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The improvement of muscular hypertrophy may be considered by many to be more related to aesthetic than functional aspects growth hormones. And it is true that increasing muscle tissue in its natural proportion, respecting the balance between the different parts of the body could be considered as something artistic, although, it is true that not everyone shares this point of view, since there will be those who only see in it the expression from an egotistical mind. It is curious, when someone with a chisel works to remodel a stone figure, we instinctively think of it as an artist, whereas when we do the remodeling in our own body, adjectives are generally less benevolent. Trying to increase muscle mass for this sole purpose does not mean that its functionality, in principle, should be compromised,

  The training system that seeks maximum muscle development differs from that which aims to exclusively improve strength and / or power, and this is something that we should take into account when training. Weightlifter training is not the same as what a bodybuilder does. And when I say bodybuilder I mean the athlete, not the other who resorts to the use of steroids to artificially develop their muscle mass, these will NEVER BE SPORTSMEN however hard they put in the gym, but each with their ideas. An athlete, in principle, should try to enhance their performance without compromising their health. If you squeeze enough to produce premature wear on your body, it is because you are a professional, and with this you earn a living, so there is nothing more to say ..., but, If you are not, and despite this, you like to push your body to the limit, I think it is necessary to think about this aspect, because your present, for better or for worse, conditions your future, and the consequences of what you do now could "pay" very expensive tomorrow (this, unfortunately, be awhile); And not only is it a unique matter of the wear and tear that strenuous workouts cause day after day, but also reproducing an incorrect technique to the end can eventually lead us to the same place.

     Well, let's continue that I'm in trouble ... I think if there is something clear, hypertrophy is that, in reality, there is nothing clear. Perhaps the molecular mechanisms that lead to muscle protein synthesis do seem to be understood, at least in part. Another thing is knowing exactly what processes are activating them to a greater or lesser extent.     The main routes that can lead to muscle hypertrophy have already been mentioned in the previous post: the PI3K / Akt-mTOR pathway and the MAPK-ERK1 / 2 pathway , although a third one could also be added: the Calcium-dependent pathway . One of the causes that has long been known to activate these routes is mechanical stress.   

    Perhaps the exact point where to place the weighing plates is determined by hypoxia and / or reactive hyperemia of the muscle.

 Studies carried out with vascular occlusion (Kaatsu tarining) using bands that oppress blood flow, manage to increase cellular stress due to the restriction of venous return and oxygen depletion (hypoxia), which leads to an increase in lactate and hydrogenations that they could directly increase signaling of the pathways involved in hypertrophy (mainly in fast-twitch fibers containing fewer mitochondria) and indirectly promote increased growth hormone secretion, which together could improve muscle protein synthesis ( the relationship of this hormone with hypertrophy is unclear  ). Although also, when blood flow is restored reactive hyperemiawhat happens, that is, the influx of blood to the previously occluded area, could, synergistically, promote subsequent muscle adaptations ; although not all studies share the opinion on reactive hyperemia. In addition to all this, this occlusion increases cell volume (inflammation), which could favor the proliferation of satellite cells and muscle hypertrophy. These osmotic changes could be propitiated by the increase in lactate, which together with the higher concentration of some water transport channels called acuoporin-4(AQP4), which are mainly found in fast-contracting fibers, allow this greater cellular hydration, perhaps this happens in order to mitigate the damage that may occur in the sarcolemma due to muscle contraction or in some way facilitate the supply energy ?? . What does seem clear is that the lack of oxygen increases metabolic stress and the recruitment of fast-twitch fibers more susceptible to hypertrophy.



    Does this mean that we should train somehow compressing our musculature with bands? I think it is not necessary, and also, how could we favor hypoxia in muscle groups such as the pectoral, dorsal or shoulder? Well, maybe the future is to train inside a hypoxic chamber or put on some kind of mask that favors that impoverished environment in O2 ... who knows!


    Well, up to here science, but you can always go further, right?


