Adequate levels of physical activity are at the center of a healthy lifestyle. However, the molecular mechanisms that mediate the beneficial effects of exercise remain enigmatic. This gap in knowledge is caused by the lack of an amenable experimental model system. Therefore, we optimized electric pulse stimulation of muscle cells to closely recapitulate the plastic changes in gene expression observed in a trained skeletal muscle. The exact experimental conditions were established using the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1alpha (PGC-1alpha) as a marker for an endurance-trained muscle fiber. We subsequently compared the changes in the relative expression of metabolic and myofibrillar genes in the muscle cell system with those observed in mouse muscle in vivo following either an acute or repeated bouts of treadmill exercise. Importantly, in electrically stimulated C2C12 mouse muscle cells, the qualitative transcriptional adaptations were almost identical to those in trained muscle, but differ from the acute effects of exercise on muscle gene expression. In addition, significant alterations in the expression of myofibrillar proteins indicate that this stimulation could be used to modulate the fiber-type of muscle cells in culture. Our data thus describe an experimental cell culture model for the study of at least some of the transcriptional aspects of skeletal muscle adaptation to physical activity. This system will be useful for the study of the molecular mechanisms that regulate exercise adaptation in muscle.