Gaining weight: the scientific basis of increasing skeletal muscle mass

Can J Appl Physiol. 1999 Aug;24(4):305-16. doi: 10.1139/h99-024.


Most athletes today tend to have a larger muscle mass than their predecessors. Better training and nutrition practices are responsible for much of this difference, but whatever the mechanism, the balance between muscle protein synthesis and breakdown must be in favor of increased muscle protein. Applying new techniques for measuring whole body and muscle protein synthesis to resistance exercise has led to some interesting results. In the recovery period following resistance exercise, both muscle protein synthesis and breakdown are accelerated in the fasted state. Ingestion of carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein during recovery further increases muscle protein synthesis, due in part to an improved anabolic hormone environment. In addition, the anabolic effect of a resistance training bout may last well beyond 48 hours. Using information obtained from research studies, better training and dietary practices can optimize the benefits from resistance training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Weight Gain / physiology*


  • Hormones
  • Muscle Proteins