Medical Articles

How Hypertrophy Works

Getting larger and stronger muscles is arguably the most important goal in bodybuilding. The technical term for this is 'hypertrophy', which is an 'anabolic' process meaning it's responsible for building tissue - rather than burning it for fuel - and which requires protein.

The protein in our protoplasm is its most abundant substance making up 10-20% of our cells' mass. This is then used for structure, maintaining the form of the cell; and for enzymes which control chemical reactions within cells. Essentially when you eat meat you're almost 'recycling' the animal and using it to repair and build your own body. Each cell has within it your genetic code - your DNA - and it uses this as a guide for sending the amino acids where they're needed in the body.

This is why a supply of high-quality protein is so important for the body and particular for aiding in recovery and growth after a workout.

Muscle fibres cannot reproduce via mitosis (by splitting in half) as they have multiple nuclei. This means that in order for your muscles to grow, the existing fibres need to become thicker. For this to happen the muscle must add more 'myofibrils' (the small 'strands' which make up muscle fibres and that are themselves composed of even smaller sarcomeres) which it does by splitting them along their longitudinal axis. This action however requires lots of Myosin, Actin and other proteins (and how much protein a muscle fibre can use is limited by the number of nuclei in each one).

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