The Future of Fitness: Red Light Therapy's Benefits for Muscle Building
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The Future of Fitness: Red Light Therapy's Benefits for Muscle Building
Create on 2023-10-30
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Muscle building is not just for sports or aesthetic reasons. It is also about enhancing metabolic health and staying active and energetic.

It is vital to remember that people these days are more likely to suffer or die due to non-infectious diseases. Hence, issues like heart disease, diabetes, and brain disorders are rising. Building muscles may help prevent many health issues.

However, building muscles is challenging. It is a relatively slow process. Exercise also causes muscle soreness. Increasing muscle mass also becomes challenging with age.

Thus, it is more difficult to build muscles in the 30s and even more challenging in the 40s and onwards.

Using performance-enhancing drugs is not an option. Drugs and hormones cause significant harm to health. They are also illegal to use. However, one can build muscles faster using health supplements. People can also benefit from physiotherapy, like massage therapy. But did you know that red light therapy can also help build muscles in multiple ways?

red light therapy can help build muscles

Red Light Therapy for Muscle Building

Red light therapy uses a special device to expose different body parts to red light. These devices mostly use red light diodes or are specially created for red light therapy.

The red light emitted by these devices has some unique properties. It penetrates deep inside the muscles, modulating protein synthesis, enhancing metabolism, and helping in multiple ways.

Red light therapy is also known by other names like low level laser therapy (LLLT).

Red light has some unique health benefits. The light produced by these devices is near-infrared. This light has the ability not only to penetrate deeper but also modulate cellular function.

Unlike infrared light, this therapy is less about heat and more about biomodulation. These low-frequency waves can safely influence various cell functions. It can enhance energy production, healing, and regenerative processes.

Let us discover ways in which red light therapy may help build muscles and what science says about it:

Mitochondrial Biogenesis

Mitochondria dysfunction becomes a significant problem as people age, making gaining lean mass difficult.

Mitochondria are cellular furnaces producing energy. There are multiple mitochondria in every single cell. However, with aging, the number of these furnaces in each cell decreases. This means reduced energy production, DNA mutation, oxidative stress, and lower ATP levels.[1]

Further, mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the reasons for the higher risk of metabolic disorders, brain and heart diseases, and even cancers.

Red light enhances mitochondrial biogenesis. This way, it can help not only build muscles but also slow down aging.

Of course, there are multiple ways to promote mitochondrial biogenesis. Exercise is the most potent way to do so. However, adding red light therapy to regular exercise may enhance your efforts.

Researchers know that red light works. They have done numerous scientific experiments. Studies in labs, cells, and lab animals all confirm it works. Thus, for example, studies in oil mice, fruit flies, and other animal models found that regular red light exposure boosted ATP production.[2]

This improved mitochondrial biogenesis and higher ATP production means greater mobility. It also means higher energy levels and lower fatigue. People can train longer using red light therapy and recover faster.

Increased NO Production

Most people in sports know the value of enhancing NO levels. Many health supplements boost NO levels. This is one of the ways to boost blood flow to skeletal muscles.

Increasing NO (nitric oxide) levels make blood vessels elastic. It helps improve blood flow to muscles, which is critical for better training.

Generally, sportspeople would use NO boosters before training. This increases energy levels and helps people train better and longer. It helps prevent fatigue while training.

New studies show that one of the ways in which red light therapy works is by enhancing NO production. It also seems to influence mitochondrial respiration. Some of its influences are due to its effects on the respiratory enzyme called cytochrome C oxidase.[3]

What is good about red light is that it has a prolonged duration of action. It increases NO levels for several hours and even days post-exposure. Thus, it not only boosts performance but also promotes healing processes. Additionally, it seems to influence the formation of new blood vessels in muscle tissues.

running man

Helps Overcome DOMS

Those who train know how difficult it is to overcome DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This kind of muscle soreness does not occur due to acute damage to muscle fibers.

Why DOMS occurs is still poorly understood since such soreness begins after a day or two (post-training) and affects for a few days. It may prevent people from training well.

Studies show that red light therapy post-workout and multiple times a day may help prevent DOMS. It lowers inflammation and pain, promotes healing, and prevents tissue damage.

There could be many ways in which red light therapy helps. It appears to modulate inflammatory processes. It increases the migration of specific cells, like fibroblasts, that may assist tissue regeneration. It lowers cytokine levels, thus inflammation. It can also promote tissue oxygenation. Thus, red light therapy helps with DOMS in multiple ways.[4]

Enhances Muscle Protein Synthesis

Ultimately, muscle mass gain depends on the body’s ability to synthesize proteins. Red light therapy has short- and long-term effects on the body.

It is vital to understand that if someone uses red light therapy regularly, some of its effects last for days. It can enhance energy production and healing by boosting protein production. It can most probably affect gene expression.[5]

There is sound evidence from some extensive studies that red light can help boost sports performance. One of the systemic reviews that analyzed 533 studies concluded that red light therapy helps increase muscle mass and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.[6]

Enhances Muscle Blood Flow

Red light therapy is good both in the pre-and post-workout phases. It increases blood flow to muscles and thus helps train better.

If used post-training, higher blood flow means a greater supply of nutrients. This would promote faster healing. Faster healing is critical for building muscles.

Helps Prevent Sports Injuries

Sprains and strains of tendons and ligaments are some of the most common injury types. These injuries are challenging to treat since some tendons and ligaments have poor blood supply.

It is no secret that physiotherapy is especially good for sports injuries. Red light therapy can help boost the production of connective tissues and promote the migration of specific cells like fibroblasts.

Faster injury recovery translates to higher muscle mass.

The Bottom Line

Of course, the above are just a few ways in which red light therapy may help. Red light therapy works in many other ways. It seems to influence different signaling molecules. It also affects certain cellular respiratory enzymes. Persistent use of this wonderful therapy may help reduce stress and boost hormone production.

Perhaps what is incredible about red light therapy is that it does not cause any side effects. There are no known side effects of this therapy. It is mild enough not to harm and yet potent enough to benefit those looking to build muscles.

To sum up, it is a good idea to include red light therapy in your regime if you are looking to increase lean mass. Higher lean mass is associated with better metabolic health. Red light therapy can help in multiple ways. It aids in building muscles, helps train harder, increases energy levels, reduces fatigue, and promotes faster recovery. What is good about it is that it has both short-term and long-term effects. It is equally good as pre-workout and post-workout therapy. Consistent use of red light therapy is the key to optimal health benefits.


[1] Srivastava S. The Mitochondrial Basis of Aging and Age-Related Disorders. Genes (Basel). 2017;8:398.

[2] Begum R, Calaza K, Kam JH, et al. Near-infrared light increases ATP, extends lifespan, and improves mobility in aged Drosophila melanogaster. Biol Lett. 2015;11:20150073.

[3] Hamblin MR. The role of nitric oxide in low level light therapy. Mechanisms for Low-Light Therapy III [Internet]. SPIE; 2008 [cited 2023 Oct 19]. p. 7–20. Available from:

[4] Hamblin MR, Demidova TN. Mechanisms of low level light therapy. Mechanisms for Low-Light Therapy [Internet]. SPIE; 2006 [cited 2023 Oct 19]. p. 614001. Available from:

[5] Müller K, Zurbriggen MD, Weber W. Control of gene expression using a red- and far-red light–responsive bi-stable toggle switch. Nat Protoc. 2014;9:622–632.

[6] Ferraresi C, Huang Y-Y, Hamblin MR. Photobiomodulation in human muscle tissue: an advantage in sports performance? J Biophotonics. 2016;9:1273–1299.

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