In the last training post we talked about muscle fibers and how they play an important role for any fitness goal, today we´re going to talk about how those two types of muscle fibers are related to hypertrophy which is something we need to understand for muscle growth if we want to get the best results.
There are 2 types of hypertrophy which are sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar. The 2 of them are related to the muscle fibers because depending of the rep range we are working is how we target each of them.
In sarcoplasmic hypertrophy the muscle increases in size because more fluid gets into the cell, we target slow twitch muscle fibers which are type 1, working around the 12 to 15 reps per set or more. If we want to get “the pump” this is where you need to focus on, this is also the most common rep range and the one we´ll see a lot more on gyms.
Since we are lifting light weights for high reps, we can use the 3 types of exercises; bodyweight, compound and isolation (I´m writing a post for each).
This type of hypertrophy makes us a slave to the gym, we need to be training to keep the muscle otherwise we lose it. Is easier and faster to gain muscle and to look big with this one but if we take some time off the gym, we lose those gains.
In myofibrillar hypertrophy the muscle cell increases in number, we target fast twitch muscle fibers which are type 2, working around the 5 to 8 reps per set. If we want to build lean dense muscle this is where we need to focus on.
Since we are lifting heavy weights for low reps, we can use bodyweight and compound exercises which are the ones we can lift heavy weight, with isolation we can´t lift heavy because we can get injured.
This type of hypertrophy takes more time to build and to get big but it´s there to last, we can take some time off the gym and it will take longer until we lose that muscle. What we need to consider is that here we are working our central nervous system and it takes more time to recover.
If our goal is only to gain strength we need to work on the 5 to 8 rep range which is type 2 or fast twitch muscle fibers if our goal is to get muscle mass faster we need to work on the 12 to 15 rep range which is type 1 or slow twitch muscle fibers. The best option for muscle growth is to work on both creating a program that focuses some days on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and other days on myofibrillar hypertrophy or creating a program where we can combine both in the same workout.
When we combine both types of hypertrophy we make sure that we build lean dense muscle which takes longer but also last longer and we get “the pump” to look bigger, this also help us design workouts with high volume which is also key for muscle growth, there are many variables that come into play (we´re going to talk about all of them in separated posts for each) and that we need to consider to make sure that we give our muscles the stimulus they need but also enough recovery to grow.
We also need to consider that muscle growth is the results of the right stimulus, recovery and proper nutrition which we´re going to talk about in a separate post.
As I´ve said before, exercise is key to help us lose weight and get lean but we need to understand more complex information like muscle fibers and hypertrophy to be able to build the type of physique we want and get the best results.
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