Any weightlifter or bodybuilder will tell you that gains – the colloquial term for an increase in muscle mass brought on through training – are an important part of most exercise routines. That’s because, to get stronger, you need more muscle, which is the ultimate goal of those who engage in weight training. How does this process happen, though? The answer is muscle protein synthesis, the process by which the body creates new muscle tissues to replace, repair, or supplement existing muscle mass. And yet, despite the ubiquitousness of this process and its important role in the training regimens of a great many people, it can still be helpful to ask the question: What is muscle protein synthesis? To find out, keep reading as the people at aminoVITAL® explain.
Defining Muscle Protein Synthesis
When a person engages in strenuous exercise, their muscles are damaged in a few ways. Firstly, the actual strain of physically lifting objects or running over long distances can create tears in the muscle fibers that must be repaired during the post-workout recovery process. Secondly, the body often resorts to breaking down muscle proteins during periods of fasting or intense exertion; this happens for a number of reasons, including to provide more proteins and amino acids to the rest of the body or as a source of fuel in lean times.
Once damage has been done to the muscles, the body must repair it by beginning the process of muscle protein synthesis (MPS). It may sound technical, but this process is actually fairly straightforward, at least on the surface. MPS is how your body makes new muscle tissue, and it’s affected by a number of factors, from the foods you eat and supplements you take to the levels of insulin in your blood; however, the mechanisms by which it takes place seem to be essentially the same for everyone.
How to Increase Muscle Protein Synthesis
After a person finishes their workout, the forces seeking to break down muscle tissue come into conflict with those looking to create new muscles. As with dieting, where the final weight loss or gain a person experiences depends on the net gain or loss of calories each day, determining whether someone ultimately gains or loses muscle mass will depend on which force is stronger – muscle protein synthesis or muscle protein breakdown (MPB).
To overcome the process of MPB and increase muscle mass, we’ll look at boosting muscle protein synthesis through two particular methods: exercise and nutrition. Learn more below:
Increasing Muscle Protein Synthesis Through Exercise
Research has shown that the extent of the MPS a person experiences can be greatly affected by the intensity of their workout routine. For instance, one study1 found that exercising at about 60% of your maximum intensity can more than double the rate of muscle protein synthesis, while working out below that threshold meant much smaller gains. However, another study2 found that a routine centered around less weight and more reps could also increase MPS.
Overall, the consensus seems to be this: The harder you work – either by increasing the weight you lift or the number of reps you do – the greater the rate of MPS afterward and the more muscle mass you’re likely to gain.
Increasing MPS Through Nutrition and Supplementation
The other main consideration for those looking to increase MPS is diet. Under normal circumstances, the body maintains muscle mass by cycling between periods of MPS and MPB; after eating, the body uses any proteins consumed to power the synthesis of new muscle tissue, and during periods of fasting, the body breaks down muscle tissue. This push-pull relationship is what keeps the body’s muscles in a state of equilibrium.
However, boosting your body’s MPS is not simply a matter of eating more food or dining more often; the key to triggering and increasing muscle mass lies in the consumption of essential amino acids3, especially the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Luckily, these compounds are found in most forms of dietary protein, but those looking to actively increase muscle mass will probably need more than what they’d get through their diet alone.
That’s where amino acid supplements come in. By increasing your intake of BCAAs, you can provide your body with the resources it needs to create new muscle tissue more effectively. All three BCAAs are believed to play a part in this, but the one with the greatest impact by far is leucine – the amino acid responsible for triggering the synthesis of new skeletal muscle4. In fact, most BCAA supplements come with greater amounts of leucine than the other BCAAs; research suggests BCAA ratios of around 2-3/1/1 in supplements.
As an added bonus, the metabolites of leucine – those compounds created when the body processes this amino acid – may help protect the muscles5 from MPB; one in particular, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), has shown great promise in this regard – yet another reason to try a leucine-rich supplement today.
Try Amino Acid Supplements for Increasing Muscle Protein Synthesis
To facilitate a boost in MPS, consider adding an amino acid supplement from aminoVITAL® to your routine. These supplements include a proprietary blend of high-quality BCAAs along with glutamine and arginine – two other amino acids – to improve performance, increase gains, and speed up the body’s muscle recovery in a post-workout amino acid supplement. Because they require less digestion, the free-form amino acids in these products take effect much faster than traditional protein supplements, and they contain far fewer calories and sugars, too. Learn more about these potent products by visiting aminoVITAL® online or calling (888) 264-6673 today.