How to actually build muscle: let's talk science

Fit & Training door thijs

Did you know that we have over 600 muscles in our bodies? Some of these are called skeletal muscles. They are used for accomplishing our everyday tasks like lifting things and walking. They're important for our bodies because they basically make all our movements possible. Besides that, healthy muscles improve balance and prevent injuries. If the muscles surrounding your knee are strong, for example, it's harder for you to get injured there. Plus, stronger muscles means you can open a jar all by yourself. ;)

Now that we know why healthy muscle mass is good, we've arrived at the important question: How do you actually build muscle? If you've ever seen people pushing hard at the gym to (safely) hit one more rep, then that is exactly what you should be doing. Muscles need to experience stress in order to grow and to become stronger.

When your muscles are stressed, during workouts for example, microscopic tears appear in the muscle tissue. After your muscle tissue has been damaged, your immune system will kick in to start repairing these tears. This cycle of damage and repair is what results in your muscles becoming stronger, and bigger. In the process, your muscles learn and adapt to the new conditions. That's why when you start working out, 5 lbs/kg dumbbells may be a challenge for you, but then one day, you realize it's not that heavy anymore. Your tissues repair themselves to be able to deal with that specific weight. After that, it's up to you to continuously challenge them to keep creating those microscopic tears and build muscle.

In order for your muscles to do the repairing necessary to grow, you need to also provide it with a good environment to make this happen. That means, a nutritious diet and plenty of rest! Lift and challenge your muscles, eat well, rest, and the gains will come.