Hypertrophy is the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in the size of the cells. Functionally the activation and movement patterns of muscle groups are the most critical factors. How do you grow bigger muscles? Resistance training. Yes, I’m talking about weights. Lifting weights at an intensity and load sufficient enough to produce microtrauma, remodelling and adaption to that load produce hypertrophy. Then the next time you go to lift that weight, your body is stronger and more durable to lift that weight. 

What occurs during the recovery period after weight training:

Synthesis of protein: This is what stimulates and potentiates muscle growth. Gains in muscle hypertrophy are made during the recovery period away from exercise. Exercise is the stimulus for muscle protein synthesis. Adequate dietary protein is required to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

The rebuilding of muscle fibres: Microtears in muscle fibres occurs during muscle fatigue and use during exercise. Adequate recovery allows these microtears to heal and become stronger during that process.

Fluid restoration: We lose fluid through sweat and increased respiration rates during exercise. Sweating is a mechanism of the body to maintain homeostasis temperature. Hydrating before, during and after a workout is essential because these fluids help deliver nutrients to organs and muscle and ensure adequate electrolyte levels.

Removal of metabolic waste products: metabolites accumulate during a workout, and recovery gives the body time to restore intramuscular pH and reestablish intramuscular blood flow for oxygen delivery.

The training itself breaks down muscle tissues and it’s only when you stop training and rest that you begin to recover and lay down new proteins which increase a muscles size and strength (hypertrophy). Sleep is an essential aspect of recovery. It’s recommended to aim for between 7 and 9 nights sleep each night. If you’re not getting enough sleep you won’t recover properly and you’ll leave potential muscle gains on the table. Secondly, if you aren’t sleeping enough then your capacity to perform at a high level is diminished. Besides sleep and adequate protein consumption other important aspects of recovery are:

  1. Overall diet e.g. sufficient calorie intake
  2. Hydration
  3. Stretching & foam rolling
  4. Active recoveries such as walking or cycling
  5. Manual therapies such as massage treatments