If you’ve always thought muscles were muscles, and, aside from the shape and size of them, they were made of exactly the same types of fibres – then you are in for a real eye-opener which can benefit your training immensely.
Let’s start with the basics…
Each of our muscles are made up of many small muscle fibres. These fibres are able to contract and relax, which pulls on the tendons which are attached to our bones, which provides range of motion from the joints.
It’s odds on that you already knew this.
But, did you know that the actual fibres themselves aren’t all the same. No. In fact, your muscles are a mix of different types of muscle fibres, very different in fact.
As strange as it sounds, imagine your muscles as an Olympic team of both long distance runners and sprinters. Now, the long distance runners are the guys who have the endurance, but they don’t possess the explosive strength of the sprinters over short distances. And, while the sprinters can run like cheetahs over a short distance, they simply can’t perform over a distance – even if they pace themselves.
So what happens is this:
- Long distance runners always run the long distance events.
- Sprinters always run the sprinting events.
And that is precisely what goes on with your muscles. Each of your muscles is made up of slow twitch (endurance) and fast twitch (explosive) muscle fibres. In fact, it’s not even as black and white as that. There is a whole spectrum of fibres, each built to perform very slow, slow, average, fast, super fast.
The advantage of knowing this is this: with different training methods (high reps/endurance and low reps/explosive) you can target each of the different types of muscle fibre for maximum, balanced strength and performance – and size.