The Secret to Muscle Growth
The Secret to Muscle Growth
Today we are covering two things: 1) What is toning? and 2) How do muscles grow?
Many gyms’ marketing campaigns use the word toning, but we want to clarify that there’s really no such thing as “toning.” A muscle can only do one of three things:
- It can stay the same
- It can grow
- It can atrophy (shrink)
If you don’t use your muscles, especially if you’re over 30 and you’re getting older, then they’re going to shrink. You have to stay busy keeping those muscles strong if you want to be able to carry yourself through space and keep up your metabolism.
So, the question is, how do muscles grow? To explain this, think of the act of opening a door.
Neurons and Your Muscles
Imagine standing at a door, any door. You’re going to open the door, and when you start to do that your brain sends a signal to your arm that says, Open the door, and the neurons in your arm fire. Opening the door is a type of motion that your body is used to. All you are doing is pulling on a weight, the door, that is not too heavy. You can move this door through space pretty easily, recruiting only the muscles in your wrist, forearm, and bicep.
Now let’s shut the door and repeat the same scenario, but pretend that the door is made out of iron. This time, when I try to open a door made of iron, the muscles in my arm are not enough to do the job. The neurons that are sent to the muscles say, Whoa, no way. What happens then?
The door is too heavy. So I plant my feet, tense up my back, engage the core, take a breath, and then use all of those muscles to pull open the door. The brain has then recruited more neurons to cause more muscles to fire to help me achieve the task of opening the door.
Micro Tears in Your Muscles
Now, once that stress is under the body, something very cool happens. You experience tiny micro tears in the muscles because of the stress that has been placed on them. Then, if you rest and eat correctly, those muscles repair and become stronger. The muscles are strengthened for the next type of scenario that you go through where you may need to recruit all of those muscles.
During a Strength Training Workout
Now let’s think about it in terms of working out. If you are doing a barbell deadlift and the weight you are lifting is too light, then it would be very similar to opening a regular door. Your muscles can already handle that motion, so it’s really not that difficult and it’s not going to apply any stress on your body. However, if I put 200 or 300 pounds on the bar—something that isn’t easy and stresses your muscles—then it will cause those minor tears in the muscle because you are applying the appropriate stress. And when you eat correctly and sleep, then the muscles grow and get stronger.
One thing you need to understand whether you ever set foot in our door or not, is that if you are not properly strength training, then you are not doing anything to your muscles. It’s like opening a door. The correct stressor has to apply or your muscles will atrophy, or shrink, and as they shrink, your metabolism slows down and you burn less calories at rest. With shrinking muscle mass, you don’t have the same energy, you can’t carry yourself as well, and it definitely aids in making you look way older than you are. So make sure you are training your muscles with appropriate strength workouts, eating to supplement muscle growth, and sleeping to help them recover.
A Message from Allen
If you’ve ever thought about having somebody put together your strength training program for you, help you design classes or workouts that can help you gain lean muscle the way you want to, that’s what we do at Fitness One. I’m Allen Branch, the owner. I’d like to personally invite you out to visit one of our classes or check out our gym, but for today, just wanted to give you a little information on how that works and why it’s so important for you to be in a solid fundamental strength training program that gets results. Again, I’m Allen Branch, owner of Fitness One, in Kernersville. Thanks for reading, we’ll see you next time.