Fast twitch muscle exercises are designed to stimulate and train the fast twitch muscles. Improving your athletic performance depends a lot on the fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fiber composition in your body. In virtually all sports, whether it’s sprinting in track and field, shooting a basketball, delivering a killer tennis serve, running a marathon, or throwing a punch, the condition and action of your muscle fibers are critical to athletic success.
Every sport uses a combination of both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers, though in some sports one type of muscle can dominate. The use of different muscle types also varies by sport, how long and intensively you do it, and whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced athlete. Fast twitch muscle exercises are designed to engage those muscles, and are necessary for improving certain actions that require a burst of controlled activity, like vertical jumps.
Fast twitch muscles exercises are high intensity exercises that require short bursts of activity. They’re anaerobic as opposed to aerobic. In other words, fast twitch muscle exercises are not about the cardio or increasing oxygen uptake, they’re about the power – and power that’s intense and controlled.
Since fast twitch muscle fibers are the light-colored muscles, they contain lower levels of iron, which is where oxygen is stored. These muscles don’t need the reserves of oxygen that the slow twitch muscle fibers, which keep you going during a marathon or long distance bike race, require for sustained stamina.
Fast twitch muscle exercises are usually more complex, due to the fact that there are several types of fast twitch muscles, which are categorized into three subgroups: the fast oxidative fibers which are resistant against fatigue, the fast glycolytic fibers that are more efficient anaerobically, and the intermediate or fast oxidative glycolytic. You don’t need to remember those, but you do need to know that the fast twitch muscles fatigue quickly and are the slowest of all muscles to recover.
What’s ironic is slow twitch muscles actually twitch faster – and recover faster from exercise – compared to fast twitch muscles! This is why you don’t feel very sore after cycling for an hour, but your thigh muscles hurt like hell after doing fast twitch muscle exercises like jump squats.
The quick reflex reactions inside your fast twitch muscles require large amounts of force – step quickness, jumping, sprinting, pivoting. That force plus the lower oxygen levels create chemical reactions that cause the soreness. Without oxygen, fast twitch muscle fibers tighten up. In fact, a fast twitch muscle’s peak lasts only 30-45 seconds before it needs rest!
The best fast twitch muscles exercises for virtually any sport are:
This is where you rebound fast and high from a fully crouched position. It’s the same as a squat, but when you come back up you jump – as high as you can! Then go immediately back down. Two of three sets of 10 of these is a good workout.
Heavy Squats – Uptempo
These fast twitch muscles exercises develop the overall of the muscle fibers, which in turn will give you a lot more power for vertical jumps and overall quickness.
You do this like a regular squat, but increase the speed at which you go up. So if it takes you three seconds to go down and three seconds to go up, try go to the standing position in just one second. Not easy! Two sets of 10 each can be pretty challenging.
This is another of the fast twitch muscle exercises that can improve your overall quickness. You start by standing about three feet from a wall. Take the first two steps toward the wall and jump up as high off the ground as possible on the third step, reaching up and touching the wall as high as you can. If you keep track of how high you touch with some chalk on your fingers, you’ll be able to track your progress. 10 jumps per leg is a great workout.
Fast twitch muscles are very challenging on your body and should never be done on back-to-back days if you want to avoid injury. You need at least one full day of rest between fast twitch muscle exercises that tax a specific body part (like your legs).
Not that you understand the significance of concentrating on the right kind of muscle fibers, get to work on some fast twitch muscle exercises to improve that burst of quickness on the playing field.