How muscles grow – What affects muscle growth?


Muscle growth is the process of increasing the muscle fiber and its surrounding tissues, requiring both physical training, adequate nutrition, and adequate sleep. At the same time, muscles grow during sleep, when the body mobilizes reserves for recovery, including through the production of growth hormone.

From what exactly do muscles grow and what exercises are best for gaining muscle mass? How often should you train and how much protein should be in the diet? You will find the answers in the material below.

How do muscles grow?

From the point of view of anatomy, muscle growth is not at all associated with an increase in the number of muscle fibers, but with a change in their volume and with an increase in the density of myofascial and connective tissue. In other words, the muscles do not grow at all but only increase in volume.

In addition, the process of visual muscle growth is closely related to changes in the structure of the sarcoplasm, the nutrient fluid surrounding the muscle fiber.¬†The more glycogen the sarcoplasm can store, the higher the athlete’s strength indicators, and the greater the muscle volume.

The rate of muscle growth depends both on the athlete’s¬†body type¬†and training experience (an athlete can regain muscle volume, while a beginner will need significantly more time) and on nutrition and sufficient recovery time.

// What makes muscles grow:

  • regular strength training for hypertrophy
  • increase the calorie intake by 10-15%
  • eating enough protein
  • sufficient recovery time

How to understand that muscles are growing?

First, the processes of healing and subsequent muscle growth are associated with the appearance of characteristic muscle pain. Even though this pain is often attributed to increased production of lactic acid, recent scientific research refutes this Рpain appears due to several factors.

Secondly, an increase in body weight against the background of an increase in strength also indicates that the muscles are successfully growing. However, we note that this rule requires a regular increase in the weight with which you pump muscles Рthe start of growth processes implies a new level of stress for the muscles. Another type of load can also be such stress, which indicates the benefits of alternating sports.

From a scientific point of view, it is more correct to speak not about muscle growth, but an increase in their volume – that is, about muscle hypertrophy. Most scientists tend to believe that the very number of muscle fibers remains virtually unchanged throughout life and is genetically determined¬Ļ.

Physical training does make the fibers stronger but does not lead to an increase in their number. Visual muscle growth is primarily an increase in sarcoplasm (nutrient fluid surrounding muscle fibers), muscle glycogen depots, and proliferation of connective tissues.

Regular training teaches the athlete’s body to use energy reserves more efficiently and affects the hormonal level. In particular, increased testosterone levels help muscles grow faster.

// Due to what muscles grow:

  • strength training 2-3 times a week
  • multi-joint basic exercises
  • sufficient amount of glycogen in the muscles
  • creatine intake

How long does it take for muscles to grow?

Studies show that the process of muscle growth begins approximately 3-4 hours after strength training² and ends after 36-48 hours, depending on the muscle group. That is why it makes no sense to pump the same muscle group more often than once every two or three days, and the ideal training frequency for gaining mass for beginners is 3 workouts per week.

At the same time, immediately after training, the beginner’s body needs both easily digestible proteins to stop catabolic processes in the muscles, and carbohydrates in an amount of at least 100-150 g (30-40 g immediately after training, the rest – within 2-3 hours).¬†The period when the body prefers to send food energy to the muscles is called the metabolic or¬†carbohydrate window.

What is hypertrophy?

Muscle hypertrophy is an increase in the body’s muscle mass due to the growth of individual groups of skeletal muscles.¬†It is hypertrophy which means muscle growth and is the main goal in bodybuilding because without muscle growth it is impossible to increase both strength and volume. Hypertrophy training strategy – basic exercises and heavy working weights.

In turn, muscle hypertrophy is divided into two types Рmyofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. The first is achieved by increasing the volume of muscle fiber cells (while the actual number of cells remains practically unchanged), and the second is achieved by increasing the nutrient fluid surrounding this fiber. In simple terms, the first affects strength, the second affects muscle volume.

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