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What makes muscles grow? – Jeffrey Siegel

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Translator: Çlirim Sheremeti Reviewer: Helena Bedalli Muscle. We have more than 600 of them. They make up between 1/3 and 1/2 of our weight, and together with connective tissue, they hold us together, hold us up, and help us move. And no matter if bodybuilding is your hobby, muscles need your constant attention because the way you treat them on a daily basis determines whether they will dry out or grow.

Let’s say he’s standing in front of a door, ready to open it. Your brain and muscles are fully trained to help you achieve this. Initially, your brain sends a signal to the motor neurons inside your arm. When they receive this message, they light up, causing muscles to contract and relax, who pull the bones into your arm and generate the necessary movement. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the brain signal, and more motor units assemble to assist in the task. But what if the door is made of solid iron? At this point, your arm muscles only are not able to generate enough voltage to open it, so your brain calls the other muscles for help.

Thou shalt straighten thyself, and gird up thy loins; generating enough force to open it. Your nervous system has just used up the resources you already have, other muscles, to meet the demand. While all this is happening, your muscle fibers go through another cellular change. As you expose them to tension, they experience microscopic damage, which, in this context, is a good thing. In response, damaged cells release stimulant molecules called cytokines that activate the immune system to regulate damage. This is when the magic of muscle building happens. The greater the damage to muscle tissue, the more your body will need to repair itself. The resulting cycle of damage and repair eventually makes the muscles bigger and stronger until they adapt to progressively greater demands. While our bodies are already adapting to most daily activities, these generally do not create enough tension to stimulate new muscle growth.

So to build new muscle, a process called hypertrophy, our cells need to be exposed to greater loads than usual. In fact, if you do not constantly expose your muscles to any resistance, they will shrink, this process is known as muscle atrophy. In contrast, muscle exposure to a high degree of tension, especially as the muscle is stretching, which is also called eccentric contraction, generates effective conditions for new growth. However, muscles depend on more than just physical activity for growth. Without proper nutrition, hormones, and rest, your body would never be able to repair damaged muscle fibers. Protein in our diet maintains muscle mass enabling building blocks for new tissues in the form of amino acids. Adequate protein intake, along with natural hormones, like growth hormone and testosterone, help transform the body into a state where the tissue is repaired and enlarged. This vital process of repair mainly occurs when we are resting, especially at night when we are sleeping.

Gender and age affect this repair mechanism, and this is why young men with more testosterone have the edge in the muscle building game. Genetic factors also play a role in a person’s ability to grow muscle. Some people have stronger immune responses to muscle damage, and are able to repair and replace muscle fibers better, increasing their muscle growth potential. The body responds to the demands you place on it. If it tears the muscles, eats well, rests and repeats, you will create the conditions to make the muscles as big and powerful as possible. It is with muscles as it is with life: Meaningful development requires challenge and tension..

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