How to Get Faster - All About Muscle Performance
Geting Faster Is No Longer A Myth
Research has shown how to get faster and get quicker by identifying and training fast twitch muscles that you rarely use. You can significantly improve fast twitch performance, meaning you will be quicker off the line, have higher dunks, quicker routes, and be just plain faster at whatever sport you play. For many of us who aren't in professional or even any competitive sport there's still a desire to work on and improve our over all quickness and speed. Many sports can benefit greatly by improving fast twitch muscle performance, even golf players.
There is no magic fix or get fast quick plan. Like most things in life it takes hard work to really see a difference in your speed and quickness when you embark on a new training program. But the proof is out there, that you truly can improve (significantly) your fast twitch muscle performance by specifically working those muscles which in many cases are very seldom used and most certainly not specifically targeted in a work out. Below we'll take a look at the research and talk about how to get faster.
“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it”
~ Oprah Winfrey
Its True - You Can Learn How To Get Faster
Depending upon your situation, your goal to run faster or jump higher is obtainable. Most people I talk to about this topic are athletes who want to stand out on their teams, or improve their skills so they have a better chance at making a High School squad, or a college or pro team. The training is no different for a pro than a High School athlete. Whether you're in Track and Field or you play Basketball and want to know how to slam dunk better, you can train using routines, tips and tricks that work for the pros and learn how to run faster, to increase your quickness and speed. Research has shown conclusively that contrary to popular belief, even if you're slower than a pond turtle, you can change all of that with easy isometric training techniques used by professional trainers. The disclaimer is, that there is no "14 Day Plan." And you won't likely go from bench warmer to Olympic hopeful overnight. But with realistic expectations you can see solid improvements in quickness measurables. You can learn how to get faster, for sure.
Physical change doesn't start until you do. Are YOU ready? - Getting Faster Takes Work And Committment
Many successful people have admitted that they practice self-motivation. That is, they do things that "remind" them why they're working so hard, or to remind them of what they want or what they lost. Whatever the reminder, the goal is to push us along during those times when we'd rather pull off to the side of the road.
What can you do? There are countless ways to self-motivate.
Write sticky notes each and every morning, reminding yourself what your objective is, and then stick it on your bathroom mirror so you see it while you're getting ready. You don't have to have a mirror full of sticky notes; you can throw it away when you go to bed at night. Then the next morning write another one. The action of writing and posting is therapeutic and very motivating. If you're a major procrastinator, then write the note just before you go to bed so that it's on the mirror facing you when you first walk in.
Have you ever set a goal, say to lose weight or stop smoking, only to wake the next morning less than motivated to keep your end of the bargain? Before you go to bed, send your self an e-mail and write as if you're writing a best friend. Tell this friend why they should stick with their plan, and how great the result will be. Then, in the morning, when you're feeling your weakest, you have a reminder facing you that will reflect the emotional strength you felt the night before. Of course this assumes that you check your mail all the time like I do.
Photo by permission - Andrey Kiselev
Are Strength, Speed & Endurance Written In Stone?
Age old wisdom would have us believe that genetics determines whether we're a better marathoner or sprinter, and that there's nothing we can do about it. Modern research and science, however, disagree and now firmly assert that a person can (to a degree, of course) alter the percentages of their fast and slow twitch muscle groupings, that people can "learn" how to get faster and quicker by learning which muscles to train and how to train them.
Do you believe a person can get physically faster or quicker, despite genetics?
Amazon's Top Running Shoes
Muscle Research Shows You How To Get Faster
Knowing Which Muscle Groups To Target Is Key
There are essentially two major types of muscle fibers, slow twitch and fast twitch. Depending upon your body's composition you may be a better marathon runner than sprinter, you may be a great basketball player but not know how to jump high. I won't go into the unnecessary detail of explaining the makeup of myocytes (muscle fibers) or the strands of proteins (myofibrils) that make up those fibers. Instead I want to focus on the simple understanding of these two primary muscle types, what it means for athletes and non-athletes alike, and then look at whether or not training can influence these muscle fibers to change from one type to another; can you get better at speed running, for example. Are there simple answers to the question of how to get faster?
Slow twitch muscles are very efficient at contracting continuously for an extended period of time, say in a marathon or swimming competition. These muscles not only generate fuel much more efficiently using oxygen, but they twitch slower than fast twitch muscles (hence the names) and therefore don't wear out as quickly. Fast twitch muscles, on the other hand, use anaerobic metabolism to create energy, and as such they are better able to provide that quick, short burst of strength or speed that people look for in sports such as sprinting and activities that involve jumping. For example, a wide receiver in a football game who has to run a route at full speed for a few seconds, repeatedly, would be much better served by working to condition his fast twitch muscles. Even though each contraction of the two muscle types produces a relatively equal amount of energy, the combination of their rapid contractions and less effective means at producing fuel means that fast twitch muscles tire out much more quickly.
