Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber Training

I had my own version of Lizz's cold breakfast this morning and I am feeling great! I added the oats and honey Bear Naked to my yogurt and it was delicious with a little peanut butter because I'm addicted to it. Filling yet healthy.

I also made a stop at the supermarket at 10pm last night to pick up the necessary ingredients to keep me from starving at work. It's noon and I'm feeling good!

On to the topic of choice this afternoon: fast twitch muscle fiber training. What the hell is that?

Our muscles have three main muscle fibers:

Type I: Slow Twitch Fibers. Type IIa: Fast Twitch Fibers. Type IIb: Fast Twitch Fibers.

Each have their own characteristics and are important for different types of movement. Genetics is the primary decider as to the percentage of muscle fibers you have compared to others.

Slow twitch fibers contract slowly and are ideal for endurance - exercising for a longer period of time. They are most resistant to fatigue but they do not produce high levels of force. Marathoners typically have more slow-twitch muscle fibers. They are able to run very long distances but the speed and force is not as powerful as an Olympic sprinter.

Fast twitch muscle fibers come in two types. Type IIa muscle fibers are fast, less fatigue resistant than slow-twitch muscle fibers, produce more force and contract faster. Useful for swimming.

Type IIb muscle fibers are fast, generate the most power, but fatigue the fastest. They are used for short-term anaerobic activity. Sprinters require a high-level of type IIb muscle fibers.

Every time I think about muscle fibers, I think of a football team. All the players are built differently and their power and strength are valuable for different reasons.

So, if we aren't built the same, then why do I care to train muscle fibers I don't even know I have? Well, they are all there, some are just more dominant than others.

Plyometric exercises can help you develop your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Another benefit for us women is the resulting increase in bone density. Examples of plyometric exercises are:

Squat jumps: 1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. 2. Arms by your side. 3. Lower your body into a squat position and immediately jump up in the air. Your arms should go over your head. Feel free to clap in order to ensure you have them up there. 4. Land on both feet. Rest for 1-2 seconds and repeat.

Do not hold your squat in between jumps. The point is to maximize FAST POWER.

Split Squat Jumps: 1. Stand with feet hip width apart. Move your left leg back - not very far - 2 ft. or so. 2. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to the floor and jump up. 3. Switch your feet in the air so your right leg is not behind you. Repeat.

Tuck Jumps - (what I am landing from in the pic on your right) 1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, with arms at sides. 2. Jump up while bringing knees up to chest. 3. Land on balls of feet



Good luck and keep jumping!