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Eur J Sport Sci. 2016 Sep;16(6):633-44. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2015.1073362. Epub 2015 Aug 20.

The metabolic and temporal basis of muscle hypertrophy in response to resistance exercise.

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a MRC-ARUK Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research, Clinical, Metabolic and Molecular Physiology , University of Nottingham , UK.


Constituting ∼40% of body mass, skeletal muscle has essential locomotory and metabolic functions. As such, an insight into the control of muscle mass is of great importance for maintaining health and quality-of-life into older age, under conditions of cachectic disease and with rehabilitation. In healthy weight-bearing individuals, muscle mass is maintained by the equilibrium between muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle protein breakdown; when this balance tips in favour of MPS hypertrophy occurs. Despite considerable research into pharmacological/nutraceutical interventions, resistance exercise training (RE-T) remains the most potent stimulator of MPS and hypertrophy (in the majority of individuals). However, the mechanism(s) and time course of hypertrophic responses to RE-T remain poorly understood. We would suggest that available data are very much in favour of the notion that the majority of hypertrophy occurs in the early phases of RE-T (though still controversial to some) and that, for the most part, continued gains are hard to come by. Whilst the mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy represent the culmination of mechanical, auto/paracrine and endocrine events, the measurement of MPS remains a cornerstone for understanding the control of hypertrophy - mainly because it is the underlying driving force behind skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Development of sophisticated isotopic techniques (i.e. deuterium oxide) that lend to longer term insight into the control of hypertrophy by sustained RE-T will be paramount in providing insights into the metabolic and temporal regulation of hypertrophy. Such technologies will have broad application in muscle mass intervention for both athletes and for mitigating disease/age-related cachexia and sarcopenia, alike.


Muscle; hypertrophy; protein turnover; resistance exercise training

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