Many people mistakenly believe that it’s enough to have a gym membership and visit it a couple of times a week to build muscle. Of course, this is not so. Such training, of course, is good for the body; it will strengthen the muscles but will not make them impressive.
The correct gain of muscle mass includes a whole range of various factors – training, nutrition, and rhythm of life. We will analyze each component individually to understand what underlies muscle mass. What’s more, you will see whether it is real to build muscle fast and get big muscles.
How to build muscle: basics
Training. During exercise, we get stress, which is one of the key factors of muscle building. At the same time, during a workout, the following rules must be observed:
- work should be intense, but not exhausting, so as not to harm the body. In addition, a very tired body will be less susceptible to subsequent training;
- it is obligatory that the body has time to take a break. On the other hand, if you rest too much, no transformation will occur;
- training should be aimed at different muscle groups. If you want an aesthetic body then don’t forget to include various muscle groups into your regimen;
- you should have an idea of what you are doing in each session. A simple performing of biceps curls won’t give you any result;
- follow all the weight gain key factors stated further in the article.
Nutrition. If a person wants to lose weight or make his body shredded, they use relevant nutrition: keep a calorie deficit. But this option does not suit us since our goal is the opposite – to gain mass. Bodybuilders are advised to eat nutritious foods that are high in protein and carbohydrates.
We must not forget about vegetables with fruits – they are rich in vitamins and minerals that help food to be better absorbed, and muscles grow. Another important factor is water. Drink as much water as you want, it will also help food digest and protect the body from dehydration during exercise.
Athletes who started muscle gain without the use of pharmacological agents and supplements should consume approximately 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.
Day regimen. A very important place in weight gain is rest and sleep. Sleep should be healthy, without a lack of sleep, preferably 8 hours a day, and rest should be enough. For example, after each training session, it is advised to devote as much time as possible to rest (up to a whole day), in which excessive activity should not be shown. Do not forget to eat actively.
Physical and emotional health also plays a significant role. In diseases, a person often does not want to eat, and his body weakens. Such problems can easily lead to a breakdown in weight gain plans. The same goes for mental peace. Stress and depression, on the contrary, drive weight away and also worsen sleep, which entails corresponding negative consequences for our business, like fatigue, lack of appetite, and desire to exercise.
Only with a combination of all three components – competent training, healthy and wholesome relaxation, and proper nutrition ensure a positive result be possible.
Keep in mind that gaining muscle mass is not easy, but if you correctly approach this issue, then nothing is impossible. Do not try to independently determine your path to large muscles. It is better to consult a personal trainer and nutritionist to draw up an individual plan.
Key factors to build muscle fast
In the data above, we repeatedly wrote about factors of muscle growth. The process of accelerating the construction of new myofibrils in muscle fibers (MF) is possible only with their simultaneous inclusion. These factors are:
- The supply of amino acids in the cell;
- An increase in the concentration of anabolic hormones in the blood;
- An increase in the concentration of free creatine in MF;
- An increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions in MF.
Nevertheless, people have many questions on this topic. For some reason, these arguments are not entirely convincing for them. Many still continue to firmly believe that the main reason for starting the construction of new protein molecules is the microtrauma of myofibrils received during training.
Microtrauma has no effect on the growth of muscle fiber. It is high time for us to abandon this error.
Modern research regularly confirms this. For example, the website of the National Center for Biotechnological Information www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov shows 2011 research data that showed that the presence of muscle damage during training did not affect growth. The studied groups with minimal damage (which was measured by detecting the level of creatine kinase, as well as subjective sensations – the presence of post-training pain) showed similar growth rates of strength and muscle mass, as well as a similar increase in the level of growth factor IGF-1Ea and mRNA.
Readers who don’t support this thesis also refer to the work of Vadim Protasenko, “How Muscle Grow.” In it, the author, referring to numerous studies, concludes that the multinucleation of muscle fibers itself indicates that the volume of muscle fiber that can serve one cell nucleus is limited. And he also expresses the idea that it is the fission of satellite cells and the increase in the number of nuclei in the muscle fiber and not the acceleration of “protein synthesis by existing nuclei” that causes muscle hypertrophy. He also concludes that drugs containing testosterone should increase the number of nuclei in muscle fibers.
