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Muscle through the lifecourse

All muscle cells arise from the mesodermal layer of embryonic germ cells and most are already formed by birth - ready to grow and be trained throughout life. Boys and girls have similar amounts of muscle until about the age of 10 years. During puberty testosterone drives a much greater expansion of skeletal muscle so that in adulthood an average man is 42% skeletal muscle and an average woman is 36%.

 

Muscle is a highly plastic tissue. In starvation it is ‘consumed’ to maintain a supply of amino acids and glucogenic precursors to ensure survival. With isometric training it can be greatly expanded and strengthened.

 

Anabolic steroids enhance this effect and can produce ‘mass monsters’ with muscle size and strength far greater than the natural genetic potential. Champion weightlifters can lift around 2.5 to 3 times their body weight.


Muscles are capable of prodigious feats of endurance.

Recently, the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, 03 consisting of a 2.4mile swim, a 112mile cycle and a 26.2mile run, was won in 8h10m (men’s race) and 8h58m (women’s race).

 

Muscle mass generally peaks in young adulthood and declines thereafter, with the rate of decline strongly influenced by the level of activity and physical work(1). However, even in old age muscles will respond well to training and important strength gains can be achieved(2).



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