Get Muscle | Know Muscles | Muscle Monday

Get Muscle 101

It’s all about the gains baby!!! We all want to get muscle and have those gains. Muscles are powerful not only because they help us lift heavy stuff but also because muscle mass keeps us healthy and healing muscles help us in energy expenditure. Did you know you have more than 600 muscles in your body? They do everything from pumping blood throughout your body to helping you lift your heavy backpack. You control some of your muscles, while others — like your heart — do their jobs without you thinking about them at all.

So why not learn about what they are and how to get muscle?

Let’s get in touch with our basis and gain some insight into our muscle gains…

What is a muscle?

Muscle is one of the four groups of animal tissues. Muscle tissue is categorized into different type based on its function. It is controlled both voluntarily and involuntary and is able to produce various levels of force based on its shape and size. There are three type of muscle tissue.

Skeletal –focus of our discussion today, Smooth, and Cardiac.

  1. Skeletal muscle attaches to the skeleton and through contraction, exerts force on the bones and move them and is considered voluntary because it normally is under the conscious control. Observed under the microscope, the muscles show light and dark bands giving it a stripped appearance. This the reason these muscles are called striated muscles
  2. Smooth muscles is found in the walls of hollow organized tubes, such as stomach and intestines etc. Such muscles are involuntary
  3. Cardiac muscles are involuntary muscles specialized tissue that function to maintain the constant pumping of the heart.

Skeletal muscle function

A muscle that creates a major movement is called a prime mover or agonist. The muscle on the opposite side is called the opposing muscle or antognist. For example, when the quadriceps muscle group in front of the thigh produces knee extension, it is considered an agonist muscle group. On the opposite side of the joint, the hamstrings (in this case antagonist) is being stretched. This type of combination is found throughout the body.

Keep in mind that muscles come in all shapes and sizes depending on their function.

Muscle tissue is made up of cells called muscle fibers. Each muscle fiber contains many myofibrils — the parts of the muscle fiber that contract. A myofibril (also known as a muscle fibril) is a basic rod-like unit of a muscle cell. Myofibrils are composed of long proteins including actin, myosin, and titin, and other proteins that hold them together. These proteins are organized into thick and thin filaments called myofilaments, which repeat along the length of the myofibril in sections called sarcomeres. Muscles contract by sliding the thick (myosin) and thin (actin) filaments along each other.

Speaking of contraction, let’s talk about that in a little bit more detail. You might have heard your trainer saying, concentric, eccentric, isometric contraction. So I thought it would be a good idea to explain that so that you can relate to it. Also it will help you connect it for your mind while you are performing that action.

  1. Isometric contraction (remain the same): An isometric contraction of a muscle generates tension without changing length. An isometric contraction is a type of muscle contraction where the length of the muscle doesn’t change while undergoing tension.   For example, when you take a 20 pound weight and perform a biceps curl and hold a position halfway between the repetitions for 10 seconds. The length of your biceps muscle doesn’t change during this time, although  a force is still being applied.
  2. Concentric contractions (shorten): A concentric contraction is a type of muscle contraction when the length of the muscles shorten while undergoing tension.

Example: For example, when you pick up a curl bar and perform a biceps curl, the length of your biceps muscles shorten.  Your hands start down by your sides, and ends with your hands up by your shoulders.  The biceps muscles shorten during this motion.

  1. Eccentric contractions (lengthen): An eccentric contraction is a type of muscle contraction when the length of the muscle elongates, or lengthens while undergoing tension. After you have completed the first part of the biceps curl, when your elbows are flexed, and your hands are holding on to the curl bar up by your shoulders, it is now time to return the weight back down towards your waistline.

Muscle Metabolism and Fatigue

Why do we feel the burn when we exericise?

Muscles get their energy from different sources depending on the situation that the muscle is working in. Muscles use aerobic respiration when we call on them to produce a low to moderate level of force. Aerobic respiration requires oxygen to produce about 36-38 ATP molecules from a molecule of glucose. Aerobic respiration is very efficient, and can continue as long as a muscle receives adequate amounts of oxygen and glucose to keep contracting. When we use muscles to produce a high level of force, they become so tightly contracted that oxygen carrying blood cannot enter the muscle. This condition causes the muscle to create energy using lactic acid fermentation, a form of anaerobic respiration. Anaerobic respiration is much less efficient than aerobic respiration—only 2 ATP are produced for each molecule of glucose. Muscles quickly tire as they burn through their energy reserves under anaerobic respiration.

To keep muscles working for a longer period of time, muscle fibers contain several important energy molecules. Myoglobin, a red pigment found in muscles, contains iron and stores oxygen in a manner similar to hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen from myoglobin allows muscles to continue aerobic respiration in the absence of oxygen. Another chemical that helps to keep muscles working is creatine phosphate. Muscles use energy in the form of ATP, converting ATP to ADP to release its energy. Creatine phosphate donates its phosphate group to ADP to turn it back into ATP in order to provide extra energy to the muscle. Finally, muscle fibers contain energy-storing glycogen, a large macromolecule made of many linked glucoses. Active muscles break glucoses off of glycogen molecules to provide an internal fuel supply.

Muscle fatigue

When muscles run out of energy during either aerobic or anaerobic respiration, the muscle quickly tires and loses its ability to contract. This condition is known as muscle fatigue. A fatigued muscle contains very little or no oxygen, glucose or ATP, but instead has many waste products from respiration, like lactic acid and ADP. The body must take in extra oxygen after exertion to replace the oxygen that was stored in myoglobin in the muscle fiber as well as to power the aerobic respiration that will rebuild the energy supplies inside of the cell. Oxygen debt (or recovery oxygen uptake) is the name for the extra oxygen that the body must take in to restore the muscle cells to their resting state. This explains why you feel out of breath for a few minutes after a strenuous activity—your body is trying to restore itself to its normal state.

Torn muscles and bursitis

A common muscular problem.

These are the most frequent muscular problems. A torn muscle occurs when one or more muscles make an excessively brusque effort or sudden movement. In fact, just like as any other mechanical structure, even muscles have a “breaking threshold”, after that the fibers “break”. A clear symptom of torn muscle is a persistent pain, the only cure is rest.  

Bursitis is the inflammation of a mucous bursa, this is one of the small pockets, found between muscles and joints, between tendons and bones that allows for these elements to have the maximum mobility, and to reduce friction. Lined by cells, which under normal conditions secrete a small quantity of fluid, these pockets can get inflamed due to non –articular rheumatic process triggered by a traumatic lesion, a dislocation or a bacterial infections. If a quantity of fluid fills the pockets beyond normal levels, violent pains can develop. As swelling increases, an increase in temperature and pressure causes pain to intensify in affected area. The remedies are numerous from cold packs to surgery.


Learning about your muscles will help you understand their function and how to grow them! 

If your focus it how to get muscle, stay tuned because we will get into all of the different major muscle groups in coming weeks. Stay tuned!

-Navi K.

Head Personal Trainer and Nu-U PREP Group Class Instructor


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