7 Important Types Of Muscle Fibers

Photo by CreVis2 from iStock

Our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.


Human skeletal muscle is made up of a diverse range of muscle fiber types. This diversity of muscle fiber types enables human muscles to perform a wide range of functions. Muscle fibers can also change size or fiber type composition to respond to different demands.

The biological basis for many physiotherapy procedures to improve a person’s force development or durability is plasticity. Several deficits and limitations are seen in deconditioned individuals due to extended inactivity, limb immobilization, or muscular denervation, which may be partially due to changes in fiber type distribution.

Types of muscle fibers
Photo by koto_feja from iStock

Several approaches for identifying muscle fibers have grown in recent decades, resulting in various categorization schemes. This edition aims to present the foundational knowledge needed to analyze and comprehend human skeletal muscle science.

Muscle fiber types can be classified based on histology, chemical, anatomical, or physiological properties; nevertheless, different approaches of muscle fiber classifications do not necessarily align. As a result, muscle fibers grouped by one classification method may be classified differently by another classification algorithm. Mastering the muscle fiber categorization procedures requires a fundamental understanding of muscle structure and physiology.

Anatomy And Physiology Of Muscle Fibers

Sarcomeres are functional units that make up muscle fibers. The myofibrillar proteins myosin, the thick filament, and actin, the thin filament, are found inside every sarcomere. Muscle contraction is enabled by the interplay of these two myofibrillar proteins.

Types of muscle fibers are classified using various methods based on multiple myosin configurations (isoforms) or physiologic capacities. Myosin is made up of six polypeptide chains: two heavy chains and four light chains. Each one of the heavy chains has a regulator and an alkali light chain attached to it. The myosin heads, which connect with actin and enable muscles to twitch, are found in the heavy chains.

The adenosine triphosphate (ATP) binding site in the head region of myosin also serves as the enzyme adenosinetriphosphatase [ATPase], which hydrolyzes ATP into adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and inorganic phosphate, which provides the energy essential for muscle contractions.

istockphoto 1174812814 170667a
Photo by Sinhyu from iStock

Actin and two regulatory proteins, troponin, and tropomyosin make up the thin filament. Ca2+ is discharged from the sarcoplasmic reticulum when the muscle fiber gets an action potential input. The calcium subsequently attaches to troponin, exposing a myosin-binding pocket on the actin monomer via tropomyosin.

The myosin head attaches to actin in the presence of ATP and pushes the thin filament all along the thick filament, shortening the sarcomere. The myosin heads will connect to actin molecules, tug the actin, detach, and reattach as long as Ca2+ and ATP are present.

Cross-bridge cycling is the term for this technique. The pace where the ATPase in the myosin filaments can hydrolyze ATP limits the speed at which cross-bridge cycling may occur.

Types Of Muscle Tissues

Muscle tissue is divided into three kinds in the muscular system: Cardiac, Skeletal, and Smooth. In the human, all type of muscle tissue has its function and structure.

1) Skeletal Muscles

Skeletal muscles are known as organs of the human muscular system, primarily connected to the skeleton through tendons. Skeletal muscle cells are significantly longer than those found in other muscle tissue forms and are called muscle fibers.

istockphoto 153816392 612x612 1
Photo by janulla from iStock

Because of the configuration of the sarcomeres, the muscular tissue of a skeletal muscle is striated, giving it a striped look.

Skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles that are regulated by the somatic nervous system. The two forms of muscle include striated, cardiac muscle, and non-striated smooth muscle; each of these muscle tissue is classed as automatic or under the direction of the autonomous nervous system.

2) Cardiac Muscles

Cardiac muscle, commonly known as heart muscle or myocardium, is one of three muscle tissue found in invertebrates. Skeletal and smooth muscle are the other two. It is an involuntary, striated muscle that makes up the majority of the heart’s wall tissues.

istockphoto 990873330 612x612 1
Photo by magicmine from iStock

Between the outside layer of the walls of the heart, also known as the pericardium, and the inner layer known as the endocardium, the cardiac muscle referred to as myocardium creates a thick intermediate layer with blood supplied via the coronary circulation.

Intercalated discs link each cardiac muscle cell together, and the extracellular matrix comprises collagen fibers and other components.

3) Smooth Muscles

The somatic nervous system regulates skeletal muscles, which are voluntary muscles. Smooth muscle is split into two types: single-unit and multi-unit. The whole bundle or sheet of smooth muscle cells spasms acts as a syncytium inside a single-unit muscle.

istockphoto 953040902 612x612 1

Smooth muscle may be found in the walls of hollow organs such as the liver, gut, uterus, and cervix, as well as passageways like blood and lymph arteries and pulmonary, renal, and reproductive tracts.