If you just have to know more about muscle fibers and the all the details there is a great article from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) all about muscles that will help. But for most of us we don't care to know that the body has over 215 pairs of skeletal muscles, and that the thumb alone is controlled by nine separate muscles. We just know we want to jump higher, sprint faster, and be much quicker at what we do. We want to know how to get faster.
But all this information does little to answer the question of whether or not an athlete (or anyone looking to increase their quickness for whatever reason) can really increase the performance of their fast twitch muscles through training, can athletes learn how to get faster through training techniques? And the answer, as it turns out, is yes they can. There is considerable clinical research showing that training can have a positive correlation with fast twitch muscle activity. That is to say, more training equals more or better fast twitch muscle fibers, which means you can get quicker or get faster than you are now. Christopher P. Ingalls, in his paper titled "Nature vs. nurture: can exercise really alter fiber type composition in human skeletal muscle?", cites clinical research which was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in which muscle fiber type distribution was examined before and after long-term, high-intensity endurance training, and in discussing the results he states that "Today, it is generally accepted that exercise training can promote changes within the population of fast-twitch fibers..." In a 2010 article by Renee Twombly at Georgetown University Medical Center, the author cites Dr. J. P. Hyatt when she writes: "Hyatt says that genetics play a big part in whether a person has predominantly fast or slow twitch muscles, although training is obviously important because muscle can adapt to where it is pushed." So you CAN learn how to get faster by adapting your training techniques to meet your goals.
Need even more research based evidence? In an article that appeared in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, titled "Human skeletal muscle fiber type alteration with high-intensity intermittent training", the authors stated that the results of their study show that high-intensity intermittent training in humans may alter the area of type I and IIb fibers, and in consequence that fiber type composition in human vastus lateralis muscle is not determined solely by genetic factors. As you may know, Type IIb fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism to create energy and are the "classic" fast twitch muscle fibers that excel at producing quick, powerful bursts of speed. This muscle fiber has the highest rate of contraction (rapid firing) of all the muscle fiber types, but it also has a much faster rate of fatigue and can't last as long before it needs rest.
So What's It All Mean
How Does THIS Help Me Get Faster?
It means that if you're not happy with your current level of conditioning, if you would like to jump higher or get faster, or just know how to start running better, now you know you can do it. It's important because by being faster you can have a huge advantage in all areas of your life, like throwing, running, kicking, jumping, swinging (golf, baseball, tennis), and any other sport that uses fast twitch muscles. There are lots of resources available to you on the internet, and lot's of credible resources like this one at Live Strong.
But the real deciding factor is YOU. Any change you seek will require first and foremost a willingness to work hard, and a commitment to stick with it. Most people fail not because they didn't have a good plan or their plan didn't work, but because THEY didn't work. As I mentioned earlier, you won't see results right away, and any claim otherwise is something I would be skeptical about. But you will see results and you'll also improve you're overall health tremendously because both plyometrics and isometrics work areas of your body that you most likely otherwise aren't working. So while you may be seeking to learn how to get faster, you'll actually be strengthening and conditioning your entire body.
There really is no second best when it comes to training with a Personal Trainer; everything short of a PT is really like 4th or 5th place, the difference is that big. How can you grab something off of the internet and assume that if you copy it then you will also see improvement? The idea behind training is to know your areas of weakness and improve them, and not just to say 'I want to jump higher'. Which specific set of muscles are your weak link? In what sport or activity, specifically, do you want to get faster in? How do you target 'those' muscles so you're maximizing your effort and time? A PT makes that analysis and matches it with your goals and abilities to build the right plan for you.
You are miles ahead if you actually have access to the resources (trainer, personal training plan, equipment). With that being said, I know not everyone has access to, or can afford, a PT. So therein lies the dilemma with this type of question, whether it be 'how do I lose weight,' or "how do I build muscles'? First, I would recommend that you check to see if your High School or University has a program that you can get into which would get you access to a speed or quickness trainer. If you're not a HS or College student, then look for a gym near you that perhaps offers a free consultation with a PT for new members, and then you can sign up for a one month trial, get the session or two with the PT, and try your best to make it work.
Another option is to find a reputable trainer (or coach) who offers an e-training program and sign up. While there are many scams out there, there are also many, many reputable trainers and coaches providing solid training advice and guidance for comparatively little. The cost will be much less than an actual Trainer, who's rates could be as high as $50 an hour, but you'll also obviously not get the "personal" attention you would with a trainer in your own gym. So it's a trade off, and one you'll have to consider. If all else fails, you can "try" to get all of the information you possibly can about speed or quickness training drills and develop your own training plan, just know you'll never reach the same level of success that you would with a professional coach. For even more information on speed and quickness training visit this LiveStrong page on Agility, Speed & Quickness Training.
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