Fast twitch muscles, why they are so important.
I was recently watching some of the IAAF in DOHA and saw the South African, Akani Simbine run one of the best races I have seen in a while. His reaction time was 0.140. That is insanely fast. It got me thinking, how sprinters have such explosive power. Where does this power come from? Well, one of the biggest contributors to this unbelievably explosive power is fast twitch muscles.
What are fast twitch muscles?
Fast twitch muscles are one of two different muscle types. The body consists of slow twitch and fast twitch muscles. Each muscle is designed for a specific function. To move the skeleton or to assist with bodily functions. Fast twitch muscles are amazing though, the have enormous explosive power. This explosive power helps with exercises and sports which are high intensity and low durations. Such as sprints. Akani Simbine has some seriously powerful fast twitch muscles.
How are muscles powered?
As with other parts of the body, muscles require food. Food to grow, food to burn and food to keep going. Unlike Slow Twitch Muscles who use oxygen for fuel, Fast Twitch Muscles use anaerobic metabolism for fuel. These muscles are unbelievable powerful, they provide short burst of speed. However they fatigue easily.
How can I train my fast twitch muscles?
So, you might be thinking to yourself after watching Akani run, “Jeez, I wish I could do that too.” Well, the truth is you might be able to. You just need to train your fast twitch muscles.
Your body recruits muscle fibers based on the force demands placed upon it. If the force demands from an exercise are less, you’ll use more slow-twitch fibers. The greater the intensity—meaning percentage of your one-rep max, not just how strenuous an exercise feels—the more you’ll tap into fast-twitch fibers.
To put these principles into action, perform a heavy training day every 2-3 workouts. A good training split for a given body part could look like this:
- Heavy, 1-5 repetitions, 3-5 minutes rest, compound movements
- 8-12 repetitions, 60-90 seconds rest, mainly compound movements
- 12+ repetitions, 30-60 seconds rest, supersets, compound and isolation movements
On heavy days, prioritize movements that recruit the most muscle, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, dips, and pull-ups. On your 8-12 repetition days, keep workout density high and hammer out repetitions one after the other. Regardless of the pain you may experience, don’t pause in the middle of a set.
Are you willing to work for a shot at the 100m dash?