Let’s take a closer look at all four factors. But, since all factors are closely interconnected with each other, for a better understanding of the process, we will briefly introduce you to the general scheme of building a protein molecule.
The general scheme of building a protein molecule
As a result of muscle building training in the blood, the concentration of anabolic hormones increases. The most important of these in this process is testosterone. This fact is justified by the entire practice of using anabolic steroids in sports. Anabolic hormones are absorbed from the blood by active tissues. The molecule of anabolic hormone (testosterone, growth hormone) penetrates the cell nucleus, and this serves as a trigger for the onset of protein synthesis. We could stop at this, but try to consider the process in more detail.
- At the core of the cell is a DNA molecule twisted into a spiral, onto which information is written about the structure of all body proteins. Different proteins differ from each other only in the sequence of amino acids in the amino acid chain.
- A section of DNA containing information about the structure of one type of protein is called a gene. This section opens in the nuclei of muscle fibers, even from the frequency of impulses passing through the muscle fiber.
- Under the influence of the hormone, a portion of the DNA helix unfolds, and a special copy called i-RNA (information ribonucleic acid), another name for its mRNA (matrix ribonucleic acid) is removed from the gene. This is sometimes confusing, so just remember that i-RNA and mRNA are one and the same.
- Then i-RNA leaves the nucleus along with the ribosomes. Note that ribosomes are also built inside the nucleus, and this requires ATP and CrPh molecules that must supply energy for ATP resynthesis, i.e., for plastic processes.
- Next, proteins are built using i-RNA on the rough reticulum of the ribosome, and the protein molecule is being constructed according to the desired template. The construction of the protein is carried out by combining with each other the free amino acids available in the cell, in the order that is “recorded” in i-RNA.
In total, 20 different types of amino acids are needed, so the lack of even one amino acid (as happens with a vegetarian diet) will inhibit protein synthesis. Therefore, the intake of dietary supplements in the form of BCAAs (valine, leucine, isoleucine) sometimes leads to a significant increase in muscle mass during strength training.
Now let’s move on to the four main factors to build muscle.
Factor #1. The stock of amino acids in a cell
The building blocks for any protein molecule are amino acids. The amount of amino acids in the cell is the only factor that is not related to the effect of strength exercises on the body but depends solely on nutrition. Therefore, it is accepted that in power sports athletes, the minimum dose of animal protein in the daily diet is at least 2 grams per kg of the athlete’s own weight.
But, is there a need for taking amino acid complexes immediately before training to build muscle? Indeed, in the process of training, we start the construction of a protein molecule, and it is during training that it is most active.
Amino acids must accumulate in the tissues. And they accumulate in them gradually in the form of an amino acid pool. Therefore, there is no need for high content of amino acids in the blood during the exercise to build muscle. It is necessary to take them several hours before training. However, you can continue to take dietary supplements before, during, and after strength training. In this case, the probability of taking the required protein mass becomes higher. Protein synthesis occurs in the next day after strength training, so the intake of dietary protein supplements must continue for several days after strength training. This is evidenced by increased metabolism within 2-3 days after strength training.
Factor #2. An increase in the concentration of anabolic hormones in the blood
This is the most important of all four factors since it is it who starts the process of synthesis of myofibrils in the cell.
An increase in the concentration of anabolic hormones in the blood occurs under the influence of physiological stress achieved as a result of failed repetitions in the approach. In the process of training, hormones enter the cell but do not go back.
Therefore, the more sets are made, the more hormones will be inside the cell. The appearance of new nuclei in terms of the growth of myofibrils does not fundamentally change anything. Well, 10 new nucleoli appeared, but they should give out information about the need to create myofibrils. And they can give it out only with the help of hormones.
Under the action of hormones, not only i-RNAs but also transport RNAs, ribosomes, and other structures involved in the synthesis of protein molecules are formed in the nuclei of muscle fibers.
It should be noted that for anabolic hormones, participation in protein synthesis is irreversible. They are completely metabolized inside the cell within a few days.
Factor #3. An increase in the concentration of free creatine in MF
Along with an important role in determining contractile properties in the regulation of energy metabolism, the accumulation of free creatine in the sarcoplasmic space serves as a criterion for the intensification of metabolism in the cell.
