Body building and sculpting is pretty popular. Everyone wants to have six-pack abs, chiseled biceps, and sculpted legs. How do you get them? Hit the gym, right? Well, there has been surprisingly little research into how or why exercise builds muscle or even why long periods of nonuse lead to muscle atrophy. But a 2021 study shows a breakthrough in understanding how exercise affects muscle and how it builds it. All this information could be put together in an easy-to-use software program that could be able to tell YOU specifically what kind of exercises you need to do to build muscle effectively. Sound interesting? Read on.
How Muscles Work
The authors of this study theorized that muscles, long thought to be similar to strings, are actually more like springs. When a metal spring is repeatedly stretched out, it becomes bent out of shape, loses its “spring,” and becomes unusable. Muscles can experience a similar effect–when placed under continuous stress, the proteins that they are composed of begin to unfold and lose their shape. However, unlike a metal spring, your body can continually repair itself. When the proteins in the muscles stretch out and lose shape, they signal the body to add more proteins in and around them to build more muscle.
A key part of this process involves a biochemical particle known as ATP, which is a cell’s primary source of energy. When you exercise, a greater amount of ATP is consumed than when you are at rest. This creates an ATP deficiency which makes your body begin to take steps to replenish itself, including converting food into energy faster. The faster your body processes food, the more protein can be diverted to replacing muscle tissue. The new study calculated at what percentage of one’s energy usage this entire process is happening most efficiently in the body and how long a certain body needs to recover to reach that efficiency again.
What This Means to You
Practically speaking, the study’s findings allow for someone’s physical structure and cellular health to be analyzed, a precise calculation of how much ATP that individual needs to use to be developed, and how much and what level of stress to build muscle at maximum efficiency to be determined. This, in turn, can be applied to various exercises and routines that will form the basis of a mathematically optimized workout for each individual. The guesswork is gone from working out and replaced with scientifically verifiable advantages optimized specifically for each person.
The study also looked at how long the muscles of a particular person–such as someone who is bedridden or an astronaut–can remain inactive or in microgravity before starting to deteriorate. Personal recovery regimens could be developed based on these findings.
This study furthered our understanding of why and how muscles grow. Neil Ibata, a co-author of the study, says, “So much time and resources could be saved in avoiding low-productivity exercise regimens, and maximizing athletes’ potential with regular higher value sessions, given a specific volume that the athlete is capable of achieving.” These findings can also be helpful in the space and long-term care industries, where muscle development or atrophy in a specific person can be determined.