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What Causes Muscle Growth?
By: Rick Mitchell

In order for muscles to grow, three things are required:

1. Stimulus - exercise is needed to make the muscles work, use energy and cause microscopic damage to the fibers.

2. Nutrition - after intense exercise the muscles need to replenish their stores of fuel.

3. Rest - it is during the rest or recovery phase that the muscles repair the microscopic damage and grow.

Muscle size increases due to hypertrophic adaptation and an increase in the cross section area of individual muscle fibers. Intensive exercise impacts more on the strength influencing fast twitch type II fibers, therefore the increase in muscle size is accompanied by greater strength.

This will deplete the muscle's energy stores and cause microscopic damage to the muscle tissue. During recovery, these stores of glycogen and phosphocreatine will replenish from carbohydrates and creatine ingested as food or supplements. Amino acids supplied in the diet will trigger the protein synthesis that repairs the damaged muscle and lead to the creation of bigger muscle fibers.

To achieve continuous improvement you will need to keep reaching for higher levels of training intensity otherwise the improvement process will grind to a halt. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to plan for provided certain basic principles and rules are clearly followed. Subsequent articles in this series will examine these principles in detail.

About the Author

Rick Mitchell is the creator of the bodybuildingadvisor.com website that provides guidance and information to athletes at all levels of bodybuilding experience. Go to Bodybuilding Advice to learn more about the issues covered in this article.


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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape

 

Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.


Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
shocks.

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
speaking.

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
time.

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:
http://tinyurl.com/6c6kq
 

Dave Snape

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