Can I increase my fast twitch muscle fibres?
There is a deep science to muscle fibre types and their roles but we’ll try to keep our response as simple as possible. You are born with 2 types of muscle fibres:
1. Type 1 – Slow twitch
2. Type 2 – Fast twitch (Type 2 fibres have a sub-category of Type 2a and Type 2b)
The ratio of your fibres is determined at birth and is completely random. For example, you can be born with a ratio of 70% slow twitch and 30% fast twitch.
What do they do?
Type 1 fibres are used for long, endurance activities so if you’re doing a 5km run, your Type 1 fibres will be at play.
Type 2 fibres are used for short, explosive bursts so if you’re throwing a ball fast, sprinting or jumping high, your Type 2 fibres are at play.
Why are fast twitch fibres so important?
The quicker you can activate those type 2 fibres, the more speed and power you will generate. Fast bowling is a high power, speed activity so having fast twitch fibres can be extremely beneficial to your ability to produce huge amounts of force at a rapid rate.
What if I’m not born with a lot of fast twitch fibres?
The great news is that you can train them. Your muscles are made up of fibres and with the right type of training, you can influence and convert your ratio of fibre type. Think of being born with fewer fast twitch fibres as a setback, that’s it.
How can I train them?
Contrary to what people think, heavy lifts actually develop Type 2 fibres. For example, to do a heavy deadlift, you need to recruit fibres fast in order to get the bar off the ground. If your movements are slow, you won’t get enough velocity through the bar and you will fail the lift. So heavy compound lifts can be great for developing fast twitch fibres.
Explosive movements like sprinting, jumping and throwing are also great for developing fast twitch fibres.
But you must remember..
Fast twitch fibres are only designed for short bursts so if you’re planning on sprinting for 5 minutes or doing 16 reps on a deadlift or throwing a medicine ball 100 times – you will not be training your fast twitch fibres. You need to keep your reps relatively low and high in speed and power output in order to make sure your body and fibres and being pushed to the absolute limit. Type 2 fibres fatigue very quickly and you need a fair amount of rest between sets in order to properly recover before you can go again. If you don’t follow these principles, you will be doing more harm than good!
Cheetah’s are the fastest animal on the ground. Why don’t they run at top speed all the time?
Those fast twitch fibres aren’t designed for that, they need rest!
I hope that helps.
All the best.
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