Grrrrr muscles!!! I love muscles – you love muscles – he loves muscles – she loves muscles! Moral of the story? People love muscles. Muscles are alot more than some sexy, bulging, veiny protrusions popping out from bodies. We are going to discuss Muscle Fibers up in here. Knowing what a muscle is more than just going to do Bicep Curls, knowing your muscles will grow. There is science behind muscular hypertrophy, just like there is science behind anything. Let’s delve in…
Muscles, Muscles, Muscles
We know what muscle is, but do we actually know what muscle is?? Muscle is soft tissue that is found in animals “My muscles ain’t soft, biatch!“. Maybe they aren’t, tough guy, but they are still considered soft tissue – deal with it! Muscles produce force and motion – they are responsible for changing our posture, starting and stopping a movement, as well as control of our internal organs. Muscle requires oxidation of fats and carbohydrates to be powered, and requires protein to get big and strong. We all know this – this is basic, elementary education.
But are muscles just muscles? No!! There is more to muscle than meets the eye…
What do we mean, exactly? We mean the various types of Muscle Fibers all of us have, and what primary functions they serve. Some types of fibers are better than others for different things. A sprinter would not want to primarily recruit the same types of fibers that, say, a powerlifter would. Make sense? Good!
Let’s talk more about it…
By definition from this wiki article,
Individual muscle fibers are formed during development from the fusion of several undifferentiated immature cells known as myoblasts into long, cylindrical, multi-nucleated cells. Differentiation into this state is primarily completed before birth with the cells continuing to grow in size thereafter. Skeletal muscle exhibits a distinctive banding pattern when viewed under the microscope due to the arrangement of cytoskeletal elements in the cytoplasm of the muscle fibers. The principal cytoplasmic proteins are myosin and actin (also known as “thick” and “thin” filaments, respectively) which are arranged in a repeating unit called a sarcomere. The interaction of myosin and actin is responsible for muscle contraction.
To hell with that scientific mumbo jumbo!!! Without clouding your minds with too much science, we are, as simply as possible, gonna list all the various fibers and the roles they perform…
Type 1 Fibers
Type 1 Fibers are the Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers – fibers of this nature are slow to contract, and can withstand contractions for an extended period of time. Type 1 Fibers possess a large amount of mitochondria, which helps in utilization of oxygen within the muscles. Type 1 Fibers are considered to be resistant to fatigue, and are able to only produce a low force output. These types of fibers are ideal for endurance and long term muscular events.
Athletes with predominantly higher Type 1 Fibers typically have much higher max VO2 (oxygen) levels, as Type 1 Fibers are the primary muscle fibers utilized in an aerobic capacity.
Type 2a Fibers
Type 2a FIbers are The Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers – these fibers are responsible for quick muscle contractions. Type 2a fibers generate an explosive burst of power in a short period of time. Stop-and-go activities (basketball, hockey, football, boxing, etc) are ideal for increasing Type 2a fibers. Weightlifting, though techincally a “max output” activity, is also an ideal candidate for the utilization of Type 2a muscle fibers…
Type 2b Fibers
Type 2b FIbers are also Fast Twich Muscle Fibers – the difference is, these fibers are the ones that are most susceptible to fatigue. However, they also generate the most power and force! Activities that require an all out burst of power in a short period of time, such as sprinting, are ideal for the use of Type 2b Fibers. Generally speaking, Type 2b fibers are recruited to produce maximal strength.
Sometimes, you might see these particular fibers referred to as Type 2x. Type 2x fibers and Type 2b fibers are the same thing, just so you know…
The Pecking Order
In the human body, Muscle Fibers are recruited in an ordered kinda way. First fibers to be recruited are the Type 1 Fibers, followed by Type 2a, then Type 2b. Why is Type 2b last? Well, as they are fibers which produce the maximum amount of strenth in the shortest amount of time, the body calls on them when the Type 1 and Type 2a fibers are depleted and exhausted, to get that last burst of maximal force and power, yielding them to proivde the greatest power output for your gains.
A proper training program will include stimulation to all 3 of the Muscle Fibers in your body. There are certain weight training regimes and athletic regimes which may or may not call upon all 3 Muscle Fibers. It is important that you implement protocols to your regimen that recruits all Muscle Fibers, so that you are getting the most bang-for-your-buck, so to speak. The body is a well-oiled machine, and all the cogs must be oiled equally, not just the ones you “want”