Train Fast Twitch Muscles to Increase Speed
Baseball and Fast Pitch Softball
Generating a powerful hitting stroke is a developmental function of fast twitch muscle fibers, which enable quick bursts of movement. A strength training regimen that builds fast twitch muscles maximizes the hitter’s ability to generate the quickness needed to increase bat and ball exit speed.
Every muscle has some of each type of muscle fiber (see Muscle Composition, Stone I: Genetics). Research shows that genes somewhat determine the exact ratio. But activity level, choice of sports, and training methods can make a difference.
Non-trained, non-active individuals typically have about a 50-50 mix of slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. However, power-based athletes (sprinters, Olympic Lifters) usually have upwards of 70-percent fast-twitch (Type II), and endurance athletes (marathoners, triathletes) have upwards of 70-80 percent slow twitch (Type I).
With smart training, you can, to some extent, alter other muscle fibers to function as fast twitch muscle fibers. There are several proven ways to increase your Type II fibers ratio—speed training, plyometric training, and Olympic lift training.
“This type of training does a few things:
- Hypertrophy of the Type II fibers, increasing their power output.
- Help recruit Type II fibers faster.
- Change Type I fibers to Type II fibers.” (Williams J. , 3 Ways to Develop Fast Twitch Muscles, 2018)
Building fast-twitch muscle fibers often entail pushing your body beyond the limits you are used to. While beneficial, this also introduces increased injury risk. Athletes should perform these exercises in controlled environments or under the supervision of certified professionals.
Box Jump Workout for Fast Twitch Muscles
Want to get faster and more athletic? Beat your genetics with these workouts.
Box jumps are a great way to work on explosive, fast twitch ability and shift those hybrid fibers into the fast-twitch territory. You’re forcing your leg muscles to contract quickly and then explode upwards.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the knees and push your hips back, and throw your arms backward. From that position, explode upwards, driving your feet through the ground and your arms skyward—land on the box, aiming to land with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Do four sets of 6 reps, focusing on the quality of each leap. You want to be as explosive as possible. Rest 2 minutes in between each set. Quality is better than speeding through. Fast twitch muscles need recovery time.
High-Intensity Steady-State Workout for Fast Twitch Muscles
“High-intensity steady-state” training was coined by the Institute of Motion, a group that studies human design, function, and performance. It holds a lot of practicality in performance. The ability to sustain a high intensity in your training over a short interval hits those hybrid fibers solidly.
Do this barbell complex, completing ten reps of each exercise without putting the bar down. Do five rounds, resting in between each.
Barbell Front Squat
Stand with a loaded barbell at your shoulders, feet about shoulder-width apart, core, and glutes tight. Bend at the knees and push your butt back, lowering your torso until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Explosively stand back up.
Barbell Shoulder Press
Stand with a loaded barbell at your shoulders, core, and glutes tight, feet shoulder-width apart, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Keeping your core and glutes tight, press the barbell overhead, straightening your elbows and shoulders. Pause at the top, then lower with control to the start.
Barbell Romanian Deadlift
Lower the barbell to your hips, letting your arms hang naturally, feet shoulder-width apart. Tighten your core. Keeping your spine tall, and keeping the barbell against your shins, push your but backward and hinge forward at the waist, lowering until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Stand back up, squeezing your glutes.
Hinge at your hips and push your butt backward until your torso is at a 45-degree angle with the ground; let your arms hang naturally. Bend your knees slightly for balance. Squeeze your shoulder blades and pull the barbell up to your ribcage. Pause, then lower to the start.
Lower the barbell to the ground, near your feet. Set your feet about hip-width apart, and hinge at your hips, gripping the bar at about shoulder-width. Squeeze your shoulder blades and flex your lats. Lower your hips and squeeze your glutes. Keep your chest up and tighten your core. Drive your heels into the ground and pull the weight upward, standing up. Squeeze your glutes at the top.
Battle Rope Speed Workout for Fast Twitch Muscles
Battle ropes should be heavy enough to challenge you but light enough that you can slam them down explosively. That explosive movement guarantees you’ll light up those hybrid fibers.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance, one end of the rope in each hand. Use an overhand grip, arms in front of your torso, elbows slightly bent. Raise your left arm over your head, then slam the rope down. Repeat the process immediately with your right arm. Alternate slams for 30 seconds, then rest for 90 seconds. That’s one round; do six rounds.
Sprinting for Fast Twitch Muscles
When you are looking to improve your fast twitch fiber types and speed, doing sprints creates optimum training. Sprinting builds the specific muscles needed to be faster. Since sprinting requires maximum effort, the exercise is similar to maximum-effort strength training. When sprinting to improve speed and generate more fast-twitch muscular work, take enough rest to be fully recovered before sprinting again so that you do not work for endurance instead of maximum speed.
Other Strength and Conditioning Articles You May Find Helpful
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series
See Building the High-Level Swing for a detailed and comprehensive description of 100 hitting fundamentals and 140 step-by-step drills that efficiently construct the batting swing from the ground up.
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!