Fundamentals Of Muscle Growth

If your goal is to increase muscle mass, you must fulfill three primary requisites:

1.) Increase consumption of food so that your daily caloric intake is greater than your daily energy expenditure*.

  • This is referred to as a positive energy balance, or a caloric surplus (i.e. the amount of energy that goes into the body is more than the amount of energy that leaves the body). Simply put, if you want to gain muscle mass, you have to eat more food.

2.) Consume sufficient amounts of protein so that your muscles have the necessary materials they need to build extra muscle tissue.

  • Protein is the only macronutrient that can provide the raw materials for muscle growth. Therefore, protein consumption is a primary factor to consider if you want to gain lean body mass. Protein consumption must be high enough to create a positive net protein balance (i.e. the body gains more protein than it loses).

3.) Engage in a strength training program to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (i.e. the most fundamental metabolic process of muscle growth that occurs on a cellular level).

  • No other form of exercise stimulates muscle growth as much as strength training, otherwise known as resistance training.

* See part 2 of this article link to how to find out DEE article to determine your daily energy expenditure.

For muscle growth to occur, all three of these requisites must occur concurrently and consistently over time.

If one increases calorie & protein consumption without engaging in a strength training program, the body has the necessary nutrients for muscle growth, but it has no reason to increase muscle mass. Strength training is the stress that stimulates the body to adapt and increase muscle mass. Muscle is a force-producing tissue, and strength is defined by the ability to produce force. Therefore, for the body to adapt effectively to strength training, it incites muscle growth so that it can produce more force.

Similarly, if one engages in a strength training program without increasing calorie & protein consumption, the body has the stimulus it needs for muscle growth to occur, but it does not have the necessary nutrients to synthesize new muscle tissue. No matter how strongly the body wants to adapt and incite muscle growth, it is impossible to add muscle mass to the body without a net gain in calories and protein.

Bottom line: For muscle growth to occur, the body needs an anabolic stimulus (i.e. strength training), an energy surplus (i.e. increased caloric intake to create a positive energy balance), and the raw materials to build extra muscle tissue (i.e. increased protein intake to create a positive net protein balance).

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