Andrew Huberman – Dr. Andy Galpin: Optimal Protocols to Build Strength & Grow Muscles Podcast Summary

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Andrew Huberman – Dr. Andy Galpin: Optimal Protocols to Build Strength & Grow Muscles

Dr Andy Galpin, PhD, professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton and world expert on exercise science, explains optimal protocols for increasing strength and causing hypertrophy (muscle growth), as well as for increasing speed and power.

He explains the training principles and underlying mechanisms for reaching these goals. 

Strength and adaptability

  • Strength is the ability to create more force across a muscle or muscle group.
  • Hypertrophy is an increase in muscle size.
  • Strength and hypertrophy are related but can be disentangled.
  • Strength is a measure of force, while hypertrophy is a measure of size.
  • Strength involves physiology and mechanics, while hypertrophy is only about size.

Ligaments, tendons and resistance training

  • Skeletal muscle is the most plastic organ system in the body, meaning it is the most responsive to changes in the body.
  • Connective tissue is not as plastic as skeletal muscle and does not respond as much to changes.
  • Strength training can reduce injury risk by adapting the connective tissue.
  • Biopsies can be used to measure connective tissue adaptations.
  • Muscle fibers can be extremely long and wide.

Strength training

  • Improvements in strength are due to adaptations in the nervous system, such as firing rate, synchronization, and acetylcholine release.
  • Contractility of muscle fibers increases, allowing for more force production without size changes.
  • Muscle fiber type can change from slow twitch to fast twitch, increasing force production.
  • The flexion angle of muscle fibers can change, increasing strength or velocity.

Protein synthesis

  • Muscle hypertrophy involves changes in protein synthesis, blood flow, and neural innervation.
  • Muscle microstructure changes, with an increase in the diameter of muscle fibers.
  • Protein turnover increases with signals from the external world (e.g., stretching of the cell wall, amino acid infusion).
  • Protein ingestion alone is anabolic and can increase protein synthesis for several hours.
  • Strength training and carbohydrate intake can also increase protein synthesis, and the effects stack on top of each other.

Endurance vs strength

  • Protein synthesis is a process that occurs regardless of the type of exercise.
  • Strength training activates a molecular cascade that leads to protein synthesis.
  • Endurance training activates a different pathway that leads to increased mitochondrial biogenesis.
  • Protein ingestion activates a cascade that leads to protein synthesis.
  • Protein synthesis is not just about growing muscle mass; it also regulates the immune system and protein turnover.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy

  • Skeletal muscle hypertrophy is an increase in contractile protein, which causes the cell to increase in diameter to maintain lattice spacing.
  • Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase in muscle size due to fluid retention, which does not increase force production.
  • Neuroplasticity is the nervous system’s ability to change in response to learning and experience.
  • Strength increases and hypertrophy increases are often associated with each other.
  • Different forms of exercise tap into different mechanisms to create hypertrophy and strength changes.

Muscle memory

  • Skeletal muscle is unique in that it is multinucleated, meaning it has thousands of control centers throughout it
  • Satellite cells are responsible for turning into myonuclei and increasing muscle diameter
  • Muscle memory is a phenomenon that allows for muscle to grow faster the second time than the first
  • Different shapes of nuclei determine different functions
  • There is genetic variation in the number of nuclei responsible for tissue repair

Warming up and training

  • Warmup should be tailored to the individual and the type of exercise they are doing
  • Dynamic warmups are preferred over static stretching
  • A general warmup should last 5-10 minutes and involve whole body movements
  • The first exercise of the day should be the most important and complex and require the most warmup
  • Individualized warmups may be necessary for exercises that require precision and skill
  • After the first exercise, warmups may not be necessary for subsequent exercises

Exercise selection and recovery

  • Going to failure is not necessary for strength gains, especially for beginners or those with 5+ years of training
  • Technical failure is a good alternative to going to failure
  • Novices should go to 100% to get a sense of what it feels like
  • Exercise selection and frequency should be based on local and systemic recovery
  • Athletes train muscle groups every day
  • Volume, movement type, and rep range are important factors in exercise selection

Sets and rest periods

  • Avoid using phones and other distractions during workouts to maximize efficiency and enjoyment.
  • Pacing around and shaking muscles out between sets can help diffuse metabolic byproducts and lead to better performance.
  • For speed and power, you want to be stiff but fresh.
  • Strength is a little bit different, but the same concept.
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