This Simple Test Reveals Which of Your Muscles Will Grow Fastest

·2-min read
Photo credit: Mike Harrington - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mike Harrington - Getty Images

In a recent episode of The Huberman Lab Podcast, Dr. Andrew Huberman, professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine, speaks at length about the science of muscle growth and recovery—including ways that you can anticipate how quickly you will be able to build muscle in specific parts of your body.

"There is a good predictor of how well or how efficient you will be in building the strength or size of a given muscle," he says. "It has everything to do with those upper motor neurons that are involved in deliberate control of muscle."

There is, he explains, a simple test that you can perform any time:

"March across your body mentally, and see whether or not you can independently contract any or all of your muscles," he says. "So, for instance, if you are sitting in a chair or you are standing, see whether or not you can contract your calf muscle just using those upper motor neurons, sending a signal down and deliberately isolating the calf muscle."

"If you can contract the calf muscle, hard, to the point where that muscle almost feels like it's starting to cramp, like it hurts just a little bit... Chances are you have very good upper motor neuron to calf control," he continues. "And chances are, if you can isolate that mind muscle connection, and you can contract the muscles to the point where it cramps a little bit, that you hold a decent to high potential to change the strength and the size of that muscle if you train it properly."

The opposite is also true, he adds: if you have a hard time isolating and contracting a particular muscle, you may find it more difficult to develop it.

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