What Are Fast Twitch Muscle Fibres?

Find out what are fast twitch muscle fibres, why do you need them, and how to train to build more of these fibres.

fast twitch muscle fibres fibers

What is fast twitch muscle fibre?

Fast twitch muscle fibres are a type of muscle fibre that contracts quickly and forcefully but fatigues relatively quickly compared to slow twitch fibres.

These fibres are primarily responsible for generating short bursts of power and speed, making them important for activities like sprinting, weightlifting, and jumping. They rely on anaerobic metabolism for energy production, which means they don’t require oxygen to function but can’t sustain activity for long periods without fatigue setting in.

Muscle fiber types chart Source: NASM

The benefits of having strong fast twitch

1Higher explosive power

Fast-twitch muscles enable quick and forceful contractions, allowing you to generate explosive power for activities like sprinting, jumping, and weightlifting.

2Better speed and agility

These muscles contribute to swift movements and rapid changes in direction, enhancing your speed and agility in sports and other physical activities.

3High intensity performance

Fast-twitch fibres are vital for high-intensity activities that require short bursts of maximal effort, such as sprinting or performing rapid movements in sports like basketball or tennis.

4 Improved metabolic efficiency

Fast-twitch fibres rely on anaerobic metabolism, which enhances your body’s ability to tolerate and utilize energy in the absence of oxygen, improving overall metabolic efficiency.

5Injury prevention

Strong fast-twitch muscles can provide better support and stability to joints, reducing the risk of injury during dynamic movements or sudden changes in direction.

6Better functional performance

Developing fast-twitch muscles contributes to overall functional performance in daily activities, ensuring you can react quickly and effectively to various physical demands.

fast twitch muscles fibres

How to build your fast twitch muscles?

Proper nutrition and recovery

Ensure you’re consuming enough protein and calories to support muscle growth and repair. Adequate rest and recovery are also crucial for optimizing muscle adaptation and growth.

Engage in explosive sports and activities

Engage in sports and activities that require quick bursts of power and speed, such as basketball, soccer, or martial arts. Regular participation in these activities can help develop fast-twitch muscle fibres and enhance athletic performance.

Practice High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief recovery periods. This type of training stimulates fast-twitch muscle fibres and promotes muscle growth and power.

Plyometric exercises

Plyometrics, such as jump squats, box jumps, and explosive push-ups, focus on rapid muscle contractions and help develop fast-twitch muscle fibres by improving speed, power, and agility.

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Strength training with heavy loads

Lift heavy weights using compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. These exercises recruit fast-twitch muscle fibres to handle the high loads, promoting muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.

Sprint training

Incorporate sprint intervals into your cardio routine. Sprinting engages fast-twitch muscle fibres and improves speed, explosiveness, and anaerobic capacity.

Let’s sum Up

Fast twitch muscle fibres contract quickly and powerfully but tire rapidly compared to slow twitch fibres, crucial for activities like sprinting and weightlifting. They rely on anaerobic metabolism and are essential for explosive power, speed, and agility. Developing these muscles through activities like plyometrics, HIIT, and heavy strength training enhances performance and reduces injury risk. Proper nutrition, rest, and engaging in explosive sports further promote fast twitch muscle growth.

Not enough? Here are some more from our colleagues!

If you want to go deeper into the topic of fast twitch muscle fibre, check out this video by longevity expert Dr. Peter Attia and Andy Galpin, professor of Kinesiology from California State University at Fullerton.

Healthypedia FAQ

Fast twitch muscle fibers are a type of muscle fiber that contracts quickly and forcefully but tires relatively quickly compared to slow twitch fibers. They play a key role in generating short bursts of power and speed during activities like sprinting, jumping, and weightlifting.

Fast twitch muscles contract rapidly and with great force but fatigue quickly, whereas slow twitch muscles contract more slowly and with less force but have greater endurance. Fast twitch muscles are suited for activities requiring quick, explosive movements, while slow twitch muscles are better for prolonged, endurance-based activities.

Strong fast twitch muscles offer benefits such as higher explosive power, better speed and agility, improved metabolic efficiency, reduced risk of injury, and enhanced functional performance in daily activities.

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