterone than women, which allows them to build bigger and stronger muscles.
Why Rapid Muscle Growth Is Unlikely
Muscle hypertrophy takes time and is relatively slow for the majority of people. People will generally not see visible growth for several weeks or months as most initial changes are due to the ability of your nervous system to activate your muscles.
In addition to that, different people have different genetics, which range from hormonal output, muscle fiber type and number, along with satellite cell activation, that can all limit muscle growth. To ensure you’re doing your best to grow muscle, muscle protein synthesis must exceed muscle protein breakdown. This requires that you take in an adequate source of protein (especially essential amino acids) and carbohydrates to help facilitate the cellular process of rebuilding broken down muscle tissue. Visible muscle growth and evident physical changes in your body’s muscle structure can be highly motivational which is why understanding the science behind how muscles actually grow is important.
How Muscles Grow: Conclusion
For muscle breakdown and growth to occur you must force your muscles to adapt by creating stress that is different than the previous threshold your body has already adapted to. This is can be done by lifting heavier weights, continually changing your exercises so that you can damage more total muscle fibers and pushing your muscles to fatigue while getting a “pump.” After the workout is completed, the most important part begins which is adequate rest and providing ample fuel to your muscles so they can regenerate and grow.

Health and Fitness is the quality or state of being fit, its a person’s ability to perform a specific function or a holistic definition of human adaptability to cope with various situations. This has led to an interrelation of human fitness and attractiveness which has mobilized global fitness and fitness equipment industries. Regarding specific function, fitness is attributed to person who possess significant aerobic or anaerobic ability, i.e. strength or endurance, an increased work capacity across broad times and modal domains.

Beauty is the range of practices that support skin integrity including nutrition, avoidance of excessive sun exposure, and appropriate use of emollients; that enhance appearance such as use of cosmetics, botulinum, exfoliation, fillers, laser resurfacing, microdermabrasion, peels, retinol therapy; and that re-mediate skin break down and relieve skin conditions. Skin care is a routine daily procedure in many settings, such as skin that is either too dry or too moist, and prevention of dermatitis and prevention of skin injuries. Skin care is a component in wound healing, neonates, elderly, stomas, radiation treatment and with some medications.

79% of Women Think Face Care Matters More Than Body Skin Care
But it’s time to think differently.
79% of women think face care is more important than a body skin care routine.

In reality, any skin anywhere on your body can become dry and unhealthy. Though your face is what you show to the world, other body parts are just as likely to experience moisture loss and damage. To have truly healthy skin, it’s important to practice good skin care everywhere. It’s your first line of defense against the outside world and needs to be healthy in order to protect you effectively.

As your skin matures, its needs change, and your makeup needs change right along with it. The oiliness of younger years might disappear, calling for a switch to richer, anti-aging formulas made for dry or mature skin. Fortunately, there are cosmetics available for every type of skin; all you have to do is be aware of how your skin has changed.

“You should re-evaluate your choice of makeup every five years,” says Helga Surratt, president of About Faces Day Spa & Salon in Towson, Md. “Little by little, skin loses that youthful plumpness and clarity as we become older. Pores become more noticeable.”

The health and fitness industry is probably the most saturated industry in the world today. Part of the reason for that is people try out one program and then fail because of their own lack of determination and then think the program is worthless and try another. What the health and fitness industry doesn’t tell people on their face is that they are failing mostly because they are not able to resolve themselves to stick to one program. They will probably fail with this one too because their minds are rolling stones, but it doesn’t matter because presently they are spending thousands of dollars on buying their products.
It works that way. But the fact is that the industry is saturated. So what do you do when you are looking at a program for yourself? If it is a health treatment program, your choice is simpler. You just go to a doctor that you have faith in – usually your family physician – and then do as they say. But the issue is very much complicated if you are looking for a viable fitness program. What do you use to stay fit – diet, exercise, aerobics, calisthenics, what?
Researching on the Internet is not the answer. What you will find mostly is articles full of sales pitch, written by people who are trying to promote their own product. They won’t have any qualms in painting some other perfectly good product with a negative color if they can improve the impression of their own product. The world gobbles it, so it works.
Now, if you want to choose a program, the best thing you could do is to head to your nearest bookstore. You should first narrow your choices to two or three fitness programs that really interest you. It is great if you get to speak to some people who have used the programs you are contemplating on and who have absolutely no commercial interests whatsoever in promoting what they are doing. Join a health and fitness club. This is a great place to meet people who are conscious about their fitness and they won’t mind giving you great advice.

fitness clubs have their own libraries too, so you could find a lot of educational material in them.
When you get the books on what you are thinking about, take time out and read them. Read them mainly to understand what you will have to do, how much time you will have to devote, what equipment you will need, whether you will be able to do what is mentioned, what the results will be and how soon you will get them, etc. These facts will help you decide whether you want to be with the program.
Don’t trust anybody when it comes to deciding a fitness program for you. Most people will have commercial interests. Some well-meaning souls will give you advice too, but they may be limited in their knowledge. It is best to speak with impartial experts, like your doctor, or read books and form an initial decision. Of course, you need to speak with a qualified person before making your eventual decision about what program to take.

The key is to start slow. When you start your health and fitness program at a slow pace, you are much more comfortable with it and you get used to it better.
So, when you are embarking on your fitness regimen, don’t commit the mistake of taking long strides right from the start. This is especially important when you are going to do things your own way. For example, if you are going to go jogging each morning, don’t plan on jogging for an hour right from the first day. Start slow – maybe do just 10 to 15 minutes the first day. You probably haven’t exercised since a long time. Hence, there might be a problem with your stamina too. When your stamina increases, you will be able to exert yourself for longer. But if you think of going the whole hog right from the start, you will be exhausted to the point of giving up.
The same applies when you are trying to go on a diet. You could not possibly give up all your favorite foods all at once. This will actually put you into depression and make you give up promptly. Depression also does something that will be detrimental to your weight loss plan. It releases a hormone known as cortisol. This hormone – also known as the stress hormone – will make you mentally weak and will make you vulnerable. You will give up your plan sooner because of the release of this hormone.
Instead, you could start by giving up a few of the unhealthy foods at the start and work them out of your schedule slowly – probably over a week or something. Even when you are on a strict diet, it is advisable to have at least one interesting meal per week so that you don’t feel too stressed out. In fact, you will be looking forward to that special meal each week.
When someone is trying to give up smoking, this is the approach followed. They are told to go on a reduction system, where they begin cutting down on the

number of cigarettes they smoke each day. Over time, they drastically reduce their extent of smoking.
Thus, when you are trying to get into a long-term health and fitness plan, it is not right to start drastically all at once. Start slow and then build up the momentum. That’s the way it will work for the long term.

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