Q. What do record breaking sprinters and weightlifters have in common?

A. Fast twitch muscles.

If you blinked you probably missed Usain Bolt’s 100-metre lightning streak at the World Athletics in Berlin when he raced to the gold medal in a record-shattering 9.58 seconds. And the lightning Bolt struck gold twice when he annihilated the rest of the field in the 200 metres.

How on earth did he do it?

It has a lot to do with his fast twitch muscle fibers. Analysis shows that Olympic sprinters have about 80 percent fast twitch muscle fibers. These can generate great force to produce explosive speed.

Weightlifters, also, have a high proportion of fast twitch fibers that enable them to heave 100kg dumbbells over their heads and hold briefly. These competitors are capable of short bursts of extraordinary strength or speed, but they last only for a matter of seconds. This is because the exercises are anaerobic — the exertion is fueled by stored energy (in fast twitch muscle fibers) and does not require the release of oxygen. Anaerobic exercise cannot be sustained over long periods as with aerobic exercise — such as long distance running.

With training and exercise, top level sprinters and weightlifters increase their fast twitch fibers. When they were born they had more or less 50/50 slow and fast muscle fibers, like everyone else. But the ratio can be altered as a result of exercise and body type. By and large, our bodies fall within the range of one of three body types:

* the endomorph has a pear shaped body, wide hips and shoulders, and short arms and legs

* the mesomorph has broad shoulders, well muscled arms and legs and narrow hips

* the ectomorph has narrow shoulders, hips, chest and abdomen, and thin arms and legs.

Understandably, the endomorph is more suited to weightlifting than to sprinting. The mesomorph is a natural athlete who has potential to triumph in many sports, (and, guys take note: these proportions are also the ideal shape from a woman’s perspective). The ectomorph is good at endurance sports, such as marathon running. The muscles of marathon runners tend to have 80 percent slow twitch fibers. Ectomorphs may be able to run all day but they are going to find it hard to build the ideal broad-shouldered masculine shape.

But skinny guys take heart if you are desperate to gain muscle!

Although you have a high level of slow twitch muscle fiber, scientific studies show that high-intensity training can boost the proportion of fast twitch fibers. So, your muscle type is not determined solely by genes.

Here’s your problem though: if you want to get ripped, and not ripped off, you have to know what works best to help you to build muscle. More than 90% of training techniques practiced by skinny bodybuilding hopefuls lead to failure. It’s no good going down to the gym and pumping iron and shoveling loads of supplements down your throat. That won’t work.

I’m a internet trainer who specializes in muscle gain and weight loss. I don’t believe in spending endless time on cardio machines in hopes of losing fat. You can get more fitness and nutrition information by visiting tinyurl.com/l7ed46 .

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