Our body’s are made up of 3 types of muscle; Cardiac, Smooth or Skeletal Muscle. Cardiac muscle is the muscle found in your heart and has significant properties that help it work continuously with the absence of rest. Smooth muscle is that found within our organs and often has a passive use (meaning we don’t control it).
Today we will be focusing on our Skeletal Muscle. Skeletal muscle is the muscle that moves our limbs and works with our bones and ligaments to produce movement and also protect vital organs.
There are 3 types of Skeletal muscle fibers. Type 1 (Slow), Type 2A (Fast) and Type 2B (Fast) are the three types of Skeletal muscle.
Type 1 Muscle Fibers (Slow)
Slow muscle fibers are the ones used for prolonged exercise. An athlete with primarily slow twitch muscle fibers would be a marathon runner, tri-athlete, or a distance swimmer. These types of muscle fibers have the ability to effectively use oxygen due to the abundance of mitochondria within the cell. This type of muscle lasts long periods of time and is hard to fatigue. These types of muscle fibers are usually small when compared to fast twitch muscle fibers. These are not specifically used in MMA, but should still be trained to help your body more effectively use oxygen.
Type 2 A (Fast)
Type 2 A muscle fibers are ones which would more likely come into use if you are a MMA fighter. These types of muscles have a span of 30seconds-2 minutes (approx). These muscles use your glycogen (food energy) and creatine phosphate stored within the muscle to produce force. These muscle fibers and typically found in athletes in hockey, soccer, or rugby. Resistance training with high reps is a perfect was to train these types of muscle fibers.
Type 2 B (Fast Fast)
Type 2 B muscle fibers are ones which are extremely powerful and are useful for very short bursts of energy. These muscle fibers produce energy for the 0-30 second range of movement. These types of muscle fibers rely solely on Creatine Phosphate to produce energy (see Creatine supplementation to improve performance). This type of muscle fiber is the dominant type used by sprinters, baseball players and javelin throwers.
The below chart is the basic characteristics of each type of muscle fiber. *Note the chart below shows Type 2B as Type2X.
The below shows the relationship of the type of energy systems our body uses when we begin exercise. The three lines directly correlate with the types of muscle fibers. Green = Type 1 (Slow), Red=Type 2A, and Blue=Type 2B.
Written by: Paul Harding – @PaulHardingg