Bodybuilding Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding Science – Understanding How To Gain Muscle

bodybuilding science

Bodybuilding science is fascinating. When you begin a workout knowing how what you do impacts muscle growth, you’ll enjoy the experience better – and feel motivated to continue exercising.

When should you start learning bodybuilding science? It’s helpful before you even start a program to gain muscle. But even if you’re an experienced bodybuilder, you’ll benefit from studying bodybuilding science as it will guide you to make modifications to your workouts for maximizing the results.

Knowing the science of bodybuilding will help you understand

  • principles behind weight training
  • mechanisms of gaining muscle mass
  • rationale for resistance training
  • why you’re doing what you’re doing
  • why some things work better than others

Bodybuilding Science Lesson #1: How Does Muscle Grow?

Muscle cells are spindly fibers encased in a fibrous tissue shell. They do not increase in number beyond childhood, but grow by ‘hypertrophy’ – a change that makes individual muscle cells larger through the accumulation of more muscle protein within them.

Muscle fibers are made up of aminoacids, which are the building blocks of protein. Fibers are arranged in layers, with the ‘sliding’ movement of one set of fibers over the other causing contraction or shortening, which enables movements.

When you exercise, your muscles are stressed and accumulate more protein which makes them bulkier and stronger. Bodybuilding science has taught us that when many such fibers grow bigger, the entire muscle group enlarges and becomes more powerful.

What generates the best muscle hypertrophy effect?

There are 3 factors:

1. Mechanical tension, such as the kind that develops when you lift heavy weights
2. Muscle damage, which is a consequence of lifting weights over multiple reps
3. Metabolic stress, created by biochemical reactions taking place in muscle to generate energy for your workouts

bodybuilding science - science of bodybuilding


Bodybuilding Science Lesson #2: What Happens When You Exercise Hard?

Weight lifting and resistance training place mechanical stress on muscle groups. Which muscles are under stress will depend on the kind of exercise you do. Until you reach a load of 65% or more of your current capacity to lift weights, nothing much happens. That’s why bodybuilding science suggests that lifting any weight that you can comfortably move for 12 reps isn’t helpful in bulking up!

But when you lift heavier weights, the exercise causes some muscle fibers to tear slightly, a phenomenon called ‘microtears’. This, along with the inflammation it creates, is what leads to muscle soreness following a workout. This is actually a good thing for muscle growth and hypertrophy because of the way your body repairs the damage.

Wherever there are microtears, smaller satellite cells that surround muscle fibers jump into action. They draw aminoacids from the blood (derived from proteins in the food that you eat) and use it to repair the damaged muscle – and make them a little bigger, tougher and stronger.

Bodybuilding science indicates that not only is this how muscle gain happens, but how critical rest periods are for growing muscle mass. Without rest, this repair process cannot happen. The damaged muscle will grow weaker and you’ll actually end up losing muscle tissue which is replaced by scar!


bodybuilding science


Bodybuilding Science Lesson #3: What Is Metabolic Stress & How Does It Help?

Your muscle cells require energy during a workout. Extra energy is required to repair fibers with microtears. This energy comes from a source called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is produced in mitochondria. Each molecule of ATP contains energy stored in the form of high-energy chemical bonds, 3 per molecule.

Muscle cells break down these bonds to release energy for contraction (and repair). The stored ATP in your body can provide enough energy for 3 seconds of muscle action before it needs to be replenished.

How does ATP get regenerated? When the high-energy phosphate bond is broken down in ATP, it results in smaller molecules of ADP and AMP. Under the effect of creatine phosphate, your muscle cells can combine ADP and AMP back together into ATP, permitting fresh energy to be drawn from it for muscle action. The creatine stores in muscles are enough to power your muscles for another 8 to 10 seconds. That’s just about enough time to sprint for 100 meters.

Beyond this point, bodybuilding science reveals us that your muscles will run out of stored energy and must look elsewhere for fresh supplies. Metabolism of glycogen that is also stored in muscles, as well as fat reserves from other parts of your body, can provide extra supplies of energy.

The breakdown of these materials, through a process called ‘anaerobic glycolysis’, causes the build up of lactic acid in muscles – which is what causes the burning sensation in muscles when you push yourself hard to exercise. Nevertheless, it delivers enough energy to keep your muscles going for a further minute or two. Beyond that, accumulated lactic acid will cause muscle cramps, a severely painful condition that prevents further muscle activity.

Bodybuilding exercises help build up reserves of energy producing substrates inside your muscles which makes them better equipped to withstand higher levels of stress for longer durations.

So, your knowledge of bodybuilding science helps you better understand how your muscles process dietary macronutrients like glucose, protein and fat to derive energy for actions, repair micro-tears to grow bigger and stronger, and gradually develop more tolerance and resistance against damage so that you can lift progressively heavier weights and gain muscle mass.

