In the quest to maintain one’s health, chances are, if you are not trying to lose weight perhaps, you want to gain muscle. So what is the science behind building muscle? Well, most of us know that lifting weights puts strain on the muscles and tears them down to then re-build them. But, what is actually occurring? Quite simply the specific muscles under the strain are adapting to the imposed strains on the muscle. When the muscle is put under strain, tiny fibers of muscle tissue tear; this is where muscle-protein synthesis takes over. Using amino acids, the fibers are repaired and reinforced; this makes them more resistant to future damage. In order to see results such as stronger and bigger muscles, a continuous, repetitious routine must induce the muscle- protein synthesis cycle to occur.
In order for the cycle to occur however when muscles are put under strain routinely, one must increase the weight. The reason for this change in the weight is because when muscles are routinely contracted for a lengthy time period they become resistant to fatigue. This adaptation happens basically as a form of reducing stress on the body. For example — walking up stairs or lifting objects in your home takes little to no effort since the muscles have already adapted to the weight of your body or most objects in your home. The reason the body becomes less fatigued is because the tissues that have repaired themselves and been re-enforced, are bigger and stronger and able to withstand the strain routinely put on the muscles, so no tearing occurs. So in order to continue the cycle of building muscles, one must continue to increase their weight lifting numbers so that the muscles are strained, fatigued and the can re-build themselves.
With the knowledge that muscle-protein synthesis needs to occur, understand that the time period in which the synthesis is elevated is up to 48 hours after the tearing occurs. There is a biological stimulus for the body to repair during this period, after which its muscle building process returns to normal. So to reinitiate the synthesis, one would want to put strain on the muscle fibers at the end of this 48 hour period. However, there are other forms of strain which have also been known to produce the effects in order for the synthesis to occur.
A new form of muscle building is emerging and it does not take lifting heavier weights each time. In this process the routinely contracted muscle must be contracted until fatigue sets in, at which point the weight puts more strain on the fibers than they can continue to hold and then they tear. This process can be done with much less weight, so long as each time you lift the muscle, it is lifted to exertion. The benefit to this form of muscle building, besides not having to find heavier weights in order to continue gaining muscle, are that you are not be putting as much strain and stress on the bones, joints and tendons as the weight increases. You will be able to manufacture stress and strain on the muscles without putting undue stress or strain on other parts of your body.
So, there are many ways in which to tear down muscle fibers and then have them repair themselves. It is up to you to decide which method suits your lifestyle and body’s needs the best.