If you are trying to get jacked and you are looking for advice that might give your muscles a little boost you want to read this. This is not your average muscle building article that will tell you about eating X gram of protein and X gram of carbs, or using crazy supplements.
No, in this post we are going to discuss about thing which is so underrated in the bodybuilding and weight lifting industry – oxygen. If this made your raise an eyebrow, read on a learn how your muscles can benefit from your capacity to make better use of oxygen.
Muscle Hypertrophy 101
Let’s start with the beginning, shall we? Muscle hypertrophy or muscle growth is pretty straight forward. It happens when you lift heavy weights and you eat enough. The heavier you lift and the stronger you get, the bigger your muscles will grow.
If you combine heavy lifting with a slight caloric surplus and a good macro split there is no way you can’t make progress. However, muscle growth has a relatively higher growing curve in the beginning, when you first start lifting. After a while you will find yourself hitting a plateau. You can’t really build more strength or mass even if you are eating well, you get enough sleep and you still train hard.
Besides using the famous supplements such as protein powders, creatine, pre-workout and BCAAs, there is one more thing you can do. Work on your breathing. Increase your body’s capacity to take in more oxygen, transport it to the muscles and use it more efficiently.
Why Your Muscles Need O2
Every muscle building program will tell you that your muscles need heavy weights and plenty of protein. Nobody is telling anything about oxygen. Why is O2 important for muscle growth after all?
When you workout and you are doing your repetitions your muscles contract, right? In fact, each and every single myofibril inside your muscle is contracting, causing the sarcomeres inside them to shorten. When the sarcomeres shorten they use calcium and adenosine triphosphate or ATP as the primary source of energy.
So ATP is one of the main sources of energy that keep you going through your sets and reps. The raw material used to produce ATP is the glycogen and glucose inside the muscles. Fat can also be used, but it takes much more time for our bodies to break it down into ATP, so it’s not as effective as glycogen. That’s why burning fat is more difficult.
Anyways, our muscles have these very cool and interesting structures called mitochondria which actually are responsible with generating the energy our muscle use – the ATP. The mitochondria uses oxygen to build ATP out of carbs, proteins and fatty acids.
So at the end of the day, you can have the glycogen and glucose inside the muscles, but if you are not able to supply enough O2 to the muscles, your body will simply can’t use the glycogen to form ATP.
No ATP means no more energy to do more reps, more sets and, in the end, sub-optima muscle growth.
Large amounts of ATP are needed especially when you follow a high volume (not necessarily high intensity) workout routine. The more reps and sets you do, the more ATP you will need to produce.
So, believe it or not your muscles do need plenty of oxygen too in order to keep getting bigger and stronger.
Improving Your Training
Besides following a training regimen and diet plan that promotes muscle growth (I am not trying to say these don’t work), you should also focus on developing your aerobic and respiratory capacity.
One of the best way of doing that is adding some respiratory resistance to your workouts by using a Training Mask. Putting your lungs and diaphragm under a little bit of stress will make them more efficient at breathing.
This means you will be able to take deeper, fuller breaths and improve your body’s capacity to carry the oxygen to the muscles which needs an extra boost of ATP while you are working out. Supplying enough O2 to the muscles will allow you to use more efficiently the glycogen and will keep you going longer in the gym.
More sets and more reps means more training volume which ultimately leads to superior muscular development.
For weight lifter and bodybuilders the perfect way of using the Training Mask is by selecting a moderate to high intensity air resistance while doing a low impact activity which is not that taxing on your body. You can use the Training Mask while walking on the treadmill, while doing walking lunges or basically any other bodyweight movement which doesn’t require a whole bunch of effort.
Don’t burn yourself out though. You want your muscles to be able to recover before your next workout.