Muscles are everywhere in the body. People tend to think of men and women at the gym with muscle in places such as the back, arms and legs. However, it is important to note that muscles also exist in organs and blood vessels, to help maintain the circulation system and complete involuntary processes that we have no control over, yet are essential to our survival.
We will focus on the type of muscle that you can contract voluntarily and how you can strengthen them. In general terms, these are known as skeletal muscles.
As the name implies, skeletal muscles are attached to the bones. They are also known as striated muscles, because they have stripes, although you cannot see this through the skin. They come in pairs when moving the joints, to allow you to move in different directions. In contrast to the smooth muscles found in organs such as the bladder and stomach, you control the contraction of skeletal muscles. You have to make a conscious decision and action to contract your muscles so that your brain can send signals to the muscles and make them work.
Skeletal muscles are mostly composed of proteins, which interact during contraction to create force. Two of these proteins are called actin and myosin. It is thought that muscle grows and gets stronger due to greater production of protein and the incorporation of these into muscles cells. The muscles grow when they are resting rather than when you are active. During the repair process after exercise or strength-training, the proteins reproduce in a thicker form. Satellite cells activate and divide to help the growth of proteins and fusing of muscle fibres. In cases where the muscles grow, this is because more protein is being produced than broken down. Furthermore, strength comes with an increase in how many cells are working when the muscle contracts.
As you get better at controlling the voluntary contraction of your muscles, you can work them harder. This means that you can cause the muscle more damage so that it repairs and grows stronger.
If you do resistance exercise, where your muscles have to use more force to complete an action, then this greatly increases the rate of production of cells and proteins within the muscles. Of course, you must regulate this to avoid tearing the muscle and causing serious trauma. The most crucial element of building muscle is to ensure that you give your body the chance to rest and recover. The rest period is when muscles grow, so you need to let them do so!
Your diet can also affect the growth and repair of muscles. Furthermore, your hormones and genetics may influence the extent to which your muscles can grow. Generally, the growth of muscles is a slow process that requires you to train regularly and be patient. It may be a few months before you notice any visible changes in your body!
To build muscle, try and do exercises involving weights or resistance. You will know that it is working if your muscles ache the following day, though if this persists, check with a doctor that you haven’t caused serious damage. If an exercise becomes too easy for you, mix things up and try something new to challenge yourself!
Most exercises that build muscle also target and reduce fat, making you both strong and healthy! If you need a helping hand in losing excess fat that cannot be shifted by diet or exercise, why not try our Cryolipolysis procedure. This exposes the fat cells to sub-zero temperatures, as they cannot survive in such cold conditions. Consequently, they die and are removed from the body via the lymphatic system.