Type Of Muscle Fibers

Originally, the pace of shortening was used to classify entire muscles as quick or slow. In certain animals, particularly birds, this divide correlated to a physical difference, with the fast muscles looking white and the slow muscles appearing red are different structures of type of muscle fibers.

The redness is caused by elevated myoglobin levels and a high capillary concentration. Red muscles have higher myoglobin and capillary concentration than white muscles, contributing to their higher oxidative capability. There is indeed a link between myosin ATPase activity and muscular shrinking speed. Different types of muscle fibers are:

1. Skeletal Muscle Fibers

Multiple fascicles – bundles of skeletal muscle fibers are special types of muscle fibers. Fascia is a sort of connective tissue layer that surrounds each fiber and muscle. Muscle fibers are produced by developing myoblasts, which results in long multinucleated cells, a process known as myogenesis.

istockphoto 182409373 170667a
Photo by BeholdingEye from iStock

The nucleus of these cells, known as myonuclei, is found on the inner of the cellular membranes. To satisfy energy demands, muscle fibers include numerous mitochondria.

2. Cardiac Muscle Fibers

Cardiac muscle is a kind of striated muscle found solely in the heart. Cardiac muscle fibers are muscle fibers that have a single nucleus, are branching, and are connected by intercalated discs with gap junctions for cell discharge and desmosomes to keep the fibers together as the heart is contracting.

istockphoto 1136817593 170667a
Photo by Sinhyu from iStock

Ca++ ions cause contraction in cardiac muscle fibers the same way they do in skeletal muscle. Still, the Ca++ ions come from SR and pass via voltage-gated calcium channels in the sarcolemma. Pacemaker cells, also known as syncytium, promote the spontaneous contraction of the heart muscle as a functional unit.

3. Smooth Muscle Fibers

Smooth muscle fibers are spindle-shaped muscle fibers with one nucleus; they vary in length from 30 to 200 m and generate endomysium, its connective tissue. Smooth muscle fibers have actin and myosin matrix proteins and thin and thick filaments but no striations or sarcomeres.

istockphoto 1280074936 170667a
Photo by weisschr from iStock

A dense body is attached to the sarcolemma and is similar to the Z-discs of skeletal and cardiac muscle fibers. The Sarcoplasmic Reticulum in the fibers provides calcium ions, which are then withdrawn from the extracellular environment via membranes indents known as caveolae. Heavy bodies hold these thin filaments in place.

4. Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers (Type  Fibers)

Slow-twitch muscle fibers effectively convert oxygen into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) fuel, allowing them to perform continuous, long-term muscular contractions. They fire slower than fast-twitch fibers and may keep going for a long period before becoming fatigued. Slow-twitch fibers are excellent in assisting runners in marathon running and cycling for long periods.

Compared to type II fibers, type I fibers create less force and are slower to produce peak tension (lower myosin ATPase activity). They may, however, maintain extended spasms, which are necessary for postural stability.

5. Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers (Type ii Fibers)

Type of muscle fibers such as type ii, also known as fast-twitch fibers, generate energy through anaerobic glycolysis and create quick bursts of energy or speed than sluggish muscles. They do, nevertheless, become tired more rapidly. Fast-twitch fibers make the same amount of power per contractions of slow muscles, but they may fire faster, hence their name.

Type IIa and Type IIb muscle fibers are fast-twitch type II muscle fibers. Compared to the slow-twitch fibers, they have smaller amounts of mitochondria, myoglobin, and capillaries, which means they tire faster.

These muscle fibers also create more force in a shorter time, which is crucial for power sports. Because of their strong myosin ATPase activity, limited oxidative capability, and strong dependence on anaerobic metabolism, Type IIb fibers create the maximum force yet are highly wasteful.

Type IIA fibers also referred to as intermediary muscle fibers, are a cross between type I and type IIb fibers and have a similar tension.

6. Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers (Type iia Fibers)

Intermediate fast-twitch fibers are another name for these fast-twitch muscle fibers. They may generate energy approximately equally through aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. These muscle fibers are a mix of type I and type II muscle fibers in this fashion.

7. Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers (Type iib Fibers)

The archetypal fast-twitch muscle fibers that specialize at creating rapid, strong bursts of speed, these fast-twitch fibers employ anaerobic metabolism to produce energy. These muscle fibers have the fastest growth rate of contraction of any muscle fiber type but also have the fastest rate of exhaustion and can’t go as long without resting.

Read more about the different types of muscle fibers.

Recently Discovered Types of Muscle Fibers

Most subsequently, scientists discovered new types of muscle fibers with properties that fall somewhere in between other kinds, such as

Type 1c

Type 11c

Type 11ac

Type 11ab

Marking Of Myosin ATPase

Fast fibers hydrolyze myosin ATPase at a rate Two to three times faster than slow fibers in humans. However, myosin ATPase histopathological staining, commonly used to identify muscle fibers, does not assess myosin ATPase breakdown rates.

