This weeks #TrainingTips post is all about muscle growth.
So it’s a pretty common assumption that muscle damage and muscle soreness is the golden ticket to muscle growth.
Muscle Damage = Successful Workout
Well this isn’t strictly true. The idea behind the concept that muscle damage will result in muscle growth comes from the correlation between what is seen during the recovery phase of muscular damage and progressive strength training. As the results are actually the same.
In both instances we see an increase in muscle protein synthesis and satellite cell activity, but there is a critical difference when looking at muscular damage and worked muscles.
Muscle Protein Synthesis
Post progressive strength training muscle protein synthesis increases to REPAIR and adapt the worked muscle. Whereas if the muscle becomes damaged due to excessive stress, the protein synthesis acts to BREAKDOWN the muscle and replace with new proteins.
Satellite Cell Activity
Post progressive strength training satellite cell activity increase to proliferate, differentiate and fuse to form STRONGER adapted muscle cells (myofibers). But when excessive damage has occurred again just like protein synthesis, the satellite cell activity increase is to REPLACE the damaged muscle cells.
Notice how during progressive strength training how the bodies stress response is to create adaptations to the muscle, instead of breaking down and replacing as seen in a damaged muscle. Now just think about this, do you think it’s easier for your body to repair something or replace it? Think of the energy involved in both circumstances, no doubt it is easier for the body to repair than to replace.
In the repair phase, this is where we see muscle growth or hypertrophy, this change comes from an adaptation to the muscle by 1 of 3 ways:
- An increase in muscle cell numbers
- An increase in muscle fiber diameter
- An increase in fiber length.
But did you know, the growth in cell numbers in our bodies are limited? Yep, we are actually born with or close to our full complement of muscle cells. So any growth in muscle comes from one of the 3 above as we age and exercise.
Muscle cell adaptations can occur in both aerobic and anaerobic exercise and providing the muscular stimulus have not been excessive the muscle will repair and not replace. That being said our bodies are constantly recycling and replacing our cells, so all cells are replaced eventually and researchers predict that this happens in 7-10 years cycles.
So muscular soreness is a part of muscular repair and doesn’t mean you’ve damaged your muscle. But the way to avoid muscular damage is to be progressive in your training. If you do something you’re not conditioned for you will likely injure yourself. Loads, volumes and frequency should all be progressive and this is the best way for constant progress in your training.
The biggest culprit from muscle damage is Eccentric Muscle Contractions, something myself and Foxy have been using a lot during lockdown. So why have we been using these techniques if the risk of damage is higher you ask. Well the difference being that our clients and ourselves are used shifting weight around all the time and working at higher intensities, but since we don’t have access to the same loads at home, using the eccentric contractions gives us access to some of the same force production and muscular stress as if we did have the the higher loads. It’s clever stuff. So when it does come to training eccentric elements, especially when loaded, be progressive.
There is also of course an element of nutrition when it comes to muscle growth. Your nutrition plays an important role in muscle. A nutritionally balanced and calorically adequate diet is required to achieve optimum muscle growth. And shockingly who would have thought it but muscle growth is less when you’re on a moderately restricted diet.
Hope you found this interesting guys and the take home messages are to be progressive with your training and eat enough.
Have a great weekend guys.
Stay strong and live, love and laugh!