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Protein Synthesis and Muscle Growth

What is protein synthesis?


Whenever we lift weights we create muscle breakdown. This sounds negative but it is an essential part of building muscle mass.


When muscles are damaged through intense exercise they build back stronger.


This is known as 'protein synthesis' - the process of building back stronger muscle tissue.


Muscle protein synthesis only lasts for 48 hours (roughly two days) after intense training. Essentially, this means that muscles only grow and produce new muscle tissue for two days after a training session.


Genuinely speaking, your muscles are ready to be worked again after this period of time - ready for protein synthesis to occur once again.


What does this mean for programming purposes?


It means that you should take advantage of this growth window and train muscles anywhere from 2 to 3 times per week in order to keep them growing.


If you train a muscle 1 x per week that is 48 growth periods over a yearly cycle of training. If you train a muscle 3 x per week, that is a total of 144 growth periods throughout the yearly training cycle. Which program do you think is going to build more size and strength? The 3 x per week (obvs). In theory, you're always growing.


If protein is the building blocks of muscle. How much should I consume?


The more protein you consume, the better effect protein synthesis will have on developing muscle mass.


There are a lot of variables when evaluating how much protein a lifter should consume. A good middle ground is 1.5g of protein per pound of lean body mass.


How much weight must I lift to stimulate muscle protein synthesis?


According to multiple studies lifters should be working with weights at around 60% of their one rep max in order to stimulate optimal growth. However, providing volume and frequency are adequate, lifters can use as low as 40% to build new muscle tissue.


I would advise most lifters to work with 60% and higher in order to develop muscle mass, increase performance, and see noticeable strength gains.


If you struggle with optimal programming, understanding your protein and macro nutrient requirements, or how to periodise your training, then please get in touch and let me do the hard work for you.




As always, I am here to help :)

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