Even if you’re obsessed with building your physique, you may not know your own muscle cells lost their capacity to copy their own DNA before you were born. That means your fully formed muscle fibers are incapable of producing “daughter cell” copies of themselves.
So how do you build a more muscular physique?
Muscle growth following birth and into adult life is the result of two distinct mechanisms. The first is the simple enlargement of your existing (mature) fibers and is driven by a number of internal and external signals (e.g. hormones, growth factors, nutrition and exercise). The second involves incorporating some single cells you already have which are conveniently located next to your mature fibers.
These cells are called “satellite cells.”
Because these cells have the ability to become new fibers that become part of the “original” family of mature fibers you’re born with it should be clear that the second mechanism is much more powerful. In fact, this mechanism is so powerful; it might be the only thing worth paying attention to.
Satellite cells represent a particular type of “stem cell” which gives mature muscle fibers the ability to mount significant new muscle fiber growth responses. Normally dormant, these satellite cells can be provoked into an “active” state by many of the same internal (nutrients) and external (weight lifting) factors that regulate growth responses of the existing fibers. The good news is that if you’re serious about building muscle, you’re already causing “repetitive activation” of these cells by doing multiple weight training sessions each week, physique-athlete style (click here).
The reason I suggest you focus on doing the “work” when you weight-train is because it takes that kind of stress to force these satellite cells to “make a decision.” If you’re dedicated you’ll keep “pounding” on these cells so to speak, until they have only two options, (1) to cease dividing and forego producing more “daughter stem cells” and thus re-enter a resting state, or (2) “commit” to producing new fully functioning muscle fibers which can be seamlessly integrated into your existing adult muscle fibers and produce significant increases in muscle size and strength.
Training like a physique athlete, in my view offers you the best method for increasing the activation of satellite cells and more importantly, the proportion of “committed” satellite cells that ultimately become new muscle fibers.
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