When we last left off I said I would look at the three factors of muscle growth according to this review article. The author states that mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage are what is needed in order for an adaptive response to favor hypertrophy in order to rebuild the muscle stronger and larger than it was before those three conditions took place. This description may make total sense to you or it may be somewhat abstract. To further explain it let’s look at the three factors individually.
Mechanical tension is that feeling you get when you are lifting weights and you can actually feel what can be best described as the muscle tearing or pulling away from the bone and tendons that it is attached to. This of course is not actually happening but this is mechanical tension. A passively stretched muscle is known as passive elastic tension. When a muscle is flexed isometrically the source of tension is known as active tension. The act of lifting weights is the combination of both passive and active tension as they are simultaneously being stretched while also being activated. Dynamic movements through a full range of motion are superior to either passive or isometric contractions, so it is therefore more than just tension that is needed to deliver the message to grow bigger muscles. It must also be through a full range of motion that this tension is applied to the muscle. (This is where I could go on and on about the horrific form I see on a daily basis and want to explain that lifting a weight halfway down will get you about half the results you seek, if that. End rant)
Revisiting the first part of the ABC’s Of Muscle Growth, time under tension plays a very large role in the tension through a full range of motion as well. Maximal contractions performed for a rep or two and infrequently will not yield much in the way of muscle hypertrophy. The message must be sent in a somewhat severe way if we want our bodies to adapt and grow bigger. This is where volume and frequency play a key role in muscle growth as well, but that’s something I’ll get into later.
When we next get together I’ll elaborate on the second factor necessary for muscle-building to take place and that is metabolic stress. Until next time my friends,