The simple science behind adding bodybuilding

bodybuilding: Our body is a clever old thing. The process of muscle growth is essentially your body’s response to the stress of weight training. It thinks, ‘That was hard. I’d better do something about it so its not as difficult next time.’ When you perform resistance exercises, microscopic tears occur in your muscles.

Your body responds to this ‘microtrauma’ by overcompensating: the damaged tissue is repaired and more is added, making your muscles bigger and stronger so the risk of future damage is minimized. This also means over time you need to increase steadily the weight you lift because your muscles quickly adapt to deal with the stress to which they’re exposed.

 It’s thought this damage to your muscle fibres is the reason for delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS the symptoms of which include muscle soreness and stiffness in the days after a tough workout. That’swhy you should leave at least 48 hours between sessions that target the same muscle group. If you train that muscles again before they’ve had time to repair and rebuild your risk overtraining, which can result in reduced gains and injury.

ANATOMY OF A MUSCLE

Discover what your muscles are made ofMuscles are made up of bundles of fibres contained within a protective sheath called fascia, which is then themselves bundled together. The biggest bundle is the muscle itself. The next biggest bundles are the fascicles, which .contain the long, single-called muscle fibres. Muscle fibres are then divided into myofibrils, which are divided again into bundles of myofilaments, made .up from chains of sarcomeres.

1 TENDON: Strong, the connective tissue that connects muscle to bone.

2 EPIMYSIUMA: a layer of connective tissue that encases the entire muscle.

3 ENDOMYSIUM: Connective tissue that covers the muscle fibres and also contains capillaries (tiny blood vessels) and nerves.

4 PERIMYSIUM: a layer of connective tissue that bundles together between ten and several hundred individual muscle fibres to create fascicles.

5 FASCICLE: a bundle of individual muscle fibres.

6 MYOFILAMENTS: Smallest fibre bundles.made up of sarcomeres, the basic unit of a muscle.

7 MUSCLE FIBRE:  Individual muscle fibres come in two main types: type 1 or slow-twitch, which are suited to endurance because they are slow to fatigue; and type 2 or fast-twitch, which are quick to fatigue and are therefore better suited to fast, explosive movements.

8 BLOOD VESSEL: Part of the body circulatory system, blood

There are several key stages in the process that breaks down muscle fibres before they can be rebuilt stronger

WARMUP

As your heart rate increases, blood is pumped into your muscles, warming them up and allowing them to extend fully. The blood also supplies the muscle fibres with oxygen.

WARMUP

As your heart rate increases, blood is pumped into your muscles, warming them up and allowing them to extend fully. The blood also supplies the muscle fibres with oxygen.

UNDER TENSION

At the start of a rep, your muscles are under tension and stretched. As a result, more blood is pumped into the protective sheaths of the muscle fibres, supplying even more oxygen and nutrients.

INITIAL SPARK

As you lift a weight, your central nervous system relays this to the nerves in the sheaths around the muscle fibres, telling the fibres to contract. If you do the exercise correctly your muscles will activate in a particular sequence, which your nervous system adapts to. As you repeat the workout, your nerves get more efficient, allowing you to do more. This is the first adaptation caused by weightlifting.

CHEMICAL REACTION

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the immediate energy source for these muscle contractions. It is broken down within the body’s cells to release energy. The cells’ creatine, phosphate and glycogen reserves are also converted into ATP. This process creates lactic acid as a by-product.

FEEL THE BURN

Once the glycogen stores in your cells have been depleted and lactic acid starts to builds up the muscle can’t work efficiently, so you have to rest. As you do so, aerobic (oxygen-based) muscle respiration occurs, processing the lactic acid back into glycogen and giving you an energy source for the next set.

REPAIR AND GROWTH

Your muscles start to grow during the post-workout repair process. Your body fixes the microtears by adding the amino acids actin and myosin to the myofilaments, which also causes them to grow. Your muscles adapt to store more glycogen too, so there is more energy for the next workout. This also has the happy side effect of making the muscles slightly bigger.

SUCCESSFUL FAILURE

As you reach failure on the last set of a given exercise, your fast-twitch muscle fibres are completely fatigued. Microscopic tears (microtears) occur in the myofilaments, the smallest fibre bundles in your muscles.

REPAIR AND GROWTH

Your muscles start to grow during the post-workout repair process. Your body fixes the microtears by adding the amino acids actin and myosin to the myofilaments, which also causes them to grow. Your muscles adapt to store more glycogen too, so there is more energy for the next workout. This also has the happy side effect of making the muscles slightly bigger.

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