Muscle hypertrophy involves an increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in size of its component cells.
But did you know that there are actually TWO different types?
Knowing the difference – and how it relates to your goals – can help you maximize muscle growth and get where you ultimately want to go with your training, faster!
Hypertrophy Type #1 – “Sarcoplasmic”
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is basically an increase in muscle cell fluid within the sarcoplasm.
During sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, the sarcoplasmic fluid volume increases, but the muscle fiber mass does not.
What you essentially get as a result is larger, less dense muscles. Not a lot of muscle growth or strength happens, but the muscle fiber itself appears much larger.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is thought to occur from higher rep, “bodybuilding-style” schemes (10-15+ reps).
For most people, this type of hypertrophy is not really desirable. For certain high-contact sports, for example, it can be useful … but if you’re just trying to gain lean, hard, dense, and FUNCTIONAL muscle … your focus should be on myofilrillar hypertrophy.
Hypertrophy type #2 – “Myofibrillar”
Myofibrillar hypertrophy is essentially muscle fiber growth. A myofibril is the contractile portion of a muscle fiber. Without myofibrils, our muscles could not move.
When myofibrillar hypertrophy takes place, the number of myofibrils in a muscle increases, which in turn increases the muscle fiber density and strength.
Because it involves the addition of more contractile units to the muscle cells, myofibrillar hypertrophy is more beneficial to most athletes than sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. More myofibrils means greater strength and power production.
Myofibrillar hypertrophy is thought to occur from heavier loads and lower rep schemes (3-5 reps).
So now that you know the two different types of hypertrophy, when planning your next program, consider your goals and adjust your training accordingly. If you want to build size, focus on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. If strength and power are your goals, aim for myofibrillar hypertrophy.
Train hard, and talk soon –
– Forest Vance, MS, RKC II, PCC
PS – This article is a great intro, but we are really just scratching the surface as to all that can be done in programming a muscle gain program for specific hypertrophy type …
If you’re going for the hard, lean, dense, and functional muscle look, check out the new Specforce Alpha Tactical Fitness System. The 12 week training plan outlined in this program is designed SPECIFICALLY around the concept of myofibrillar hypertrophy, and it’ll show you EXACTLY how to train to make it happen: