Muscle growth across a variety of exercise modalities and intensities: Contributions of mechanical and metabolic stimuli

Med Hypotheses. 2016 Mar;88:22-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2015.12.026. Epub 2016 Jan 9.


This paper reviews the existing evidence for the potential contribution of metabolic and mechanical stimuli to muscle growth in response to a variety of exercise modalities and intensities. Recent research has demonstrated that low-load resistance training can elicit comparable hypertrophy to that of high-load resistance training when each set is performed until failure. The degree of metabolic fatigue would be greater for resistance training with lower loads compared to higher loads at the point of muscle failure, which may compensate for the lower mechanical stress. This may also explain why muscle hypertrophy occurs to varying magnitudes when activities such as cycling and walking are performed. Furthermore, the application of blood flow restriction to the working muscles during these activities induces greater hypertrophy albeit at the same level of mechanical stress, which would suggest a possible contribution from metabolic stress. Thus, it is plausible that both mechanical and metabolic stimuli are primary mechanisms for muscle hypertrophy and the degree of contributions of both stimuli determines the exercise-induced muscle hypertrophy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Resistance Training
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Walking