Myofibrillar Hypertrophy VS Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy

Have you ever been training in the gym and noticed the 120kg monster standing at 8% body fat, lifting weights more suited to your grandma Nora? Most likely you would have seen this a few times. Although a person’s genetic make up will always play a huge part when dealing with muscle hypertrophy, we have to consider that the discrepancy in the overall strength and look of muscle tissue can also be due to the different training parameters and programs undertaken to achieve a specific response. Does the 120kg monster need to be lifting heavy all the time? Hell no, he`s providing an adequate stimulus to provide the given response to his goals (his goal is to increase the visual size of his muscle tissue)! Let`s look at the difference between Myofibril and Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy.

Myofibrillar Hypertrophy

Myofibrillar hypertrophy refers to an actual increase in size of the muscle fibers, which contract and generate force via the actin and mysosin filaments within the muscle tissue. With Myofibrillar hypertrophy, the area density of the myofibrils increases and there is an increase in potential to exert muscular force, so therefore when working at a higher % of 1RM on a given lift, producing sufficient force and speed will help with maximum motor recruitment and syncronisation. Under the correct parameters (Training experience, programming, etc) and given the right stimulus, the body will recruit more motor units than it actually requires (Over-Compensation), which is a good thing! This type of hypertrophy is best accomplished by training with heavy weights for a minimum number of repetitions. Repetitions in the 1-6 rep range, using 80-100% of a 1 rep max also have the added benefits of neural adaptations: increased motor unit synchronisation, increased contractibility of the actin and myosin filaments, inhibition of the GTO (Golgi Tendon Organ). Myofibrillar hypertrophy mainly takes place within the fast twitch muscle fibres due to their physiological make up and contractile properties.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase in the total volume of the non contractile properties of the muscle tissue, known as sarcoplasmic fluid. The increase in total volume of sarcoplasmic fluid and blood within the muscle causes the myofibrils to swell and tear and therefore if the stress and stimulus is sufficient enough then the correct adaptation will occur….increase in muscle size! This type of training is high volume, high repetitions and is what is seen in the “Bodybuilding community”. Utilising the correct exercise tempo, known as time under tension (TUT) is a method which works very well, muscle tissue respond to a given stress not necessarily weight (if correct tempo is used). This is why your 120kg bodybuilding friend isn’t using the weights your “expecting” him to use.

Any questions in regards to this, send me a message and I will do my best to answer them

Alex Ferentinos – Why ladies should embrace lifting

Lifting like a BEAST to look like the BELLE of the ball……or: why ladies should embrace lifting!The attached video is a female client of mine repping out double her bodyweight (and this is just month two) in order to build her posterior chain; hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors….meaning her lower back, bottom and legs will look AMAZING and stay AMAZING, with lovely shape, free of cellulite for improved body confidence, as well as better joint function and posture; all of that’s achieved through intelligent strength and conditioning programming.However, women can often be quite fearful about lifting right?

They don’t wan’t to “get too big” or “look like a bodybuilder” – heard that before?

Consider that to shape a human physique, male or female, the only two variables are muscle mass and bodyfat storage increasing or decreasing.

Note that skeletal structure is unalterable and so is tendon length; so the idea of lengthening muscles through yoga etc is ludicrous – we must accept our shoulder, pelvis, wrist, ankle width etc as well as the length of our muscles, though their flexibility can improve, obviously.

It’s worth clarifying that male and female muscle and movement is identical, so apart from what is know as the Q angle, which is the angle of the femurs (thigh bones) between their sockets in the pelvis and the knees. They’re a sharper angle than male femurs due to puberty widening the pelvis of women…so considerations should be made there but otherwise male and female bodies move the same way.

Let’s clear up some doubts and drop some knowledge bombs:

Testosterone is the key muscle building hormone.

Women put out much less testosterone than men, men actually produce approximately 20x more per day!

Think how many male physiques don’t really progress much let alone female physiques…

…although conventional lifting techniques to improve a physique can thicken up female forearms and upper traps which is usually not desired by the ladies who are lifting, it’s just that they’re given all the same lifts a male lifter who wants to improve their male physique does…. but this is why expert training protocols for both sexes is essential. I have tricks up my sleeve that either limits or accelerates both.

