How to Increase Your Muscle Size - Muscle Growth Part 1

Muscle Growth Part 1

If you want to learn how to increase your muscle size there are things you should know. Strength training causes muscle growth through 3 separate phases: –

Firstly, there is an initial stimulus, often called the primary mechanism. Since muscle growth happens primarily through an increase in the size of individual muscle fibres, this must be detected by receptors. These receptors are located inside the muscle cells. Secondly, there are molecular signalling events inside the muscle. These last several hours, and result from the initial stimulus. Thirdly, there is a temporary increase in the rate of muscle protein synthesis, which is triggered by molecular signalling events. This is what leads to increases in overall muscle size, which can then be measured in various ways;

  1. Muscle growth – Initial stimulus 

    There are three mechanisms that stimulate muscle growth:

    (1) Mechanical tension

    (2) Metabolic stress

    (3) Muscle damage

These mechanisms are environmental conditions that can be detected by single muscle fibres. This then stimulates the molecular signalling events that increase muscle protein synthesis rates. Subsequently, causes the accumulation of protein inside individual muscle fibres.

The main difficulty faced when trying to understand the independent effects of mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress is that it is very difficult to stimulate a muscle with either muscle damage or metabolic stress while not providing the mechanical tension stimulus at the same time.

Studies show that muscle fibre activation resulting from motor unit recruitment is a primary mechanism. Through which muscle growth is stimulated. But this cannot be the case, because full motor recruitment is approaching at high-velocity contractions, which cause little muscle growth.

Hence, when muscle activation is maintained constant at high levels, increasing the velocity of contraction reduces the hypertrophy. This seems to happen because faster contraction velocities reduce the mechanical tension produced by each muscle fibre. Therefore the amount of mechanical loading detected by its receptors.


  1. Molecular signalling

Signalling pathways that are activated in response to strength training workouts seem to be involved in elevating muscle protein synthesis. This is found to then cause the accumulation of protein inside muscle fibres.

However, in cases of overtraining, which can lead to muscle loss, the oxidative stress seems to inhibit muscle protein synthesis from being increased. With these results in mind, we should not assume that a greater increase in motor signalling will “always” cause a greater increase in muscle protein synthesis rates and a subsequent long-term increase in muscle size.

  1. Muscle protein synthesis

Even though the protein content of a muscle fibre is determined by the ongoing balance of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown rates, there was good evidence to suggest that it was the increase in muscle protein synthesis rate that was responsible for the change in muscle size over time.


Consequently, it was a real breakthrough when identified that elevations in muscle protein synthesis could be related to long-term gains in muscle size after taking away the uplift in muscle protein synthesis required to repair damaged muscle tissue.


This information was an important find, not only because it confirmed the central role of increasing muscle protein synthesis rates for causing hypertrophy, but also because it hinted that while muscle damage repair and muscle growth are very similar processes, repairing muscle damage probably does not enhance increases in muscle size.

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Nicole McDermott

I am passionate about working with people on a holistic level to balance hormones, improve mood, manage weight all whilst educating people on the benefits of a balanced whole foods diet. Follow more great advice from Nic here.