All Muscle Is Not Created Equal

There are some people that go to the gym to look buff, and there are others that are working out to lose a few pounds for the beach.  Some people can do 200 lbs on the bench press, while others can do 200 explosion push ups.  Some people want to workout to wear their jersey getting ready for their season and others want to workout to be on the cover of a fitness and bodybuilding magazine.  These two types of people are very different in their end goals and results that come from months and months of training that is involved with reaching this goal.

Muscle is attached to bone via a tendon.  Muscle is made of bundles of individual muscle fibers, which contains actin and myosin, which are proteins that shorten when stimulated resulting in a muscle contraction.  There are two types of skeletal muscle fibers found in the human body.   Type I muscle fibers are slow twitch muscle fibers that are utilized during longer duration movements and exercises.   Activities, such as marathon running, holding a position for a prolonged period of time, and any endurance activity, are training the slow twitch muscle fibers.  Type II muscle fibers are fast twitch muscle fibers that are utilized when performing high intensity and quick movements. These include sprinting, power lifting, some plyometric exercises, and any explosion movements utilized in very sports specific movements.

There are different types of exercises and training that can be done to work different types of muscle fibers.  Also depending on the patient’s goals, there is a major difference between someone who works to hypertrophy (make muscles grow large) their individual muscles when in the gym, and someone who wants to be functionally strong in order to play their favorite sport, regain strength to physically take care of others (like in nursing) or to complete their normal daily activities with increased ease.  There is no perfect answer for which type of muscle growth is better.  It is more about the anatomy of the muscle and the desired end goal for each individual patient.

When coming into therapy, we are able to look at your individual goals and apply a group of interventions to your treatment plan to maximize the type of muscle growth needed and the functional movements required. At Total Performance PT, we address specific deficit that are affecting a patients ability to perform normal daily tasks, so specific muscles are targeted when implementing a strengthening plan, with the goal of isolated muscle hypertrophy with both type I and type II muscle fiber usage.   When individual muscles are not the problem, and the deficit is a gross movement that has developed compensations or muscle imbalances, functional strength is key.  Working groups of muscles that allow a motion to occur is referred to as coupling.  We make sure that you are able to raise your shoulder over your head by making sure that all muscles around the scapula are moving in a grouped form allowing for proper motion to occur along with a decrease in compensations that may have developed from prolonged improper movement.

In everyday life and in the sports world, functional exercise may be more important to be able to shoot a better jump shot, swing a bat to hit a home run, throw a football, or complete an ironman competition.  Functional exercises will have a longer effect on the ability of that muscle group to work together in completing a proper motion.  Singling out a specific muscle when trying to perform functional movement, commonly cause muscle imbalances, increased trigger points, and pain that can further develop the path for an injury.  For more information on physical therapy visit

When trying to learn which type of exercise regiment is best for your specific needs, contact Total Performance Physical Therapy to have an examination, evaluate your condition, and compile a treatment plan that will incorporate everything we have discussed in this blog, to give you results that are better than you would have ever expected.

Call Total Performance Physical Therapy today to schedule your appointment!


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