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04.09.2015, admin  
Category: Body Supplement

With any discussion of athletic performance one topic that arises again and again without fail is the topic of muscle fiber type. There are three primary muscle fiber types in humans — Type I, Type IIA, and Type IIB. Individual muscles are made up of individual muscle fibers and these fibers are further organized into motor units grouped within each muscle. When you engage in very low intensity activities like lifting a spoon to your mouth, your brain recruits motor units that have a smaller number of muscle fibers and the fibers that make up these smaller motor units are slow twitch, meaning they don’t contract as fast or contract with the same level of force as type II fast twitch motor units and fibers.
The body recruits the lower threshold motor units first (slow-twitch), followed by the higher threshold motor units (fast-twitch) and continues to recruit and fire motor units until you’ve applied enough force to do whatever it is you’re trying to do regarding movement.
When engaging in high intensity or high force activities you get lots of motor unit activation and thus a lot of force.
Now, when we realize that sports movements usually occur in around 200 milliseconds or less, if you look at the time to peak power of the individual muscle fibers, it should then become obvious that each type (I,IIA,IIB) has enough time to reach peak power production. This can be documented when you analyze a large group of athletes for vertical jump performance and their style of executing a vertical jump.
Although having a high % of FT fibers may give one an advantage, there is little doubt that the nervous system is actually much more important and should take precedence.
You see, the type of fiber expressed as far as type I vs Type II is controlled by the nervous system. In the laboratory you can take a nerve from a motor unit that supplies a slow twitch muscle fiber and replace it with one that supplies a fast twitch fiber and the slow twitch fiber will behave just like a fast twitch fiber! Normally the body inhibits the contraction of all available muscle fibers as a protective mechanism.
Another reason that fiber typing may be largely disregarded is that studies in both man and animal have consistently shown a fast to slow conversion in response to training of any kind. The fast to slow conversion may seem like paradoxical and obviously would be for a speed or power athlete but it makes sense when you consider survival. Fast to slow (IIB to IIA) transformations are also seen in hypothyroidism which is characteristic of the body being in a starved state. According to Caleb Stone the reverse is true of hyperthyroidism, hyperinsulinemia, and leptin administration – where slow to fast transformations are seen.
This is further illustrated if you compare the performance capabilities and physiques of top-level sprinters, powerlifters, bodybuilders, baseball pitchers etc.
It should also be noted that having good neural factors correlates with having lots of fast twitch fiber (both type IIA&B). The point to take home is that if you have less then 3 years of consistent training experience you should be “aware” of muscle fiber type and give it consideration, but don’t obsess about it.
Having warned you ahead of time that muscle typing is often overrated and less important then other factors, I still believe it is of significance for those who have everything dialed in. If you were to look at a muscle biopsy you’d see both red and white along with various shades of each. As mentioned before you can’t take a completely red (pure endurance fiber) and turn it into a completely white (fast twitch) fiber but the intermediate fibers (IIA), which would be the various shades you see in a muscle biopsy are plastic and you can transform them into more of a red (slow twitch) version or more of a white (fast twitch) version. In training you can accomplish this by focusing your training on strength, power, and speed dominant activities. Now, for those who really want to zero in on ultra fast twitch muscle conversion there is plenty of ammo out there to use. Complete detraining is not much of an option because you lose more neural efficiency and muscle cross sectional size then can be made up for by any enhanced muscular subtype. Some studies show IIa fibers to produce equal force at low velocities compared with IIb, so a rep done under typical strength training conditions (loads only as high as the concentric 1 RM and low velocities) can be adequately handled by IIa. From here one could logically conclude that a training program incorporating movements with a premium on creating a lot of force at high velocities would preferentially induce more expression of these fibers. Another option would be to simply perform the drop and attempt to stabilize the load towards the bottom as quickly as possible. Short duration heavy isometrics (<10 seconds) in the weakest joint angle of a movement may also be useful to create strength gains without causing negative fast to slow conversions but the jury is still out here. Sprint training would also seem like a viable option and would be when used at low enough volume as some studies demonstrate. However, the volumes of training used by sprinters are often enough to signal the need for increased efficiency.
There is one caveat with this training and that is it must be prescribed in a dose so as to induce better proficiency without inducing efficiency.
If one wanted to put together a short mini-cycle strictly to focus on this one could set up something like this. One problem with the above plan is it obviously neglects other components of fitness needed for ongoing performance such as general conditioning, work capacity, and size.
