Tag Archives: slow-twitch muscle

Why Are You Still Jogging?

3 Jun

Adrian Peterson, Leon HallLong duration aerobic exercise (AE) is well-known for its impact on exercise performance, particularly with regard to enhanced maximal aerobic capacity.  However,high-intensity sprint training (HIT) can yield similar, and even better, results than aerobic exercise, with less time spent training.  Research indicates that AE is not required to improve metabolic/cardiovascular fitness and, in some cases, may be less effective than HIT.

Although AE is beneficial — and any exercise is generally better than none — there are some consequences of AE that should be considered:

  • Long-duration AE can elevate cortisol, an inflammatory hormone (released as a response to stress) that promotes muscle loss (via protein breakdown) and fat storage.
  • Chronic AE increases the amount of slow-twitch (Type 1) muscle fibers, decreasing the potential for power production and compromising anaerobic exercise performance.

HIT, in addition to yielding comparable metabolic benefit (as compared to AE), decreases overall body fat, increases lean body (muscle) mass, and promotes development of fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle fibers.

If you’re an athlete, pick up the pace and add sprint and interval training to your cardio training regimen.

If you’re not an athlete, you too should pick up the pace.  Increasing the intensity of your cardio training applies broadly to walking, running, and biking; as well as the treadmill, elliptical, and stairclimber.

Researchers note that AE may be an acceptable exercise choice for anaerobic athletes if used minimally and far away from the competitive sport season.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Heavy Lifting Leads to Faster Gains

31 Jul

isThis from Men’s Health:  Lifting to failure with a heavy weight activates 53% more muscle fibers than doing so with a light one, according to a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

Keep your loads at a level that allows 6-10 repetitions per set, but don’t eliminate light loads completely, says lead study author Brad Schoenfeld, PhD.

Perform 6-10 rep sets, with heavier loads, and (occasionally incorporate) 20-30 rep sets, with lighter loads, to ensure that you activate both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers.  This strategy will help you maximize your overall growth.

When lifting heavy loads, remember to increase the poundage gradually, in order to minimize the potential for injury; and allow adequate time for rest and recovery between sets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Why Are You Still Jogging?

26 Apr

Adrian Peterson, Leon HallLong duration aerobic exercise (AE) is well-known for its impact on exercise performance, particularly with regard to enhanced maximal aerobic capacity.  However, high-intensity sprint training (HIT) can yield similar, and even better, results than aerobic exercise, with less time spent training.  Research indicates the AE is not required to improve metabolic/cardiovascular fitness and, in some cases, may be less effective than HIT.

Although AE is beneficial — and any exercise is generally better than none — there are some consequences of AE that should be considered:

  • Long-duration AE can elevate cortisol, an inflammatory hormone (released as a response to stress) that promotes muscle loss (via protein breakdown) and fat storage.
  • Chronic AE increases the amount of slow-twitch (Type 1) muscle fibers, decreasing the potential for power production and compromising anaerobic exercise performance.

HIT, in addition to yielding comparable metabolic benefit (as compared to AE), decreases overall body fat, increases lean body (muscle) mass, and promotes development of fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle fibers.

If you’re an athlete, pick up the pace and add sprint and interval training to your cardio training regimen.

If you’re not an athlete, you too should pick up the pace.  Increasing the intensity of your cardio training applies broadly to walking, running, and biking; as well as the treadmill, elliptical, and stairclimber.

Researchers note that AE may be an acceptable exercise choice for anaerobic athletes if used minimally and far away from the competitive sport season.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Developing Fast-Twitch Muscle to Improve Power Output

16 Aug

Most sports are played with alternating intervals of high-intensity, short-duration bursts of energy (sprinting, jumping, etc.), and lower-intensity, longer-duration phases.  For example, the average football play lasts about five seconds, followed by about 20-25 seconds when the players regroup and prepare for the next play.  Your body’s fast-twitch muscles are responsible for these quick, explosive surges.

With regard to sports performance (as well as most other activities) your body utilizes three types of muscle fibers:

  • Type I are slow-twitch muscle fibers; they are designed for endurance.
  • Type IIb are fast-twitch muscle fibers; they are responsible for “all-or-nothing” jumps, sprints, and lifts; these muscles are your body’s largest, and have the most growth potential.
  • Type IIa are “in-between” muscle fibers; these muscles can stay on task for minutes at a time.

When it comes to recruiting muscle, your body is very efficient.  It doesn’t use its type IIb fibers unless it has to.  To produce movement, your body recruits muscle fibers in an orderly progression from smallest to largest.

If you pick up the pace, you send larger fibers into action – starting with the IIa kind.  The IIb fibers don’t figure into the mix until you’re working at about two-thirds of your maximum capacity – the equivalent of a fast run or a moderately heavy weightlifting set.

When your goal is to target IIb fibers and make them bigger and stronger as a result, you have two options:

  • Lifting a near-max weight
  • Lifting a lighter weight as fast as possible

What won’t work is grinding out sets of 10 to 12 reps at a steady, deliberate speed.

There’s also a third way to recruit your IIb fibers: balance exercises.  Here’s how balance exercises work to facilitate force development: Your body relies on feedback from loops of nerves that travel from muscles to spinal cord and back again.  Balance exercises help develop force faster by activating IIb muscles sooner and, in the process, helping muscles grow bigger and stronger.  Balance training is also a proven injury reduction strategy, but more about that in a later post.

Put these principles to work for you; improve your performance and gain an edge on your competition!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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