How Do You Build Muscle?
”The Science Behind Building Muscle”

How do you build muscle? What is the science behind building muscle? This article will explore how to build muscle with the aim of providing you with an overall understanding of the mechanics of muscle gain and growth, so that you understand what your body and muscle tissue undergoes after an intense workout.

Your muscles are constantly changing. Even the couch potato’s muscle cells are broken down and replaced. However this process happens faster when you incorporate a muscle building program that incorporates weight training and nutrition.

 

The Different Types of Muscle Growth: Sarcoplasmic & Myofibrillar Hypertrophy

How Do You Build MuscleFirst you must understand the difference between the two main types of muscle growth that occur during exercise and weight training when trying to get ripped quickly.

Muscle growth is caused by an increase in the size of your muscle cells. This is called muscular hypertrophy, and it differs from the increase in the number of muscle tissue fibers which is known as muscle hyperplasia.

There are really two types of muscular hypertrophy associated with building muscle, known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibrillar hypertrophy.

How Do You Build Muscle Through Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy?

When you perform aerobic or cardiovascular exercise, such as running or riding, your muscles get a workout through the high number of repetitions endured (i.e. each stride), and it is these multiple reps that result in muscle growth.

The muscle growth experienced by this type of exercise is an example of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. In this case, there is no increase in muscle strength, but an increase in the sarcoplasmic fluid in the muscle cell making the muscles larger.

How Do You Build Muscle Through Myofibrillar Hypertrophy?

Contrast this to a weight lifter who visits the gym 3 days a week and trains for 45 minutes using heavy free-weights for resistance at low reps. The weight lifter will experience what is known as myofibrillar hypertrophy, and with this type of muscle growth there is an increase in the number of myofibrilis proteins in the muscle fibres.  These proteins are responsible for muscle contraction, resulting in greater muscle strength and size.

This is the type of muscle growth we seek as bodybuilders.

Note: The cardio and weight training examples are used here to illustrate the differences, but they are not mutually exclusive. Most exercises to build muscle mass result in both types of muscle growth. This is important to understand when tackling the “how do you build muscle?” question.

 

The Role of Satellite Cells in How You Build Muscle

How To Build MuscleNow let’s look at a type of mononucleated myogenic cells known as skeletal muscle satellite cells that play a vital role in the building of muscle.

The restructuring of damaged muscle fibres in during the muscle healing process is what promotes muscle growth.

While weight training to build muscle, your muscle fibers are stimulated through the stress applied to them by resistance, resulting in what is known as muscle injury, muscle trauma or muscle damage. When this trauma occurs, special skeletal muscle cells known as satellite cells are activated and introduced to the injured areas of muscle tissue.

Satellite cells fuse together around the traumatized muscle fibers, and introduce myofibrilis proteins to help rebuild and make the damaged fibers stronger. This results in an increase in the number of myofibrils in the muscle tissue as well as the thickness of the muscle tissue.

Satellite cells also introduce other myofilaments known as actin and myosin, that are introduced to give motion (or contraction) back to the damaged muscle fibers.

This is a very involved and complex process that your body can easily undertake so long as your body is appropriately fuelled with sufficient nutrients. Rest and sleep is also essential. Without being well rested, the muscle growth and repair process cannot be completed sufficiently. So, an important part of the answer to the how do you build muscle question is diet and rest.

 

Hormones and The Muscle Building Process

How Do You Build Muscle Hormones TestosteroneHormones, known as growth factors, also play an important role in how you build muscle.

These hormones stimulate the satellite cells to migrate to muscle fibres that have experienced trauma, increase blood flow to new muscle tissue, promote muscle protein synthesis, and ultimately increase muscle size.

There are 5 major hormones that assist the muscle building process, each playing a unique role.  These are, in no particular order, Hepatocyte Growth Factor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Insulin-like Growth Factor, Growth Hormone and Testosterone.

Growth factors are provided naturally by the body. An introduction of outside hormones, such as steroids, can be dangerous, detrimental to your health and are also deemed as unethical.

 

How Do You Build Muscle Through Diet and Nutrition

Building Muscle Diet NutritionNow that you understand that after you workout and damage your muscle fibers, your body works quickly to repair and rebuild your muscle fibers bigger with the help of satellite cells and growth hormones, it is important to understand the importance diet and nutrition plays in the muscle building process.

When learning how to build muscle many people neglect the importance of diet and nutrition.  They do not realize that when you stress your muscles through weight training you must ensure to In order to facilitate muscle growth and help you build muscle fast you must make sure to prevent catabolism of your muscle tissue. This can be achieved through adopting an effective diet to build muscle, ingesting macronutrients when your muscles need them the most.

Catabolism of muscle is every muscle builder’s enemy and is the process by which your body begins to break down your muscle tissues to obtain the necessary nutrients and energy it needs to complete your work out. This is why complex carbohydrates and protein intake are crucial to learning how to build muscle effectively.

During your weight training workouts your body needs energy to lift against the resistance of the weights being used.  This requires what is known as adenosine triphosphate or ATP. As your workouts progress your ATP energy stores are rapidly depleted and you begin to find it more and more difficult to complete sets.

Once this happens your body begins to use up a carbohydrate known as glycogen found in your muscles as an alternative.  This process is known as glycolysis and is important to maintaining strength throughout your workout and restoring depleted ATP stores.

It is therefore important to incorporate complex carbohydrates into your muscle building diet to maintain sufficient glycogen stores and prevent muscle degradation and maintain muscle growth.  This is most effective when complex carbs are eaten just before you workout.

An increase in protein intake is also crucial to learning how to build muscle.  Your muscle fibers are made up of what are known as amino acids and are required for the repair and growth of muscle.

Increasing your protein intake also prevents your body from eating away at your muscle tissue due to its ability to prevent catabolism and help your body to maintain a fat burning, muscle building anabolic state. In order to build muscle and get ripped fast, it is most effective to incorporate protein into your post workout diet when your body is in a peak catabolic state.

Protein and complex carbohydrate intake can easily be increased through the use of the many supplements to build muscle mass, such as whey protein shakes, mass gainers and meal replacements.

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