According to research published in The Journal of Physiology, there are two ways to increase muscle protein synthesis, the process that plays such a huge role in muscle size and strength gains. The first is to simply consume protein. But nutrient increases in protein synthesis only last about an hour and a half even if amino acids remain available. On the other hand, a single session of weight training gets protein synthesis going for 24 hours or longer.
Of course, protein synthesis isn’t a switch that’s turned on and off. How you exercise makes a real difference in the metabolic response. Lifting 20% to 40% of your one rep max (1RM) produces a very small effect on muscle protein synthesis. Lifting between 70% and 90% of your 1RM triggers a maximal response. You can get around that by loading the bar with 20% or 40% of your 1RM and lifting to failure.
True Strength Moment: Most of these findings won’t come as a surprise to experienced bodybuilders. They have hands-on expertise with protein timing, low rep/high weight sets and failure training. For those who are still looking for answers in the gym, this information can provide a good starting point.