How Hypertrophy works?
(The science behind muscle growth)
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”- Arnold Schwarzenegger
In layman terms, Hypertrophy is the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells. This is the mechanism working bodybuilders and other professional athletes.
Our body is made of 650 skeletal muscles, which helps human body to contract and respond to signals coming from the motor neurons.
As Jeffrey Siegel explains in her video “When you’re ready to open a door, your brain and muscles are poised to help you achieve this goal, first your brain sends a signal to motor neurons inside your arm. When they receive this message, they fire, causing muscles to contract and relax, which pull on the bones in your arm and generate the needed movement.”
The number of motor unit increases with the pressure required to do a certain task. When the pressure required is more than normal, a cellular changes occurs inside your muscles, as they are exposed to stress, microscopic damage occurs, at this point, injured cells release inflammatory molecules called Cytokines. Cytokines activate the immune system to repair the injury. The greater the damage, the more your body will need to repair itself. This is when the muscles grow in size; the repeating cycle of damage and repair makes your muscles bigger and stronger.
Now you may wonder why doesn’t our muscles grow when we do everyday activities like opening the door, petting our dog, or just picking up clothes; this is because our bodies have already adapted to most everyday activities, and they don’t produce enough stress to stimulate new muscle growth.
So, in order for our muscles to grow, we need to follow a process, called Hypertrophy. Where in, our cells are exposed to higher workloads than what they are used to.
When we don’t pay attention to a continuous growth of our muscles, they shrink, which is a process known as Muscular Atrophy. However, proper nutrition, hormones and rest is imperative for muscle growth. Protein in our diet helps build Amino Acid which in turn gives our body the needed nutrition to release cells which further repairs our damaged cells.
Adequate protein and sufficient amount of naturally occurring hormones like Insulin and Testosterone promotes the repair and growth of our tissues. This repair and growth usually takes place when we are resting, especially when we sleep at night.
If you do not provide adequate rest to your body, you can reverse the anabolic process, and put your body into a catabolic state. Also, muscles growth depends on gender, age and genetics. That is why, men build bigger and stronger muscles than women, as they have more testosterone in their body.
So, on a glance, if you tear your muscles, eat right, sleep adequately, and repeat, there is nothing which can stop you from becoming bigger and stronger.