With the introduction of such modern conveniences such as the automobile, remote
control, and even the electric toothbrush people are relying on technology to do
everything for them. With a generation growing up in todays society physical
tasks have almost become obsolete. Tasks such as even going shopping and going
out to visit a friend can be done from the comfort of your own computer. With
this sedentary lifestyle, muscular size will almost be unnecessary, except for
the athlete who wants to succeed in sports. To the non-athlete, there will be
no reason to leave the house because everything that you need will be at your
fingertips, you will not have to get up and do anything. Any type of exercise
is good for the body and muscles. Muscle growth is essential if you want to
look better, feel better, and perform everyday tasks such as walking to the car,
and getting out of bed easier. A person who is in shape will also sleep better
then an out of shape person, and feel more revitalized in the morning.
Muscles account for approximently 35% of the body weight in women, and about 45%
of the body weight in men. With over 600 muscles covering the human skeleton
muscles give the body bulk and form. Then human body contains millions of
muscle fibres whose coordinated contraction cause the whole muscle to contract.
Muscles are the foundation on which our bodies are built. Without muscles our
bodies could not perform the simplest tasks such as opening our eyes, talking,
breathing and even the pumping of our heart or the most difficult tasks, such as
running the hurdles in a track and field event.. Muscles are also important to
maintain balance and posture.
Description of Muscles
In the body there are several types of muscles that control different functions
in the body, one of these types being skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle is the
most evident in the human body due to it having the most mass the other types of
muscles and that it lies directly under the skin attached to the skeleton by
tendons and ligaments.
Skeletal muscles are divided into three structural units, the entire muscle, the
muscle bundle, and the muscle fiber (cell). Each muscle fiber is divided into
two types of fiber structure, fusiform and pennate, with the pennate being
broken up into three basic structures. These structures being the unipennate,
bipennate, and multipennate.
Notice the longditudinal
grain of the
fusiform muscles (left)
pennate muscles. (below)
Striated muscle tissue (above) is associated with the muscles related to the
skeleton and movement. Striated muscle tissue is the muscle tissue located
directly under the skin and are the muscles that are the most visible.
There are two types muscles in skeletal muscles, these are fast twitch and slow
twitch muscles. Fast twitch muscles have a fast form of myosin ATP and are very
good of delivering calcium to the muscle cell. Slow twitch muscles have a slow
form of myosin ATP and are not very good at delivering calcium to the muscle
cell. Fast twitch muscle fibers reach peak tension more then twice as fast as
slow twitch muscles, making them more explosive muscles which would be more
desirable for athletes such as sprinters.
Notice the dark slow twitch
fibers and the light slow
twitch fibers magnified. The
fast twitch fibers tire
more easily then the lighter
slow twitch fibers.
Causes of Muscle Growth
Muscles growth (hypertrophy) takes place in the muscle fiber themselves. When a
muscle grows there is not a increase in the amount of muscle fibers, since this
is set at birth, but rather an increase in the size of those muscle fibers, and
an increase in the amount of connective tissue in the muscle. Muscle fibers are
enlarged through resistant training, or regular activity by stimulating the
amount of the contractile proteins, actin and myosin. What this does is make
more cross bridges available to do more work.
Muscle fibers with no apparent
Muscle fibers with considerably
The stimulus that tells the muscle to grow is a result of two things, the
shortening of the muscle against a resistance and the intensity of the
contraction. For growth process to start a point must be made in your workout
where the exercised muscle is working near maximal capacity against a resistance,
and the relative intensity of the exercise is very high. When performed just
right, a highly intense resistant exercise disrupts cell wall and cellular
microfilaments, which begins the growth process.
A: General Adaptation Syndrome (G.A.S)
The way our muscles respond to training is the same way that any other stimulus
response mechanism in our body responds to a stressor. This mechanism is called
the General Adaptation Syndrome.
If a muscle is given a stimulus (stressor) that it is not accustomed to it will
respond by going through three stages. The first of these stages is called the
alarm stage. The alarm stage occurs immediately after a very intense
stimulation, muscle cells are disrupted, and later on muscle soreness is felt.
This happens because the muscle that is being trained is not accustomed to this
stimulus and is slightly injured trying to respond to it.
The second stage is the resistant stage, this is where muscle hypertrophy takes
place. The muscle responds to the damage by rebuilding and restoring the muscle
In the third stage the muscle not only has repaired the damaged muscle, but will
now add new muscle proteins to avoid having the muscle slightly injured like it
was in the alarm stage. This addition of muscle proteins will cause the muscle
to become bigger and stronger in order to be able to properly handle that type
of stress again.
Another factor in muscle growth is genetics. Genetically, men have the
potential to have more muscle growth then women because of the higher
testosterone levels that they have. Another genetics factor in muscle growth is
what body type you have. An ecotmorph, will have a very high metabolic, and may
have a very hard time gaining weight, whether it be muscle or fat, and an
endomorph will not have as hard of a time gaining muscle mass, but must be very
careful because of a low metabolic rate, will also gain fat very easily. The
ideal body type for muscle growth is the mesomorph body type. Mesomorphs are
generally athletically skilled, and there body type has a predominance of muscle,
bone and connective tissue.
“Artificial” Muscle Growth
One way which muscle growth is achieved more rapidly then just by resistant
training, is with the aid of artificial growth hormones, most notably, anabolic
Steroids are compounds that resemble the natural male hormone testosterone.
Testosterone has an anabolic effect in the body, and is produced naturally in
the body, but only a small portion of the testerone produced naturally are used
for the anabolic (muscle growth) effect, but rather for the androgenic (male
sexual characteristics) effect. Steroids are constructed synthetically to
maximize the anabolic effect, and to minimize the androgenic effect.
