How to Save the Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers You’re Losing
Man oh man, is there any good news when we talk about aging? It seems the ‘wisdom’ we get is just medical terms to diagnose a new problem. Well, unfortunately you might be learning a new one today. It’s called sarcopenia. That’s the fancy medical word for age-related muscle loss targeting mostly your fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Yeah, you’re losing muscle—as you read this.
Starting as early as age 30, we begin to lose muscle at a rate of 3-5 percent per decade.
After 40 we lose muscle at the rate of 5 to 7 pounds per decade, and after 50, the muscle loss is accelerated even more.
The reasons behind muscle loss are more than one. Reduced activity, hormone changes and changes in muscle protein metabolism all contribute to muscle loss. Even if you’re an active person, muscle loss can and likely will affect you.
The type of muscle we lose is mainly fast-twitch muscles, which we need for power.
Muscle loss begins so early, therefore starting your plans to save your fast-twitch muscles while you have them—is important. If you’re over 30, or 40 or even 50—you can still combat muscle loss.
Let’s briefly chat about muscle fiber types and then move on to your solutions.
Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers vs. Slow-Twitch Muscle Fibers
Fast-twitch muscle fibers are those employed during powerful actions like jumping, sprinting and throwing. They are large and in charge.
When fast-twitch muscle fibers begin to atrophy, your power decreases. Your ability to perform fast and powerful movements decreases significantly.
Slow-twitch muscle fibers are responsible for endurance and aerobic activities like long-distance running. These are the small muscle fibers
As you age, you’ll lose both types, but fast-twitch muscle fibers are lost at a greater volume.
This is why you see older people looking like bone and skin. The muscle is shrinking. As is the definition, power and strength.
So, now that we’ve got the bad news out of the way, let’s talk about the good news.
Oh yeah, this blog is delivering some good news even though it’s about aging.
How to Save Your Fast-Twitch Muscles
While muscle loss can affect anyone, a less active lifestyle is the main cause for age-related muscle loss. So, if you guessed that physical activity is the solution—you’re right.
But if you’re concerned mostly about keeping your fast-twitch muscles, you need to know the right kind of exercises to do to keep them.
Powerful Bursting Movements
Sometimes referred to as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), this is a type of exercise that engages your fast-twitch muscles so you can use, keep and build them.
Aerobic exercise at a steady pace engages slow-twitch muscle fibers. Studies show elite long-distance runners have legs PACKED with slow-twitch muscles that are nearly 30 percent larger than their fast-twitch muscles. While sprinters have the opposite composition—more fast-twitch muscles because they engage them in powerful bursting movements.
While both cardio and HIIT are important, if you want to maintain your power and strength, you should incorporate some HIIT or plyometrics into your training regimen.
Why? Because not only are you saving what fast-twitch muscles you have, you can also transform your muscles from slow-twitch to fast-twitch.
HIIT Exercises Help Prevent Loss of Fast-Twitch Muscles
Short bursts of high-intensity exercises like sprinting for 30 seconds with a break of around 4 minutes between each sprint is shown to drastically change your muscle composition and performance.
In a study that took place over a mere SIX training sessions performed over just two weeks, subjects ran around 5 30-second sprints with four minute rests. In just two weeks, they had a 100% increase in endurance capacity and a 6% increase in power and oxygen. This result was similar to 90-120 minutes of aerobic exercise performed 3 times per week for two weeks.
If your jaw isn’t agape, read that paragraph again.
With a few MINUTES of HIIT it accomplished what HOURS of aerobic exercise offers.
Now, don’t skip aerobics. Nothing boosts your cardiovascular system better than aerobics, but don’t skip the sprints because you biked.
Resistance Training Helps Prevent the Loss of Fast-Twitch Muscles
Resistance training can also start making adaptations to your muscles in as little as two weeks.
It, too, has been scientifically shown to prevent and treat muscle loss. It boosts the neuromuscular system, improves hormone concentrations and protein synthesis rates.
Protein synthesis rates are important because they also decrease with age which impacts fast-twitch muscle loss.
Studies show in a two week study of resistance training in adults over 60 produced increases in muscle protein synthesis rates of 182%!
Incorporating higher weights with reps of 7-12 for each muscle group 2-3 times per week can help reduce fast-twitch muscle loss and improve strength.
Supplementing with BCAAs Prevents Fast-Twitch Muscle Loss
Finally, as we age, we have less of everything. Supplementing with amino acids—the building block of proteins—which make muscles, is a smart solution to help in the war against fast-twitch muscle loss.
Studies show long-term amino acid supplementation with BCAAs stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults. IN particular, science recommends higher dosing of leucine, which is the main BCAA. So if you’re going for a supplement, get the RIGHT one HERE. With unparalleled and high doses of Leucine paired with the other BCAAs, you can fight muscle loss better.
Start now. No matter your age–there’s no better time to protect your muscles.