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  • Writer's pictureMuscle Nation

What Makes Muscles Grow?

Updated: May 18, 2020

Muscle growth is dependent on two factors: stimulation and nourishment. Stimulation is achieved when the muscles are strained. That is to say that non-stressful activities, those that aren't difficult to do, will not trigger muscle growth while activities that require a great deal of stress do.

We actually have more than five senses. In addition to touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing, we also have several other sense. One that's relevant here is our body's ability to sense muscle-activation. When the level of activation exceeds a threshold level established by a regular range of use, the muscle is stressed. In simple terms, the brain recognizes that the body needs more muscle to accomplish tasks.

Unfortunately for modern humans looking to build muscle, we're in a constant fight against our own biologies. Our bodies don't want to have to feed and maintain unnecessary muscle. It takes quite a bit of nourishment; instead, our bodies would rather store calories as fat (fuel reserve). So once the stimulation to grow muscle has been triggered, the body releases myostatin to stop muscle growth. (The development of follistatins and myostatin inhibitors is still in it's infancy, but this may end up being one of the key formulas to muscle growth in the future.)

Muscle growth is then dependent on the nourishment we provide. That nourishment requires nutrients (think the big three macros: protein, carbs and fat), water and hormones.

Our hormones, in particular the gonadal hormones such as testosterone, as well as our pituitary hormones (growth hormone) are in constant flux, mitigated by hormones designed to reduce stress and increase survival in our bodies (such as cortisol). We want higher levels of testosterone and growth hormone to build muscle. How do we do this? Eating a well balanced diet, eliminating sugar, sleeping well and reducing anxiety.

Key Take-Away: to build muscle we need to treat ourselves well. Good food. Proper Hydration. Good quality sleep. And work out hard.

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