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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1985 Dec;59(6):1716-20.

Muscle fiber types and size in trained and untrained muscles of elite athletes.


Tissue samples were obtained from vastus lateralis and deltoid muscles of physical education students (n = 12), Greco-Roman wrestlers (n = 8), flat-water kayakers (n = 9), middle- and long-distance runners (n = 9), and olympic weight and power lifters (n = 7). Histochemical stainings for myofibrillar adenosinetriphosphatase and NADH-tetrazolium reductase were applied to assess the relative distribution of fast-twitch and slow-twitch (ST) muscle fiber types and fiber size. The %ST was not different in the vastus (mean SD 48 +/- 14) and deltoid (56 +/- 13) muscles. The %ST was higher (P less than 0.001), however, in the deltoid compared with vastus muscle of kayakers. This pattern was reversed in runners (P less than 0.001). The %ST of the vastus was higher (P less than 0.001) in runners than in any of the other groups. The %ST of the deltoid muscle was higher in kayakers than in students, runners (P less than 0.001), and lifters (P less than 0.05). The mean fiber area and the area of ST fibers were greater (P less than 0.01) in the vastus than the deltoid muscle. Our data show a difference in fiber type distribution between the trained and nontrained muscles of endurance athletes. This pattern may reflect the adaptive response to long-term endurance training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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