    After all we've seen and going back to those "old" bodybuilding ideas of the last century: the mind-muscle connection and the search for muscle congestion through "pumping," couldn't they represent the rudimentary ways they found to favor local hypoxia ...? I think that could be key. If we can move the weights following an adequate path, without rectifying the angles that form our joints and we print a rather fast speed to the movement, we could increase metabolic stress thanks to local hypoxia without using bands or sophisticated means, how. ..? In the next post I can clarify how you could perform the exercises with loads to favor that hypoxic environment ..., and I can guarantee that it works,


  However, if someone wants to expand more information on the mechanisms involved in muscle hypertrophy, without a doubt, they should read the page of Jose Miguel del Castillo; of the best you can find:


(EMc), that is, the effort we make to move a specific load. EMc activates the MAPK-ERK pathway which in turn stimulates mTOR, through increased synthesis of phosphatidic acid (PA) that functions as a second messenger (more information ), but which could also directly phosphorylate another regulator transcriptional: p70S6K kinase . But this regulation that is initiated by muscle contraction says very little about how that stimulus should be.

  We know that workouts with maximum loads , few repetitions and a long rest time add enormous mechanical stress that affects increased strength and muscle hypertrophy. But, we also know that other workouts with lighter loads, such as those between 60-80% of 1RM (maximum repetition) for 6-12 repetitions and leaving little rest timeThey could be even more effective for hypertrophy, although not as much for increased strength as the first system. This means that in addition to the EMc, other issues must also be present so that synergistically further increase anabolism over muscle catabolism. But what? The answer could be found in another type of stress, metabolic stress (EMt). Now the question focuses not so much on the kilos that we move but HOW WE MOVE THEM. Workouts that are based on anaerobic glycolysis, that is, those whose demands exceed the O2 consumed, generate an increase in lactate and H +, although not exclusively ..., in certain circumstances the contracting muscle could significantly increase the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), nitric oxide (NO) as well as a series of myokines (IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, Il-10, TNF-a, etc,) that would function as signaling molecules, increasing not only the concentration of anabolic hormones, such as growth hormone , testosterone , IGF-1 , but could also contribute to increased recruitment of fast twitch fibers. As we see the subject is complex, right?


   When we use loads greater than 90%For 1RM, the system we use to obtain energy is that of phosphagens , which produces a minimal accumulation of metabolites , which is why the development of force is not always accompanied by maximum hypertrophy. It is only by adding enough metabolic stress to mechanical stress that we will be able to trigger the signals that seek maximum muscle growth. But by itself metabolic stress is insufficient to achieve great muscle hypertrophy ...


    There is a type of training that is "hitting" hard in many gyms or sports centers globally, I mean crossfit. This is a system capable of generating a high metabolic stress that undoubtedly improves strength and hypertrophy, but, as much as a classic bodybuilding routine ...? I don't know, I suppose individual factors will have a lot to say in the result, but I honestly believe that despite generating a high amount of H +, lactate, ROS, IL-6, and triggering the elevation of anabolic hormones, neither ( and this is specular) manages to be the best system to produce maximum hypertrophy. Something similar can happen with the 800m test; For those who have ever run this distance, they will surely not have forgotten the anguish and suffering that they suffer; it is a devastating test,

  Therefore, it is neither the maximum mechanical tension nor the maximum metabolic stress that determines the greatest hypertrophy, so ...?, The balance between the two ?, or is there something else?

   There have always been talks in the bodybuilding environment, although rather at the beginning of that sport, of two ideas that may have gone unnoticed or perhaps have not been well understood, but that were crucial to increase muscle hypertrophy:

  • The mind-muscle connection , that is, trying to "visualize" the contraction of the muscle we are working on, so that we can voluntarily tighten it when we perform the concentric phase and prevent it from completely relaxing in the negative or eccentric phase.
  • The pumping technique , with which we increase the blood flow to the muscle group that is working thanks to a repetitive and constant movement.

  But is this a myth or do they really hold the key to muscle growth? I think that the ambiguity of these concepts could have hindered their total understanding and therefore they have not been well understood. When both ideas are combined, they should change the way we work in the gym. Let's see if I can explain it well ...

   The ways in which the cellular pathways involved in muscle growth are activated require some mechanical stress and the proper disturbance of the cellular environment due to increased metabolic stress. When both manifest at the same time, they trigger more powerful processes than when they occur separately (I speak exclusively of hypertrophy). Repetitive and continuous movements to muscle failure, despite dramatically increasing intracellular metabolites, if not accompanied by sufficient load will not have the ability to trigger cellular signals leading to maximum muscle hypertrophy. From the balance between the two, something must arise that magnifies the signals of the PI3K / AKT and ERK1 / 2 pathways and consequently mTOR and the p70S6K protein. But where exactly should we place that balance ...?


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