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We all know that lifting weights leads to bigger muscles, harder muscles, and more definition. But just how does weight lifting do that? What is the physiology of weight lifting?

Basically weight lifting is a method of strength training. Lifting weights uses the force of gravity to oppose muscle contraction. Overcoming that opposition increases strength and builds muscle. The concept was simply and elegantly summed up by Hippocrates centuries ago – “That which is used develops, and that which is unused wastes away”. He was correct – and his contemporaries while not sure of the anatomical science behind it, also understood the basic weight lifting and strength-training concept of progressive resistance. Its been said that ancient Greek wrestlers when training for the early Olympic Games carried a new born calf on their back everyday until it was grown. While that may not go over very well at your gym, the concept is sound. Weight lifting builds strength and muscle mass through progressive resistance. The reasons our muscles grow and become stronger when we workout with weights is due to the bodies response to injury. Muscle growth from weight lifting is basically a healing process. When we lift weights, we do (when done correctly) a small amount of microtrauma to our muscle tissue. The body’s response to the trauma is to rebuild the weakened or torn muscle fibers, and in doing so build them even bigger and stronger then they were prior to the microtrauma so as to prevent repeat of the injury. So that is how progressive resistance works in weight lifting and weight training. We add more weight do more reps, and teardown more muscle fiber - the body keeps responding by healing the muscle eventually pushing the muscle to its ultimate limit, which is genetically determined.

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