Dense Muscle VS Soft Muscle

When it comes to building muscle many people don’t really know that there are different types of muscle growth and certain ways you have to train to achieve them.

The type of training you do will ultimately result in either dense muscle growth or more soft muscle growth. Having a good understanding of how dense muscle differs from soft muscle will ensure you can efficiently build the type of muscle to get the look of the physique you want to achieve. I’m sure most people would want to train for strong, dense and defined muscle rather than weak, soft and puffy muscle.  

There are two known types of muscle growth. We have myofibrillar growth and sarcoplasmic growth.

Myofibrillar Growth

This is the growth of the actual muscle fibres, and because these muscle fibres can contract, growth in this area can lead to dramatic improvements in strength. This type of muscle growth will make your muscles stronger and harder. This creates great muscle definition and will give you an amazing dense appearance depending on how lean you are. An example would be a Bruce Lee type of physique. To achieve this type of dense muscle growth you generally need to lift heavy weights with sets of around 1-8 repetitions. The lower repetition end of the spectrum being more Myofibrillar growth.

Sarcoplasmic Growth

This is an increase in the volume of muscle cell fluid within the cells. This type of muscle growth is a fast way to increase the size of a muscle, but since sarcoplasm is a fluid and cant contract, it wont make it strong. This is why you sometimes see a huge body builder who isn’t as strong as a smaller Olympic weightlifter. This type of growth can give you the appearance of big muscles, but normally makes you look soft and puffy depending on how lean you are. To achieve this type of growth you generally need to lift light weights with sets of 10-20+ repetitions.

Sarcoplasmic muscle growth seems to be very short lived, when you stop lifting weights for a few days this growth can decrease and makes it seem like your muscle have deflated. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this before to some degree. You pump up your biceps and triceps so your arms look big, but within the next day or two they are back to there normal size. This is why its so important as a natural weightlifter that you strive to achieve a good foundation of dense myofibrillar muscle growth. These dense muscle fibres you build will not deflate over night.

Here’s an example of someone with great definition who has focused more on building dense muscle.

Strong Athletic Man Fitness Model posing back muscles with trice

Here’s an example of someone who has trained more for sarcoplasmic growth.


Their body fat levels differ but you get the idea.

Although sarcoplasmic muscle growth seems to be a waste of gym time for a natural weightlifter to bother with, it can have some benefits when your trying to perfect your physique. Once you have built a good amount of dense muscle, you can then incorporate some methods that will increase sarcoplasmic muscle growth to add size to lagging muscle groups. These could be upper chest, calves, arms or what ever you need to work on. Or you could just add a bit more size to your entire frame.

Thick dense muscle growth takes time to build but if you are consistent with your training you will end up building a physique that you never though was possible.

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