The Basics of Muscle Building

Mike Lipowski

No single factor is more important to achieving a lean, toned physique than muscle. Why? Because muscle is the driving force in helping you get to lean and stay lean by raising your metabolism.

Muscle is what makes you look strong, shapely and athletic. Muscle is what propels your body to function at its highest capacity.

If you want to observe just how important a role muscle plays in your everyday life take a look at the effects of muscle atrophy (loss) has on people as they grow older. They become weaker, gain body-fat, have less energy, more listlessly, and lose structural support leading to neck, low back, and other joint problems.

So how do we build muscle?

The simple answer is, we lift weights!

But that's like saying you need flour to bake a cake. No shit! You can't do anything with that piece of obvious info until you know what the other ingredients are the amounts.

How We Build Muscle-

The secret to building muscle lies in the relationship between the total demands(stress) placed on the muscle through resistance exercise and the time between, and frequency of these bouts of stress (recovery time).

Essentially, muscle development is dependent on how effective a workout or series of workouts are at triggering a need for increase strength and development and, recovery from such workouts. If your workouts are not challenging enough or the recovery time not long enough then muscle development will not occur.

Although resistance training is the cause for muscle development it is only half of the equation.

It's common for people to focus solely on training while giving little consideration to recovery. Even though the significance of recovery from workouts has been well documented it is clearly misunderstood based upon the numbers of trainees who do not get enough of it and whose potential is hindered because of it.

To better appreciate the role of recovery and how we build muscle one notion must be understood...

Exercise is a Stress even though exercise will improve our physical and psychological state the act of exercise places a negative stress on the body because it temporarily degrades out body's normal functional ability. In response to any stress the body responds by running through specific stages. The stages are Alarm Reaction, Stage of Resistance, and Stage of Exhaustion collectively referred to as the General Adaptation Syndrome. (G.A.S)

Alarm Reaction: When your muscles have reached failure or have been sufficiently exhausted it signals the release of cortisol to fight off the inflammation in the muscle.

Stage of Resistance: Following the workout your body enters a two-part recovery phase; compensation and overcompensation. Compenstation is when your body fully restores its depleted resources and returns to its original strength and performance levels. Overcompensation is full recovery with increase in muscular size, strength and functionality.

Your body cannot enter the overcompensation phase until it has first compensated. For this reason there must be enough time allowed between bouts of stress to allow completion of both phases.

Stage of Exhaustion: This is when your physiological function stagnates or regresses as a result of over-training or reaching the limits of your recovery ability. This situation is typically the result of exercising too frequently and not allowing enough time to compensate let alone overcompensate.

The Approach:

The most effective and rational approach to building muscle and achieving the best results relative to your goals, ability and limitations, is to perform the least amount of exercise necessary to achieve the desired result.

The reason for this approach is simple;too much or too little exercise will negatively affect your muscle development and stall what progress you've already made. So when you find this balance, WATCH OUT, because your muscle development will flourish!