Our muscles are divided into three major types, which include smooth, cardiac, and skeletal muscles. When people talk about building muscle, it is usually referred to the skeletal muscles.
Skeletal muscles are attached to the bones by tendons. Skeletal muscles undergo voluntary movement along with the bones. When the muscles are continually challenged to deal with resistance and weight, the muscle fibers undergo trauma, and this results in injuries. Satellite cells, a type of cells present outside the muscle fibers, are activated when your muscles are injured. These damaged muscle fibers are fused together and repaired by the satellite cells. This increases the mass and size of muscles.
Apart from challenging your muscle, certain hormones help build muscle too. These hormones include testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin growth factor. The hormones help build muscle by
- Activating satellite cells
- Inhibiting protein breakdown
- Managing muscle mass and repairing muscle cells
- Stimulating other hormones that promote muscle growth and protein synthesis
- Enhancing tissue growth
- Forming new blood capillaries
Exercise and Building Muscle
The best way to improve muscle mass is through exercise. Diet also plays a role in building muscle mass.
Resistance and strength training is highly recommended to increase muscle mass. Aerobic exercises also contribute towards muscle building. They stimulate the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland. The amount of hormone varies with the intensity of exercise. Growth hormone increases your metabolism and aids in protein formation from amino acids to build more muscle. Training also stimulates the release of testosterone and improves the sensitivity of muscles to testosterone.
Testosterone, the male sex hormone, plays a significant role in muscle building. Men have more amounts of this hormone than women. They might be able to build muscle at a faster rate, but muscle building does not depend only on testosterone. There are also various other factors that decide muscle building. Studies have shown that men and women respond in similar ways to strength training.
Muscle Building and Body Shape
Muscle building varies depending on the body shape. A personalized training program that caters to the body shape can help build muscle at an optimal rate. The different body shapes are:
1. Mesomorphic: People with this type are generally more muscular and can build muscle at very fast rates.
2. Ectomorphic: People with this type usually have a slim or straight frame and cannot build muscle at very fast rates. They can gradually build muscle and strength through resistance training.
3. Endomorphic: People with type usually have a rounded or curvy frame. This body type also has a high tendency to store fat. Training focus should be on losing fat and gradually building muscle through strength and resistance training.
How Does Genetics Influence Muscle Building?
Several genes have been studied in relation to muscle building. Genes can determine how easy or difficult it is to build muscle mass up to a certain extent. Genetics influences your body type, muscle composition, and your response to diet and training.
The IGF1 gene encodes a protein called Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1. IGF1 is an anabolic hormone that stimulates the growth of muscle, bone, and several other tissues in the body. It stimulates protein-building processes. This hormone aids in muscle building through a process called hypertrophy. Hypertrophy refers to the increase in muscle mass through exercise. Variations in this gene can determine how easy or difficult it is to build muscle.
rs35767 is an SNP in the IGF1 gene. The minor allele, the T allele, is found to be associated with higher levels of circulating IGF1 and an increase in muscle mass compared to the C allele.
Non-Genetic Factors That Affect Muscle Building
- Age: With age, muscular strength reduces. A decrease in the cross-sectional area of muscle fibers and amount of tissue is observed in older people. Regular training and training started at an early age can help build and maintain muscle mass.
- Limb length: People with shorter limbs find it easier to lift weights and do certain exercises than taller people. People with longer limbs also have other advantages. They are better at overhead presses and deadlifts. Training suited to your body type, and limb length is essential for optimal results.
Building Your Muscles Effectively
The best way to build muscle is through consistent, challenging, and long-term training. This will help you achieve the best results and build muscle mass.
Strength and resistance training
Strength and resistance training, at least twice a week, is highly recommended to build muscle. This training includes weight lifting, bodyweight exercises, using resistance bands. Increase your training volume gradually.
Cardiovascular training is also essential to build muscle. While it might not have the same effect as strength training, aerobic exercises strengthen your heart and respiratory system. It increases your overall exercise capacity and can help reduce the risk of injury.
Talk to a trainer to develop the best workout plan for your body type aimed at building muscle mass. The right exercises and diet are beneficial.
Adequate rest periods in between workouts are very important to give your muscles time to repair. Muscles need to recover from all the resistance and injury caused during exercise. Without sufficient rest, the risk of injury is higher, and your fitness progression will also slow down.
A healthy diet with a good source of protein will fuel your workout and build muscle. Protein-rich foods with the amino acid leucine are recommended. These include poultry, beef, lamb, eggs, milk products, and non-animal products like soybean, beans, nuts, and certain seeds.
- Muscle mass increases when you exercise consistently. Exercising provides more resistance and trauma to the muscles. To overcome this, the muscle fibers fuse together. This results in more muscle mass and size.
- Certain hormones, including testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin growth factor, help build muscle by activating cells to aid in muscle repair and enhancing tissue growth.
- Genetics partly influences your body type, muscle composition, and response to training and diet. The T allele of SNP rs35767 found in the IGF1 gene is associated with increased levels of the insulin-like growth factor hormone and more muscle mass compared to the C allele.
- Apart from genetics, other factors that include age and limb length also influence muscle building.
- Training consistently and including strength and resistance training is necessary for building muscle. Aerobic exercises also contribute to muscle building. Proper rest and a healthy diet are also essential.