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Get your twitch on

Loughborough Uni biomechanics lecturer Dr Sam Allen explains how to make the most of your muscle fibres.

Know your goals

"We all possess three types of muscle fibres, and how much we have of each is determined by genetics and how you train: slow-twitch are responsible for long-duration, low-intensity running; super-fast twitch are for short-duration, explosive movements, and intermediate fast-twitch have characteristics of the other two. The first step is to figure out what your running goals are, as certain exercises could be counter-productive.”

Marathon Man

“If you’re training for long distance, work your slow-twitch muscles by building up their aerobic capabilities and making them fatigue resistant. Long slow runs, and extending their length, can convert muscle fibres into slow-twitch fibres.”

Longer, harder, stronger

"If you want to work slow-twitch muscles at the gym with weights, you’ll need to do high reps, more sets and have short rest periods because these muscles take longer to tire and require more work to build their endurance.”

Explosive gains

“The key to working fast-twitch muscles is sprints that require you to take off at high speed, run a short distance, then stop. This will help you grow in strength and speed. As you are putting a lot of strain on your legs, make sure to rest between sprints.”

Load it on

“Fast-twitch muscles contract quickly to release energy in explosive bursts and so it’s useful to do gym exercises that require dynamic movement like box jumps and broad jumps. When it comes to lifting weights, weighted squats will also build and strengthen these muscles.”

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