There is some variation of weightlifting and bodybuilding found in most of the cultures around the world today. It's a widespread fascination that has been around for millennia, and has roots in ancient mythology. So where does it come from? And how has it progressed to today's practices of building muscle in a healthy way?
It’s All Greek to Me
There are two stories in Greek mythology that have intrigued me since I was a little boy. The first is that of Milo of Croton. As a young boy, Milo picked up a calf every day for years. The calf slowly grew into a full-sized bull and this effort over time allowed him to develop incredible strength and size.
The second is the story of Sisyphus, who was punished in the underworld by the god Zeus, forcing him to roll a boulder up a hill for eternity. Every time he nears the top of the hill, the boulder rolls back down. Although maddening in repetition, like Milo, Sisyphus’ strength and physique developed incredibly, gaining him mass and beautifully sinewed muscles.
Today’s Milo and Sisyphus
These stories, having been told for generations, helped transform the act of lifting heavy objects into the sport of weightlifting. Of course, there are many other factors that contribute to strength and size besides simply lifting heavy objects repeatedly over time. Bodybuilders of the early 20th century trained the whole body in one session three times a week. That then evolved into a better way to shape and sculpt individual muscles… strategies like isolation, in addition to compound exercises, training-cycles, split-systems, dieting and walking off body fat for maximum muscularity and definition.
Curls for Girls and Thighs for the Guys
By the 1970s and 1980s, they had these strategies down to a science and it took the world by storm. The Hollywood heroes of my childhood were Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Growing up, even my toys were jacked; He-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Thunder Cats. These plastic action figures even had visible abs and veins.
How Muscles Grow
The muscles I am referring to are called skeletal muscles, which contain lots of specialty cells called satellite cells. When the skeletal muscle is damaged, these “satellite cells” are stimulated to divide. After dividing, the cells fuse with existing muscle fibers to regenerate and repair the damaged fibers. The skeletal muscle fibers themselves cannot divide. However, muscle fibers can lay down new protein and enlarge muscle growth (hypertrophy). This happens in the recovery phase or the re-building phase; not during the break-down or weight lifting phase.
Expediting the Repair Process
If muscles grow during repair and regeneration, is there a way to help them do this faster? Enter the ancient art of massage therapy. Deep tissue massage has become an integral part of a bodybuilder’s routine, because deep tissue massage is important for people with dense muscles. Research shows that you need to get to the lower layers of deep fascia. This helps lubricate or re-hydrate the tissues for better repair and performance. It will also help de-activate or reduce muscle tension, allowing for the muscles to recover.
5 Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage Using Muscle Blaster Massage Guns