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How To Train Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers

By Cloe Neophytou on April 08, 2014

There are many ways to train fast twitch muscle fibers, short explosive weighted gym exercises or out on the track sprinting are the most common to develop increased reaction, speed and power.

Between 1-5 reps of explosive weighted exercises such as power cleans, bench press, half squats and leg press will build your fast twitch fibers. Plyometric training is another method used to increase your explosiveness. Plyometic training includes exercises like box jumps, bounding, hurdles, explosive push ups/clap push-ups etc.

The way in which the exercise is performed also makes a difference, in order to target your fast twitch muscle fibers you want to make it as explosive as possible. For example when I perform 5 reps on the bench press or ½ squat my focus is exploding on the ‘up’ phase. For me this way of training is important during certain phases of the season when I need to increase my power, speed and strength. Obviously depending on your sport it may be different.

During my power gym program I always have 3 minutes rest between each set. As boring as the rest may be if I don’t do it I can’t perform the exercise as well, with such a heavy weight my performance decreases dramatically. By having the full recovery in the gym or on the track it allows the ATP (adenosine triphosphate - the biochemical way to store and use energy) to replenish allowing you to exert the same amount of energy into that exercise without your performance suffering. I always finish a program (gym or track) with the last exercise/run as my heaviest or fastest as I am using my energy efficiently therefore finishing stronger not weaker.

Sprint work whether on a bike, rower or on the track are other forms of training your fast twitch muscle fibers. 5-10 seconds of maximal effort is predominantly using pure explosive speed and power. Working up to 30-40 seconds the lactic acid system kicks in which is when you get that burn sensation. Performance usually starts to decrease when this system takes over, requiring more recovery (3-5 minutes depending on the exercise) than only performing 5-10 second bursts (about 1 minute rest).

This form of training has helped improve my power, speed, strength and anaerobic threshold. Depending on your phase of training and sport you are involved in this can be a very useful and beneficial method of training. It requires a lot of focus and recovery so ensure you are under the correct guidance to gain the most out of this type of training.