How to Grow your Muscles and get Results
Most gym enthusiasts (including myself) are always looking for ways to expand their muscles and get jacked! Some of us have no problems gaining muscle mass, while others struggle to obtain any noticeable results. So what should you do? The first thing you should be wondering is this, "how do muscles grow?" Once you find out how your muscles grow, you will be able to adjust your workout routine to reflect what you have learned. Luckily for you, I will share some research I have found on muscle growth, along with some of my personal experiences that have worked well for me in the past.
How do Muscles grow?
When you work out hard and put your muscles under stress, the fibers in your muscles get damaged. Contrary to what many people think, muscle growth actually occurs while you are resting. According to Kwon (doctoral student in the exercise program at University of New Mexico), "a biological effort to repair or replace damaged muscle fibers begins with the satellite cells fusing together and to the muscles fibers, often leading to increases in muscle fiber cross-sectional area or hypertrophy" (Kwon, 2004) - How Do Muscles Grow?
In addition to this, Kwon also states that "muscle growth occurs whenever the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown" (Kwon, 2004) - How Do Muscles Grow? In other words, you are ripping the fibers in your muscles as you work out, and during your resting period, your body repairs the fibers to a state that is bigger and stronger than before. This is when muscle growth occurs. The next section will discuss the two mechanisms required for muscle growth as discussed on TNation.
Two Mechanisms Required for Muscle growth
To achieve greater muscle growth, you must put your muscles under two types of stress, mechanical tension and metabolic stress. Many people workout for years and only expose their muscles to either mechanical tension or metabolic stress, hindering their ability to gain both size and strength. The secret equation that all of you need to remember is this, Metabolic Stress + Mechanical Tension = Unquestionable Results. By now, you are probably wondering what these two mechanisms are and how you can achieve them in your workout. Here is a brief explanation for both of them.
1. Mechanical Tension
Mechanical Tension typically occurs when you lift heavy weights for lower reps. During this type of tension, you are most likely pushing yourself to lift as heavy as possible to reach your personal bests. While experiencing this type of tension, ensure that you are engaging in a full range of motion so that your muscles are placed under both passive and active tension. Do not cheat on your exercises to lift heavy, perform proper reps. Mechanical tension is typically what power-lifters experience during their workouts. They train their muscles to get really strong, but not necessarily big. To gain size, you must incorporate Metabolic Stress.
2. Metabolic Stress
Metabolic Stress typically occurs when you lift lighter weights for higher reps. You experience a burning sensation when you isolate a muscle group with high reps. Typically you experience a "pump" and the veins in your muscles are much more visible. This is partly due to the pooling of blood and occlusion of veins when contracting your muscles. This type of stress does not provide the strength gains as the mechanical tension, but it aids in the muscle growth.
To achieve maximum strength and size in your muscles, you must experience a combination of metabolic stress and mechanical tension in your workouts. To do this, you can start a workout with heavy weights and low reps, and then end off with lower weights and high reps to experience both mechanisms. Another option is to do a couple of weeks of lower weights and high rep training, and then the following two weeks increase the weight and lower the reps (similar to the Jim Stoppani workout).
The most important thing is to vary your workouts, the muscles targeted, the weights used, and the number of reps. Never let your body get comfortable with a workout routine. If you do, you might find yourself in bodybuilders nightmare, a PLATEAU. To learn more about breaking through a plateau, please check out my article by clicking on the following link: Breaking Through the Dreaded Plateau.