Muscle building is not just a fad, it’s a whole lifestyle and it’s a rather healthy one! For underweight people whose genetics incline towards lesser BMI, it’s an amazing way to gain optimum weight.
So, it’s not just for those who love a built and toned body, anybody can benefit from it. While muscle building takes a lot of persistence and carefully calculated life choices, there are some factors that help you achieve your desired goal accurately.
These factors actually stimulate muscle growth and maintain their health. Some of them will be discussed in detail in this article.
So, stay tuned if you want to know how you can build muscle fast and with maximum precision.
Three factors mainly involved are:
- Protein intake
How do proteins affect muscle growth?
Proteins are one of the important dietary constituents and make up a huge part of your cellular machinery. They are particularly important because they form mobility inducing molecules in skeletal muscles.
The myofibril has actin and myosin, both of which are special kind of proteins with the ability to move! Apart from these, there are many other proteins that determine their physiology. Due to this reason, your muscle mass basically comes from proteins you take.
Since it has been established that your muscle needs proteins, let’s move towards how proteins work.
Bodybuilders have to perform strength training exercises and those require a lot of heavy duty muscle activity. This involves a lot of micro-injuries to your myofibrils. A substantial amount of protein (more than that is required by a normal adult) is crucial to cover up for this damage or wear and tear.
However, this is just the leading edge of it. Proteins are also involved in hypertrophy of muscle fibers.
The muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is a physiological process in which muscle use proteins you take to form muscular apparatus. The food you eat is broken down by your digestive enzymes into smaller building blocks. Since the building blocks of proteins are amino acids, the amino acids coming from food are absorbed by the blood.
These amino acids are taken up by muscles and metabolized into proteinaceous apparatus. This anabolic process constitutes muscle protein synthesis. However, another process called muscle protein break down (MPB) also occurs parallel to this to retain a balance. Your body has designed these processes to balance nitrogen in your body because too much nitrogen coming from protein breakdown is no good!
To summarize this equation, if you need muscle building your body physiology should be like this:
Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) > Muscle protein breakdown (MPB) = Muscle Increase
This is an over-simplistic version of this physiological process. In reality, it is far more complex and involves lots of biological interactions.
Research has a better understanding of protein synthesis than the breakdown of it so, mostly, the left of this equation is influenced to get desired results.
To ensure that synthesis remains up, there is the simplest thing you can do: you need to increase your daily protein intake.
Research shows that if the number of amino acids intake is more than an average requirement, the muscle protein breakdown goes significantly low. These amino acids are used to induce structural modifications.
Following are the few things you can do:
- Take most of your daily caloric intake in form of proteins
- Add dairy products in your diet
- Drink plenty of protein shakes, smoothies, and milkshakes
- Add whey protein in your diet as it is superior to soy protein
- Add amino acid supplements in your diet
Which amino acids are important for muscle growth?
According to scientific studies, amino acids exert direct effects on muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and increase growth. The most important amino acid in this regard is leucine.
However, other essential amino acids are also required to gain this advantage. Leucine initiates the translation process but it is completed by other essential amino acids. Since essential amino acids are not synthesized de novo; you need to make sure your diet has these amino acids in a rich quantity. Leucine is also thought to have a role in inhibiting muscle protein breakdown.
How does exercise affect muscle growth?
The exercise required for stimulating muscle growth is like a no-brainer.
Your muscles are highly flexible structures in your body and can undergo hypertrophy. When you stretch your myofibril for a long time, it remodels gradually.
The opposite happens when you don’t use your muscle frequently. Ever seen paralyzed leg? It gets thinner over time because muscle shrinks due to disuse. The point of stating this example is to make you understand how mobility, and in this case, intense mobility, can reshape your muscles and make them the way you want.
That’s why bodybuilder opts for heavy lifting. Weight lifting helps in pushing your arm muscles out of comfort zone, not only strengthening them in the process but also making them huge in size.
Exercise affects muscle mass depending on three factors:
All these factors directly affect protein turn over in your muscles.
For muscle mass, you need to get a structured regimen of exercise. It’s illogical to think that if you run or perform high-intensity interval training, it will make your muscle big! Weightlifting and strength training is the true answer because it specifically targets your muscles instead of melting fat and reducing weight.
Research shows that often resistance exercises increase muscle protein breakdown without boosting protein synthesis, shifting the equilibrium to catabolic side. This means amount of protein melting from the muscles is more than the protein formation leading to muscle growth.
To prevent this and ensure maximum effectivity of exercise, it is recommended to exercise in well-nourished state. This way supple amount of glucose is present to meet energy requirements and muscle proteins stay safe.
The intensity of exercise also influences your muscle growth. The more you stretch them, the more they grow. However, what’s most important to mention here is the time. If you are a gym freak, you must have heard about reps! Reps are important.
Most people make a mistake of performing the same exercise for a long time when they can do reps interspersed within intervals. So, what you need to do is to pick a high-intensity exercise, do a few reps and rest for a few intervals before performing reps again.
How hormones affect muscle growth?
Hormones are biological chemicals produced in your body to regulate proper functioning. Like other activities, your muscle mass is also greatly influenced by hormones. Some of the important ones are listed below:
- Growth hormone
Growth hormone is secreted by pituitary gland in your brain. It induces growth of every tissue in your body and that also includes muscles. Growth hormone production is specifically increased after puberty and is at its peak at night times.
So, getting a proper sleep while training is crucial to ensure peak growth hormone spurs. Growth hormone uses nutrition coming from diet to make anabolic products that lead to hypertrophy of muscle fibers.
Testosterone is secreted by testes mainly and its main hormone in men bodies.
It is basically responsible for the growth of secondary sexual characters but it does something else too! Testosterone is one of the main muscle growth boosters of your muscles too.
Ever wonder why men have more muscular bodies? Because of testosterone! It affects the protein metabolism in muscles. It increases the muscle protein synthesis by its anabolic effect.
Research has shown that testosterone does not affect protein synthesis in the whole body but specifically targets muscles. It also modulates the effect of leucine and helps in inhibition of muscle protein breakdown.
It is present in the female body as well but the quantity is insignificant. But don’t worry ladies! There are other hormones you can manipulate to get some muscle mass.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. It is responsible for the metabolism of glucose in the body.
How insulin relates to muscle growth is basically its ability to inhibit protein break down in muscles. Your body needs energy for different activities.
This energy is mostly derived from glucose but in the absence of insulin for catabolizing glucose, things can go south!
When there’s no glucose metabolizing machinery or your body is in a starving condition, your body shifts metabolism towards oxidizing proteins and that’s when your muscle reserves start melting. Insulin is required to break this pattern and ensure a persistent supply of primary source of energy so that body doesn’t switch to the alternate ways.
There is another hormone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which induces hypertrophy of muscles and helps in bodybuilding.
Cortisol is a stress hormone and for muscle growth, you need to stay away from it! It reduces the effect of insulin in body and forces muscles to use their energy to get prepared for emotionally stressful conditions.
This negative effect needs to be pointed out so that you understand can negatively affect your muscle growth. It also indicates how important it is for you to keep yourself calm.
If you add meditation in your routine, it can prove excellent for keeping cortisol to minimum.