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Twitch Testing

One aspect that an athlete should know about himself is whether he is a quick, or slow twitcher.  If you are not too familiar with the expression, then without going into jargon about Fast Glycolitic and Slow Oxidative type fibres its simpler to say that you have a mix of fibres in your muscles some move quick (White) and some move slower (Red).  If you are blessed with a predominance of white fibres then donít set your heart on being a quality marathon runner.  This is where you blame your parents; the mix that you are born with cannot be radically changed.  So if you wanted to follow your sprint hero Linford Christie and you have more red than white, hard luck.  Of course it doesnít mean that by having more red fibres you canít sprint, but it does mean that at the sharp end of the competition you will never make the top no matter how hard you train, itís in your genes.  The clinical way to find out your fibre mix is not nice, itís by a muscle biopsy, which means that a special needle is inserted usually in a quad muscle and when the needle is withdrawn a section of your muscle comes with it to be sliced up and stained for fibre grading.  The easy way is to follow the formula below and know once and for all where you should be heading in terms of race distance.


BARBELL OR DUMBBELLS With increments of 2 to 5lbs.  During the test rest for 2 minutes between trials.  To keep timing uniform use lift for two seconds, pause then lower for four seconds.

Step one Warm up by doing 10 reps of your chosen exercise, with light weights
Step two Do five reps of same exercise with moderate weights
Step three Do one rep with a heavier weight
Step four Repeat step 3, increasing the weight increments by 2. 5 - 10lbs, until you have reached the maximum weight you can lift.  This is your max rep (RMW).  Try to achieve this within eight lifts.
Step five Rest for 5 minutes
Step six Multiply your RMW by 0.75
Step seven Lift this weight as many times as possible
Step eight Scale below indicates type of muscle fibre

1-8 reps = predominantly Type II (White) muscle fibre. (Sprinter)
9-11 reps = combination muscle fibre (heterogeneous).  (Middle Distance)
12 or more reps =  predominantly Type I (Red) muscle fibre.  (Endurance)

Norman Matthews © 2001-2004
Head Senior Coach
Horwich RMI Harriers