You may be wondering how do muscles grow? This article explains the science behind building muscle and how your efforts in the gym actually bring about new muscle growth.
Knowing how to grow muscle is the easy part, but actually gaining a significant amount of muscle mass is no walk in the park as it requires a lot of hard work in the gym, and most importantly, in the kitchen. But anyway, let's begin to learn how muscles work!
The Muscle Growth Process Explained
Is it possible to build a house without knowing anything about carpentry? Of course not.
Knowledge is more powerful than any weapon you could ever have, and to accomplish anything satisfactorily, you need to have at least some basic know-how of the task at hand.
Your new mantra should be "Work smart, not hard".
Yet, even as thousands of weight training devotees flock to gyms all over the country everyday, trying to gain muscle and burn fat, they all ignore this simple mantra.
For example, just ask any of them the question: "How do muscles grow?" and I guarantee that their response will be a blank stare or a confused reaction of the sort.
Bodybuilding, like medicine, is a science.
You don’t need to complete a Ph.D. in biology to build large, powerful muscles, but a basic idea of the muscle building process will help you to efficiently meet your goals a lot faster.
The process of actual muscle growth is a complex one and involves a large number of biological steps. The good thing is, you don't need to know it all to build some serious muscle. All you need to understand is the basic steps behind it all.
So, how do muscles grow? Let’s take a look at the science behind the art. Let us find out.
As you train in the gym, you must understand that every single action and process within your body has a single purpose: to keep you alive and healthy.
When it comes to Mother Nature we humans have just one purpose: to pass on our DNA and procreate. We are the result of millions of years of evolution, and the human body has evolved to create natural alarm systems that sound in response to stress, to be able to ensure our survival.
For instance, you feel hungry if you don’t eat, thirsty if you don’t drink, feel pain when something hurts you, and you tan when you’re exposed to the sun.
The muscle building process is the same in nature. In scientific terms, the muscle building process is called "hypertrophy".
When you visit the gym, you put your muscles under stress by lifting weights. Your muscles come closer to failure with every repetition that you do, which means at one point, they will "give out" and you will not be able to do any more reps, no matter how hard you push yourself.
As they come towards failure, these reps create deeper and deeper inroads through the muscle fiber, resulting in what we call "micro-tears".
Basically, what you are doing is breaking down your muscle fibers by causing actual damage to the muscle. Your body reacts to this damage by repairing the muscles.
The muscle repair process is the key part in building muscle. Your body begins repairing muscle tissue when you stop putting stress on your muscles, in other words after stopping your workout.
The thing is, your body sees the damage to your muscles as a threat to its survival, so it will rebuild the damaged muscle tissue bigger and stronger than before to protect against future threats.
So this increased muscle size and strength is a natural evolutionary response to the micro-tears that your muscles have suffered due to the heavy weight training you performed. It's as simple as that.
How Do Muscles Grow? Hard Work!
To build large amounts of muscle onto your frame you must understand this basic concept of how muscles work. Since your body must perceive the weights you lift in the gym as a threat to its survival, you must realize that you need to train hard and with heavy weights for the most muscle building to occur.
Now you understand the basics of muscle growth, you can continue to pack on pounds and pounds of muscle mass. The moral of the story is, go hard or go home!
Hopefully this article has helped, but always remember to never get stuck in research land - information is great, but what's infinitely more important and the only thing that actually matters to get results and change your life is to be hitting the gym week in week out, with a properly structured, well-balanced and optmized training and nutrition plan for your specific goals (which if you're reading this is likely building muscle mass as a hardgainer/skinny guy).
To do that there's essentially 3 paths you can take, each with their pros and cons:
Path A: Design Your Own Mass Gain Program (cheapest)
Learn all the crucial basics, principles and over-arching strategies you need to know about planning the best well-balanced, science-based, all-natural mass building program for your specific goal and workout/diet preferences with our pillar 7-step comprehensive guide for beginner lifters and future heros. If you don't want to spend any money at all, this is how you do it, but be sure to thoroughly research all aspects of your DIY muscle gain program as an unbalanced/bro-science/straight-up-bad program can mean little to no gains at best, and bad posture, injuries and a whole lot of having to backtrack later at worst.
Path B: Follow A Proven Mass Gain Program ($)
To save time having to research and plan the best muscle building program for your specific goals as a hardgainer/skinny-guy/skinny-fat-dad-bod/whatever, there are indeed some excellent pre-made online programs out there that have stood the test of time in getting guys great results. It can give you a great head-on your transformation journey, and will make things simpler for you as it's simply a matter of executing a specific eating and workout program and not having to worry about getting all the little important details of your program on-point.
Sean Nal's hardgainer transformation program (you can see my full review and before/after pics using the program here) is the complete all-in-one online program I'd recommend to most people and especially beginners, and is the one I personally got the most out of when I first started.
Ignore any slick marketing, this guy's the real deal and easily one of the smartest hardgainers-turned-fitness-models I've come across online. Vince Delmonte's Mass Gain program comes in at a close second, who's another smart guy with the real-world results to back it up, who has another effective and proven step by step online program that's helped thousands of guys transform over a few months (rather than years).
Path C: Find a (Good) In-Person Trainer ($$$)
The most expensive option to achieve your dream physique, but if you have the money to spend (1 on 1 coaching can quickly add up in costs) then ensure you pick a trainer who understands the science behind muscle gain, fat burning, supplementation, nutrition, etc, and most importantly choose one who practices what they preach and has similar results to what you want. If you're a hardgainer, ideally you'll want a trainer who has been in your shoes before and started out as a skinny hardgainer themselves and managed to build muscle successfully, otherwise they may not understand the best course of action for you and give you unhelpful generic advice.
Whichever path you choose - stick with it for long enough, don't give up, and your success in transforming your body, strength, health, posture, and confidence will simply be a matter of when, not if. I'd say good luck, but you understand that last sentence I said you won't need it ;)
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12+ Years
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor (real-world experience > school)