Before getting into the long term plan it’s first necessary to talk about the muscular changes that occur with detraining. This seems to explain the numerous performance records that are set when an individual comes back from a layoff. On a personal note, in the past 13 years I have always trained a minimum of 5 days per week. If one were to combine the above knowledge it would be fairly easy to design a longer training cycle to take advantage of this phenomenon. Friedmann B, Kinscherf R, Vorwald S, Muller H, Kucera K, Borisch S, Richter G, Bartsch P, Billeter R. Bee G, Solomon MB, Czerwinski SM, Long C, Pursel VG Correlation between histochemically assessed fiber type distribution and isomyosin and myosin heavy chain content in porcine skeletal muscles.
Tesch PA, Wright JE, Vogel JA, Daniels WL, Sharp DS, Sjodin B The influence of muscle metabolic characteristics o­n physical performance. Morner SE, Canepari M, Bottinelli R, Cappelli V, Reggiani C Effects of Amrinone on shortening velocity, force development and ATPase activity of demembranated preparations of rat ventricular myocardium.
Houmard JA, O’Neill DS, Zheng D, Hickey MS, Dohm GL Impact of hyperinsulinemia o­n myosin heavy chain gene regulation. If they did you’d be knocking yourself in the head with a spoon everytime you sat down to eat!! As the intensity needed to apply force increases, so does the number of motor units involved in the task, particularly the number of fast twitch or high threshold motor units.
When you are lifting something extremely heavy or applying a lot of force your body will contract practically all the available motor units for that particular muscle.
Both of these sub-groups are capable of greater levels of absolute force than type I and also fatigue a lot quicker. Athletes with more FT fibers (A&B) change direction a bit quicker during their countermovement (down to up) switch and they tend to use less knee bend. Nerves that control and connect to a group of motor units run from the brain to the motor unit and are hardwired in the brain.
The majority of the time, the real limit to your performance is the number of motor units your nervous system can recruit in the short amount of time you have in a sporting movement and the amount of horsepower (size of the muscle cells) under control of those motor units, not the type of muscle fiber (slow twitch or fast) that comprises those motor units. Recall that the average person can only recruit around 50% of their muscle motor units anyway.

What these all have in common is they are characteristic of the body being in an overfed state.
During intensive training their IIB % actually decreased even though their sprint times improved. The research states that the largest, most powerful, and strongest fiber is the fast-twitch fiber.
What I mean is, with all things being equal it is “usually” advantageous to have a greater preponderance of fast twitch muscle fibers, particularly IIB, because they do produce greater peak power and more force at higher velocities. You can also take a pure white fiber and make it a little redder, or take a pure red fiber and make it a little whiter.
By doing so you train your nervous system and all your muscle fibers to behave in more of a fast twitch manner. As mentioned in the previous article, a IIB to IIA conversion is more efficient when it comes to meeting metabolic demands.
Partial detraining and tapering may be an option and I’ll get into that one in just a minute.
Maybe if the velocity component was increased, and force was maintained or increased, and performed at a volume low enough not to signal the need for more efficiency, we’d see an increase in IIB. Thus far, there are a few studies that have looked at this and found this hypothesis to be true. More importantly, the velocity component and the speed that force must be created is much greater. Yet another option would be to simply de-emphasize the lowering phase of a movement by letting the load come down fairly quickly yet still under control.
Although the increase may seem small what’s more important is that you would normally see a ~15% decrease in IIB expression, therefore, the fast eccentric training could be deemed as 20% more effective for inducing fast muscle characteristics. For instance, sprinters run maximally about 3 days per week, they run endurance runs in between their speed days to stay lean and maintain conditioning, and they also lift weights at least 2 days per week in addition to plyos. You’ll probably see an immediate VJ increase as you become accustomed yet over time the magnitude of performance that you can demonstrate, or the maximum height you jump, will either stagnate or be negatively effected as the body adapts to the excessive volume. Drug users could also add in 12.5-25 mcg cytomel (thyroid) per day for enhanced effectiveness.
Users sitting on their butt doing absolutely nothing still gain nearly twice as much muscle as natural trainees who train their butt off.
At the conclusion of the phase most will find they are more explosive, faster, as well as stronger. Therefore, a plan that encompasses development of all the necessary motor qualities over a longer period of time would obviously be superior even if we can’t always have everything perfect. What is really interesting is that with detraining or tapering there is a IIA to IIB overshoot conversion that occurs. This also seems to suggest that if an athlete wishes to increase the relative amounts of fast muscle fibers a logical method would be to decrease the training load and allow the fastest fibres to express themselves a few weeks later.
I only had one period of time 6 years ago where I was forced to layoff from training for 6 months due to medical reasons.
