How do my muscles work?

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Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Muscles are made up of tissues that contract and relax. They’re kind of like an extendable ladder that snaps together and shortens when you pull or apply tension at one end. When you release that tension on the muscle or ladder, it relaxes and extends. Your energy intake (healthy food, not flaming nacho cheesy fries) provides the power for your muscles to contract and relax. Work them and feed them right, and they grow. Starve yourself long enough, and you start breaking down those muscles to fuel the rest of your body and little by little you will get weaker.

Muscles grow after they’re used. Lifting weights, doing push-ups, or performing any kind of exercise that requires you to push or pull damages the muscle fibers; the soreness you may feel afterward comes from toxins released by muscle tissue when it is damaged. When you’re done, the muscles say, “Forget this, we’re not going to be damaged again. We’re going to build up to be even stronger than before,” which is why they get larger. For those who are overweight or looking to maintain weight loss, the great thing is that muscle actually helps you burn calories much faster than fat or other tissue. So if you’re looking to lose weight, in addition to watching your calorie intake, build some muscle to increase the fat-burning engines in your body.
YOU: The Owner's Manual for Teens: A Guide to a Healthy Body and Happy Life

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.