But with vitamin C, it's a different story, says John Haberern, the editor of Fitness for Living.
Even if you consume a great deal, vitamin C is water-soluble and what you don't use is quickly excreted.
Vitamin C helps make collagen, the binding substance that holds cells together.
Let's suppose that you start using your arm muscles strenuously, as in lifting dumbbell or barbell. They suddenly start building additional new fiber and need more vitamin C to hold it together properly. But what happens if enough vitamin C isn't there to quickly manufacture as much collagen as is needed?
The muscles will keep attracting blood to their area, trying to extract enough vitamin C from it. They stay swollen with blood , and it is such swelling, creating unusual pressure on the nerves, that causes the stiffness and soreness.
To counteract the effect of stiffness and muscle soreness, you can take a tablet of vitamin C just before exercising: if you can take another one after a strenuous workout, so much the better.
Another frequent cause of prolonged swelling is rapture of the tiny capillaries in the muscles under pressure of unusual blood supply. Here again vitamin C plays a major role. It is well-known that vitamin C strengthens the capillary walls (especially in conjunction with the bioflavonoids) and prevents raptures. If the vitamin C is insufficient and the raptures occur, you then have within the muscle precisely the same condition that you get on the skin surface when you bruise yourself. A pool of static blood collects, attracting more blood that attempts to break it down and remove it. The pressure on the nerves is greatly increased and can be extremely painful.
What is there about lifting weights that makes it so effective in building muscles? Regular lifting of controlled loads, such as dumbbells and barbells, is one of the best ways to build muscular strength. This is "progressive resistance training" or "PRT."
When you lift a dumbbell, for instance, a series of large muscles contract to meet the overload of resistance that is being applied, and remain contracted throughout the whole range of the lifting movement. As the muscles work against the overload, their cells go through a complex chemical and physiological process that builds strength to meet future similar challenges of effort that might be needed.
If the overload is moderate and gradually increasing in amount, muscle strength will increase in a regular manner.
However, if the overload is beyond the current strength of the muscles and skeletal structure, something will give. A vertebra may compress, or the stressed muscle fibers may tear. In effect, you have a choice. You can do moderate lifting as a healthy exercise and become strong enough to meet the extraordinary lifting challenges that are bound to occur from time to time. Or you can shun lifting as hazardous or arduous---as most people do today---and run the risk of injuring yourself when the time comes that you have to lift something heavy.