The Science Behind Weight Lifting

muscle liftingWhat happens to your muscles when you work out? When you lift weights you are actually breaking down the muscles by producing micro tears in the muscle fibers.  This is what happens when you bring the muscle to failure.  It is important to get to muscle failure if you want your muscles to grow.

The actual building of muscles doesn’t happen while they are being worked, but while your body is resting.  While at rest, the body fuses the muscle fibers back together.

While a muscle repairs itself, the size and number of muscle cells increase. This process is called muscle hypertrophy.

In order to have muscle growth, you need to lift weight that is heavier than your body is already accustomed to lifting. This is why you need to progressively lift heavier weights in order to see muscle growth.

Testosterone factors into muscle growth as well. Testosterone can stimulate the growth hormone response by increasing the neurotransmitters at the torn fibers site, and helping activate tissue growth. Since men naturally have more testosterone than women, they are able to grow larger muscles.

How can you help your body with muscle growth in ways other than lifting heavier weights?  The food you eat after a workout can maximize muscle growth.During a workout, your body breaks down muscle glycogen, as well as muscle protein structures.

After you lift weights, your body needs to replenish its energy stores and repair muscle tissue to allow for new growth.  Foods that support muscle growth are lean proteins such as:  quinoa, cottage cheese, oysters, chocolate milk, lean ground beef, soy, eggs chicken, and fish.

I wanted to keep the explanation simple, but there is much more science behind this concept. The keys to remember are that you need to increase the weights you lift to grow your muscles, and that nutrition can have a positive effect on muscle growth.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, speaker and writer. Learn more at

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