Muscles | How Our Muscles Grow?

We have over 600 types of muscles, which make up between 1/3 one third and 1/2 one half of our body weight. Along with connective tissue, they bind us together, holds us up and help us move. Whether or not bodybuilding is your hobby muscles need your constant attention, because the way you treat them on a daily basis determines whether they will wither or grow.

How your muscles work?
let’s think that you are standing in front of a door ready to pull it open. Your brain and muscles are perfectly poised to help you achieve this goal. First, your brain sends a signal to the motor neurons inside your arm. When they receive this message, they fire, causing muscles to contract and relax, which pull on the bones in your arms and generate the needed movement.

The bigger the challenge like the above becomes the bigger the brain signal grows and the more motor units rallies to help you achieve your task. 

What if the door is made of solid iron? 
At this point, your arm muscles alone won’t be able to generate enough tension to pull it open. So your brain appeals to other muscles for help. You plant your feet, tighten your belly and tense your back generating enough force to yank it open. Your nervous system has just leveraged the resources you already have other muscles to meet the demand.

While all this is happening, your muscle fibres undergo another kind of cellular change. As you expose our muscle to stress they experience microscopic damage which in this context is a good thing. In response to this, the injured cells release inflammatory molecules called cytokines that activate the immune system to repair the injury. This is when the muscle building magic happens.
The greater the damage to the muscle tissue the more your body will need to repair itself. The resulting cycle of damage and repair eventually make muscles bigger and stronger as they adapt to progressively greater demands.

As our bodies have already adapted to most everyday activities, those generally don’t produce enough stress to stimulate new muscles growth. So to build new muscle, a process called hypertrophy, our cells need to be exposed to higher workloads than they are used to. In fact, if you don’t continuously expose your muscles o some resistance they will shrink, a process known as muscular atrophy. In contrast, exposing the muscle to a high degree of tension especially while the muscle is lengthening, also called an eccentric contraction, generates an effective condition for new muscles growth.

However, muscles rely on more than just activity to grow, without proper nutrition hormones and rest, your body would never be able to repair damaged muscle fibres. Protein in our diet preserves muscle mass by providing the building blocks for new tissue in the form of amino acids. Adequate protein intake along with naturally occurring hormones like insulin-like growth factor and testosterone help shift the body into a state where tissue is repaired and grown. This vital repair process mainly occurs when we are resting especially at night while sleeping. 

Gender and age affect this repair mechanism which is why young men with more testosterone have a leg up in muscle building game. Genetic factors also play a role in one’s ability to grow muscle. Some people have more robust immune reactions to muscle damage and are better able to repair and replace damaged muscle fibres increasing their muscle building potential. The body responds to the demands you place on it. 

If you tear your muscles up, eat right, rest and repeat you will create the condition to make your muscles as big and strong as possible. It is with muscles as it is with life meaningful growth requires challenge and stress.

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