Where did those cool looking muscles go?
Ever notice that during and immediately following a strength training workout that your muscles look really good? So, where did they go?
Enlarging the size of muscles is called hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the opposite of atrophy, which is when muscles shrink, either due to disuse or disease.
But, there are two kinds of hypertrophy: transient and chronic.
Transient hypertrophy occurs when muscle tissue swells from increased blood accumulation, also known as vasodialation. It is a temporary condition. Your swollen muscles will revert to their normal size as your body returns to its pre-exercise condition.
Chronic hypertrophy is the result of progressive resistance training. This is the process of regularly stressing your muscles by subjecting them to an overload, which is a resistance greater than what they are accustomed to. Over time, they adapt to the overload by becoming stronger, at which point the resistance is increased to create a new, "heavier," workload. Progressive resistance training is a planned process using overload, adaptation, and progression. Not only will the muscles become stronger, they will become bigger. Your larger muscles will remain larger, and even grow more, so long as you engage in progressive resistance training.
While transient hypertroply is only temporary, it is a reasonably accurate indication of what your muscles could look like if you engage in a program of progressive resistance training.