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It is my understanding that genetics plays a significant role in sprint speed. Fortunately, I have always been a fast sprinter and enjoy sprinting over any kind of long distance running.

I presume that this genetic effect also applies to the other muscles of my body (I have a long throw, for example) so I was wondering how I could capitalise on this - are there any particular exercises that would make the most of my muscle composition? Or would any high intensity exercise be doing that?

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great question.. –  Joe Blow Oct 10 '11 at 20:24
    
I'm a little unclear on the specific genetic adaptation you refer to. Are you saying that you're just strong or naturally athletic, or that you're specifically a good sprinter, or that your muscles are naturally "fast", or something else? –  Dave Liepmann Oct 10 '11 at 21:25
    
I think there is a profit opportunity for the fitness industry here: "Subscribe to a one-year premium gym membership and get a genetic muscle test for FREE! ". (The gym needs to cooperate with a molbio lab for this). "Develop a fitness plan optimized for your muscle type: Appointments with our personal trainers 30% OFF" –  knb Jan 14 '12 at 11:54
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

See the answers on my similar question from March 2011. Both guys who answered said that the type of muscle fiber has presumably no influence on the agenda of the workouts.

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much more info on the research is here on the biology site. biology.stackexchange.com/questions/835/… –  knb Mar 24 '12 at 21:48
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I believe you what you're looking for is how to improve your fast twitch muscle fibers.

From bodybuilding.com:

Fast-twitch fibers allow one to generate a relatively high amount of force in a short period. The take-off motion in a sprint and long jump (when the foot is in contact with the ground for a millisecond) are perfect examples of this.

as opposed to:

Slow-twitch fibers, on the other hand, come into play during the pure endurance aspect of these events. Fatigue resistance, at the expense of fast rate force production, is the hallmark of these fibers.

You had the right idea with high-intensity exercises, they develop the fast twitch fibers while low-intensity endurance exercises develop the slow twitch fibers.

Here are some tips from an eHow article:

  1. Perform sets of short sprints twice a week in addition to your regular workout routine. Maximum effort sprints over distances between 20 and 50 meters give your fast twitch muscle fibers a fantastic workout.

  2. Add one or two session of longer sprints to your weekly workout. Going all-out for more than 50 meters is extremely tiring, so run these sprints at around 85 percent effort for the best results. Focus on quickness and fluidity of motion.

  3. Make time for weight training. Research studies show a direct link between maximum strength and overall speed, so using heavy weights to make yourself stronger will beef up your fast twitch fibers.

You could also try isometric muscle training, defined as:

Isometrics, as it pertains to muscle training, involves tensing muscles against other muscles or against an immovable object while the length of the muscle remains unchanged. For isometric training to be effective, this muscular tension must be maintained over a certain period of time.

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Fast twitch fibers are used for explosive strength and maximum strength.

Olympic lifts make great use of fast twitch muscle fibers (explosive strength). Powerlifting does too, but not as much as Olympic lifting (maximum strength). Actually most sports benefit more from faster twitch fibers than slow twitch fibers. Basketball benefits a great deal from explosive strength.

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