Fast and Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers
The right form of training can be exciting to the mind and push the body past its ‘comfort zone’ to develop endurance. Many people agree that whatever training is carried out; there is no way to improve on speed. Fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers have their importance when focusing the body and mind on an increase in endurance. People with a higher proportion of high twitch muscle fibers are able to define their training to match their sport, such as sprinting.
Many people are already born with a balanced number of slow twitch and fast twitching muscle fibers. How they choose to train those muscles is their choice. There are 250+ million muscle fibers in the body and of that number, over 430 muscles can be voluntarily controlled. Connective tissue or collagen holds together the muscle fibre cells. Each fiber contains a membrane, abundant nuclei, and many thousands of myofibrils or inner strands, which run along the entire length of each fiber.
When a sporting skill is carried out, both the muscles and its muscle fibers co-operate. The movements are controlled via a message from the brain, which moves through the spinal cord and out into the muscles. These electrical signals then reach each muscle through the motor unit situated in the muscle. This is when an electrical charge takes place in the muscles and it contracts. The key to endurance is to know which actual muscle fibers contract and how often they fire.
Fast twitch fibers contract three times as fast as the slow twitch ’speed giving’ muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers twitch 30-70 times per second and contain a limited supply of oxygen. Speed training of any kind focuses on building the type IIb fibers, the turbo chargers in the muscle engines. The best sports to engage fast twitch muscle fibers are sprinting and training the muscles with weights, specifically with long rest periods and using low repetitions medium to heavy weight training. To engage these muscle fibers, focus is necessary, as fat twitch fibers are much lazier than their counterpart is. Affirmations or mantras are necessary, together with a surge of aggression to carry out the exercise.
Slow twitch fibers twitch 10-30 times per second and contain a rich supply of blood, useful in any aerobic exercise. Athletes with a greater amount of slow twitch fibers participate in triathlons, swimming, and canoeing, to name a few. An increase in muscle tissue does not take place by training the slow twitch muscle fibers. High repetitions of lightweight weight training, steadily paced endurance work, and high rep circuit training with short recovery periods works the slow twitch muscle fibers.
It is easier for fast twitch fibers to transfer into slow twitching ones, rather than the opposite, but training can definitely offer permanency dependent on the training stimulus. This may be why a long distance runner does not gain in speed after running a high mileage over many years. Repetitive endurance training does improve the overall aerobic energy metabolism ability of the muscles through an increase of capillaries in the body’s cells. This is why boxers, footballers, martial artists, racquet sports players, and rugby players do not benefit from steady runs, as it can slow them down over time.
Think of the human body like a the fast cheetah. The cheetah works its fast twitch fiber muscles in the same way. It waits all day to find its prey and its lazy fast twitch muscles suddenly engage as soon as its prey becomes visible. Forcing out the speed in the body is the key to building long-term endurance.