| Fitness

What Is Muscle And How To Build It

By Jayton Miller

This is an excerpt from the UMZUfit Muscle Building Course. For more information and for an even more detailed look into how to build muscle, make sure to check out the muscle building course that can be found only on UMZUfit!

umzu fit

Table Of Contents:


what is muscle

Muscle is a band or bundle of fibrous tissue that has the ability to contract, producing movement in or maintaining the position of parts of the body. 

There are three different types of muscle:

  1. Skeletal muscle
  • Skeletal muscle is the type of muscle that you want to build. Skeletal muscle is the voluntary muscle controlled by the periphery of the central nervous system (CNS). 
  • Smooth muscle and cardiac muscle
  • Smooth muscles and cardiac muscles are involuntary muscles. These are responsible for operating the processes in your body that you do not think much about such as heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and other processes in the body. There is nothing that you can do in this program about building up your involuntary muscles.

In UMZUfit Muscle-Building, you will be working to build more skeletal muscle.

In addition, there are three types of muscle fibers:

  1. Fast twitch and slow twitch oxidative muscle fibers
    1. Oxidative muscle fibers primarily use glucose as a fuel source when they are being used in exercise. They are used for short, explosive bouts of movement and burn through fuel rather quickly.
  2. Slow twitch glycolytic muscle fibers 
    1. Slow twitch glycolytic muscle fibers use fat as a fuel source. They are constantly being used and slowly burn energy. You use your slow twitch glycolytic muscle fibers when standing and walking.

All of these fiber types burn fat when you are at rest, which is why you burn more fat when you have more muscle.

Muscle is highly metabolically active, burning calories at rest and making you more resistant to fat gain. 

Read More: 3 Natural Steroid Alternatives


how do muscles grow

Muscles grow as an adaptive response to stress on the muscle fibers.

There are two main types of muscle growth:

  1. Sarcoplasmic muscle growth
    1. Sarcoplasmic muscle growth occurs when a rush of sarcoplasmic fluid enters the muscle, stretching that muscle out. Sarcoplasmic fluid is fluid that surrounds muscle tissue. When that muscle tissue is placed under stress, the sarcoplasmic fluid will enter the muscle cells, supplying the muscle with energy. This process is what fitness practitioners call “the pump.” When exercise is complete, the remaining unused sarcoplasmic fluid is flushed out of the muscle. Over time, muscles will gradually hold more fluid and will appear larger.
  2. Myofibrillar muscle growth
    1. Myofibrillar muscle growth occurs when the actual muscle fibers grow as they heal after exercise. Exercise and resistance training damage muscle fibers. Once damaged, a signal is sent to the cells surrounding the damaged muscle fiber (satellite cells) to fuse to that muscle fiber. As the surrounding cells come together to repair the damaged muscle fibers, they begin to use amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and protein to build more actin and myosin (the proteins that contract the muscle). This builds new myofibrils (long rope-like structures that make up muscle), resulting in a healed and slightly larger muscle.

Here is the main idea: You can gain muscle size in two ways : through sarcoplasmic or myofibrillar muscle growth. Both require resistance to be placed on a muscle.

It is important to understand that when you exercise, you are not building muscle, but rather breaking muscle down.

Muscle grows when you are recovering from that exercise and adapting to the resistance that they just faced.

In this program, you will have 3 rest days per week and will be rotating target muscle groups by training day to ensure that your muscles are getting enough time to recover and grow.

Later on, we will stress the importance of sleep -  a crucial component of recovery and therefore muscle-building.

Muscles only grow when they have enough time to recover, making rest days, target group rotations, and sleep of paramount importance in any muscle-building journey.


benefits of gaining muscle

There are many benefits to carrying around a little extra muscle on the body.

These benefits include:

  1. Increased metabolism - Muscles are some of the most metabolically active tissues that we have. As you gain more muscle tissue, you will also increase the amount of energy that you are using at rest. You will need to consume more calories to sustain this new energy requirement. Muscle also has a higher affinity for protective hormones, allowing for stress hormones to remain low in most cases. 
  2. Improved bone, joint, and ligament strength - As you get stronger, you will be lifting more and more weight. As a result, you will be putting more pressure on your bones, joints, and ligaments. Just like with muscle, bones, joints, and ligaments will adapt to new increasing force, leaving you stronger in all of these areas as you gain strength.
  3. Injury prevention - With stronger bones, joints, and ligaments comes increased resilience to injury. If your bones are more dense, they are less likely to break. If your joints and ligaments are stronger, they are less likely to slip and tear. Muscle also acts as cushion during times of traumatic blows. If you do not have any muscle, whatever hits you has a more direct impact with sensitive areas (organs, bones, etc.). Muscles act as a protective “shield” for the body.
  4. Increased attractiveness - Having a certain amount of muscle mass is attractive regardless of gender. If you have muscle, you are going to be more attractive to the opposite sex. Why is this? Let’s take a look at our ancestors . Having more muscle mass and a certain amount of fitness gave our ancestors higher chances of survival. Our more muscular ancestors could face down predators, hunt prey, and protect their families or tribes. These were all attractive traits come mating season. We still have this primal sense programmed into our brains. We still use these subconscious cues to choose a potential partner. By building muscle strategically, you will naturally become more attractive to the opposite sex.

Learn More: The Many Benefits Of Resistance Training


how to gain muscle

One thing that is absolutely necessary for gaining muscle is progressive overload.

Progressive overload is an increase in workload over time.

Why does this matter? In order for muscle fibers to be torn, which sets the foundation for muscle growth, the muscle tissue needs to be properly stimulated. If your muscles are not challenged and become accustomed to the same stimulus over and over again, the fibers will not tear.

You must continue to push and challenge your muscle tissue to break it down and build stronger muscle.

You can think of muscle growth like this - every time you exercise to the point of challenging your muscles, you are trading in your old muscles for newer, slightly larger muscles.

In order to continuously gain muscle,  you must give your brand new muscle a challenge fit for its new form.

This is an oversimplification of the process, but will help you truly internalize the point of progressive overload.

New, bigger muscle? New, bigger stimulus is required.

Progressive overload can be accomplished in three ways:

  1. Increase the amount of weight lifted.
  2. For bodyweight movements specifically, increase the difficulty of the movement, placing more force on the target muscle group. This is the equivalent of increasing the amount of weight lifted for pure bodyweight training. 
  3. Increase the number of repetitions performed.

Every day you are either in a state of anabolism (building muscle tissue, also known as hypertrophy) or catabolism (wasting muscle tissue, also known as atrophy).

In order to remain in a state of anabolism, you must give your muscles a reason to grow through progressive overload. If you do not, those same muscles will begin to catabolize and waste away.

For the full step by step program on how to build muscle i nthe most efficient way possible make sure to check out the UMZUfit Muscle Building Program only inside of UMZUfit!

umzu fit