What is muscle maturation, anyway?

BodyBuilding It is a rich and storied sport. since to early daysAthletes were at their limits obsessed with the pursuit of the perfect physique. This century-long quest has created more than a few popular ideas which, upon inspection, may or may not stand up to scrutiny.

You may have heard of muscle maturation before but haven’t taken the time to dissect what it actually is You know?. It’s one of those things that makes perfect sense at a glance but can get more confusing the longer you think about it.

Older bodybuilder performing curly hair
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Are your muscles really ‘mature’ the longer you use them? Are they different on a biological level, or is muscle maturity more of a description of how to take care of them Ten years of fighting In the weight room?

muscle maturation science

Editor’s note: content on barband It is meant to be informational in nature, but should not be considered medical advice. When starting a new training and/or diet regimen, it is always best to consult a trusted medical professional. We are not a medical resource. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment of health problems. They are not substitutes for consulting a qualified medical professional.

What is muscle maturation?

In bodybuilding circles, muscle maturation is meant to describe the appearance of your body. Specifically, it is Your muscles “shape” after a certain number of years of trainingdistinct from the look and feel of a new beginner.

In general, athletes with a solid muscular maturity will have a firmer and more grainy appearance to their build, with deeper lines, more pronounced dryness, and sharper or sharper angles.

[Related: Jay Cutler Reveals His Top Five Bodybuilders of All Time]

On the contrary, there is an effect of this title that you may have a softer look at your body early in your lifting career while still developing and fill your frame.

What does science say?

Things that pass as wise advice From coach to athlete across generations may not withstand scientific scrutiny. As a concept, it is difficult to define muscle maturity and study in a laboratory setting. The search for the idea in actual bodybuilding is little to none.

However, there is some work, mostly on animal muscle tissue, which may give credence or distortion to muscle maturation as an idea.

Do your muscles change with age?

Your body doesn’t stop changing just because you’re past puberty. quality and composition your muscle tissueanyway, mayo You undergo a certain degree of physiological change as you add incisions to your belt.

Some literature that has examined muscle tissue in animal carcasses has noted some physiological differences between aged tissues and young tissues. For example, the muscles of older animals can have lower amounts of muscle fat (concentrations of fat within the sheath that houses muscle tissue), (1Contribute to a less “quilted” appearance.

Aging muscle tissue is also less thin than younger tissue, likely due to the different collagen structure as well as lower muscle fat concentrations. (2)

Do your muscles change with training?

Fortunately, the effects of exercise (specifically Weight lifting) on your muscles are more visible. Everyone who hit the iron and kept a healthy diet Long enough you will notice that their bodies are growing and responding in kind.

At the physiological level, these changes reach beyond biceps or quads A little bigger yet enough an arm or leg days.

Continuous resistance training results in marked changes in muscle fiber thickness and cross-sectional area, as well as the strength and toughness of the associated connective tissues. (3)

The athlete wears a tank top while performing a biceps exercise on a bench.
Credit: ThomsonD / Shutterstock

Notably, training also affects the strength of your muscles. (4) While tone, ring It has the colloquial definition of forming or defining tissues in fitness circles, and its scientific definition refers to the level of tension or tensile strength in tissues. Your muscles become tighter like you Adapts to regular lifting.

Can you train for muscle maturity?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to the question of whether muscle maturation is something you can tangibly influence Your behavior in the gymoutside just training normally.

It should be noted that the literature distinguishes between what it calls muscle fiber maturation – the complete regeneration of muscle tissue after a physical trauma – and muscle maturation as seen by bodybuilders. (5)

The first describes a biological process that occurs after a standard workout in the gym as well as Injuries. The latter is Wassef Jamali.

hardness training

Your muscles are made up of Different types of fiberSome are better suited to certain tasks than others. (6)

However, this is about as far as the literature goes regarding whether you can train specifically hardening Your muscle tissue in relation to muscle maturation.

You can definitely practice developing athletic qualities like Maximum strengthExplosion Enduranceor size, but There is no reliable body of evidence indicating how exercise affects the “hardness” of your muscles from a visual point of view.

Reduce body fat

The physiological quality of muscle tissue is just one aspect that contributes to muscle maturation. While you can’t change the biological makeup of the muscle itself, you can help it look sharper or more granular Reduce body fat.