Steroids are taken mainly for the person who wants the quick results of muscle
growth, and to increase athletic performance. Steroids cause many negative side
effects in the body, which include: increased aggressiveness, increased acne,
development of facial in women, development of gynecomastia (breast like tissue)
in males, just to name a few. Steroids use is most prolific in sports such as
bodybuilding and professional football. Even though these sports have their own
testing programs very few athletes are ever caught using steroids, or other
growth hormones. It is estimated that approximently 90% of players in the NFL,
and approximently 99%-100% of professional body builders take anabolic steroids,
or some other type of anabolic hormone. These growth hormones are taken to gain
excess muscle size and strength in order to gain the competitive edge on their
An example of steroid us in a
builder, notice the bulking
muscles which cannot be
achieved naturally by females
due to a lack of
naturally occurring testosterone
in their bodies.
Effects of Aging on the Muscles
Though muscle atrophy (reduction) does take place due to a lack of exercise,
another factor that contributes to atrophy is the factor of age. Between the
ages of 24 to 80 males tend to lose 40% of their skeletal muscle mass. Although
some older males may continue to be physically active, the skeletal muscle
atrophy will not be as significant, but it will still take place.
Muscle strength can be relatively maintained up through 50 years of age. After
that time a 15% loss in strength per decade occurs between the ages of 50 and 70.
From the ages of 70 to 80 years of age, a 30% loss in strength occurs per
decade. Due to this muscle and strength loss there is a decreased ability to
partake in physical activity, and as a result, more atrophy takes place.
This type of muscle and strength can have negative effects on an individual
because a decline in strength in the lower part of the body may result in falls
and hip fractures. A decrease of muscular strength in the upper body increases
the risk in accidents in activities such as cooking, and cleaning, which require
pushing and pulling motions.
Resistance training can also help a great deal in the fight to stay young.
Older men show a greater strength and muscle increase after a resistant training
program then do that of younger males. Resistant training can also reverse the
effects of osteoporosis in older women, by building more muscle mass around the
bones, and making the bones stronger, and less susseptial to breakage.
Muscles and Self Esteem
Weight training and the desire of muscle growth is no longer set aside just for
the elite athletes. Weight training is being done by many people, from older
people trying to stay young, and for younger people for the sake of looking good.
Muscle growth is desirable because it gives people who have a pudgy look the
look of a more lean and athletic person, rather then the look of a couch potato.
Weight training will not only help someone to look better, but they will also
feel better, give them more energy, and allow them to eat more due to the
increased speed of their metabolism. With an increased metabolism they will
burn more fat while sedentary, then will a person with a slow metabolism. They
will also more likely be more attractive to the opposite sex, and will be more
confident with themselves.
Starting an Muscle Growth Program
After a muscle growth program your body will feel better, regardless if it your
first time in a muscle growth program or you have been training for a while.
Even though you may feel sore your first time training, or after a extended
break from training, you will probably find that this is a good sore in a way
that you know you are doing something good for your body.
Keeping Track of Progress
Keeping track of progress can be done in many different ways during weight
training, but is a good idea in order to see what type of muscle and strength
gains that are being made. Progress can be plotted by actually taking the
measurements of your muscles and recording the differences every week or every
couple of weeks. Another way that progress can be measured is by keeping some
sort of journal which has your workout in it, along with how much weight that
you are lifting for each exercise, this way you can monitor the strength gains
that you are having.
Avoiding the “Plateau” Effect
After weight training, the first few months you may notice a drastic increase in
your lifts, but after that you may start to plateau. What happens when you
plateau is that the gains in strength that you have been achieving seem to level
off, and strength gains seem to stop. This can be a discouraging factor in many
young weight trainers and may lead them to give it up because they think that it
isnt doing any good. If this happens dont be alarmed, it is very common among
weight trainers. What is happening is your muscles are not getting the
alarming effect that they received when you first started working out, your
muscles have adjusted to that routine and now have built almost a resistant
against. Many people feel that when this happens that more weight must be added
in order to achieve more strength gain, but this is not true. By altering your
workout your muscles will get confused and the alarming effect will occur in
your muscles causing muscle and strength gains to occur once again..
When weight training, it is recommended that proper equipment be used before
starting a training program. Proper equipment would include proper shoes to
cushion the feet and prevent any foot soreness and to dampen the pressure put on
the arches of your feet by the increased weight placed on your body while
lifting the weights. Another piece of equipment recommended, but not essential
would be a pair of workout gloves. Workout gloves protect the hands when
gripping the weight and may prevent a callus buildup on the hands. One piece of
equipment that is strongly recommended would be the weight belt. The weight
belt is a thin leather belt which is very wide and is worn around the waist in
order to protect the lower back. Due to the strain that some weight training
exercises can put on the lower back the belt is highly recommended.
It is recommended to adequately cool down after a training program in order
prevent, or reduce muscle soreness. During a weight training program you should
properly stretch the muscles being worked in order to keep them loose.
Stretching should also be done directly after a workout because the muscles are
still warm and can be stretched more easily. This will also increase
flexibility which can be very advantageous in preventing injuries such as muscle
sprains and strains.
A Conclusion to Muscle Growth
A muscle growth program can be beneficial to everybody, from the young athlete
wanting to succeed in sports, to the older man trying to help stay and feel
young. The benefits of muscle growth are too high to be passed out by anybody
who has any sort of ambition of feeling better about themselves, looking better,
and having more energy for everyday tasks. You will find that once you start
weight training, and muscle and strength growths are noticed that it will almost
become addicting and the desire for bigger and better results will become
greater and greater. I would recommend muscle growth to anybody, and anyone who
disagrees should give it a try, just for a little while, and after the results
of improved strength and muscle size are noticed weight training will become a
part of their life.