How do your muscles grow? It would be easy to assume that you build big muscle when you lift weights, but the truth is that weightlifting is only part of a much bigger process. In fact, your body only starts the biological work needed to pack on muscle once you put down the dumbbells.
Here’s a breakdown of what happens after you hit the showers:
1. Each muscle fibre is made up of thousands of myofibrils containing tiny actin and myosin proteins. When you lift weights, the mechanical force on your muscles damages these proteins and causes small micro-tears in the muscle membranes.
2. The damaged areas are then invaded by chemicals called “reactive oxygen species”. These act like mini car-bombs inside your fibres, causing further destruction to the muscle tissue.
3. All this disruption leads to an immune and inflammatory response. White blood cells and inflammatory agents are sent to the damaged sites.
4. These cells and chemicals remove the damaged parts of the fibres and replace them with new tissue.
5. Your body ramps up its production of actin and myosin to replace any proteins that were damaged. If you regularly lift weights, your body will adapt by building more of these contractile units. This increases muscle size.
You build muscle with hard work and sweat. And that’s exactly what this workout requires. The cool part: While you’ll do the same exercises every workout, you’ll vary the sets and reps so it won’t become boring.
More importantly, this allows you to work one area of your body a little harder while still hitting every muscle during every workout. Don’t worry if you’re not sure which muscles a certain workout focuses on; your question will be answered the next day.
This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za
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