Functional adaptability of muscle fibers to long-term resistance exercise

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Jun;35(6):944-51. doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000069756.17841.9E.


Purpose: We compared the functional properties of muscle fibers from two groups of subjects that differed widely in their training history to investigate whether long-term resistance exercise alters the intrinsic contractile properties of skeletal muscle fibers.

Methods: Vastus lateralis muscle biopsies were obtained from six sedentary males (NT group, age = 23 +/- 1 yr) and six males who had participated in regular resistance exercise training over the preceding 7.6 +/- 1.6 yr (RT group, 22 +/- 1 yr). Chemically skinned muscle fiber segments were activated with a saturating free [Ca2+] to quantify fiber peak Ca2+-activated force (P(o)), unloaded shortening velocity (V(o)), and peak power. Fiber segment myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform content was identified by gel electrophoresis.

Results: Slow and fast fibers from the RT group were larger in CSA and produced greater absolute P(o) and absolute peak power in comparison with fibers from the NT group. However, these differences were no longer evident after P(o) and peak power were normalized to fiber CSA and fiber volume, respectively. V(o)/fiber length was dependent on fiber MHC content but independent of training status.

Conclusion: Fiber hypertrophy was sufficient to account for intergroup differences in P(o) and peak power of slow and fast fibers. There was no evidence that the intrinsic contractility of slow or fast fibers, as evaluated by force, shortening velocity, and power normalized to the appropriate fiber dimensions, differed between RT and NT groups.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Fibers, Fast-Twitch / physiology*
  • Muscle Fibers, Slow-Twitch / physiology*
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / analysis
  • Physical Fitness
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*


  • Myosin Heavy Chains