A great start is vital to your sprint performance. Fast twitch muscle fibers have been proven to be key to better starts and quicker, more powerful turns.
What Are Muscle Fibers?
They are a single muscle cell. That help control the physical forces within the body. When grouped together, they facilitate the movement of your limbs and tissues.
There are two types of skeletal muscle fibers, fast-twitch and slow-twitch, and they each have different functions. The make up of your bodies ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch muscle fibers can be directly related to your ability to sprint, run, and jump.
Fast Twitch- Allows athletes powerful bursts of energy- but for shorter durations. They are essential for activities like sprint swimming and starts & turns. Fast-twitch muscle fibers do not use oxygen to produce energy but rely on anaerobic metabolism which creates energy by burning carbohydrates in the absence of oxygen. This is the reason they fire so rapidly but fatigue in a short amount of time. Increase anaerobic metabolism during practice with in pool and dryland sprint workouts, jumping rope, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Fast-paced exercises are ideal for improving anaerobic metabolism and increasing your endurance. Remember endurance is a skill that needs honed and maintained just like your swimming technique.
Short Twitch- are fatigue resistant, and focused on sustained, smaller movements and postural control. They are aerobic in nature. It has actually been proven that athletes who are successful in endurance events have more slow-twitch fibers than fast-twitch fibers. Focusing on endurance training activities, weight training with low weight and higher reps, as well as distance running, rowing, and long swimming sets are great ways to strengthen your slow-twitch muscles.