New ROK Article: Strength Versus Endurance

fast twitch versus slow twitch

As the title would imply, this article talks about methods of training for strength versus training for endurance. It also provides routines for doing each, and some of the biological information on the subject.

It’s pretty standard fitness boilerplate, but it’s good nonetheless.

More specifically, and greatly simplified, there are three types of skeletal muscle fibers, and they are as follows:

1) Red muscle, or slow oxidative, is a type of muscle fiber that slowly contracts (as commanded by the axons, which are, to put it very simply, extensions of neurons, the basic cells of the nervous system, that connect to various parts of the body, and send electrical impulses based on other electrical impulses from both the brain and the external environment) and slowly produces lactic acid (the stuff that causes “the burn”, to tell you when you’re over-exerting yourself). You can observe “red muscle” by looking at a cooked chicken-this is the dark meat. It is found in the chicken’s legs for obvious reasons, the chicken spends most of its day walking around, thus needing that stamina. This is the type of muscle fiber that is found in endurance athletes-such as marathoners. Note that muscular endurance (ie: your legs not getting tired in a marathon) corroborates directly with cardiovascular endurance (the heart utilizes a separate type of muscle tissue and as such will not be discussed here).

2) Fast Glycolytic, or “white muscle” is, as one might expect by contrasting the previous paragraph, a muscle fiber that quickly and powerfully contracts in a bout of maximal exertion. In accordance with its power, these muscles quickly and abundantly produce lactic acid, a hormone that acts in a positive feedback reaction-i.e.: your body telling you to take it easy or you’ll tear something. This type of muscle is found in any athlete that needs a quick burst of power-sprinters, Olympic weightlifters, ring gymnasts, etc. To return to the chicken comparison, this is the white meat, predominantly found in the breast and wings, as the chicken cannot sustain flight, and has no need to-just a quick sprint to get away from predators.

 3) Fast oxidative, or intermediate fibers, contract rapidly and have a moderate rate of fatigue. They are red and aerobic, rather than anaerobic, and serve as something of a “jack of all trades” of muscle fibers. An amateur athlete that trains in both strength and endurance without seeking to excel in either-ie: many of the people on this website-will have an abundance of these.

  In addition to the three types of muscular fibers, there’s also balance/flexibility to take into account. This is more of the nervous system’s bag, working with the inner ear (and its twiddly little sensory hairs that direct a person’s sense of balance), a person’s innate center of gravity, and one or more of the types of muscle fibers (depending on what it is you’re doing) to do a variety of things. The central nervous system’s role in fitness will be discussed in a future article.

You can read it here