“How to get those gains?” – This is soon going to be the top rated FAQ in the history of fitness industry. The answer is science, it’s all science. Our body is capable of building lean muscles in two ways:
1) Hypertrophy(No, It’s not a disease)
To put it simply, hypertrophy means increasing the size of the muscle cells. It doesn’t increase the number of muscle cells. Simple? Fair Enough?
Hyperplasia is increase in reproduction rate of the cells. Basically, increasing the number of muscle cells. The chances of hyperplasia are occurring are pretty low so we prefer to focus on hypertrophy.
Hypertrophy occurs on the basis of 3 legs of the tripod.
- Rest & recovery
The 3 legs are equally important. If one is weak, other two cannot stand up to the load leading to negligible growth in lean tissues. There are ‘n’ number of people who just keep focusing on the weight training and when they flex looking in the mirror, they get disappointed because the so called ‘gains’ were never built. This is bound to happen right? Because weight training is just a single leg of the tripod, the other two as just as important. All your hard work and daily stress & frustration that are channelled through training in the gym go in vain because you focus on one leg of the tripod. NEVER EVER DO THAT! Because if you are giving your time, efforts and energy towards something, you should gain something out of it right?
Let us dig into the details, following are the 3 legs of the tripod on the basis of which hypertrophy happens:
1) Progressive Overload : It was developed by Thomas Delorme, M.D
Without progressive overload, your body will never get bigger or stronger after a certain point.
So you perform weight training and you break down those muscles but to grow them you have to break them down again but the trick is they are stronger than they used to be so you need to increase the workload. Went a bit over the head? It’s alright. Take an example of yourself. When you were a kid and if you wanted something from your parents, what did you do? You ask for it, But when you don’t get that, Did you give up? No right? You challenged yourself, And how did you do that? By crying out loud till your pleas aren’t heard. Yes, that’s a challenge, to get something you want by going out of your way to get it. Similarly, you have to challenge your body with the workload that it is not used to. SHOCK YOUR BODY! So that it is forced into improving itself to adapt to heavier load. Now once again your body is getting adapted, there won’t be any further wear and tear of the muscle tissue which in short gives it no reason to grow. This progression is called progressive overload which is the first leg of the tripod. Off course, without the other two important legs, hypertrophy is not achievable.
2) Rest and Recovery: Now that you have already broken down the muscle tissues through progressive overload, you need to repair them. If you keep on performing bicep curls every other day, the breakdown rate will be faster than the rate of recovery. Which simply means YOUR MUSCLE WON’T GROW!
To repair them, recovery time is just as important. You need an adequate period of sleep as well to recover.
Always plan your workout. Do NOT train the same muscle everyday no matter how psyched you are to grow. This is the second leg of the tripod.
3) Nutrition: Your training is on point and so is your period of rest & recovery yet you cannot grow your muscle mass reason being nutrition. Macros (Proteins, fats and carbs) play an important role here. It is the nutrition that keeps your body in the anabolic state. That’s why it is always said ‘It’s 100% nutrition and 100% training’ depending on your goal, keep manipulating the macro ratios so as to keep achieving progress. This is the final leg of the tripod.
Once the breakdown has occurred through progressive overload and adequate rest is given, hypertrophy will only occur if the macro nutrients with their ideal ratios are supplied to your body.
If any of these legs are shortened, the tripod trips, the whole process of building your gains will crash. And this is the reason despite of all the efforts and hard work you do in gym, it doesn’t pay off.