What Happens When You Build Muscle?

physique fitness competitor works out in gym lifting dumbbells

The process of building muscle initiates several complex reactions in the body due to the added demands placed on it. Exercise is another form of stress to which your body adapts. Fortunately, the adaptations can help you increase your exercise intensity and thus the health benefits of being active. The process of building muscle is slow. Regular workouts, as well as nutritional support, are essential to build muscle mass.

Muscle Damage and Repair

Whether you build muscle by lifting weights or using exercise machines, the effect on your muscles is the same. Damage occurs within the muscle fibers in the form of tears. Your body will then repair this damage during your recovery periods. Additional tissue forms around the site of the injury, increasing the size of your muscles.

Increased Strength

The build-up of muscle results in an increase in strength. You may find that you can lift heavier weights. You can then increase the challenge of your muscle-building workouts to gain additional strength. According to the American Council on Exercise, you can increase your strength by 20 to 40 percent with regular, long-term exercise.

Muscle Memory

When you build muscle, your body responds by retaining a memory of your fitness in the nuclei of muscle tissue. This means that if you were actively building muscle when young, it will be easier for your body to regain strength again. This can be especially beneficial for improving your quality of life as you age, according to a study by Kristian Gundersen and colleagues at the University of Oslo in Norway published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Fuel for Exercise

Excess sugar in your diet is stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen. When you build muscle mass, you also increase your body’s ability to store sugar. The result is that you have a greater reserve of energy from which you can draw. You can exercise longer and more intensely simply because you have the energy to do so.

Sculpted Look

Building muscle will give your body definition and tone. Your efforts will be especially visible if you incorporate cardio workouts for high-calorie burns into your fitness plan. You may find this sculpted look very attractive, which can motivate you to stay on your workout schedule. Your clothes may look better on you. You may experience a welcome boost in your self-esteem as a result.

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