How to build more muscle? How to be more muscular? How to gain more Muscle Mass? These are few the questions that are directly related to Muscle Hypertrophy!
Muscle hypertrophy refers to an increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in size of its component cells. Or in lay man’s language, Hypertrophy is when your muscles look Bigger than Before.
Now if you’ve ever experienced a pump you already know that your muscles become bigger than when they are at rest. Many of us make a mistake of thinking it as Muscle Growth. Yes, your muscles are bigger it doesn’t mean that there is actual increase in the Muscle Fibres. To make things more clear let us discuss the 2 types of Hypertrophy:
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the 0growth of plasma, organelles, and non-contractile proteins. This may come from a demand for more glycogen and ATP. Or in other words it is the infusion of various elements like fluid, minerals and nutrients to meet the needs of Muscle Performance during a Strenous Workout. It’s a part of Body’s Survival Mechanism.
The muscles need to last longer with less of a need for maximum strength and speed in briefer periods. This would add to muscle volume, but not grow the fibers themselves for peak force as greatly.
But it doesn’t mean that there’s an actual increase in the number of Muscle Fibres and hence, as soon as you lose the pump, the muscles come back to normal size.
Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the growth of muscle contractile parts. Larger fibers would increase force which means more strength and speed, so many call this form of growth the most functional.
In simple words, this is the hypertrophy type we are looking for. It refers to an actual increase in your muscle fibres which further has a direct relation with increase in performance and strength.
Now when it comes to prioritising, we all have common sense to understand that in order to have actual Muscle Growth we need to aim for Myofibrillar Hypertrophy. In order to Gain Muscle fast, here are the top 3 most efficient ways for Building Muscle.
1. Progressive Overload
This is the most basic strategy that most lifters whether Beginners or Advanced, use to gain muscle. Now without going into a long rant, let me put the basic strategy of Progressive Overload Principle for Muscle Growth:
Every Single week you will be increasing either the amount of weight for same number of reps or you will keep the weight same and increase the reps than what you performed last week.
In scientific terms Progressive overload refers to increasing tension levels in the muscle fibers over time.
The most effective way to do this is to progressively increase the amount of weight you’re lifting over time or increase the number of reps for the same weight.
2. Causing Micro tears or Muscle Damage
This refers to the actual damage caused to the muscle fibers by increased levels of tension. The thing to note here is that damaging muscles will only create conditions for muscle Growth. It’s only by proper rest, recovery and Nutrition strategies that your muscles will repair themselves efficiently and actually grow in Size.This happens so as they can adapt to the stress to deal with it at a better level in future.
3. Muscle Fatigue at Cellular level
Cellular fatigue refers to pushing muscle fibers to their metabolic limits through the repetition of actions to muscular failure. It refers to performing High Volume Workouts which cause the build up of fatigue and depletion of its aerobic capacities that at some level also can induce Myofibrillar Hypertrophy. To be honest, it is a technique that experienced lifters use to bring variation in their workouts.
The Best Strategy:
Now that you are familiar with 3 most important pathways through which you can build muscle, now comes the question what will give you the best results.
With an experience of over 8 years in Fitness and Bodybuilding, I can undoubtedly say the Progressive Overload is the best strategy that will give you fastest results.
It doesn’t mean you should thwart away the other 2 strategies. They have their place in Bodybuilding but when looking to build significant muscle, your main aim as a lifter should be to get stronger on the basic compound movements such as deadlift, squats, bench press, military press etc.
To keep things short, simple and effective I’ve summarised the science of Muscle Hypertrophy in less than 800 words but to be really honest Muscle Hypertrophy is a very complex phenomenon that involves myriad of physiological and adaptation principles.
Its an endless process. You can try spending years and years reading and learning about it but still you won’t get anywhere near to perfection.
Luckily, building muscle is not that complex of a phenomenon and just having a basic understanding about muscular hypertrophy (as explained in this post), and when used in conjunction with proper nutrition and recovery techniques, you can actually gain significant amount of muscle and get seriously strong without making Bodybuilding a pain in the Arse!!
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