Do the anatomical and physiological properties of muscle determine its adaptive response to different loading protocols?

Review written by Robin Kerr info

Key Points

  1. Training specific to muscle fibre type for strength and hypertrophy gains has been an entrenched philosophy in the resistance training arena.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

In the past, strength and conditioning research has proposed that muscles should be trained for greatest gains according to their predominating muscle fibre type (1,2). It was suggested that “slow twitch” Type 1 fibres respond best to lower load with higher repetitions, and “fast twitch” Type 2 fibres respond best to heavier loads with less repetitions.

This study investigated and evaluated longitudinal changes in the strength and hypertrophy of the triceps surae (calf muscles - gastrocnemius medial (MG), lateral (LG), and soleus) when exposed to light (20-30RM) and heavy (6-10RM) loading). It raised the question as to whether there actually is benefit in training muscles based on their predominant fibre type.

The hypothesis tested was that strength changes would be greater in the limb undergoing heavy resistance training and that hypertrophy would show differential effects in the soleus (predominant slow twitch T1) and gastrocnemius muscles (mixed composition T1 & 2) based on the load applied.

Strength and conditioning research has proposed that muscles should be trained for greatest gains according to their predominating muscle fibre type.
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These studies free the therapist to consider multiple forms of loading suited to their client’s preferences.

METHODS

30 healthy, young male university students were individually randomized into a within group design. Following 1 week of acclimation to prevent confounders (including dietary advice), the subjects underwent pre-intervention testing involving:

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