Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy in Skeletal Muscle: A Scientific "Unicorn" or Resistance Training Adaptation?

Front Physiol. 2020 Jul 14:11:816. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00816. eCollection 2020.


Skeletal muscle fibers are multinucleated cells that contain mostly myofibrils suspended in an aqueous media termed the sarcoplasm. Select evidence suggests sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, or a disproportionate expansion of the sarcoplasm relative to myofibril protein accretion, coincides with muscle fiber or tissue growth during resistance training. There is also evidence to support other modes of hypertrophy occur during periods of resistance training including a proportional accretion of myofibril protein with fiber or tissue growth (i.e., conventional hypertrophy), or myofibril protein accretion preceding fiber or tissue growth (i.e., myofibril packing). In this review, we discuss methods that have been used to investigate these modes of hypertrophy. Particular attention is given to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy throughout. Thus, descriptions depicting this process as well as the broader implications of this phenomenon will be posited. Finally, we propose future human and rodent research that can further our understanding in this area of muscle physiology.

Keywords: muscle hypertrophy; myofiber; myofibril; resistance training; sarcoplasm.

Publication types

  • Review