Big Muscles: How to Get Them to Look Good

Ever wonder why some have big muscles and you don’t? Is it simply that they have been strength training far longer? Or, maybe, you help yourself, be the best you can be, and get benefits from strength training?

Skeletal Muscles

Most noteworthy, skeletal muscles are muscles connected to your bones. Furthermore, bundles of collagen fibers, known as tendons, attach skeletal muscles to your bones.

Muscle Fibers

Big Muscles

Moreover, skeletal muscles are composed of thousands to tens of thousands tubular cells called myocytes (also called muscle fibers in striated muscles). Also a muscle fiber is, on the average, 40 millimeters long. Furthermore, a muscle fiber is a muscle cell containing many chains of myofibrils.

And, the nucleus of the muscle cell is the myonuclei. In addition, a muscle cell has at least one myonuclei. Most noteworthy, the number of myonuclei depends on the number and duration of past strength training instances.


A myofibril (also known as a muscle fibril), is a basic rod-like unit of a muscle cell. And, each myofibril extends the entire length of the muscle fiber. Moreover, long proteins including actin, myosin, titin, and other proteins that hold them together make up the myofibril. Also, these proteins are organized into thick and thin filaments (called myofilaments). And, myofilaments are repeated along the length of the myofibril.

Muscle Strength

Most noteworthy, a nerve makes each muscle fiber contract. Moreover, muscles contract by sliding the thick (myosin) and thin (actin) filaments along each other. And, the myonuclei controls its muscle fiber.

A muscle’s strength depends on how many muscle fibers are present, their length and size. And, the muscle cell has one or more myonuclei. Most of all, each myonuclei controls certain amount of cytoplasm in its vicinity. Moreover, the functional and metabolic needs determines the number of myonuclei. And, additional myonuclei are formed, if needs exceed the capacity of current myonuclei and cytoplasm. Furthermore, fusion of satellite cells results in new myonuclei which, in turn, forms muscles.

Therefore, the more myonuclei in the muscle fiber, greater portion of the muscle fiber increases in size leading to larger muscles. Also, the increase in size is due to higher protein synthesis capacity provided by larger numbers of myonuclei.

Study Results

Most noteworthy, studies show that previously untrained muscles acquire new myonuclei, in their muscle fibers, through strength training. And, these new myonuclei, by protein synthesis, help the subsequent enlargement of muscle fibers. Consequently, at first, strength training takes a longer time to grow muscles.


Muscle atrophy is the wasting or loss of muscle tissue. Moreover, insufficient use of muscles results in muscle atrophy. Also, exercise and better nutrition reverses muscle atrophy.  Especially relevant, muscle fibers maintain their elevated number of myonuclei after strength training ends. In fact, 3 months after training stopped, a high number of myonuclei are found.

Furthermore, on resuming training, moderate increase in protein synthesis by, the large number of, existing myonuclei, results in muscle fiber growth. Consequently, this explains the long-lasting effects of training and the ease with which previously trained individuals quickly get back their big muscles.

Hypertrophy of Big Muscles

Muscle hypertrophy is the increase in size of large muscles.  And, this increase occurs by the growth in size of muscle fibers.  Moreover, muscle hypertrophy occurs with strength training using weights. 

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress on muscles.  By continuously increasing the demands on the muscles, the muscles grow in size, strength and endurance.  Furthermore, by regularly increasing weight and repetitions, muscle mass grows. And, the longer the strength training, the bigger the muscles.

Growth Process

First of all, at start of strength training, there is increase in the nerve impulses causing muscle fibers to contract.  Then, as you continue to exercise, there is increase in protein synthesis causing muscle cells to grow larger and stronger.  Furthermore, each time you exercise a muscle it contracts.  Also, repeated contractions damage the insides of muscle fibers. And, damaged muscle fibers are repaired.

Most noteworthy, the repair process results in muscle growth.  Moreover, the repair occurs when muscles are resting.  Furthermore, new myonuclei are generated in muscle fibers along with repairing damaged ones. And the more myonuclei in the muscle fiber the more areas of muscle fiber grow.


Genetics decides the results of hypertrophy in three ways.

  • 1
    First of all, the speed of the repair process.  Some see faster muscle growth than others.
  • 2
    Also, growth of muscle fibers.  Some see more growth (or bigger muscles) than others.
  • 3
    Finally, length of muscle fibers. Most of all, the shape of a muscle depends on the length of the muscle fiber. Some have short fibers and others have long fibers. Those with long muscle fibers see less growth and shaping of their muscles. Muscular looking people have short fibers. So they see more growth and shape of their muscles. This is because short fibers don’t need as many myonuclei as long fibers do.


Most noteworthy, as you get older the ability to create new myonuclei decreases. Therefore, it is best to do strength training earlier in life and build up your supply of myonuclei in muscle fibers.  So that in old age, the muscle fibers have large numbers of myonuclei. And, these large numbers reduce the effect of muscle deterioration that occurs with age.


In conclusion, don’t expect to see muscle growth after the first time you start strength training. Also, genetics dictates whether you will have the muscles of a body builder or not. However, persisting with strength training will lead to large muscles. 

Also, it’s OK to take a reasonable break and resume strength training. This is because your accumulated supply of myonuclei in muscle fibers help to get your large muscles back and grow even more.

Furthermore, strength training done early in life ensures a large supply of myonuclei in your muscle fibers, in old age.  Most noteworthy, these myonuclei protect against muscle deterioration that happens in old age.