Muscle hypertrophy and fast fiber type conversions in heavy resistance-trained women

  • R. S. Staron
  • E. S. Malicky
  • M. J. Leonardi
  • J. E. Falkel
  • F. C. Hagerman
  • G. A. Dudley


Twenty-four women completed a 20-week heavy-resistance weight training program for the lower extremity. Workouts were twice a week and consisted of warm-up exercises followed by three sets each of full squats, vertical leg presses, leg extensions, and leg curls. All exercises were performed to failure using 6–8 RM (repetition maximum). Weight training caused a significant increase in maximal isotonic strength (1 RM) for each exercise. After training, there was a decrease in body fat percentage (p<0.05), and an increase in lean body mass (p<0.05) with no overall change in thigh girth. Biopsies were obtained before and after training from the superficial portion of the vastus lateralis muscle. Sections were prepared for histological and histochemical examination. Six fiber types (1, IC, IIC, IIA, IIAB, and IIB) were distinguished following routine myofibrillar adenosine triphosphatase histochemistry. Areas were determined for fiber types 1, IIA, and IIAB + IIB. The heavy-resistance training resulted in significant hypertrophy of all three groups: I (15%), IIA (45%), and IIAB + IIB (57%). These data are similar to those in men and suggest considerable hypertrophy of all major fiber types is also possible in women if exercise intensity and duration are sufficient. In addition, the training resulted in a significant decrease in the percentage of IIB with a concomitant increase in IIA fibers, suggesting that strength training may lead to fiber conversions.

Key words

Fiber type conversions Hypertrophy Resistance training Skeletal muscle 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. S. Staron
    • 1
  • E. S. Malicky
    • 1
  • M. J. Leonardi
    • 1
  • J. E. Falkel
    • 1
  • F. C. Hagerman
    • 1
  • G. A. Dudley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoological and Biomedical Sciences, College of Osteopathic MedicineOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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