Testosterone in men and women results in strength from growth of muscle mass and vice versa, as well as increased bone density which increases bone strength….so it’s pretty important and also plays a part in preventing osteoporosis, but I digress.

Women cannot turn into a female bodybuilder unless they have some chemical assistance, which I am not recommending, and even then it’s probably a decade of work for those who decide to do that from there to get that hyperdeveloped look. I find it unsavoury to hear women feel they need to take anabolics to get a bikini class body as it’s simply not necessary, it really should not be that light a decision and it results in irreversible progressive deepening of the voice, enlarging of the jaw, masculine like hair growth and some pretty undesirable effects elsewhere.

However, with the right training stimulus, i.e. understanding fat loss and muscle building and the physiology behind it rather than just what bodybuilders say, women’s physiques can progress quite quickly indeed in all the right places.

Interestingly, woman can recover quicker between sets; the awesome Jim Stoppani explained the physiology behind that at Bodypower UK this May just gone.

Back to the video here…this client embraces the fact that for a nicer body all we can do is build muscle and burn fat and as a result lifts weights and so her legs and glutes (and the rest of her!) are coming on leaps and bounds.

Having always worked entirely one on one in the past, I’m considering taking on just fifteen ladies for exclusive group coaching…do let me know if you’d be keen to be screened for this by commenting.

[author image=”” ]Alex Ferentinos is a leading figure within the fitness industry on all things nutrition and training. Alex speaks publically at a wide range of events across the UK and regularly holds popular seminars on a variety of nutrition topics. You can find Alex at –, Facebook – Alex Ferentinos Nutrition and Training Consultant, Twitter @AlexFerentinos7[/author]

Women and Weight Training – Part 1

When trying to advise women to weight train, 70% will look at you as though you have just grown an extra head and pushed their grandma in front of an on coming bus!

There is a wide spread belief that if a female picks a set of dumbbells then within weeks they are going to resemble a professional bodybuilder. I must say this idea is actually decreasing through various channels and there are a lot of great trainers out there doing there best to dispel this myth. A good friend of mine Tania George (Check her page out at Nodumbelles Personal Training ) is doing this day in day out! The amount of females she has introduced and reintroduced back into weight training is phenomenal and is fantastic for the industry as a whole.

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If I surveyed one of the gyms I currently work at and asked what is your goal right now, half would say there looking to lose weight (they mean fat but I understand) and half would say they want to be “toned”. Now the problem with this is that muscle tone has nothing to do with how your muscles actually look, muscle tone in its real form refers back to medical terminology and the continuous and partial contraction of the muscles. What they really want is some shape to their body, this requires that you aren’t carrying excess body fat and you have some muscle! Yes you NEED muscle!

Now to achieve this “desired shape” you first need some muscle and muscular definition. There are many women who come from dancing and gymnastic background who have a very solid base of muscle, it’s just usually covered by body fat. We have two options for most women, decrease body fat or increase lean muscle tissue and sometimes a combination of both. Don’t be afraid, you will not wake up with huge biceps – I can promise you this! BUT I will not lie to you, there are at times women who can build muscle a lot easier to due to heightened testosterone levels. I would estimate this at a very very low % and if this applies to you, you will know at a very young age! Not in your mid thirties to 40s as the majority of my clients are.

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Now a touchy subject – CROSSFIT. There are certain aspects of cross fit that i do not agree with. The sport was basically unorganised organised chaos BUT where there is money involved (HUGE AMOUNTS) you have to clean your act up! And it has! What I have to take my hat off to cross fit for is that they have introduced thousands of women into weightlifting and weight training. There are females in and out of the sport who know what a snatch and clean and jerk is, I will repeat that again – THEY KNOW WHAT A SNATCH AND CLEAN AND JERKS IS – MADNESS! Crossfit has introduced the sport of weightlifting to women and made is attractive! There are more and more females involved with Olympic weightlifting due to cross fit, many will drop out of cross fit and take up Olympic weightlifting as their sport. It’s a natural progression as many don’t have the lungs for the anaerobic capacity work which is involved within the sport, but love throwing barbells around! – I promise that within 2-3 years local Olympic weightlifting competitions will be A LOT busier due to this!

