Training fast twitch muscle fibers

Pippa Teague NASM CPT, WS

Infinite Potential Strength Coach


If you participate in a sport that requires quick fast movements such as jumping, quick change of directions, sprinting, leaping, throwing etc you will need to spend some of your training time focusing on the development of your fast twitch muscle fibers.


There are generally two types of muscle fiber – type I – slow twitch and type II-fast twitch. Fast twitch can further be broken down into type IIa and type IIb.  Genetics play a role in which muscle fibers you have more of but training in a certain way can make these different types more efficient.


Slow twitch muscle fibers use oxygen and can go for a long time without tiring- think long distance runners. Fast twitch muscle fibers use anaerobic energy and are better at creating shorter bursts of strength or speed e.g  sprints, high jump etc.


Type IIa are more of a hybrid fiber in that they have characteristics of both slow and fast twitch fibers. Type IIb produces the highest rate and quickest speed of contraction but it fatigues much faster, so doesn’t last as long as the other two.


It is impossible change the quantity of muscle fibers in your body but you can train to become a more fast twitch athlete.


Here are a list of exercises that work those fast twitch muscle fibers. Include these in your training regime if you want to work that explosive power.

  • box jumps
  • power cleans
  • snatches
  • bench press
  • agility drills-ladder, hurdles
  • squats
  • kettlebell swings
  • air dyne sprints
  • battle ropes

As well as training quick movements with lighter weights, don’t forget to work on the strength of those large power muscles- quads, glutes, hamstrings. Larger muscles and strength will also help recruit those fast twitch fibers…….do your squats!



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