An upper intermediate or advanced athlete can gain substantial short term results with a program as outlined earlier. If your progress has stalled consider implementing a few of these ideas to your current plan. When you want to move the brain nearly instantaneously sends a signal or impulse through the spinal cord that reaches the motor unit. The main difference between a slow twitch motor unit and a fast twitch motor unit is the fast twitch motor unit controls more muscle fibers or cells and these cells are bigger. Well type I muscle motor units contract less forcefully and a little slower then type II fast twitch motor units and they reach peak power slower. Type IIA and IIB are capable of roughly the same amount of peak force, but the IIA fibers take longer to reach their peak power in comparison to type IIB. You can take a slow twitch nerve and connect it to a fast twitch motor unit and the fast twitch will behave like slow twitch. In fact, guess what group of people has the highest percentage of the fastest contracting IIB fibers??
Therefore, with typical training schemes the relationship between IIA and IIB is also inconsequential.
This also partially explains why those who think they can shed a metric crapload of bodyfat in an effort to better display power are often met with less then satisfactory results. If fiber dominance is of such paramount importance how is it possible they still improved their sprint times??
If this were ALL there was to it then an athlete with tremendous muscular size would also be proportionately strong, powerful, and fast. Therefore,when you see studies showing fast twitch fiber to be correlated to displays of sports power what those studies are mainly showing is that good neural factors correlate with displays of sports power. Simply learn how to correctly train for performance and your body will take care of the rest as a natural adaptation to your training. Over time and with proper training if he trains his nervous system to utilize 90% of all those available FT fibers and also increases the size of them he well then be able to outperform someone who has say an 80:20 fast to slow-twitch ratio.
This type of training induces the type of damage that signals the exact adaptations we’re trying to avoid.
You also wouldn’t want to send a signal that the body is under a lot of stress or food shortage, thus dieting is a no no. Initially there is a learning period as one learns how to swing the rope and how to coordinate the feet and arms etc.
It’s also worth noting that high intensity EmS may have a positive effect in this regard but the jury is still out on that one. In other words, with the long term plan it’s necessary to take a step back and build up qualities that will enhance long term results. It turns out that the practice of tapering, unloading, and taking time off, also likely work by increasing IIB expression. After a detraining period of 3 months, the amount of IIB reached values of 26%, which was nearly 3 times higher then before training was initiated. In a long term setup one will have to take steps back in order to build up the necessary levels of conditioning, strength, and size.
These characteristics are a result, primarily, of the fiber’s Myosin Heavy Chain (MHC) composition, with Mysosin heavy chain isoforms I, IIa and IIx corresponding with muscle fiber types I, IIA, and IIB. In much the same way, the main difference between a slow twitch muscle fiber and a fast twitch muscle fiber is the fast twitch fiber is larger and can thus produce more force.
Type IIA fibers reach peak power in about 50 milliseconds whereas type IIB reaches peak power in about 25 milliseconds. Since they contract quicker, if you have an advantage for the first tenth (arbitrary) of the movement, it can result in superior performance. This doesn’t mean that one with a lower FT fiber% can’t jump even higher, they just tend to do it a little slower and with a deeper knee bend.
Unforunately, it’s impossible to change a slow twitch nerve into a fast twitch nerve and vice versa.

This is the same length of time it takes to demonstrate max strength or apply maximum force. In fact the amount of either type II type only becomes even remotely important when a resistance is less than 30% of max. They are very strong, fire very quickly, burn a lot of energy per unit of activity, and recover slowly. These would include running away from a predator, fighting, chasing food, or other brief explosive muscle action. They may lose the weight yet, depending on the amount of weight they lose and how lean they get, they will eventually begin to lose speed-strength and strength-speed proficiency. In these cases the need for metabolic efficiency is nonexistent leaving free to display muscular characteristics conducive to fight or flight situations. Bouchard, have estimated that 40% of the variance of fiber type is due to environmental influences (i.e.
For example, if one is blessed with a high % of FT fibers and starts marathon training the opposite will occur. Therefore, if you want your body to increase IIB content you need to make sure that the adaptive signals you’re sending deem it necessary. It’s gonna try to find away to make the funny car either run at a low RPM or quit burning up so much gas!!
