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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

Are Bodybuilders Strong (Or Just Bigger but Weaker)?

Are Bodybuilders Strong (Or Just Bigger but Weaker)?

“All you have inside your arms, is water. And water doesn’t make you strong” This is what a girl once told me, after touching my biceps.

At that time I was training nearly every day per week. This sentence from a girl is the last thing that you want to hear when you spend most of your free-time training in a fitness center. It turned out that the girl was extremely body conscious and unhappy in her own skin. She was speaking out of envy.

Increased muscle size is not due to water, but mainly due to an increased amount of muscle cells. The amount of muscle cells in your body is a crucial factor in determining physical strength, but surprisingly not the only one.

Physical Strength Comes In Multiple Forms

Before I explain what physical strength is, we first have to define the term properly. For one person, strong is defined as doing 100 push ups; for another person, it is bench pressing 225 pounds.

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While all these different definitions may be part of being strong, According to the dictionary, strength is the organisms capability of exerting force on physical objects.

The Factors Of Strength

One of the factors to physical strength, are how many muscle cells you possess in your body.

The muscle cells contain elements that shorten on command. The shortening of the elements creates a shortening of the entire muscle, which creates a movement in the joint. If you have bigger muscles due to your training, you’re increasing the amount of your muscle cells. You’re having more elements that are able to shorten on command. Due to having more elements, there will be more force that can be applied to the joints. Therefore technically, more physical strength.

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    But muscle cells are not the only things that are important for physical strength. I previously stated that muscle cells contain elements, that shorten on command. The command comes from nerve cells. Generally neurons, this is a fancy word for nerve cells, adapt fast to your workout schedule. The adaptation of your nervous system is responsible for most of your strength gains within the first few months of training, where your brain is simply learning to activate your muscle cells more efficiently. Strength is limited by your neural activation.

      Another part that can limit your physical strength is your nutrition. If your muscles don’t have the right energy to create the force, they won’t be able to shorten on command properly.

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        The House Building Analogy

        An easy way to understand the muscle cells relation with strength, is the house building analogy. Imagine that you were trying to build a house. For that endeavor, you’re hiring a company with construction workers, which will be working at your construction site full time. The construction workers are your muscle cells.

        Naturally you want to finish the house building process as soon as possible. The house building process is your strength. The faster you build a house, according to this analogy, the more strength you have in your body. Increasing the number of the construction workers might speed up the process, but it’s not the only factor.

        If the construction workers don’t have the right manager, the manager is your brain, they will slack off during work and play angry birds. If the construction workers don’t have the right tools, the tools being your nutrients, you will never finish the house.

        Physical strength is a combination of these factors. Muscle cells are not solely responsible for creating physical strength, yet they play a crucial part.

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          Strength Are What Muscles Are For

          If you have a lot of muscles, you can also expect to be strong. As we’ve seen the amount of your muscle cells are not the only factor in determining your strength, yet they’re a crucial one.

          Generally your body will adapt all factors due to weightlifting. It will increase the amount of muscle cells, the neural connections and the nutrient uptake. One of the best ways to even get muscular, is building extreme strength.

          When you’re training in the gym: try to increase the weight of your work-set. Keep the repetitions between 6-12 most of the time. This way your body will adapt all it’s structures to increase your physical strength.

          You can watch an animated video about this topic by clicking here.

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          Florian Wüest

          Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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          Last Updated on March 3, 2021

          10 Workout Tips for Building Muscle the Right Way

          10 Workout Tips for Building Muscle the Right Way

          Building muscle is one of the best ways to help you feel better about your appearance, but it’s also a great way to improve your physical efficiency, stabilize your bones and joints, and reduce risk of injury in everyday life. However, most people aren’t sure how to go about building muscle in the best way.

          By carefully selecting the time of your workout, the combination of techniques, and the proper post-workout snacks, you can maximize your workout to build strength and muscle. Here are the essential tips you need to know.

          1. Work out at the Right Time of Day

          The time of day when you choose to work out can make all the difference when it comes to working out to your maximum potential. Anthony Hackney, a professor in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, says that working out in the morning is best for weight loss due to the body’s hormonal composition at that time. If you really want to lose fat, exercise on an empty stomach[1].

