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How Do Muscles Grow? The Science of Muscle Growth

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How Do Muscles Grow? The Science of Muscle Growth

If you’re a guy in the gym working with weights, not only are you probably trying to lose some fat, but also gain some muscle.

This article discusses the mechanisms of how muscles grow, plus why most women won’t gain large amounts of muscle when working with weights.

Although there are different types of muscles, such as cardiac muscle (your heart), for our concerns, we will talk exclusively about skeletal muscles. Skeletal muscle is composed of thread-like myofibrils and sarcomeres that form a muscle fiber and are the basic units of contraction.

The 650 skeletal muscles in the human body contract when they receive signals from motor neurons, which are triggered from a part of the cell called the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Motor neurons tell your muscles to contract and the better you become at having those signals tell your muscles to contract, the stronger you can get.

When someone like a powerlifter is able to lift very heavy weight despite not looking very muscular, it’s due to their ability to activate those motor neurons and contract their muscles better. This is why some powerlifters can be relatively smaller compared to bodybuilders, but can lift significantly more weight. Motor Unit recruitment also helps to explain why, after practice, certain movements become easier to perform and most of the initial strength gains will be when you first start to lift weights. Muscle growth tends to occur more steadily after this initial period of strength gain because you are more easily able to activate the muscles.

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girl.squatMaintaining Perfect Squat Form to
Maximize the Benefit and Safety of Every Rep

Lifting lore is laden with perpetuated myths and unsubstantiated dogmas. Stories of never-actually-witnessed mythical figures that curled a Volkswagen and bench pressed a cruise ship. Each myth supported by a training dogma that supposedly validates the methods that granted these Herculean achievements. Reality and myth often disagree.

One such myth that’s evolved into dogma is the ass-to-grass squat — every lady and gent that dare load a squat bar must achieve the deepest squat position their body allows. Consequences be damned! Consequences, however, are real and should be minded; the reality is not everyone should deep squat. The conundrum we must solve: how deep should you squat?

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