CrPh transports energy from mitochondria to myofibrils in oxidative (OMF) and from sarcoplasmic ATP to myofibrillar ATP in glycolytic muscle fibers (GMF).
In the same way, it transports energy to the cell nucleus, to nuclear ATP. If muscle fiber is activated, then ATP is also consumed in the nucleus, and ATP is required for ATP resynthesis. There are no other energy sources for ATP resynthesis in the nucleus (there are no mitochondria there). In order to support the formation of I-RNA, ribosomes, etc. It is necessary to enter CrPh into the nucleus and release their free Cr and inorganic phosphate.
We usually say that Cr works like a hormone so as not to go into details. But the main task of Cr is not to read information from the DNA helix and synthesize i-RNA. This is a matter of hormones, but to provide this process energetically. And the more CrPh, the more actively this process will take place. In a calm state, the cell has almost 100% CrPh. Therefore, metabolism and plastic processes are sluggish.
However, all the organelles of the body are regularly updated, and therefore this process always goes on. But as a result of training, i.e., muscle fiber activity, in the sarcoplasmic space, there is an accumulation of free creatine. This means that there are active metabolic and plastic processes. CrPh in the nucleoli gives energy for ATP resynthesis, free Cr moves to mitochondria, where it is again synthesized in CrPh.
Thus, part of CrPh begins to be included in providing energy to the cell nucleus; therefore, significantly activating all the plastic processes that occur in it. Therefore, the additional intake of creatine in athletes of power sports is so effective.
Accordingly, taking anabolic steroids from the outside does not eliminate the need for additional creatine intake?
Of course not. The action of hormones and Cr in no way duplicate each other. On the contrary, they mutually reinforce.
Factor #4. An increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions in MF
An increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions causes labilization of the membranes (an increase in the pore size in the membranes, which facilitates the penetration of hormones into the cell), activates the action of enzymes, and facilitates the access of hormones to hereditary information and to DNA molecules.
Why during exercise in the dynamic mode of hyperplasia of myofibrils in OMF does not occur; after all, they also participate in the work, like the GMF? Because in them, unlike the GMF, only three of the four muscle growth factors are activated.
Due to a large number of mitochondria and the continuous delivery of oxygen with blood during exercise to build muscle, the accumulation of hydrogen ions in the sarcoplasm of OMF does not occur. Accordingly, hormones cannot penetrate the cell. And anabolic processes do not unfold. Hydrogen ions activate all processes in the cell. The cell is active, nerve impulses run along with it, and these impulses make myosatellites begin to form new nuclei. At a high pulse frequency, nuclei are created for fast muscle fibers (FMF), and at a low frequency, kernels for slow muscle fibers (SMF) are created.
It is only necessary to remember that acidification should not be excessive. Otherwise, hydrogen ions will begin to destroy the protein structures of the cell, and the level of catabolic processes in the cell will begin to exceed the level of anabolic processes.
FAQ on how to build muscle
The construction of new myofibrils lasts 7-15 days, but the most active accumulation of ribosomes occurs during training and the first hours after it. Hydrogen ions do their job both during training and in the next hour after it. Hormones work – they decrypt information with DNA for another 2-3 days. But not as intense as during the training period, when this process is also activated by an increased concentration of free creatine.
Yes, the training process on how to build muscle should be built on the basis of these biological laws, and then it will be as effective as possible, which is actually confirmed by the practice of strength training.
Absolutely. Some parts of the anabolic course to build muscle will pass. A small part of the hormones penetrates the cell even in a calm state. We have already said that the processes of renewal of protein structures occur constantly, and the processes of synthesis of protein molecules do not stop.
But most of the hormones get into the liver, where it will die. In addition, in large doses, it will have a negative effect on the liver itself. Therefore, the appropriateness of continued use of megadoses of anabolic steroids with properly organized strength training is optional. But with the prevailing practice of bodybuilders, “muscle bombing” taking mega doses is inevitable because the catabolism in the muscles is too great.
It is still impossible to strictly answer all questions scientifically, but it is very important to build models that explain not only scientific facts, but also empirical principles developed by the practice of strength training on how to build muscle efficiently.