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How and why do muscles grow? Scientifically, the process is very simple. If you consistently weight train, add cardio, enjoy a healthy diet and drink lots of water, you will burn fat and gain muscle. Practice the following 4 steps and you will harness the science of muscle growth for a leaner, stronger, healthier body.

1) Your muscles will only grow when they are forced to. Weight training (using free weights or your body weight) causes micro-tears in your muscle fiber. Your body’s incredible ability to repair itself steps in, and your muscles are adapted to grow stronger than before. This growth never occurs if you do not experience enough micro-tears. You have to force your muscles to work so hard that they literally tear down. If you work muscles too hard, you can over-tear them. Your body may never fully heal, stunting muscle growth. Not hard enough, very little muscle growth occurs.

2) Muscles grow when you overload them. Ever hear weight trainers talking about “feeling the burn”. This is not what causes your muscles to grow and is not a sign of a perfect workout. What you are feeling is a surge of lactic acid in your muscles (muscles are burning energy). High repetition workouts with lower weights do not cause muscle growth either. Overload has to occur before your muscles grow. Overload your muscles by consistently and steadily increasing the amount of weight you lift, and you will grow muscles.

3) Muscles grow after you stop working out. Stressing your muscles and overloading them is preparing them for the recovery period. This is when your body heals, causing muscles to grow in strength and size. This means plenty of rest between workouts.

4) Your muscles will only grow if you feed them properly. You can do everything properly to boost muscle growth, but if your diet is unhealthy, you may see little to no effect. Working out, lifting weights and doing body weight exercises only dictates 20% to 40% of how you look. Yep, your diet is that important. Get the proper ratio of carbohydrates, protein and good fats, drink lots of water and feed your muscles the right amount of calories and even minimal workouts will show quick results.