The Science of Bodybuilding


There are many misconceptions surrounding bodybuilding, some held by bodybuilders themselves. When you look at the science behind the activity, you can find out the reality behind muscle gain – the results may surprise you. One of the most common myths is that by lifting increasingly heavier weights, you’ll build up your muscle mass. However, recent scientific findings suggest that, in fact, the best way to bulk up, and the technique which produces most new muscle fibres, is to work out with relatively lighter weights until you’re tired out, and can’t do any more.

One notion that does appear to be true is that of ‘muscle memory’, where once a person has acquired a certain level of strength, they will find it easier to attain that point again, even if they fail to maintain their muscles in prime condition. Scientists agree, as they’ve found that muscle undergoes permanent changes during training, so that the potential to grow muscle remains with you for life. This means that no matter how much time has passed since you were at the peak of muscular fitness, it will be easier to attain again.

This has implications for the use of anabolic steroids, which appear to multiply the number of number of muscle cell nuclei. The principle of ‘muscle memory’ would appear to hold here, too, raising questions about the permanent effect of these performance enhancing drugs.

Not all of us have taken steroids, but all of us have felt that lingering pain after a workout, ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’. This is thought to be caused by damage undergone through muscle lengthening when working out, causing inflammation and pain. Over exercise can damage your muscles, so don’t overdo it.

Instead, eat a rich, healthy diet, with as much protein as possible. Amino acids are the building blocks for new muscle proteins, and you should be aiming for protein making up as much as 25 – 30 % of your diet. You want this to go on building muscle, so complement your protein intake with carbs, as the bulk of the energy used during your workout comes from carbohydrates that are broken down into glucose, and converted to glycogen. For this reason, doctors recommend that your diet should consist of 55 – 60 % carbs.

Follow these scientific steps and you should have a fitter, stronger body in no time.