          Now, if your goal is to build muscle, you’ll want to eat something first. This means that an afternoon or evening workout can serve you better as your body will have the necessary nutrients to perform well during a workout.

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          Ultimately, the best time to work out is the time of day that fits into your schedule. Not everyone has the luxury of working out in the morning or right after work. If you’re able to stick to a schedule, it will help you on your journey to building muscle.

          If you need help just getting started and finding motivation to get to the gym, check out Lifehack’s Ultimate Worksheet for Instant Motivation Boost.

          2. Weights Before Cardio

          If your goal is to lose weight or build muscle mass, strength training should come first, according to researchers. Furthermore, studies have shown that “Moderate- to high-intensity endurance training decreases the efficacy of strength training.” Therefore, if you’re going to train for a marathon, do so after you lift weights.[2]

          3. Eat Often (and More)

          Keep your energy up and give your body plenty of fuel for building muscle by eating small meals every three hours or so. Make sure to eat plenty of protein, ideally the equivalent amount of protein in grams as your current body weight in pounds. For example, a 150-pound man would aim to take in 150 grams of protein per day.

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          When trying to build muscle, aim to eat 250 to 500 calories more than you normally would, but don’t go too far beyond that. Your body may store the extra calories as body fat if it doesn’t use them during or after the workout.

          4. Eat a Snack After You Work out

          After a workout, your body will need a good dose of protein and amino acids in order to aid in muscle growth and recovery. This is essential to building muscle, as without the recovery, you can open yourself up to muscle strain and injury.

          You should aim to eat this high-protein snack within about 60 minutes of ending your workout. This will help the muscles absorb the nutrients when they need them. Try yogurt, cottage cheese, chocolate milk, nuts, or a protein shake as a great post-workout snack.

          5. Stay Hydrated

          The last thing you need complicating your workout is a cramp or fatigue, so drinking water before, during, and after your workout for best results. This will also aid in the recovery process as the muscles will use water to heal.

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          6. Never Skip the Warm up or Cool Down

          Stretching prevents muscle strain, helps blood more easily reach the joints and muscles, and can help lower cholesterol when done as part of a yoga or Pilates routine. Muscles also need to realign themselves after an intense workout, which a few minutes of stretching can help to accomplish.

          7. Combine Compound and Isolate Movements

          While isolating certain muscles is important, you need to alternate compound motions as well, which will target multiple muscle groups at once. Compound workouts are good for beginners and for toning certain parts of the body. They’ll also burn more calories and increase your mobility.

          Compound movements include squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups. These target several muscles groups at once. If you find that one muscle group is weaker than the rest, you can incorporate isolate movements to build it up.

          8. Gradually Increase Your Weights

          Increase the weight you’re lifting on each exercise by about 5 percent each week. If you bench-pressed 100 pounds this week, for example, then next week you should try doing 105 pounds. This gradual increase will yield the best muscle building results without overly straining your body.

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          9. Budget the Correct Amount of Time for Your Workout

          Studies have found that working out a muscle group two times a week is the best way to start building muscle more quickly. You will certainly see some results by only working a muscle group once a week, but try twice to give yourself a boost.

          Also, you don’t need to spend two hours in the gym each time you go. 20 to 30 minutes of weight lifting and strength training will help you see results and increase your muscle mass. If you go to the gym for an hour, try varying your workout a bit in order to avoid overworking a certain muscle group.

          10. Look in the Mirror

          Try to do all of your weight lifting in front of a mirror. That way, you can correct your posture and make sure you are fully extending your muscles. Correct form means means maximized results.

          This will likely feel strange at first, especially if you feel self conscious at the gym. However, know that this is normal and what many seasoned weight lifters do to ensure proper form.

          The Bottom Line

          Building muscle is a worthy goal to have as it will ultimately improve your everyday life from the ground up. You’ll find that everyday tasks become easier and that you have more energy for both your workouts and personal life. Use the tips above to start building muscle today.

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          Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

          Reference

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