Key Factors to Producing Muscle Growth

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What are the key factors to producing muscle growth? This is a key question we all want to know the answers to. The first thing that might spring to mind is using heavy weights for fairly low repetition. However, that is only a small (albeit important) part of the equation and doesn’t really paint the full picture. Here goes then……

It has been scientifically proven that there are basically THREE key factors that trigger muscle hypertrophy or growth:

1. Mechanical damage or stress
2. Tension
3. Metabolic stress

Let’s look at these in turn:

1. Mechanical damage or stress is something that is generally inflicted on the body during a workout due to the lifting of a load that is challenging to the body and it has been proven that the most damage to muscle fibres or myofibrils generally occurs during the eccentric part of an exercise (ie, when you lower the weight). This is typically manifested by the muscular soreness that you might incur in the days following a workout.

2. Tension is probably the single most important factor in triggering muscle growth. A muscle doesn’t know what weight you are lifting, it only knows the amount of effort that is required to raise and lower that weight. Therefore, muscles communicate in terms of TENSION!!!
To this end, we should always try to find ways of making an exercise HARDER rather than easier so that there is greater tension being exerted on the target muscle(s). Therefore, when performing an exercise, you should only use the muscle(s) you are trying to work, with no body momentum or swing AND you should flex that muscle all the way through the range of motion and therefore always attempt to maintain continuous tension with no stopping at the top or bottom of the movement.

3. Metabolic stress is a demand that is placed in the body to such a degree that waste products such as lactic acid and hydrogen ions accumulate in the body and cause muscle fatigue and that burning sensation that we seem to love! This sort of stress can usually be achieved through shorter rest periods and using intensifying techniques such as drop sets and supersets and giant sets to shock the body. Remember, the body will only adapt and grow muscle if it absolutely HAS TO! Muscle growth is a costly process and the body wants to be as efficient as possible. Causing metabolic stress will ensure that certain anabolic hormones get switched on, along with the process of protein synthesis. It’s only by using high intensity training that is a new stress to the body that you can ensure that all the anabolic signals are switched on and primed for muscle growth.

Well, there you have it. However, if I could tell you THE most important thing to remember when lifting weights, it’s to maintain continuous tension within the working muscle and to train until you can’t perform another rep safely without cheating and without stopping. Also, as trite as it sounds, you absolutely MUST develop a powerful mind/muscle connection right from the very first rep of the very first set and you can employ some muscle activation strategies to achieve this prior to actually lifting any weight by contracting the target muscle(s) as hard as possible in the fully shortened position. Try these tips folks and see how much your muscle growth and training progresses! Stop thinking about merely lifting a weight and think about the muscles you are using and squeeze the hell out of them!