The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy: What Causes Muscles to Grow?

bodybuilder 7 wcAs we all know, when you lift weights, your body responds to the challenge by increasing the size and strength of the muscles involved in the lift, so that you will be able to do the job more easily next time. But what is it that actually causes this to happen? What are the specific mechanisms involved that produce muscle hypertrophy?

Well, there are three underlying mechanisms that appear to trigger a growth response in skeletal muscle. These are mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage. So, if you want to achieve maximum muscle growth, you should really have a basic understanding of each of these, so that you’ll be able to structure your training in a way that will optimize the effects of all of them.

So, in this article, I’ll give you an outline of these mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy, and I’ll also explain how best to train in order to get the full benefits of all three of them. Continue Reading →

Should You Always Use a Full Range of Motion in Your Training?

bench press flickrIf you go to the gym regularly, you’ll see people doing exercises through a partial range of motion all the time. Half bench presses, half squats – even quarter squats. And if you are anything like me, you’ll probably shake your head disapprovingly at them. But are they right? Is there any value to using a partial range of motion, or should you always use a full range of motion? Well the answer is, it depends.

First, you have to decide how you actually define a full range of motion. For instance, in the squat, is it parallel or is it well below parallel? In the overhead press, is it bar below the chin or right down to the chest? In pull-ups, is it chin over the bar or chest touching the bar? In parallel bar dips, is it the backs of the arms parallel to the floor or is it well below that? I could go on, but you get the point. Continue Reading →

The 9 Essential Factors of Muscle Hypertrophy

bodybuilder 7 flickrWhat is it that really causes muscles to grow? Well, despite all the myths and misconceptions, you can boil it down to nine key factors that contribute to muscle hypertrophy.

Some of these are more important than others, of course, but they all play a role, and if you want to maximize your muscular development, you’ll want to be incorporating most, if not all, of them into your workouts. Not necessarily all at the same time, but over the course of a training year you’ll want to have them pretty much all covered.

In this article, I’m not going to discuss the underlying mechanisms of muscle growth (i.e. mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage), but rather what you actually need to do to achieve these.

So without further ado, here are the nine essential factors of muscle hypertrophy: Continue Reading →