Whatever the goal, there is no harm in us gaining muscle, in fact it is something that is beneficial for us all. But the big question… how?
First of all, if you are looking for the secret or looking for a quick fix overnight answer, unfortunately you won’t find that here. Quite simply the answer is down to science! There are two main factors we need to focus on: creating a stimulus through exercise and nutrition, specifically protein intake.
Building muscle, also known as muscle hypertrophy, is the increase in the volume of myofibrils, ie. the long proteins that make up muscle cells. The growth occurs in response to a stimulus. This stimulus is intensive anaerobic exercise, meaning activities that break down glucose without the use of oxygen. This includes exercises that are of short length and high intensity, such as, weight lifting, HIIT, sprinting and plyometrics.
During exercise, the muscle fibers are damaged, which the body then needs to repair. The growth of new muscle then happens in the hours following exercise. When damage occurs, satellite cells on the outside of the muscle fibers are activated which then repair the damage by joining together and increasing the fibers.
We have the process of muscle protein synthesis (the growth of muscle); however, we do also have muscle protein breakdown. When these two are in a complete balance, you won’t gain any muscle but also won’t lose muscle, you will maintain your current muscle mass. On the other hand if you are in a positive protein balance, the surplus that occurs will be directed into muscle cells. If you are in a negative balance, there will be no fuel to build new muscle.