How Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers Can Save The World!

July 28, 2010 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

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The Athletic Way!

We all know that I entered the world of fitness by becoming a fresh out of high school pro athlete, (Ahh… the memories) And that was where I built the foundation of my fitness knowledge, which I now share with you today (100/200meters sprint was my event).

Now, I don’t expect all of you to train at the level I trained at back then (Although some of you insane types will).

Running 4 x 400 metre sprints with only a 2 minute rest in-between (Which often results in throwing up around lap 3!)

However, being a 100 meter sprint runner requires that you focus on increasing your fast twitch muscle fibers (Explosive energy). And explosive energy is just what you need in your weightlifting workouts.

Why?

Because that’s what will make your muscles grow.


Remember this?

1) Start with lightweights – This will allow you to understand how to lift the weights properly regardless of the exercise.

2) Do the exercise properly – Once you have mastered how to do it, focus on control and execution.

3) Lift at moderate speed – Explosive yes! But not fast and not slow.

4) Increase the weight – Do the above 3, but always aim to increase the weight.

Train like that and your muscles will grow. But today I’m going to share with you some of the techniques I used to increase my explosive strength throughout my whole body when I was training as an athlete. Techniques that can actually be used by fitness enthusiasts like yourselves (Not the heavy duty pro athlete stuff).


Some rules

Remember this post….

The Complete Guide To Bodybuilding Injury Prevention

It was there where I mentioned that different stretching techniques are required based on the sport in question. I know you are not a 100 meter runner, but the following warm up, warm down session for this type of training will consist of…

  • Leg lifts
  • Short jogging sessions
  • Walking after jogging sessions
  • Stretches (Many of which are described in the post above)
  • Stretches to warm down

Fast twitch muscle fiber building.


#1 Quick Feet (Tap, tap, tap, tap)

Now, I know you aren’t practicing to be a 100m or 200m runner anytime soon. But one of the first techniques you get taught to improve explosive strength is to lift you knees when you run and snap your feet back towards the ground as fast as you can, so that the motion feels like…

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap!

Lifting your knees while running may feel awkward at first, but what you are actually doing here is using the full range of motion that your legs have to offer. And it will look like you are running in a ‘sitting on your butt’ stance.

However, once you do this, you allow your legs to be used to their full potential. That means you are using your legs at full extension while practising the fast leg push down to the ground action. This will, in time, activate your fast twitch muscle fibers to the max.

The next stage

Quick feet = quick hands

The other benefit to the high knees/ quick feet technique is that you will also activate the fast twitch muscle fibers in your arms, because your arms will naturally move at the same speed that you move your legs.

The next stage after that

You will find your self running up stairs the same way! Not just walking up them. In fact, you can use running upstairs as a test of your improvement in explosive strength.

Heck… I haven’t trained like this in years, yet I still do this test, on the daily without even thinking about it!

How to perform this technique?

  • Find a track or open space in a field
  • Start your sprint in a standing first foot forward position

First stride

  • Lift your knee up to waist height
  • Snap you feet back to the ground as fast as you can

Second stride

  • Same thing

Your back

  • This is where you make yourself look like a super fast moving human robot. You need to keep your back and shoulders completely stationary as you move your legs as described above.

Your arms

  • Your forearms are the only part of your arms that should be moving.

Practice

  • Stand in a stationary position
  • Lock your arms by your side
  • Swing them in a running motion, but keep your elbows in the same position

Now start the run

You will notice that your arms and legs will naturally sync together when moving

That’s the full motion. The key thing you need to focus on now is snapping your feet towards the ground as you move in the sprint (sprint training technique described below).

Keep this up and those fast twitch muscle fibers will take you to the moon and assist you in all aspects of your training. Cardio and resistance!

#2  Push Up Position Block Starts

How ironic is this eh?

The training technique that caused my first shoulder dislocation is the same technique I am providing you with now!

Does that mean I’m trying to put you on the fast track to life long shoulder injury?

Of course not!

The main reason why my shoulder popped out was because of bad execution. I moved out of the push up position and into the sprint position far too quickly without controlling my arms correctly.

That was…

1) Push up position

2) Shoulder up and in an outwards motion on take off

3) Then over and forward

And BAM! First time ever my shoulder falls out of its socket.


DO AS I SAY NOW, AND NOT AS I DID THEN!

1) Push up position

2) Use your feet to drive yourself forward in an explosive motion

3) Drive your arms directly forward as you migrate into the sprint position

That is the explosive motion that will begin to activate the effectiveness of your fast twitch muscle fibers. One thing you can do to ensure that you don’t face injury is to practice the technique and start slow. Then speed it up as you get better. Just remember that the whole motion is one explosive movement.

The benefit

Performing this technique will greatly improve the explosive speed of your entire body, because all the muscles of the body are being used. This may come in handy when exercising in your high intensity (short) cardio workouts. Which of course is great when the goal is fat loss.

How to turn this into exercise activity?

Start practicing very short sprint bursts. Lets say, 30-meter sprints at around 5-6 sprints per session.

Now, there are other techniques you can use to activate your fast twitch muscle fibers, but I won’t describe them here.

Why?

Because they are very specific to actual pro athletes, and that is not what you are trying to be. The main thing you want to do is make your body work so that it looks and feels like a million dollars. That’s your entire body! Not just ‘this bit’ and ‘that bit’. And in this case, the focus is on building your fast twitch muscles.

#3  Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers Are More Important Than You Think

In fact, fast twitch muscle fibers can save the world!

Literally!

How?

Well first a few benefits of fast twitch muscle fibers

  • Super duper anti aging agent
  • Excellent at reducing body fat (high intensity short cardio workouts = fat loss!)

Which means you could live well into your 60′s, 70′s or even 80′s and still be fighting fit as if you are still in your 40′s 50′s.

ONLY IF….

You start building and maintaining your fast twitch muscle fibers before your 20th birthday!

Yes, I know most of you are probably well over the hill in this case, and you’re probably thinking,

‘Damn… life really is short’

You see, I learnt very early on that us humans actually start fading away to our deaths once you hit the big TWO-ZERO.

In terms of how this affects you… the fitness freak?

It means that your muscles start wasting away at the start of your twenties. In fact, slow twitch muscles don’t even account for half of the entire muscle mass of your body. That means most of you. Which also means you are all stuffed!! Life over.

Once your muscles have faded, it’s over.

… Well, not quite.

You can always build them back up with…

  1. Plyometrics
  2. Sprint training (Heeeey… that’s what today’s post is about :))

It will just take time.

So as you can see, there really is more to building fast twitch muscles than meets the eye. And if the entire world focused on this, health care would be less of an issue and weight related illnesses would cease to exist (Well… nearly).

If you are just leaving your teens, lucky you! You’ve been saved. If you’re over the hill and long past that age, practice the above.

Either way, fast twitch muscles really can save the world, but more importantly,

  • Improve your performance in your workouts
  • Help you build lean muscle mass
  • Retain your youth

See you in the comments.

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