I have always wanted to become physically stronger. Ever since I can remember, I have been skinny and weak. At the beginning of spring quarter, I finally decided to work out. I did some research on muscles and gaining strength.
According to the concept of somatotype, developed by American psychologist William Herbert Sheldon in the 1940s, there are three different body types: endomorphic, mesomorphic, and ectomorphic. An endomorph is predisposed to store fat, and is usually characterized by a wide waist; endomorphs gain weight easily. A mesomorph is predisposed to build muscle, and is usually characterized by a narrow waist; mesomorphs gain and lose weight easily. An ectomorph is predisposed to neither store fat nor build muscle, and is usually characterized by long and thin limbs; ectomorphs do not gain weight easily.
While the information above is interesting and can be used to find out which steps each person with a certain body type should take to more effectively become a stronger, a concept that is arguably more relevant to becoming stronger is anabolism. All body tissue goes through a process called turnover, in which old tissue is replaced by new tissue. The rate at which the turnover of muscle tissue occurs is determined by protein synthesis and protein breakdown. The amount of protein turnover is equal to the amount of protein breakdown subtracted from the amount of protein synthesis. A resistance training exercise increases both protein synthesis and protein breakdown. The muscle cells that are used to obtain the desired movement can become damaged. A remedy for this is to progressively increase the weight lifted. As the force needed to produce the desired movement progressively increases, the body prepares itself for heavier workloads by giving the damaged muscle cells additional proteins to strengthen them. However, when one stops lifting weights, the body senses that there is no longer a need to keep the muscle cells strengthened and thus, the muscles decrease in size and strength. After a workout, there is depletion in glycogen levels and an increase in protein breakdown.
Glucose, a carbohydrate, is the body’s primary energy source and glycogen is formed from a chain of glucose molecules. Since strength training is an anaerobic exercise, the body primarily uses muscle glycogen as fuel during a workout. This causes depletion in muscle glycogen stores. Low glycogen levels cause an increase in muscle protein breakdown. Catabolic activities during a workout also break down proteins and muscle tissue.
Thus, it is essential that after working out, one must restore glycogen stores and increase protein synthesis while simultaneously decreasing protein breakdown. A method to achieve that is to eat carbohydrates and protein after a workout.
With all that in mind, time management is essential. Academics are the most important aspect of college and should be one’s first priority. Obligations to organizations such as Associated Students or a sports club should also come before working out. However, one should have the determination to work out on a consistent basis if he or she is serious about becoming stronger.