This basic understanding of the science of bodybuilding should help you tailor a workout to optimize your muscle gains and choose the right kind of muscle building supplements and exercise programs to take you closer to your goals quickly.


6 Reasons Why Every Bodybuilder Needs Resistance Training

Resistance training is a term used to describe any exercise involving the contraction of muscles against a load or resistance. It has grown popular lately, going mainstream after the American College of Sports Medicine recommended it for all Americans in the late 1990’s.

Resistance Training

Resistance training increases muscle tone, strength and mass. By forcing muscles to work against an external resistance, you are making them stronger and tougher. The resistance can be provided by weights like dumbbells, bricks, water bottles or even your own body weight.

Types of Resistance Training

There are several different variations of resistance training (also called ‘strength training’).

* Olympic lifting is when large (often massive) weights are lifted overhead by participants.
* Power lifting involves competitive performances of squats, dead lifts and bench presses
* Weight lifting is when regular bodybuilders lift weights, often repetitively, to build muscle mass and endurance.

How Resistance Training Affects Your Muscles

Whenever you lift heavy weights, there is cellular damage to your muscles. The damage is not visible externally, but muscle fibers get injured. Your body, in turn, works quickly to repair the damage. The newer muscle fibers used to replace the old, weak, worn-out ones are generally larger and stronger, so that they are able to cope with the heavier loads they are now required to lift.

This process of rebuilding muscle cells is aided by anabolic steroids, which explains the use of these drugs in bodybuilding. Following a resistance training workout, various hormones like testosterone, insulin-like growth factor and essential amino acids are concentrated inside muscle tissue, helping it repair and regrow.

The logic behind giving adequate intervals of rest between workouts is to permit this repair to take place and for muscle to heal and grow so that it grows bigger and stronger.

Why Is Resistance Training Important?

There are several benefits to resistance training and research is ongoing into evaluating the impact of strength training exercises on the body over the longer term. Logically, dating back from cavemen roamed the earth in search of prey, physical activity and strength gave humans a survival advantage. Muscle building workouts happened naturally in the course of the daily work of creating shelters, hunting for food and later, tilling the land.

Modern living involves relatively much less physical activity. Automation in various spheres has brought down domestic opportunities for natural strength training. This has an adverse impact on overall health, with physical inactivity being listed as the second most important preventable cause of death in the U.S.

* Resistance training improves muscle strength and tone. In every ten years after the age of 30, we lose 2 kilograms of muscle mass. To recover it, we need strength training.

* As age advances, the number of Type 2 muscle fibers (which are responsible for muscle strength) decreases. This can be slowed down through regular strength training.

* Bone weakening due to mineral loss (or osteoporosis) can also be reversed or arrested through regular resistance training. This is particularly important for post-menopausal women.

* There is a modest impact of resistance training on lowering high blood pressure which might be of value to some people in preventing or reducing risk of heart disease.

* In elderly individuals, strength training brings down the risk of accidental falls and consequent serious injuries. Strength training can be started at any age, even into the eighties.

* By boosting metabolic rate and burning off fat, resistance training can help maintain weight and prevent obesity.

How Much Resistance Training Is Good?

Start slow and grow steadily. Progressive resistance training is the most effective way to develop muscle strength and tone without risking injury. While the general principles of strength training are similar, every person needs a personalized workout routine for highest benefit.

All major muscle groups must be exercised. Workouts should provide resistance training to your back, chest, shoulders, arms, abs and legs. To start out, choose 8 to 10 exercises and perform 8 to 12 reps of each, twice every week. Gradually increase both the frequency and number of reps as your muscles grow stronger. Older people should begin with lesser weights and more reps (10 to 15 is ideal).

The concept behind progressively increasing loads in resistance training is to let your muscles grow accustomed to exercise at a particular weight before increasing it to stimulate further growth. If you can perform 12 to 15 reps of an exercise comfortably at a particular weight, then you can increase it to the next level while starting at lower repetitions.

Free Weights Or Exercise Machines?

If you have access to both, a combination is best.

Free weights like dumbbells and barbells allow a wide range of exercises for different muscle groups, and a range of variation to fit your unique range of movements. They also help improve co-ordination and recruit muscles from multiple groups for training. The drawbacks of free weights are injuries from dropping weights, the need for enough space to store weights and workout, and the higher cost of buying exercise equipment.

Strength training machines are quick and easy to set up and use, safe, and do not need much co-ordination. They however take up plenty of floor space and are more expensive than free weights. Your workout will also be longer as each exercise is specific to a muscle group.

