Protein synthesis provides the mechanism for muscles to repair themselves after a long, hard workout, and is essential for hypertrophy. To maximize protein synthesis, you must first understand how it works and be able to answer a few basic questions about it such as “Where does protein synthesis take place?” and “Why is it important?” You’ll find the answers to these and other questions about protein synthesis below.
Cells contain structures known as ribosomes, which are found outside of a cell’s nucleus. Inside the ribosomes is where protein synthesis actually takes place. Even though it happens within the ribosomes, (which are outside the nucleus), protein synthesis is nonetheless directed by the Deoxyribonucleic Acid or DNA that is located within the nucleus. DNA is copied into Ribonucleic Acid or RNA, which then moves out of the nucleus through the cytoplasm and into the ribosomes. Once it reaches the ribosomes, new proteins are then created.
We’ve already explained where protein synthesis takes place within a cell. Even so, you may be wondering what areas of the body contain cells that produce protein synthesis. The answer is that protein synthesis occurs in all cells of the body, and is essential for it to function properly. People most often associate it with muscle building, but it is actually used for several other bodily processes ranging from regulating the metabolism to strengthening the immune system. As such, when you consume a pre or post-workout shake, you are doing more than just spurring muscle growth, as you are also helping regulate those other processes whether you realize it or not.
During a weight-training workout, micro-tears to the muscle occur. This causes more blood to flow to that area in order to repair the damage. Increased blood flow in turn makes conditions ripe for protein synthesis to take place. According to researchers from the University of New Mexico, disrupted muscle cells also activate satellite cells, which fuse together with muscle fibers. This often leads to an increase in the cross-sectional area of muscle fibers, leading to hypertrophy. For protein synthesis to take place after muscle trauma, certain hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone must also be present, along with the right amount of protein in the body.
Many people want to know how to target protein synthesis in a particular group of muscles. Research shows that protein synthesis remains elevated for between 36 to 48 hours after a muscle is worked. For this reason, many trainers recommend targeting muscle groups two to three times each week to increase the amount of weekly protein synthesis you notice in each one. Full body workouts or upper and lower body splits will also help you optimize protein synthesis among all your muscle groups.
Knowing where and how protein synthesis takes place will help you better plan your training sessions. Learn to maximize protein synthesis, and you will also notice greater gains than you ever before thought possible.