Skeletal muscle tissue is sensitive to the acute and chronic stresses associated with resistance training. These responses are influenced by the structure of resistance activity (i.e. frequency, load and recovery) as well as the training history of the individuals involved. There are histochemical and biochemical data which suggest that resistance training alters the expression of myosin heavy chains (MHCs). Specifically, chronic exposure to bodybuilding and power lifting type activity produces shifts towards the MHC I and IIb isoforms, respectively. However, it is not yet clear which training parameters trigger these differential expressions of MHC isoforms. Interestingly, many programmes undertaken by athletes appear to cause a shift towards the MHC I isoform. Increments in the cross-sectional area of muscle after resistance training can be primarily attributed to fibre hypertrophy. However, there may be an upper limit to this hypertrophy. Furthermore, significant fibre hypertrophy appears to follow the sequence of fast twitch fibre hypertrophy preceding slow twitch fibre hypertrophy. Whilst some indirect measures of fibre number in living humans suggest that there is no interindividual variation, postmortem evidence suggests that there is. There are also animal data arising from investigations using resistance training protocols which suggest that chronic exercise can increase fibre number. Furthermore, satellite cell activity has been linked to myotube formation in the human.
However, other animal models (i.e. compensatory hypertrophy) do not support the notion of fibre hyperplasia. Even if hyperplasia does occur, its effect on the cross-sectional area of muscle appears to be small. Phosphagen and glycogen metabolism. whilst important during resistance activity appear not to normally limit the performance of resistance activity. Phosphagen and related enzyme adaptations are affected by the type, structure and duration of resistance training. Whilst endogenous glycogen reserves may be increased with prolonged training, typical isotonic training for less than 6 months does not seem to increase glycolytic enzyme activity. Lipid metabolism may be of some significance in bodybuilding type activity. Thus, not surprisingly, oxidative enzyme adaptations appear to be affected by the structure and perhaps the modality of resistance training. The dilution of mitochondrial volume and endogenous lipid densities appears mainly because of fibre hypertrophy.