Muscle growth

Discussion in 'Basic Training Principles and Methods' started by jsraaf, Jul 8, 2003.

  1. jsraaf

    jsraaf New Member

    If you have a relatively untrained person who begins weight training, would they have actual growth from the onset, or is there a period of time during which they first experience a "hardening" or increase in density (without increase in size, if that's possible) prior to growth, or both simultaneously?

    In other words, is there toning/firming up before actual growth takes place or would there be growth initially along with toning/firming?
  2. There will be muscle fiber growth immediately.

    There is really no such thing as "toning."

    Their muscles will get some increase in size/firmness when they start to work out from stored glycogen increasing. They will get increases in size from other types of hypertrophy. But the muscle tonus (relaxed tension) does not really change.

    When most people say "toning," what they really want is slight hypertrophy. . . they just don't want to think of it as growth at all. Women lost about .5 pound of muscle per year after about age 25. . . A 35-year-old has lost 5 pounds of muscle. When she says she just wants to "tone", what she really wants is to regain 5 pounds of muscle mass.
  3. Bryan Haycock

    Bryan Haycock Administrator Staff Member

    Great post edziu!

    Just to add a couple thoughts, the idea that growth doesn't take place immediately has been mistakenly driven by researchers as well. They would do 4 weks studies with terrible programs using untrained subjects and, when comparing strength gains to girth gains, would conclude that no growth took place. "Most" researchers involved in cellular research clearly understand that as soon as you begin to load muscel tissue it will hypertrophy. Its just that the ability to measure small amounts of growth is difficult. Keep in mind that a muscle fiber is extremely small, and if it grows 15% larger, you can't detect it unless you do cellular experiments. Hence the false belief that strength comes before size at the onset of of training with untrained individuals.

    The other thing I was going to ad is the misconception that a lean muscle is somehow more tone than a fat muscle. Edziu explained very well that the tension generated by a relaxed muscle doesn't change with training, otherwise we'd all be walking around all cramped up. Instead, the ability to see a muscle through the skin makes people think it is somehow differnet in its density. Muscle cells have a fixed density. If it changes too much the cells can't function properly. An increase in connective tissue brought on by heavy training can make a person's muscle more difficult to "chew" but very few of us (you know who you are) have had hands on experience with that. ;)
  4. anoopbal

    anoopbal New Member

    I have read that when we first start training increase in strenth is due to neural adaptation and hypertrophy comes after 3-4 mnths.And, if I am right, this is one of he reason why it is no use changing exercises for the same muscle group because you spend half the time learning the movement.
    But, my question is if we havent learned the new movement or we havent got the skill to perform th new movement, then wouldnt the muscles have to work "harder".And when you learn the movemnt the body adapsts to the new movement or u learn the new skill your muscles dont have to work that hard .I beleive this is one of the reason why people say you have switch machines when doing your cardio so that the body doesnt adapt to the same moevement.What do u guys think?
    :) Anoop
  5. [xeno]Julios

    [xeno]Julios New Member

    Can you elaborate a bit on this? I can see how if one fibre grows 15 percent, it'll be hard to see without a microscope, but if all the fibres comprising a muscle grow by 15 percent, then wouldn't be noticeable?
  6. Aaron_F

    Aaron_F New Member

    Unfortuantely things aint that simple

    Experiments will occur on a group of individuals, each with their own repsonses to exercise, and we know everyone will respond slightly differenently
    To get a statistical difference in a trainin study, you have to either have a HUGE difference in a small number of people, or a small difference in a LARGE number of people
    Ie, your study has to have enough statistical 'power'
    Unfrortunately, most traing studies have small numbers measuring a small (quite often short term) difference, therefore no significant growth.
  7. [xeno]Julios

    [xeno]Julios New Member

    I'm not questioning the efficacy of training on immediate hypertrophy - i'm questioning Bryan's claim about the 15 percent increase in muscle fibre size not being discernible save for under a microsope
  8. Aaron_F

    Aaron_F New Member

    Depends on where the 15% is measured. Cross section, protien content etc
    a 15% increase in muscle cross section (sans bone and everything eles involved in a girth measurement may still be too small to show an 'statistical' improvement. Especially when most measures of cross section are rather crude.
  9. [xeno]Julios

    [xeno]Julios New Member

    regardless of whether we can measure it accurately, i still find it implausible that a 15 percent increase in muscle fibre (i'm assuming we're talking diameter of cross section) is indiscernible to the human eye.

    Mind you, i'm could well be wrong - but from a logical plausibility point of view, this claim seems odd.
  10. Aaron_F

    Aaron_F New Member

    Visible to the human eye, and providing a statistical difference are two different things.
    A study has to have enough statistical power to show differences between groups. Which is a rather large calculation involving the difference you want to find, the standard deviation of the thing you want to find (ie the sd of the growth in muscle), the beta error you want and also the alpha error you want.
    Ahhh statistics
  11. [xeno]Julios

    [xeno]Julios New Member

    I think we're talking on different wavelengths here - (i think)

    I'm only taking one of Bryan's claims to task - let's assume that we were in the future and we just had incredibly advanced technology that allowed us to measure with precision, a fifteen percent increase in muscular fibre size. What i'm saying, is that i find it hard to believe that this would not be noticeable to the human eye from the outside.

    I'm not sure why you're bringing a statistical analysis into this... can you explain?
  12. Oh, no. . . I feel a long post coming on. . .

