Hey Angels and Alphas,
How does muscle growth really happen? What’s the science behind muscle growth and atrophy? Does it matter what time of day you train, or what time of year it is? In this article, we’ll explore all the latest research to give you an hour-by-hour breakdown of what happens in your muscles after you lift weights and how best to maximize those effects.
The warm up is just as important for your muscles as the actual workout. It loosens up your muscles and prepares them for action. You’ll see an improvement in flexibility and endurance by warming up, which is why it’s so important that you don’t skip this step! As you’re warming up, try doing some dynamic stretches like jogging in place or jumping rope.
This will get your blood flowing and help loosen your joints before they feel the pressure of heavy weight. Doing these moves before lifting weights will also save you from injury during the rest of your routine.
And while we’re on the topic of injuries: if you are experiencing any pain while lifting weights, stop what you’re doing right away and consult with a doctor or physical therapist. Pain is never worth risking further injury over—so be smart about how much weight you lift and make sure not to push yourself too hard when exercising.
The lifting itself
In the hours after you lift weights, your muscles undergo a series of changes. As you’re lifting, your muscle fibers are shortening and lengthening. This is called eccentric contraction, which is when the muscles are getting longer while they contract. It’s an important part of building strength because it helps protect your joints from injury.
After exercise, your body starts to break down glycogen (or sugar) stored in the muscle tissue for energy during exercise. The result is that water is released into the space between muscle fibers and blood rushes in to help deliver nutrients and whisk away waste products like carbon dioxide and lactic acid back out of the muscles.
The hours following
After you finish your last set, your blood sugar and adrenaline levels will drop. You’ll feel tired, and it’s likely that you’ll experience some soreness in the muscles that you worked out. This is when it’s crucial to refuel with healthy food and fluids so your body can recover.
For the next 24 hours, take in plenty of protein (aim for one gram per pound of body weight) and carbohydrates (aim for two grams per pound). Drink plenty of water but avoid alcohol since it dehydrates you. Sleep 8 hours or more; the longer, the better. And remember: Some people actually get stronger after they’ve trained hard because they activate their natural repair mechanisms release growth hormone and testosterone.
The days following
If you work out with weights, it’s important to know what happens in your muscles after a weightlifting session. Not only does muscle tissue need time to rebuild itself after being broken down during exercise, but the body also needs time to generate new amino acids, which help heal and protect muscles. For that reason, it’s best not to workout two days in a row or on consecutive days. In fact, research suggests that taking at least one day off per week is optimal for muscle growth and recovery.