How Fast Twitch Workouts Improve your Cardio
Gone are the days of spending long hours on the elliptical machine or the treadmill. While extensive aerobic cardiovascular activity certain has its own advantages, such building stamina for running a marathon, the fresh trends in fitness, like tabata-style workouts and other high-intensity interval training (HIIT), focus on short, explosive bursts of exercise. These exercises trigger the use of the fast twitch muscle fibers- those that are used to increase both power and speed. Though some bodies are more prone to utilizing slow twitch muscle fibers (or those used in endurance activities), anyone can, through diligent training, develop their fast twitch fibers.
Types of Fast Twitch Workouts
HIIT workouts like Tabata routines are becoming the most popular type of fast twitch training regimen. These involve using maximal energy for a shorter periods of time. Tabata, for example, is based on completing a high-intensity exercise at full capacity for alternating periods of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds of rest for four minutes before changing to another exercise. Other HIIT workouts follow similar principles of maximizing effort for a short period (less than a minute) followed by a short rest. Though most fast twitch workouts focus on combining cardio and strength, such as push-up jacks, jumping lunges, or burpees, certain extreme strength and muscle building exercises, such as the Olympic lifts ‘clean and snap’ and ‘the snatch’, also activate the fast twitch muscle fibers.
Benefits of Fast Twitch Training
The most obvious benefits of completing fast twitch workouts is the amount of time saved. A seemingly infinite number of studies have proven that fitness goals, whether it be weight loss, muscle definition, or strength, are achievable in significantly less time when done in high-intensity bursts, as opposed to long sessions at a moderate rate. Alternating short sprints and walks for 15 minutes will produce much better results than a 40 minute job, depending on what your fitness goals are.
High-intensity cardio is much more effective at burning fat for several reasons. When the body is working in overdrive, it must work harder to produce the ATP that the muscles need for energy, resulting in more calories burned. Furthermore, working to such a maximal degree means that the body will take much longer to cool down after a workout, causing more calories to be burned long after the sweat stops dripping.
How To Maximize Cardio
In short, do both fast and slow twitch cardio workouts. Fast twitch exercises break down a lot of lean muscle tissue, which is great in the long run but requires more recovery time to rebuild. As such, it is important to mix workouts up, alternating aerobic and anaerobic, high-intensity days. Studies have found that following a high-intensity, muscle-exhausting workout with moderate steady-state cardio (such as jogging or cycling) the next day is the most efficient, as it keeps the blood flowing and allows metabolic waste that accumulated during the fast twitch workout to be flushed out of the body, helping the tissues to recover faster.