Bodybuilders Have More Balanced Type 1 to Type 2 Muscle Fiber Ratios

That means that compared to power lifters, and weightlifters, bodybuilders comparatively have more type1 muscle fiber. Now this doesn’t mean that you should start running marathons. This just proves that training must be specific to your goals – off course type 2 white fibers are all that you need if your only goal is lifting heavier poundage like strength athletes. But for bodybuilders the best approach is to actually train all the types to their full potential.

This graph shows the ratio of type 1 vs. type 2 muscle fibers for weightlifters, powerlifters and bodybuilders:

muscle fiber types bodybuilders and powerlifters

And we have this study that concludes that hypertrophy occurs at around 80% 1rm which gives the lifter enough weight for intensity but at the same time subjects his target muscle to enough time under tension:

Although many training variables contribute to the performance, cellular and molecular adaptations to resistance exercise, relative intensity (% 1 repetition maximum [%1RM]) appears to be an important factor. This review summarizes and analyses data from numerous resistance exercise training studies that have monitored percentage fibre type, fibre type cross-sectional areas, percentage cross-sectional areas, and myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform expression. In general, relative intensity appears to account for 18-35% of the variance for the hypertrophy response to resistance exercise. On the other hand, fibre type and MHC transitions were not related to the relative intensity used for training. When competitive lifters were compared, those typically utilizing the heaviest loads (> or =90% 1RM), that is weightlifters and powerlifters, exhibited a preferential hypertrophy of type II fibres when compared with body builders who appear to equally hypertrophy both type I and type II fibres. These data suggest that maximal hypertrophy occurs with loads from 80-95% 1RM.

The role of resistance exercise intensity on muscle fibre adaptations. Fry AC. Sports Med. 2004;34(10):663-79. Review. PMID: 15335243 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]


There we go, we heard it “that is weightlifters and powerlifters, exhibited a preferential hypertrophy of type II fibres when compared with body builders who appear to equally hypertrophy both type I and type II fibres.” – Very hard to miss.

So the most effective way to train for bodybuilding and for muscle size is to use weight around you 80% 1 rm which would indeed fall around your 6-10 rep range. Furthermore the more reason that you should do periodization in a weekly basis so that your workouts will cover all fibre types.

High volume and high intensity at the same time:

I hope now you can see why we always tend to apply intensity techniques such as drop sets – because those techniques allow you to train both your fast twitch fibres and slow twitch fibres.

Let’s demonstrate:

Let’s say you are training legs and you are doing drop sets. Your starting weight is 500lbs which you can do for 5-8 clean reps. At that point we can consider 500lbs as a “heavy” weight and would therefore involve mostly fast twitch or type 2 white fibres.

Now you reach failure at your 7th rep. You remove 100 pounds from the ears of the leg press machine and you proceed without resting. You do another 5 reps – failure. Remove another 100lbs – 6 reps –failure. Until you have only 100lbs in and you do your final 15 reps – now you’re done with quads.

From the point of your first failure most of your pure fast twitch muscle fibres  (type 2bs) would have failed and from then on your other types took over.

These other types comprise of:

– Subtype type 2 fibres (Type 2as, Type 2x)) which are fast twitch but have more endurance capacity than your pure type 2bs (white fibres).

-Type 1 fibres which are smaller but have more endurance.

Now do you realize why we have always stated the importance of time under tension, applying intensity techniques that make you go beyond failure and varying your workout schemes from time to time? Eat your eggs people!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
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