Due to variations in pH sensitivities, fibers are segregated exclusively based on staining intensities, not on the relative degradation rates of ATPases. Seven distinct human muscle fiber types have been identified because of advancements in the histochemical staining approach to assess myosin ATPase. Fibers were formerly classified as type I, IIA, or IIB.

istockphoto 1310800174 170667a
Photo by vdvornyk from iStock

Type of muscle fibers such as IC, IIC, IIAC, and IIAB have recently been discovered as having intermediate myosin ATPase staining properties. The slowest fiber, type IC, stains similarly to type I fibers, but the fastest fiber, type IIAC, stains similarly to type IIA fibers.

Type of muscle fibers such as IIAB fibers exhibits staining properties halfway among type IIA and type IIB fibers. Because these classifications are founded on a subjective examination of stained fibers, new fiber types may be discovered in the future.

Training Type Of Type I And Type II Muscle Types

Exercise can help you change your types of muscle fibers. Endurance exercise, including low impedance, high repetition, extended time, low intensity, can help build type I muscle fibers.

Strength exercise can help you grow type II muscle fibers. Both types I and type II muscle fibers increase in size as a result of resistance exercise. In type II fibers, there is more growth and more actin and myosin filaments. As a result, you’ll be able to create more force.

Fast-twitch fibers are muscle fibers that can activate slow-twitch fibers; thus, high-intensity resistance training can help you improve your aerobic power.

Most of the muscles utilized for movement have around 50 percent slow-twitch and 50 percent fast-twitch fibers on average.

Is It Possible To Change The Fiber Type Of Your Muscles Through Exercise?

There has been some indication that training causes human skeletal muscle fiber types to transition from quick to slow. This isn’t perfectly known, and researchers are currently studying it.

istockphoto 615883260 170667a
Photo by gradyreece from iStock

Please remember that at the highest levels of sports competition, genetic variations can be significant. Implementing the scientific methods of preparation, on the other hand, can substantially increase a normal athlete’s performance. Types of Muscle fibers can grow more and enhance their capacity to cope with and respond to the pressure of activity with continuous intense exercise.

Problems And Injuries

Muscle fibers can become tangled and cause difficulties. Some instances include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cramps

Muscle cramps are caused by the involuntary contraction of a single skeletal muscle fiber, a muscle, or an entire muscle group. They’re usually unpleasant and might linger for a few seconds or minutes.

Read more about muscle relaxers for cramps.

  • Muscle Strain

Sports and accidents are two of the most prevalent reasons. This occurs when the fibers of skeletal muscle are stretched or ripped. This could also happen whenever a muscle is forced to contract too hard or extends beyond its limitations.

  • Palsy

These occur as a result of nerve-related disorders. These diseases may wreak havoc on skeletal muscles, leaving them weak or paralyzed. Bell’s palsy and Guyon canal syndrome are two such examples.

  • Asthma

The smooth muscle tissue in your airways contracts as a result of different stimuli in asthma. This can cause airway constriction and respiratory problems.

  • Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is a condition that affects. This occurs whenever your heart muscle does not receive sufficient oxygen, resulting in signs such as angina. CAD can cause cardiac muscle injury, which can affect how well your heart works.

  • Muscular Dystrophy

This is a category of illnesses defined by muscle fiber degradation, which results in gradual muscle mass loss and weakening.

Does The Type Of Muscle Fiber Have An Impact On Your Athletic Performance?

Your muscle fiber type may have an impact on what activities you are particularly excellent at, as well as how quick or powerful you are. Olympic competitors tend to gravitate toward sports that are genetically compatible with them.

Olympic athletes have been found to have around 80percent fast-twitch fibers, whereas marathon runners have approximately 80percent slow-twitch fibers.

istockphoto 993744768 170667a
Photo by RyanJLane from iStock

Although fiber type plays a role in a great athlete’s success, it is a poor predictor of job performance on its own. Mental readiness, adequate diet and nutrition, having enough rest, and having suitable equipment and training are just a few of the additional elements that contribute to defining athleticism.

The Bottom Line

Different types of Muscle fibers may be found in all muscle tissues in your body. Single muscle cells make up muscular fibers. When they’re gathered together, they help to move your physique and vital organs.

Skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle tissue are the three kinds of muscle tissue. The properties and quality of muscle fibers in these distinct kinds of tissue are all varied.

Types of Muscle fibers can become tangled and cause difficulties. This might be caused by a physical injury, a nerve disease, or some underlying health issue. Type of Muscle fibers disorder can impact the functioning of a single muscle or group of muscles.

These types of muscle fibers are an important part of the human muscular system. Fibers utilize oxygen to contract muscle fibers, and if the muscle doesn’t receive enough oxygen, you will get tired quickly. Different types of muscle fibers go through different aerobic metabolism together to help the muscle cells in strength training and endurance training.

Our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here