Red Muscle vs. White Muscle

The difference between Red Muscles and White Muscles is that Red Muscles have predominantly dark fibers or bands and an abundant amount of myoglobin and mitochondria while White Muscles have predominantly white fibres or bands and they have less amount of myoglobin and mitochondria in it.

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Red Muscle vs. White Muscle

Muscles are a mandatory part of our body which carry out movements and some other functions by contractions and relaxations. They also provide support and strength to our body. Muscles are divided into three types, i.e., Skeletal Muscles, Smooth Muscles, and Cardiac muscles. They can also be classified as red muscles and white muscles.  Red muscles have an abundant amount of myoglobin in it which imparts its red color while white muscles have less amount of myoglobin. Red muscles are also known as type 1 muscles while white muscles are also known as type 2 muscles.

Red muscles perform slow twitching movements while white muscles perform fast twitching movements. Red muscles have an abundant amount of mitochondria in it while white muscles have less amount of mitochondria in it. Red muscles are less fatigued because they perform slow twitching movements while white muscles are more fatigued because they perform high twitching movements. The muscle fibers of red muscles are thin while those of white muscles are thick. Red muscles have the ability to perform long work because they are not tired early while white muscles perform short duration work because they are burnt up early. Red muscles have less power while white muscles have more power.

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Lactic acid accumulation is less in red muscles while an abundant amount of lactic acid is accumulated in white muscles when they perform fast movements and their oxygen reserve ends up. Thus anaerobic glycolysis starts and more lactic acid is accumulated. The example of red muscles can be given as extensor muscles of back and erector spinae muscles. The example of white muscles can be given as eye muscles.

Comparison chart

Basis Red muscles White muscles
Definition Red muscles are named so because they appear darker in color due to the presence of an abundant amount of dark color fibers in them.White muscles are named so because they appear whitish in color due to the presence of an abundant amount of white color fibers in them.
Another name They are also termed as type 1 muscles.They are also termed as type 2 muscles.
Amount of myoglobin They have an abundant amount of myoglobin in them which gives them a darker color.They have less amount of myoglobin in them, and that is the reason they appear as whitish.
Fatigue They are not fatigued or burnt up early.They are burnt up and fatigued early because of fewer resources and high amount of movements.
Type of metabolism They perform aerobic metabolism mainly. (Aerobic glycolysis)First, they perform aerobic metabolism, but when their resources are exhausted, they perform anaerobic glycolysis.
Lactic acid accumulation Lactic acid accumulation is less because the major type of metabolism is aerobic glycolysis the end product of which is glucoseLactic acid accumulation is more because the anaerobic cycle starts early when resources are consumed.
Number of mitochondria They have an abundant number of mitochondria for the performance of aerobic metabolism.They have less number of mitochondria, and that is why they are shifted to anaerobic metabolism early.
Types of movements They perform slow twitching movements.They perform fast twitching movements.
Fibres thickness Their fibers are comparatively thin.Their fibers are comparatively thin.
Examples  The examples of red muscles can be given as extensor muscles of back, biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstring muscles and erector spinae muscle.The classic example is the muscles of the eye.
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What are the Red Muscles?

Red muscles are a type of muscles that are rich in myoglobin and have predominantly dark colored fibers and thus appear as dark colored.  They perform slow twitching movements. They are also termed as type 1 muscles. They have comparatively thin muscle fibers. These muscles have the ability to perform work for the long duration of time because they have an abundant number of mitochondria, but they do not show quick twitches. They are not fatigued early because of abundant resources. Major way of obtaining energy is aerobic glycolysis. Anaerobic metabolism may also take place when needed. These muscles have a rich blood supply. Their examples can be given as flexor and extensor muscles of back, biceps, triceps, and quadriceps.

What are the White Muscles?

These are also a type of skeletal muscles which have predominantly white colored fibers and thus appear as white. They have less amount of myoglobin and less number of mitochondria. The muscle fibers present in such types of muscles are thick and have the ability to perform rapid twitching movements. They obtain energy from aerobic glycolysis, but when their resources are burnt, they are shifted to anaerobic metabolism. Thus, abundant lactic acid is deposited in them which is the end product of anaerobic metabolism. They are fatigued early due to limited resources and blood supply.

Key differences

  1. Red muscles have an abundant amount of myoglobin and more number of mitochondria while white muscles have less amount of myoglobin and less number of mitochondria.
  2. Red muscles are slow twitching muscles while white muscles are fast twitching muscles.
  3. Red muscles have the ability to perform work for a long time while white muscles perform work for a short
  4. Red muscles are not tired early while white muscles are tired and exhausted early.
  5. In red muscles, lactic acid in accumulated in less amount because of predominant aerobic glycolysis but in white muscles, more lactic acid accumulation because anaerobic metabolism starts when resources are exhausted.
  6. The fibers of red muscles are thin while those of white muscles are thick.

Conclusion

Red and white muscles are the types of skeletal muscles which have some similarities and some differences. It is important for biology and medical students to know about the detail of these types of muscles. In the above article, we learned the clear differences in structure, function and other characteristics of these muscles.

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