Difference Between Red Muscle and White Muscle

Main Difference

Muscles are one of an important component of our body. It is defined as a bundle or band of fibrous tissue in animals that has the capability of producing movement by contraction and relaxation. Their major function is to give strength to the body and support it; it also produces movements. There are three major categories of muscles: Skeletal muscles, Cardiac muscles, and Smooth muscles. Here, skeletal muscles are further divided into red muscle and white muscle. Red muscles are the muscles in which dark bands or fibers are dominant, and they contain a large amount of myoglobin and mitochondria in it, whereas white muscles are the muscles in which white fibers are dominant, and they have a small amount of myoglobin and mitochondria in them. Another major difference between red muscle and white muscle is that red muscles are slow twitch muscles while white muscles are fast twitch muscles.

Comparison Chart

Red MuscleWhite Muscle
Mitochondrial ConcentrationRed muscle is rich in mitochondrial concentration, myoglobin and blood supply.White muscles have low mitochondrial concentration, myoglobin and blood supply.
Also, Known AsRed muscle is called type I or slow twitch muscles because they show slow twitching and have a low rate of fatigue.White muscles are called type II or fast twitch muscles because they show fast twitching and have a high rate of fatigue.
DiameterRed muscle have thin muscle fibers, they have dark fibers in them and are dominantly seen due to which they give the red color appearance.White muscle have thick muscle fibers, they have light or white fibers in them and are dominantly seen due to which they give the white color appearance.
WorkRed muscle can perform prolonged work.White muscle can perform short time work.
Contraction & PowerRed muscle shows a slow contraction and low power.White muscle shows a fast contraction and more power.
Fatigue & AccumulationRed muscles show less fatigue and have a low accumulation of lactic acid.White muscles show fast fatigue and have a high accumulation of lactic acid.

What are Red Muscles?

Red muscles are a type of skeletal muscle that is rich in mitochondrial concentration, myoglobin and blood supply. These are also called type I or slow twitch muscles because they show slow twitching and have a low rate of fatigue. These muscles work for long and do not show quick or early fatigue due to rich contents in them. Moreover, red muscles have thin muscle fibers, they have dark fibers in them and are dominantly seen due to which they give the red color appearance. Red muscles have a lot of mitochondria, but they still show slow contraction and power due to which they can perform more work. Red muscles use aerobic metabolism, so there is no accumulation of lactic acid during continuous work. These muscles have small motor units in them. A common example of red muscle is muscles of back (ex-tensors) or erector spine muscles etc.

What are White Muscles?

White muscles are a type of skeletal muscle that has low mitochondrial concentration, myoglobin and blood supply. These are also called type II or fast twitch muscles because they show fast twitching and have a high rate of fatigue. These muscles are suitable for short-time work and show quick or early fatigue due to low contents in them. Moreover, white muscles have thick muscle fibers, they have light or white fibers in them and are dominantly seen due to which they give the white color appearance. White muscles have a low quantity of mitochondria, but they still show a fast contraction and more power due to which they can perform less work and fatigue early. White muscles use anaerobic metabolism, so they have an accumulation of lactic acid during continuous work. These muscles have large motor units in them. A common example of white muscle is the muscle of eye etc.

Red Muscle vs. White Muscle

  • Red muscles are rich in mitochondrial concentration, myoglobin and blood supply, whereas white muscles have low mitochondrial concentration, myoglobin and blood supply.
  • Red muscle is called type I or slow twitch muscles because they show slow twitching and have a low rate of fatigue whereas, white muscles are called type II or fast twitch muscles because they show fast twitching and have a high rate of fatigue.
  • Red muscle have thin muscle fibers, they have dark fibers in them and are dominantly seen due to which they give the red color appearance and contrary to this, white muscle has thick muscle fibers, they have light or white fibers in them and are dominantly seen due to which they give the white color appearance.
  • Red muscle can perform prolonged work, whereas white muscle can perform short time work.
  • Red muscle show slow contraction and low power, on the other hand, white muscle show a fast contraction and more power.
  • Red muscles show less fatigue and have a low accumulation of lactic acid, whereas white muscles show fast fatigue and have a high accumulation of lactic acid.

Comparison Video

YouTube video
Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White

View all posts by Janet White