It is a fairly well known fact that lifting weights leads to bigger and harder muscles, and, with the apprptiate training, more definition. But exactly how does weight lifting do that? What is the physiology of weight lifting?
Basically, weight lifting is a method of strength training.
Lifting weights, or using other resistance machines and equipment, uses the force of gravity or an outside force, such as elastic bands or steel rods to oppose muscle contraction. Regularly overcoming that opposition increases strength and builds bigger muscles.
The concept was simply and elegantly summed up by Hippocrates centuries ago when he said, "That which is used develops, and that which is unused wastes away"
Or, as they say, "Use it or lose it!"
As far as muscle size, especially muscle growth, or hypertrophy, is concerned, Hippocrates was correct. He, and his contemporaries, while not quite sure of the anatomical science behind it, also understood the basic weight lifting and strength training concept of progressive resistance
It has often been said that ancient Greek wrestlers, when training for the early Olympic Games, carried a new born calf on their back everyday until it was grown. While that particular story is probably not entirely accurate, and may not go over very well at your gym, the basic concept, progressive resistance training, is sound.
Weight lifting does indeed build strength and muscle mass through progressive resistance.
The reasons our muscles grow and become stronger when we work out with weights is due to the body's response to injury.
Yep! Muscle growth from weight lifting is actually the result of injury followed by a healing process.
When we lift weights, we do (even when done correctly) a small amount of microtrauma to our muscle tissue. The body's natural response to this trauma is to rebuild the weakened or torn muscle fibers, and, in doing so, like The Six Million Dollar Man, build them even bigger and stronger than they were prior to the microtrauma, in order to prevent a future repeat of the injury.
So, that is how progressive resistance works in weight lifting and weight training. We add more weight, do more reps, and tear down more muscle fiber - the body keeps responding by healing the muscle eventually pushing the muscle to its ultimate limit, which is at a genetically determined point.
Professional power lifters, bodybuilders, other athletes, and experienced weightlifters as well, will make use of this concept when training or working with weights. They add weight until they reach the maximum weight they can handle.
This is called progressive overload and it forces the muscles to grow stronger and larger to lift the heavier weight.
However working out by lifting weights at the ultimate limit of your strength is not recommended for novice weight lifters. Professionals say beginners can achieve the same results a lot safer, by progressively adding repetitions to the workout, and not lifting heavier weights. This will still fatigue muscles, wear down fibers, and result in the progressive microtrauma required to build muscle, strength and stamina.
Do You Just Want to Injure Your Muscles?
Of course not.
In order for weight lifting, or training, to result in an increase in muscle size and strength, you must allow the body some down time in order to "heal". You see, it is this "healing" that is really the process of building renewed and strengthened muscle tissue!
What that means is that you should not lift everyday, or exercise the same muscles with progressive resistance daily. Muscle growth can take anywhere from 2 to 4 days. So beginners generally will workout out every other day.
The common schedule offered to beginning weight lifters is to work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and to rest from using strength training on the "off" days. Actually, as you can progress, you will learn that some lifters train specific muscles two days a week, other muscles on other days.
For example, they may do upper body exercises on Monday and Thursday, and lower body exercises on Tuesday and Friday. The more you learn about this form of exercise, the more variations on this theme you will find. Real pros might use a weight lifting routine that works any given specific muscle group only once every 4 days.
The more experienced you become, and the more intense your workouts, the longer the recovery period actually might be.
Professional weight lifters require more strength to push their limit, and cause more damage when they do. They therefore often require a longer time to build and repair muscles to greater strength.
Each person who decides to adopt weight lifting as a strength training regimen will eventually have to work out (pun intended) the training schedule which works best for them.
In order to be both physically fit, AND to burn off excess fat, good cardio exercises for improved lung capacity and heart health, should be combined with weight lifting to increase muscle size.
To get started with weight training to increase muscle size, you can check out the following websites:
Muscle Gaining Secrets
Thanks for dropping by. I hope you found this information to be of value.
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