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
Genes related to muscle growth are candidates for gene doping. Manipulating these genes can make athletes gain muscle mass at a faster pace. Gene doping is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). There are other natural ways to gain muscle.
How Does Genetics Influence Muscle Growth?
Several genes have been studied in relation to muscle growth. 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.
Myostatin is a member of the transforming growth factor b (TGF- b) family, which is one of the regulating factors in the body. The MSTN gene is primarily expressed in skeletal muscle cells. It is regarded as a negative regulator of muscle growth, as it functions to inhibit myogenesis: muscle cell growth and differentiation. Many research studies on animals and humans have shown that overexpression of the MSTN gene has been associated with reduced muscle, while its inhibition leads to muscle hypertrophy and /or hyperplasia.
The rs1805086 polymorphism is located in exon 2 of the MSTN gene. Studies have shown that AG genotype is associated with worse performance while GG genotype is associated with better performance.
Non-Genetic Factors That Affect Muscle Growth
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 compared to taller people. People with longer limbs also have advantages. They are better are 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 muscle growth by activating cells to aid in muscle repair and enhancing tissue growth.
- Genes that promote muscle growth are candidates for gene doping. This is banned in sports.
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 IGF1 hormone and more muscle mass compared to the C allele.
- Apart from genetics, other factors that include age and limb length also influence muscle growth.
- Training consistently and including strength and resistance training is necessary for building strong muscle. Aerobic exercises also contribute to building muscle. Proper rest and a healthy diet are also essential.