Sarcoplasmic vs Myofibrillar Hypertrophy | What Does The Research Say?

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

What Is Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy?

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy refers to an increase in the volume of sarcoplasmic fluid within the muscle cell, with no actual increase in muscular strength.

This is the kind of hypertrophy that bodybuilders tend to focus on when they are attempting to maximise the overall size of their muscles but are not necessarily interested in strength gains.

What Is Myofibrillar Hypertrophy?

Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the type of hypertrophy you find in strength athletes and those who are strong but may look like they have less muscle mass.

It is the increase in size of actual muscle fibres, essentially increasing the size of the muscle.

During myofibrillar hypertrophy, actin and myosin contractile proteins increase in number, adding to your muscular strength, as well as a small increase in physical size.

Below is a great infographic to help illustrate what the difference is between the two!

When Does This Hypertrophy Happen?

Myofibril hypertrophy happens the most when you stimulate your muscles and it’s fibres by lifting heavy weights, which causes trauma to the individual muscle fibres (myofibrils).

Because your body treats this as an injury, it will overcompensate and will attempt to repair itself, and the body will increase the total volume and density of the damaged myofibrils.

Sarcoplasm is the fluid surrounding the myofibrils in your muscles. It contains the major fuels for your muscles like ATP, glycogen, creatine phosphate and also water.

It seems sarcoplasmic hypertrophy occurs with high rep, “bodybuilder-style” training and also when endurance training is used, most likely due to the demand of a greater resource pool and more energy needed.

And what does this all mean for real world training? Read on below.

What Does This Mean?

Well in essence, it provides further evidence that strength-based training, such as training within the 1-6 Rep range, will increase the myofibrillar-type hypertrophy more than when compared to other training styles, resulting in greater increases in strength and “muscle density”.

This also works the other way around - larger increases in total muscle size will occur during higher rep ranges and the more bodybuilder-style training.

This means training within the 10-15 Rep range, this size increase is likely because of a greater increase in sarcoplasmic hypertrophy compared to myofibrillar hypertrophy.

A Close Up Of A Muscle Fibre

Myofibrillar Hypertrophy Training:

As this article has explained, myofibrillar hypertrophy is the growth of contractile tissue within the muscles.

If you're wanting to become a powerlifter, strength athlete or to simply be stronger then this is the type of hypertrophy you are probably wanting.

To increase myofibrillar hypertrophy follow the steps below.

Step 1: Use heavier weights.

Step 2: Stick to the 1-6 rep range.

Step 3: Do more sets, for example 5 sets instead of 3 sets.

Step 4: Have more rest, such as 3-4 minutes instead of 1-2 minutes.

Step 5: Do the reps with more power and faster.

Apply these steps to your workout for a more optimal strength and myofibrillar hypertrophy training protocol.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy Training:

Again, as this article has explained, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the increase in the sarcoplasmic fluid surrounding the muscles myofibrils.

If you are training to become a bodybuilder and want to put size on then this is the training you should be optimising for.

To increase sarcoplasmic hypertrophy follow the steps below.

Step 1: Use lighter weights.

Step 2: Stick to the 10-15 rep range.

Step 3: Do less sets, for example 3 sets instead of 5 sets.

Step 4: Have less rest, such as 1-2 minutes or less instead of 3-4 minutes.

Step 5: Do the reps with more power on the concentric portion and much slower on the eccentric (around 3 seconds, learn more here).

Apply these steps to your workout for a more optimal bodybuilding and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy training protocol.

You can also mix and match these tips and steps and combine them to reach your goals.

Using this knowledge, click here to find some great exercises, create your workout and get building muscle!

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