We all know the importance of having strong and healthy muscles, but many of us don’t understand the science behind muscle growth and health. By understanding the science behind muscle mass, we can make better informed decisions about what we do and how we do it to achieve hypertrophy—the growth of muscles—and overall health.
The Role of Exercise
At the heart of muscle growth and health is exercise. Physical activity stimulates the body to adapt, leading to increased muscle size, improved body composition and improved overall health. The two major forms of exercise used to create muscle growth and improve health are strength or resistance training, and aerobic exercise.
Strength or resistance training is a form of exercise that uses intense efforts with free weights and machines to stimulate the body to modify its muscular system. During strength training, the muscles are overloaded with tension, prompting the body to pass on a signal to the muscle in order to repair and strengthen itself. As the muscles recover, they become bigger and stronger.
Aerobic exercise, also known as endurance exercise, increases the heart rate for an extended period of time in order to improve the overall efficiency of the cardiovascular system. Examples of aerobic exercises include walking, running, biking, swimming, climbing and elliptical training. The goal of aerobic exercise is to increase the size, strength, and efficiency of the muscular system, as well as improve muscular endurance and overall cardiopulmonary endurance.
The Role of Nutrition
Along with exercise, nutrition is an important factor for muscle growth and health. Eating a balanced diet with a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fatty acids helps the body build and repair muscle tissue. Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle growth and overall health. Eating the right proteins—lean beef, poultry, fish, nuts, and eggs—helps ensure that muscles have the correct amino acids needed to grow and repair properly.
The Nutrients That Matter
While protein intake is important, other essential nutrients play an important role in muscle growth and overall health. Vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and iron, are essential for muscle growth, as well as overall health. Additionally, antioxidants like beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein help protect your muscles from cell damage caused by exercise.
The Benefits of Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy is the process of increasing the size of muscle fibers, and the benefits extend far beyond physical appearance. Increased muscle size promotes a stronger metabolism, allowing for more energy and overall strength. Hypertrophy also helps reduce injury risk by increasing muscle fiber flexibility and endurance.
Hypertrophy—the growth of muscles—is a result of regular exercise and proper nutrition. Strength or resistance training and aerobic exercise can help stimulate muscle growth, while eating a balanced diet that includes the right proteins, vitamins and minerals, and essential fatty acids is essential for keeping muscles healthy. Taking the time to understand the science behind muscle growth and health can help you make better decisions about your workout regimen and nutrition—giving you the body you want and the health you need.