Resistance training provides many different benefits to people of all ages and can help improve tone, strength and muscle bulk. That’s why it is now widely recommended as a powerful health promoting routine, as well as being used by serious bodybuilders looking to add more bulk. A comprehensive muscle gaining program that is based on resistance training principles is “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0” – take a look here.


Busting The Myths Around Weight Training For Women

There are many myths and stories around weight training for women. Like “Women shouldn’t do deadlifts”. Or “Don’t go heavy or you’ll become bulky”. Or even “Tone up with high reps and just a little weight”.

Weight Training For Women

By and large, most of this is stereotypical nonsense. And not all of it is spouted by lay people. Even trainers who should know better carry around some misconceptions about weight training for women. Here’s how women should approach weight training.

Train With Real Weights

Women are protected by their hormones from accumulating large volumes of muscle mass the way men do when they heft heavy weights. No matter how often you lift weights or how hard you train or take protein supplements, as a woman you won’t develop the bulky physique of a bodybuilder.

That happens only when you take steroids and eat more calories than you burn off every day. And women bodybuilders who achieve this goal have worked specifically towards it, following a completely different workout plan than typical weight training that most women are interested in.

Train Heavy

Going the fat burning route with lighter weights is not great as weight training for women. Muscle tone depends on the density of your muscles. When they are dense, they look hard and firm. Lifting heavier weights causes a hypertrophy of muscle cells, leading to denser mass. On the other hand, lighter weights with more reps leads to fluid collection in your muscles which give you a pumped look.

That’s why lifting heavier loads for fewer reps will have you looking strong without bulking up massively. The myth that has been faithfully reproduced across generations that lifting lighter loads is better for women is rooted in the inherent belief that women are fragile and can’t handle anything harder or heavier. That’s ridiculous. There are some women who can handle workouts many men would struggle with.

So forget light workouts. To get a hard body, lift heavy. Deadlifts and squats are better than isolated body part exercises. Multi-joint exercises involving compound movements bring confidence and greater strength.

Weight Training For Women – How Much Is Good?

There isn’t a set weight that will make you hard and strong. What matters is choosing weights that are heavy – for you. As you grow stronger, this will change. If you can lift a weight at 3 to 6 reps comfortably without sacrificing form, it’s ideal to start with.

The single sensible difference in weight training for women is to aim for higher reps than men because of their lower ability to recruit muscle units during exercise. So where men would do 1 to 5 reps, women should aim for 3 to 6 in every set.

So now that you’re convinced that the best weight training for women involves heavy training involving multi-joint compound movements, what are the best routines and workouts to follow? Let’s talk about exercises that you can benefit from.

Weight Training For Women – Which Exercises Are Best?

Before going further, you must understand that to enjoy the greatest advantages from weight training, you will have to do those lifts, and do them correctly following proper form. Some of these lifts will not be easy, especially when you’re getting started. But don’t give up. After all, if weight training were easy and effortless, everyone would have a hard, toned body!

The best exercises for building muscle and getting a hard, lean, sexy body are:

1. Barbell Squats
2. Barbell Deadlifts
3. Chin Ups
4. Bench Dips
5. Dumbbell Shoulder Presses
6. Sit Ups
7. Incline Dumbbell Presses
8. Calf Presses

Work these into a routine. Perform the first exercise and then rest for a minute before beginning the next. Go back and forth between the first 2 exercises until you’ve done the target number of sets. Then move on to the next two workouts.

You are better off with short and frequent exercise sessions. Longer workouts tend to leave you exhausted and reluctant to continue. If you lose motivation, you won’t stick with it long enough to see results. When you leave the gym, you should feel refreshed and energized, not worn out and longing to just rest and relax for the remainder of your day.

Stick with this routine for 4 weeks. Once you reach a point where you can comfortably handle 5 reps for 6 sets each, you can increase the weights by 2 to 4 kilograms. Never try to overdo things when you raise your weights. That can lead to injury and soreness. Work your way slowly into the higher load and let your muscles grow used to the heavier weights.

Typically you will start seeing results from your workouts within 6 to 8 weeks. By combining this with an aerobic or cardiovascular routine involving walking or jogging, and stick with your weight training for 3 to 5 sessions a week, you can sustain that lean, hard, sexy look forever.

For a more comprehensive and detailed program about fat loss and staying slim, take a look at Shaun Hadsall’s “14 Day Rapid Fat Loss” here. Jason Ferruggia has an excellent program on gaining muscle which can also be of help. Take a look at it here.


Muscle And Fitness Secrets For Women

For long women have been afraid to lift weights fearing they will turn into muscle monsters. Over the last few decades this myth has been busted and more women understand that muscle and fitness go hand in hand. Today women follow fitness programs that aim to shed body fat and help gain lean muscle.

