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Articles > Other Resources > How Muscles Grow
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A lot of bodybuilders and weightlifters are excessively concerned about what they eat and what food supplements they take. You should focus on lifting weights if you want to grow bigger and stronger muscles, but you can help muscles grow by understanding how what you eat has an effect on how you recover from hard workouts. Just exercising alone will not make you strong or help you grow large muscles.

Muscles are one of those things that nearly every one of us takes completely for granted, but they are very important for two key reasons:
• Muscles are the "engine" that your body uses to propel itself.
• It would be impossible for you to do anything without your muscles.
Muscles are very complicated because they are vital to any creature.

Weight training is a form of exercise for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. In one common training routine, the technique involves lifting increasingly heavy amounts of weight, and uses an assortment of exercises and types of equipment to target specific muscle groups. Weight training differs from bodybuilding, weightlifting, or powerlifting, which are sports rather than forms of exercise.

Your muscles grow when the recover after heavy stress that you put on them in the gym. If you want your muscles to grow, you should give them as much stress as possible in the gym, and then you should provide them with everything they need to recover and grow, especially nourishment and time. Do not stress the same muscle every day – it will not have enough time to recover and grow.

The only time your muscles grow is when you're out of the gym. So how can you optimize recovery? Mainly through sleep, and good nutrition. Supplementation is also very important. So, for your muscles to grow they must be a) broken down, or stimulated by some type of overload and b) be given plenty time, rest, and raw ingredients to mend themselves before this stimulation is applied again.

Muscle growth comes about because of hypertrophy or hyperplasia. Hypertrophy is an increase in the size of the muscle due to an increase in the size of the muscle fibers, while hyperplasia is an increase in the number of muscle fibers. The process of muscle growth is not known for sure, but most theories are based on the idea that lifting breaks down the muscle, and growth results from over-compensating to protect the body from future stress.

Muscle fiber hypertrophy can take two main forms – hypertrophy can be accomplished by either increasing the volume contained within the muscle cell or by increasing the actual amount of muscle contractile protein making up the muscle cells. The muscle cell can be compared to a water-filled balloon. To make the balloon bigger (hypertrophy), you can either add more water to the balloon, stretching it to its maximum capacity (increase cell volume), or you could theoretically add more rubber to make the overall size of the balloon larger (increase in contractile protein).

Using this information, how can we guarantee ample cell volume and even tip the scales in our favor? Drink 50-70 oz of water daily for practical purposes. Maintain a sodium intake of 2000-3000mg/day. Eat enough carbs, especially during intense training, to prevent your muscles from being glycogen depleted. To ensure high muscle and liver glycogen stores, be sure to consume a high carbohydrate and high protein meal immediately after exercise and one about two hours later.

Many bodybuilders and weight trainers work a muscle group once every five to seven days with high intensity and high volume. In order to force muscle growth of weaker areas, you must design a temporary exercise plan that places greater emphasis on the weaker area and less emphasis on other areas. A short-term specialization of 8-12 weeks is your answer.

Compare the chiseled form of a successful bodybuilder with the emaciated frame of an elite marathoner. Both can achieve stunning results by virtue of their muscles. A remarkable characteristic of your muscles is how much you can transform them by training. Your muscles require enzymes to tell the power houses in their cells how to perform the biochemical effects that turn carbohydrate and fat into energy.

The Super-Set Myth
Are super-sets, moving from one workout to another with as little rest as possible – all they're cut up to be? How helpful is the practice? Muscles develop in response to load: the greater the load, the greater the muscle growth. Super-sets "burn" a muscle and the burn often short-circuits maximal muscle contraction and force production. In other words, the burn inhibits your muscles from contracting as hard or as forcefully as possible. Lastly, super-sets always downgrade your load selection.

There is no set number of workouts needed before you actually start seeing your gains: it depends on your intensity, the exercises chosen, etc. You probably won't even notice if you're getting bigger, since it's such a gradual process. It might take more than four weeks to make your chest grow at least an inch. Other people who don't see you very often will notice, though.

Most machines don't improve with use. The human body is different. The more people use their muscles, the stronger they become – any weightlifter can tell you that. And unused muscles do not remain preserved, neglect causes them to waste away, or atrophy. It's a remarkable response, one that scientists don't fully understand. Somehow, muscle cells sense how they're being used and remodel themselves to better fit the task.


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