Fast Twitch Versus Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers

by Andy

I recently had a visitor contact me through this webpage asking a general question regarding his daughter and muscle fibers types. He stated that a local golf coach had instructed him to have his daughter strengthen her "fast twitch" muscle fibers in order to help improve her golf game.

For someone who maybe isn't knowledgeable in muscle physiology, having someone tell you to strengthen your fast twitch fibers may be too vague.

Practically every muscle in the body is comprised of both slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers can be further broken down into subgroups, but for this discussion, I will keep it pretty basic.

Slow twitch muscle fibers are not able to produce as much force as fast twitch, however, their key feature is significantly increased endurance. This fibers are very active during endurance events such as distance swimming, biking, or running.

Fast twitch fibers are capable of much higher forces, and are able to contract much more rapidly. On the downside, they fatigue rather quickly and therefore are only helpful for short bursts of energy. These fibers are very active with sprinting, jumping, and throwing. They also fire during your downswing.

The key to training fast twitch muscle fibers is by performing, sub-maximal, high velocity exercises. Numerous pieces of exercise equipment can be utilized for power specific exercises, for example: bands, cable column, medicine balls, kettle bells, or even just your own body weight.

"Plyometrics" is a general term that can be applied to these rapid, high intensity exercises. This website has a complete section on plyometric exercises for the core, upper body, and lower extremities. Also, my e-book "Better Fitness, Better Golf", goes into significantly more detail about power exercises as a component of an entire golf fitness program.

So going back to the beginning, the golf coach is right! Training your fast twitch muscle fibers (in golf specific muscles!) will translate to improved power and performance on the golf course. However, I felt that more detail needed to be given.


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