    Julios, I have two replies for you:

    1. A 15% increase in a muscle's girth can be harder to detect than you think.

    2. Brian was talking about a 15% increase in a given fiber, not in total muscle girth.

    First, for #1:

    In an untrained subject, with little or no muscle development, and a fair amount of fatty tissues, the muscle is a relatively small portion of arm girth. You have the bone, veins and arteries, fatty tissue, skin (yes, it adds up when you wrap it all the way around; it's about 1/3 inch thick), nerve channels, lymph systems. . . Let's say the muscle is probably about 40% of the arm's volume, and let's say the arm's girth is 12 inches. Let's assume a round or cylindrical arm. The arm's height is 3.8 inches, the radius of the circle is 1.9. The cross-sectional area for that arm is pi*r^2, or 11.45 square inches. Since the muscle accounts for 40% of that volume, it accounts for 4.58 square inches, and the rest of the arm is 6.87 square inches.

    A 15% increase in muscle volume increases that 4.58 to 5.27 inches; the total volume grows to 12.15 square inches (5.27 + 6.87; the rest of the arm does not grow.) At the new area of 12.15 square inches, what is the new arm size? The arm is now (2*sqrt(area/pi)), or 3.93 inches tall, an increase of .112 inches. Can you visually notice that? The circumference is now 12.35 inches, an increase of 2.9% over the original 12 inches. A 2.9% increase is not that big; if you take untrained people and put them through an exercise program that leads to a whopping 15% increase in muscle girth, they can easily lose enough fat to overwhelm that 1/4 inch girth gain. . . and they'll look like they gained no size at all. If they do all gain size, it's going to be less than 2.9% because of fat loss -- let's say it's a 1% increase. HARD to notice.

    To tie this in to Aaron's comments, if I have a trial with six or ten individuals, and they get a average 1% increase, can I declare growth? heck, no. The trial is so small that I cannot declare growth with such a small gain in size. To confirm a 1% increase in size, I would have to prove this over a MUCH larger group of people. If they had grown an average of 15%, then I could easily claim success with just a few people. But for my 10-peron trial, what is my conclusion? No statistically significant growth.

    (In a lean althelete with a significant build and a 15" arm, a 15% increase in muscle girth will be far more evident; for them, the muscle is alread a much larger percentage of of the arm's size, the fat will be less significant, and they won't lose much fat in the exercise.)

    Now, on to point #2:

    Anoop brings up the issue of neurological training. An untrained individual will have poor recruitment of muscle fibers when they begin training. Thus, few muscle fibers will be adequately trained to grow. But those few muscles fibers will actually grow quite well, and will do so immediately. Those muscle fibers can easily grow 15% in size, and that would be evident under a microscope -- but many of their muscle fibers would not grow that much, or not grow at all. The net muscle growth would then be much less than 15%, and as you know from point #1, 15% is already hard to spot in an untrained individual!

    OK, enough of my rambling. I need to go dig some holes.
  13. Aaron_F

    Aaron_F New Member

    Becuase research is very seldomly done on one person, with one change to their lifestyle. for x number of people, you may get a mean growth of 15%, but there is a always the variability between people, estimated with standard deviation.
    Most research on muscle growth shows a change from baseline, but unless that growth is massive, or the group is large you are not going to reach statistical significance. (ie the set value that the probability that the results happened by chance, is lower - in medical/nutrition/most research this is set at 1 in 20, or a p<0.05)
    The growth maybe completely obvious to everyone in the study, but unless it reaches statistical significance, it means nothing to the scientific community.
  14. [xeno]Julios

    [xeno]Julios New Member

    thanks for the reply edizu - appreciate the time you went into that post.

    first: the statistics - i'm not arguing that at all - but it has nothing to do with the issue of the veracity of being able to visually discern a 15 percent growth. In other words, i agree with both you and Aaron on it, but it does not lend or detract any credence to the claim that I am dealing with.

    As for the claim itself, I now see how i was wrong. I didn't think that the muscle only comprised 40 percent of the girth.

    However, there seems to be a flaw in your example, in that in the arm there is both the bicep and the tricep to effect a change in girth given a 15 percent increase in both of them, so the difference would be doubled. Nevertheless, as your calculations have shown, this would still probably be very hard to detect visually.
  15. Aaron_F

    Aaron_F New Member


    most studies on strength and body comp also dont seem to focus on single muscle/ or even arm growth, but rather overall body composition changes. The exercises that look at growth of a single muscle seem to isolate that muscle for growth. As in, perform only tricep exercises to get tricep growth.
  16. On the other hand, many studies trying to identify specific effects of a type of exercise WILL focus on one muscle -- like knee extensors or elbow flexors.

    They'll look at one bout of eccentric contractions for the biceps, and do muscle biopsies, and find some fibres with Z-line smearing, etc. . .
  17. Singleton

    Singleton New Member

    Unless you're talking about intermuscular fat, I disagree. Losing subcutaneous fat will make the person look like he did gain size.

    When the person loses skin fat and retains (or gains) muscle, the muscle will appear larger, not smaller. The person will look more muscular and people will comment --and I've heard it-- that it looks "like they turned their fat into muscle." You've probably heard it too. We all know it's impossible for fat to convert to muscle.

    Fat can hide muscle and make it look like all fat. Cutting the fat to reveal muscle will reduce the total size, but will make the muscle actually look bigger because it is now actually visible.

    Although fat deposition varies between people, most men store more fat around their waistline. Reducing the lovehandles/spare tire will make him look bigger by enhancing the V.
  18. No, no. . . they'll "look" like they gained no size by way of the study's numbers. If you read the study and look at the numbers, it can look like the gained no muscle size. You don't usually get pictures of the participants to see if they look more cut, etc. . .

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