mystery+of+muscle - Copy

mystery+of+muscle - Copy - II W O R K H O M E P L AY by...

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little over two decades ago a grinning, oiled Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the motion picture Pumping Iron , hauled bodybuilding out of the dingy gyms and into the mainstream of U.S. popular culture. During more or less the same period, anabolic steroids started infiltrating body- building, turning musclemen into big-jawed, moon-faced freaks, and strength-training machines began making weight training safer and more appealing to the masses. The U.S. has not been the same since. Strength training has persisted as few movements have in recent U.S. history, re- shaping popular views of physical beauty and male feelings of self-esteem. In 1994 an article in Psychology Today declared that “there seems to be emerging a single standard of beauty for men today: a hypermasculine, muscled, powerfully shaped body.” Since then, the trend has only intensified. In 1995 weight training replaced riding a stationary bicy- cle as the most popular kind of exercise among American adults. The same year the number of males in the U.S. who worked out with weights at least 100 days a year reached 11.6 million, up from 7.4 million in 1987, according to American Sports Data in Hartsdale, N.Y. And more recently, the market for dietary supplements aimed at weight lifters and bodybuilders has grown explosively, led by a chalky powder called creatine monohydrate [see “Sports Supple- ments: Bigger Muscles without the Acne,” on page 52]. Although the number of women who regularly use weights has roughly tripled in the past decade, the superior ability of men to add muscle to their bodies has ensured that weight training remains inextricably linked to the male image and feelings of self-worth. And in recent years, several disturbing aspects of this link have become clear. Use of anabolic steroids is up, as are cases of muscle dysmorphia, a puzzling disorder in which abundantly muscled people see themselves as scrawny and become increasingly obsessed with weight training [see “You See Brawny, I See Scrawny,” on page 54]. Along with the cultural appreciation of muscle has come a surge of work aimed at understanding the biology of mus- cles. The vast majority of researchers in this area are study- ing anatomical or physiological aspects of exercise related to aging, the effects of diet, dietary supplements and so on. A large group is also studying heart muscle tissue, a subject that bears strongly on cardiac diseases. Oddly enough, what might seem to be the most compelling issue in muscle sci- ence in this physique-obsessed era—the biochemistry of bulking up—has but a tiny band of full-time devotees. Nevertheless, their research has yielded some impressive and even startling results of late. For example, researchers at the Royal Free and University College Medical School of University College London recently cloned a kind of hor- mone, which they call mechano-growth factor, that appears to be a significant link in the still largely mysterious ways in which muscle cells respond biochemically to mechanical
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2010 for the course BIO SCI Bio Sci E1 taught by Professor Catherineloudin during the Spring '10 term at UC Irvine.

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mystery+of+muscle - Copy - II W O R K H O M E P L AY by...

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