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How do muscles grow?

Muscles helps us move, hold us up and bind our body together. We have over 600 of them in our body. Even if bodybuilding might not be your hobby, muscles need your constant attention. Your attitude towards your muscles will determine whether they will wither or grow. Muscles are a crucial component of the human body. But how do muscles grow?

In order to answer that question, firstly we need to understand how our muscles work.

How muscles work.

It all starts in the brain, where a signal is sent to motor neurons inside your muscles. Once your neurons receive the brain signal, they make your muscles either contract or relax. The contraction and relaxation of muscles will pull on your bones and generate the movement needed to accomplish a goal (be it pushing a door, pulling weights or walking).

The harder the goal, the bigger the brain signal grows causing a rally on your motor neurons. But what happens when the physical challenge is too much for your muscles?

Then, your brain will start recruiting more muscles in your body; trying to leverage your form (by changing your stance) and using your weight and more muscles to overcome the challenge.

As you expose your muscles to stress, their fibers will go through microscopic damage. The cells in your muscles will then release inflammatory molecules called cytokines (why your muscles get swollen after workouts). Your immune system will then respond by trying to repair the injury caused to the fibers.

This repairing caused by your immune system is what will cause your muscles to grow. The greater the damage to your muscle fibers, the more “material” your body will need to repair the damages. Your muscle starts to adapt to great demands of effort.

How do muscles grow?

Repeating the cycle of damage and repair will result in your muscles growing over time.

In order to grow your muscles, you need to stress them enough to stimulate the recovery process. You also need to pay attention to the recovery, over working your muscles and never letting them fully heal can be damaging to your progress.

In order to maintain your muscles, you need to be consistently using them with the same intensity in effort as it was necessary to grow them.

If you stop maintaining your muscles, they will atrophy. It happens when your body realizes it doesn’t need to maintain them anymore, so your muscles start to shrink. Therefore, muscle building is not final. You need to maintain your muscles.

Muscles rely on more than just exercises to grow. If you lack the proper nutrition to fuel the process of muscular growth, your progress will be halted.

Without the biological building blocks of muscles, your body will not be able to properly create or preserve muscle mass.

Genetic factors also affect the growth potential of muscles. Some people will be able to grow muscle more efficiently than others.


So, how do muscles grow? Through intense effort and recovery.

Your body responds to the demand of effort. It’ll adapt to the conditions you create for it through your exercise program. Once you find a system that works for you, just stay consistent and your body will adapt over time.

It can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks to start noticing physical change. But that doesn’t mean change isn’t happening before this time frame. On the molecular level, change is always happening.


Learn about avoiding the most common muscle building mistakes here.

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