Well, if one were to analyze the IIB fiber and MHC IIX expression he could easily come to the conclusion that this fiber type is made for dealing with simultaneous high forces and high speeds. The force created at the reversal from eccentric to concentric is great and must be applied extremely quickly or progress will not occur. Fred Hatfield stated he used to train like this when he set his world record squat of 1014 lbs. After this, the main limiting factor is the ability of the feet and lower legs to tolerate the lactic acid induced from the repetitive jumps. After this 3 month break training was reintroduced and there was less of a tendency to sacrifice IIB fibers. Athletes in many sports willl dramatically lower volume 7-14 days prior to a competition and find they get huge performance benefits from this. I always thought there was something to that and as long as the deconditioning isn’t too extreme (a 50 lb gain in lard) I have observed the same in others providing they were chronically trained to begin with.
When a motor unit fires all the muscle cells in that particular motor unit then contract with 100% intensity. During an activity such as curling a dumbbell, not only does your body recruit the same motor units as it does when you lift a spoon, but, since curling a dumbbell requires more force, it recruits enough additional fast twitch motor units until enough have been recruited to do the job.
Because of their greater contraction speeds, the total peak power by IIB can be up to 5 times higher then the IIA’s. Since their total peak power is greater this could also give one an advantage when producing force under high velocity conditions. However, you can make the Myosin Heavy chain expressed in a fast twitch fiber either more or less fast twitch or a slow twitch fiber more or less slow twitch but more on that later. It’s simply because the body becomes more efficient at muscle recruitment and firing synchronisation.
With just about any type of training, the higher threshold fibers (IIB) change into slower contracting IIA fibers. Chickens don’t fly around very often yet when they do those muscles have to fire quicker, thus, their breast meat is fast twitch. I haven’t talked much about endurance training but let me mention that it causes a rapid fast to slow transformation (IIb to IIa and IIa to I) without any increases in strength or power, and thus should be minimized by those wishing to maximize speed and power.
It is important to note that the above detraining study was carried out on sedentary subjects.
So the main determining factor is how many of ALL the available muscle motor units one can get turned on in .2 seconds and not necessarily how much fast twitch fiber one has. By engaging in the correct training programs over a period of time with an emphasis on speed, explosiveness, and power you can better teach your body and nervous system to recruit it’s FT fibers.
Since they weren’t used often the body had no real need to sacrifice them for a more efficient fiber. Chickens walk around on their feet all day long thus their legs are slow twitch and better suited for endurance. So that means you have about 40% control of your muscle fiber type, the other 45% you can do nothing about. 30 minutes 4-5 days per week), all things such as bodyweight and strength being equal, you will tend to see a decrease in maximal vertical jump as this adaptation sets in.
An athlete can most likely benefit from a much shorter or less dramatic detraining or tapering period as they already have the ability to adapt to demanding stimuli and for them a reduction in loading would mimick complete unloading in sedentary people.
Therefore, if one lacks fast twitch fiber but also has a very efficient nervous system capable of recruiting nearly all the FT fiber they do have, they will tend to have superior performance in comparison to someone with a less efficient nervous system and lots of fast twitch fiber. If you tried to take an ultra high RPM funny car out on the highway and run it alongside the economy cars out there what would happen?? Sedentary people are the same way and have more fast twitch IIB muscle then athletes as the use of their fibers is limited and there is no need for their bodies to make more efficient adaptations. Therefore the main limiting factor is the nervous system as it dictates the speed of motor unit recruitment and the amount of muscle that can be recruited. One way it does that is by making your fast twitch IIB muscle fibers more endurance oriented. As is, some studies indicate a tendency towards more IIb expression after only 7-10 days of unloading. This article will deal mainly with the 2nd argument, how muscle type is over-rated and how it gets more credit then it deserves.
Therefore, there is no such thing as a partially firing motor unit or a partially contracted muscle fiber.
The body will deal with stress in the most efficient manner possible and a slow transformation is metabolically more efficient while it still allows the body to adapt to stimuli. It would probably be a lot like taking a powerlifter, shotputter, olympic lifter, or sprinter and putting them out on the highway in a 26 mile marathon race with distance runners!
A faster muscular subtype (funny car) is advantageous for an organism whose main objective is to occassionally battle a predator or protect its children as it might be for a sedentary well fed human. The next important factor would be how much horsepower is turned on when those motor units are recruited (size of the muscles in relationship to bodyweight), followed by how fast the horses run (muscle fiber type) when they get turned on.
Lower the volume down to 1 day of jump rope per week and you’ll see an improvement in VJ as muscular efficiency lowers.
Let me say ahead of time that the vast majority of people should pay a lot more attention to this article as the 2nd will incorporate a lot of minutia and only apply to advanced athletes or those who really like to dive deeply into training science. A slow and economized Honda Civic would have a better chance of survival in the face of large volumes of work therefore this adaptation makes perfect sense even for those who might be engaged in speed training.

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