The fat stored under the skin (called subcutaneous fat) is pulled out for energy when you are in an area Calorie deficiency. Much of the “slimming” effect of a fat loss diet comes from reducing this type of fat.

An athlete measures body fat using a caliper
Credit: zkolra / Shutterstock

However, fat is also stored (in much smaller amounts) within muscle tissue. Engage in effective Low calorie diet It will reduce your body fat stores, helping to define and emphasize your muscles themselves.

Also note that you can’t actually induce targeted fat loss -”spot reduction“It’s an unfortunate myth, but it persists. If you’re dieting in an effort to improve muscle definition or clear maturity, it will pull your body out of its various fat stores no matter what actions you take.

The role of genetics

Know any bodybuilder who participated in the game The critical role that genes play in sports, affecting everything from the rate of muscle gain to shape and proportion from your body.

Genes also affect the thickness of your skin. People with thin skin (literally) will generally have a more striped and defined appearance, while people with thicker dermis may not.

Unfortunately, you cannot change your genes. If your skin is so thick that it blocks some muscular definition – even when you have a very low level of body fat – this is the hand that has been dealt with.

Your takeaway

Muscle maturation is not a tangible physiological phenomenon and more of a concept or “look” in bodybuilding.

there some Evidence in the scientific community supports the idea that your muscles change over time, especially if you Hit the weight room on a regular basis.

Older bodybuilders working in the gym
Credit: ivan_kislitsin / Shutterstock

However, muscle maturation appears to be the result of factors, some of which are largely out of your control:

  • Training age,” which indicates the cumulative number of months or years you have in leverage.
  • Genetics, specifically The thickness of your skin and yours Tendency to store fat.
  • your level muscle combined with How much body fat you keepBoth can be modified by training or diet.

You can think of muscle maturity as an informal description of a bodybuilder’s appearance, generally in terms of how defined or “sharp” it is. It is not a reliable statement about the quality of your body (or your career in the gym), and it certainly shouldn’t be seen as degrading or discouraging.

muscle issues

Bodybuilding is as accurate as it is, target body development As for art, symmetry, proportion and aesthetics.

From the weight room to the science lab, bodybuilders rely on the knowledge inherited from the greats of yesteryear and modern and cutting-edge research.

In the right contexts, muscle maturity provides a succinct, appropriate description of a specific look that some fitness enthusiasts strive for. But that doesn’t mean you should maintain an interest in sports – or that it’s necessarily a real thing in the first place.

The best way to ensure your body is properly “mature” is to stick to the basics and exercise patience. If you are train hardAnd the Eat wellAnd the rest and recover Correctly, and willing to wait to see the fruits of your labor, the gains will speak for themselves over time.


  1. Moon, S. S., Yang, H. S., Park, GB, & Joo, ST (2006). Relationship between physiological and marbling maturity judged according to the Korean classification system and meat quality traits of female Hanwu beef. Meatology, 74(3), 516-521.
  2. Northose, WR, Harris BV (1990) Effect of animal age on tenderness of some selected beef muscles. Journal of Food Science 55 (1), 1-8.
  3. Haun, CT, Vann, CG, Roberts, BM, Vigotsky, AD, Schoenfeld, BJ, & Roberts, MD (2019). A critical assessment of skeletal muscle biomagnification: size matters, but so does measurement. Frontiers in Physiology, 10, 247.
  4. Otsuka, Y., Yamada, Y., Maeda, A., Izumo, T., Rogi, T., Shibata, H., Fukuda, M., Arimitsu, T., Miyamoto, N., & Hashimoto, T. (2022). Effects of resistance training intensity on muscle quantity/quality in middle-aged and older adults: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Cachexia, Muscular Dystrophy, 13(2), 894-908.
  5. Yoshimoto, Y., Ikemoto-Uezumi, M., Hitachi, K., Fukada, SI, & Uezumi, A. (2020). Methods for accurate assessment of myofiber maturation during skeletal muscle regeneration. Frontiers in Cell and Evolutionary Biology, 8, 267.
  6. Plotkin, D. L., Roberts, MD, Haun, CT, & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2021). Muscle fiber type shifts with exercise training: Changing perspectives. Sports (Basel, Switzerland), 9 (9), 127.

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