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Are muscle fibres of body builders intrinsically weaker? A comparison with single fibres of aged‐matched controls

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Acta Physiologica

Published online on


["\nAbstract\n\nAim\nSkeletal muscles of Body Builders (BB) represent an interesting model to study muscle mass gains in response to high volume resistance training. It is debated whether muscle contractile performance improves in proportion to mass. Here, we aim to assess whether muscle hypertrophy does not occur at the expense of performance.\n\n\nMethods\nSix BB and Six untrained controls (CTRL) were recruited. Cross‐sectional area (CSA) and maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) of quadriceps femoris muscle (QF) and CSA and architecture of vastus lateralis (VL) were determined. Moreover, a biopsy was taken from VL mid‐portion and single fibres were analysed.\n\n\nResults\nQF CSA and MVC were 32% (n.s., P = .052) and 58% (P = .009) higher in BB than in CTRL, respectively. VL CSA was 37% higher in BB (P = .030). Fast 2A fibres CSA was 24% (P = .048) greater in BB than in CTRL, when determined in immunostained sections of biopsy samples. Single permeabilized fast fibres CSA was 37% (n.s., P = .052) higher in BB than in CTRL, and their force was slightly higher in BB (n.s.), while specific tension (P0) was 19% (P = .024) lower. The lower P0 was not explained either by lower myosin content or by impaired calcium diffusion. Conversely, the swelling caused by skinning‐induced permeabilization was different and, when used to correct P0, differences between populations disappeared.\n\n\nConclusions\nThe results show that high degree of muscle hypertrophy is not detrimental for force generation capacity, as increases in fibre size and force are strictly proportional once the differential swelling response is accounted for.\n\n", "Acta Physiologica, EarlyView. "]