Difference Between Red and White Muscle

Red muscle and white muscle are skeletal muscles which perform various functions in the body. Red muscles are named so because they are dense with capillaries and are rich in myoglobin and mitochondria – which gives it a characteristic red appearance. On the other hand, white muscles have comparatively less mitochondria and myoglobin, giving the muscles a “whitish” appearance. Read on to explore more differences between the red and white muscle.

Difference Between White Muscle and Red Muscle Fibers

Red Muscle Fibers

White Muscle Fibers


Red muscles are a type of skeletal muscle which are dense with capillaries and is rich in myoglobin and mitochondria

White muscles are also a type of skeletal muscle, but contains lower amounts of myoglobin and mitochondria


More in number

Comparatively less in number

Sarcoplasmic Reticulum

Red muscles have reduced quantities of SR

White muscles have more SR


Can perform aerobic oxidation without accumulating much lactic acid – hence, can contract for long periods of time

Performs anaerobic oxidation and accumulates lactic acid much quicker than red muscles – hence, gets fatigued after short bursts of contraction

Rate of Contractions

Slow rate of contraction

Fast rate of contraction


Extensor muscle

Muscles of the eyes

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