You might have heard an athlete or sportsperson taking about having powerful muscles and how their fast-twitch muscle training helped them. At first, this may sound a little weird for some people. But fast-twitch muscles are really a thing and it is entirely possible to do a certain exercise that focuses on one muscle fiber type.
So, what is this fast-twitch muscle, and why is it important to train it? Here’s everything you need to know about fast-twitch muscles.
Types of twitch muscle fibers
Before we deep dive into fast-twitch muscle fibers, you first need to know about twitch muscles. Twitch muscles are skeletal muscles that support your movement. They are thus crucial for working out. Technically, there are two types of twitch muscles. These are fast-twitch muscles and slow-twitch muscles. Fast-twitch muscles help with the sudden bursts of energy involved in activities like sprinting and jumping. On the other hand, slow-twitch muscles help with endurance activities like running and bicycling.
What are fast-twitch muscle fibers?
As mentioned earlier, fast-twitch muscles are responsible for high-intensity exercises like sprinting and heavy lifting, but only for short periods. They support short and quick bursts of energy. These short bursts of energy are possible because these muscles are anaerobic. They use the glucose that is already present in your body to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that provides energy to these muscle groups. There are two types of muscle fibres:
1. Type IIa
TypeIIa is known as oxidative-glycolytic muscles because they can use oxygen and glucose for energy. This type of fast-twitch muscles is not easily exhausted and can recover from a short, intense workout quickly.
2. Type IIb
Type IIb is known as non oxidative muscles because they don’t use any oxygen for energy. Instead, they only rely on glucose to produce energy. They are much larger than Type IIa muscles and thus they become worn out much faster.
Benefits of training your fast-twitch muscles
Whether you are a long-distance runner or a short sprint runner, if you want to get stronger and faster, you may want to consider training that focuses on different muscle fibres, especially your fast-twitch muscle fibres. Here are a few activities in which training your fast muscle might benefit you.
- High-Intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Strength training.
- Agility training.
How do you know if you have fast-twitch muscles?
Usually, most people are born with 50% slow-twitch muscle fibres and 50% fast-twitch muscle fibres. Only elite athletes might have 80% of fast-twitch muscle fibres. This allows them to excel in their respective sports. If you want to improve your muscle fibres you, need to train your specific muscle groups.
Techniques to engage your fast-twitch muscles:
1. Resistance training
Resistance training is a great way to stimulate muscle motor units to activate more muscle fibres. You can engage a greater number of fast-twitch muscle fibres if you use a heavier weight.
2. Power-based movements
Performing power-based, explosive movements like barbell, kettlebell, medicine ball or simple bodyweight exercises can improve your fast-twitch muscle fibers. You can also strengthen your fast-twitch muscles with the help of your body weight.
3. More rest time
Since fast-twitch muscle fibres deplete energy quickly, they require longer rest periods to allow recovery and to replace the spent ATP. So, more rest time after each explosive exercise is necessary to improve fast-twitch muscles.
If you want to improve in any sports or activities that require short, quick bursts of energy, then fast-twitch muscle training is the perfect solution. Moreover, training these muscles can increase your overall health and strength.