Once reserved for bodybuilders and athletes, building muscle is now considered beneficial for all people regardless of age or gender. Building muscle through resistance training can help you perform everyday tasks, reduce the risk of injury, improve your physique and even improve your metabolism.
Building muscle can be a complex and confusing concept. There is a lot of conflicting information and misleading messages in the media and locker room about how to achieve the perfect body. As a personal trainer my job is to dispel the myths and provide my clients with the facts about building muscle. Whether its 14 pound of muscle in 28 days or toning and sculpting your muscles for the body you want I can help you achieve your goals.
Increase in muscle size is the body’s adaptation of muscular tissue to strength training. This is caused by an increase in contractile proteins within muscle. Just say your goal is to increase the size and strength of your biceps muscles. You perform biceps curl exercises, overloading beyond the threshold of your muscle’s ability. This results in trauma to your biceps, and your body immediately responds with a repair process. During the first stage, the damaged tissue triggers inflammation necessary for optimal muscle repair. Soon after, satellite cells located outside of the muscle fibers are activated. These cells rush to the damaged muscle fibers within the biceps and fuse together to form new muscle protein strands and create more contractile proteins that cause muscle growth.
Many variables affect the process. Growth hormone released during resistance training helps the muscles absorb amino acids necessary for muscle production and initiates fat metabolism used for energy in muscle growth. Testosterone also assists this process by stimulating growth hormone in the pituitary. Though considered the male sex hormone, testosterone is present in both males and females. Males simply produce much more, which helps explain why men generally have greater muscle mass than women.
Muscle growth only occurs when the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the breakdown of muscle. With that in mind, you can enhance your muscle growth by following a few simple guidelines.
You must allow yourself enough recovery time between your workouts. A 48-hour period is recommended between intense workouts, though this period is variable depending on the intensity of the workout and your recovery ability.
Growth hormones are released by your pituitary while you sleep. Since these hormones play a big role in muscle production, you should do your best to get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night.
You must get the right amounts and proportions of macronutrients to maximize the muscle-building process. Protein is the macronutrient most responsible for building muscle, so be sure you are in a positive protein balance. You can achieve this by eating 20 to 30 g of high-quality protein — poultry, fish, lean red meat, eggs or whey — before or immediately following weight training. Aim daily to get 100 to 200 percent of the RDA of protein to get the most out of your resistance-training program. But don’t forget your carbs. They replenish glycogen stores lost during exercise and stimulate insulin, one of the hormones that aids in the muscle-building process. Finally make sure that 20 to 25 percent of your diet consists of healthy fats. Low-fat diets can affect your blood testosterone levels, which could hamper muscle production.
Building muscle is a complex physiological process. Knowing this process, and advising you how your lifestyle and nutrition habits can affect it, I will help you to make the most of your muscle-building efforts.