Every four years, we look forward to watching the jaw-dropping athleticism of the Summer Olympic Games. But — let’s be frank — we also tune in to ogle the athletes’ impressively toned physiques.
Of course, we know that bulging biceps and chiseled abs are the product of thousands of hours of hard work. But what exactly is muscle definition, and, aside from attracting our attention (and envy), what does it do?
It all starts with individual muscle cells, or fibers, says , professor of biokinesiology and physical therapy at the University of Southern California. An Olympic weightlifter might have the same number of muscle cells as someone watching them on TV, but training makes each of those cells much larger.
And when it comes to building big muscle cells, if there’s no pain, there’s no gain.
“When you work out, you get sore,” says Schroeder. “That soreness is muscle damage, and that’s OK. Muscle damage signals the muscle cell to produce more protein, so that you get more proteins within that muscle fiber.”
The more protein that’s generated within each of these fibers, the larger and stronger the muscle becomes.
And just as four sprinters work together to achieve the fastest relay time, thousands of……