Women want toned arms and firm glutes. Not just that they also want to be stronger and fitter. But building muscles is not that easy for women. They have to work harder and longer to gain the sculpted and toned physique. Having said that it isn’t all that difficult if you follow the tips outlined here and learn more about muscle and fitness secrets for women.

Less Cardio

Go easy on the cardio. Most women devote several hours a week doing cardio exercises while neglecting their strength training routines. Cardio is good only if you have body fat to lose. Those who don’t have much body fat should concentrate on lifting weights.

More Calories

Trying to build muscles on a starvation diet? Well good luck to you. Remember muscles need high quality proteins as part of every meal in order to develop and grow. Unless you feed them they will not grow. Even if you spend hours in the gym training with weights you will not make any progress. Sticking to just salads all day is not going to help at all. Include chicken, lean beef, egg whites, protein shakes and whey supplements for added nutrition.

Heavier Weights

Don’t shy away from lifting heavier weights. Every week increase the amount of weights you lift. There is no need to stick to low weights, high repetition routine. Lift heavier weights for shorter number of reps. You will see how strong you are when you lift bigger weights.

Keep Track

Keeping track of your muscle and fitness program using a journal is necessary to track your progress. Many people simply go through life doing the same things again and again and hoping things will change. You need to chart your progress, see where you are stuck and how to change things around. So keep a journal.

Focused Training

It is important to completely focus on your training. When lifting weights focus intensely on the muscles you are exercising, the body parts you are straining, whether your form is correct, if your abs and glutes are engaged and so on. When you focus you will do routines right and get better results.

Use Pictures

Take pictures of your body every week. Track your progress week after week and soon you will see a major change in your body shape and structure. Those arms will be more sculpted, the abs more defined and your glutes and thighs streamlined.

Change your mindset

It takes several years to change your body shape and physique, so don’t give up after putting in work for a few weeks or months. It is more difficult to get started. So, if you have started don’t give up. Keep at it and you will see results in a year or two.


How To Build Muscle Mass And Cut Fat

“Lose fat gain muscle” is the mantra of the bodybuilding crowd. So, if you want healthy and toned physique it is time to lose the ugly fat and learn how to build muscle mass.

Why do you want to lose fat and gain muscle? Do you want it for health reasons, or is it for a holiday, for a competition or just as a challenge to yourself? People choose to lose fat for a variety of reasons but you can’t take up this challenge half-heartedly and hope to build muscles.

Achieving a low body fat percentage is not at all easy. The body has evolved over thousands of years trying to store fat for a bad day and it is not going to change it habits just because you want to. Your life henceforth will revolve on achieving your low body fat goals.

It is crucial to get yourself and those close to you involved in this long drawn out process. This step to decide to start gaining muscle, with a 100% committment to do all that is needed, is the key to your success.

Before you start planning you need a goal.

* What is the aim of your build muscle lose fat program?
* How much fat do you want to lose?
* What is a realistic number to achieve in say 3-4 weeks?

Don’t aim for something like “lose 15 percent fat in 3 weeks”. That is impossible. Instead set ambitious but realistic targets. Pin your goals all around you – in your car, on your bathroom mirror, on your bedroom wall where you will see it the first thing in morning. Post pictures of people who have gained the body they dreamed off from fitness magazines. Post pictures of amazing transformations both the before and after pictures. All these will help to keep you focused on the goal.

Nutrition is key to good health and proper weight loss. Trying to reduce calorie intake does not work as your body kick starts its safety mechanism to start hoarding fat by producing more of lipase which is a lipoprotein that stores fat in the body by slowing down metabolism. During this phase the body also sacrifices its muscle tissue for its energy needs.

You will show amazing weight loss results but the body is actually losing muscle tissue instead of fat. You will gain back all the weight you lost in a few weeks time as body stores all the lost fat and some more in case you pull this stunt once again.

Your aim is to lose fat while gaining muscle. So, don’t reduce your calorie intake. Instead look around for muscle building tips that will help you build muscle but slowly lose fat.

Advice for those wishing to know to how to build muscle mass and also lose weight is to eat 6 meals a day spread out through the day. So if you start off at morning then at regular intervals you should consume 250-300 calories/ meal depending on your calorific needs, spread over 6 meals.

Here’s a sample plan, if you eat at 6.30 am in the morning, plan to eat meals at 9.30 am, 12.30 am, 3.30 pm, 6.30 pm and 9.30 pm. This requires careful planning so you eat a balanced meal consisting of all food groups of fruits, vegetables, proteins and carbs.

Essential fats, omega3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in fish, proteins about 1.5 gm/kilo body weight and whole grains with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will keep your body well-supplied with nutrition and lead to fat loss while you gain muscle. Of course you need to do strength training to gain the muscles you wish for.

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