Lift weight ladies and enjoy it!

Suspension Training for the over 50`s

As we get older our bodies naturally change, with age results in a variety of complex metabolic and hormonal changes in which effects the way our bodies behave. This includes muscle atrophy (wasting and loss of lean muscle tissue), extended recovery times after bouts of exercise, loss of elasticity in tendons, ligaments and associated connective tissue, balance impairments and increased storage of adipose tissue (fat tissue) due to hormonal changes that occur within the body.

What is suspension training?

Suspension exercises (most notably known as TRX) is a very popular way to get fit for many people, the TRX is a fitness apparatus that attaches to a single anchor point that supports both the hands and feet and allows both linear and multidirectional movements patterns. The primary benefit of utilizing the TRX is that the users can very easily modify body positions, base of support and work through multi jointed exercises that targets the whole musculature of the body. The TRX allows the user to use simple movement patterns while unloading the body through the exercise and providing external support to allow the user to balance and carry out the movement without the fear of falling over. This is extremely beneficial to those over 50 who aren’t as confident using free weights and are unable to fully stabilise themselves and carry out the movements effectively and safely. The users can dictate the speed, range of motion and training volume specific to their desired goals, this makes the TRX very usual for the older adult, those rehabilitating from musculoskeletal injuries and those with limit flexibility around certain joints.

Benefits to the over 50`s

Over 30% of Adults ages 65 and over fall at least once and up to 20% fall twice or more (G Periera and Caspersen, 2000). Research in the USA states that falling contributes to 90% of hip fractures (Carter et al., 2001). The risk of falling increases with age due to conditioning related disorders, these can include Joint mobility issues, limited reaction time, gait impairments, balance impairments, postural issues and decreased static and dynamic strength (especially the lower extremities in the over 50`s). The conditions and risk factors are all physiological characteristics meaning they can be reversed and improved through the use of a well designed exercise regime based around the TRX.

The use of the TRX for the 50`s boasts many benefits, it can be very effective in reducing the symptoms of Chronic conditions, this includes:-


  • Back Pain
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis

Health benefits include:-


  • Improved Muscular Strength
  • Improved Glucose Control (insulin sensitivity)
  • Improved Body composition (increase in lean muscle tissue, decrease in fat tissue)
  • Improved join stability
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Strengthening of bone


3 Simple Fat Loss mistakes YOU`RE making

1) My clients & people I speak to are so “locked in” to the idea of weight loss they totally forget about fat loss! If the scale is reading less than it was, are you sure its fat you have lost? not muscle tissue and depleted glycogen stores? poor hydration? This may seem strange but let me continue, when working with a client my aim is to try and preserve as much muscle tissue as possible while decreasing body fat %. This is something a lot of people are missing, they seem to care less that they are catabolically burning away muscle tissue as well as fat to in the attempt to lower the number on the scales. This works great if you want a flat, shapeless and damaged body but usually this isn’t the case for most people. You have to be smart and actually think what you are doing! If we can preserve muscle tissue, or slightly improve the lean muscle tissue we have, then automatically we can improve our BMR (basal metabolic rate – how much energy we use while resting) which in a simply means we CAN BURN MORE FAT AT REST!!


2) Drop the endless hours of cardio and pick up some weights (Yes this is directly at the women reading this, you will not get “Big” because hormonally you are not equipped to build large amounts of muscle, physiologically its extremely difficult). Wide varieties of complexes and gross movement patterns (My favourite – The thrusters, a front squat into a push press) will do more for your physique then slaving away on a treadmill. (To my next point, if you are overweight and on a treadmill GET OFF, many studies have proved that around 2 – 3 x a persons body weight is impacted through the knee joint in every drive phase of the gait cycle – most commonly this will cause local joint inflammation and can very quickly turn to acute inflammation and your fat loss dreams will soon suddenly start to slow down VERY quickly!

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3) HYDRATION- Generally speaking many people don’t consume enough water! Metabolically, drinking adequate amounts of water will help you lose weight! No more excuses DRINK MORE! (2-3 litres per day depending on your activity levels).