We expect a lot of our muscles. Our legs carry from place to place, our abs keep us stable and balanced, our arms and upper body allow us to push and pull objects with ease and control. We can run long distances or lift heavy objects. But what are you training for? The better you are at running long distances, the worse you seem to be at lifting heavy weights. Conversely, you don’t see many bodybuilders running marathons. The reason is we all have two main types of skeletal muscle fibers for two separate jobs.
Depending on your training and genetics you’ll be using one more than the other. Slow twitch helps with endurance activities like jogging or cycling, while fast twitch helps with lifting heavy objects over a shorter period of time. Everyone is born with a certain amount of each kind. If you are a someone who is trying to bulk up and put on size, but you have a higher amount of slow twitch fibers, your potential to grow is not as good as someone who has a naturally higher amount of fast twitch fibers.
Fortunately, there is a solution, and its name is occlusion. Occlusion training has been shown to cause a fiber type shift from slow to fast, thus increasing the potential for muscular growth and size.
In case you are not aware, occlusion training, sometimes referred to as blood flow restriction or tunicate training, is the act of restricting blood flow back into the heart. Occlusion training is when blood can easily flow into the muscle, but not easily flow out of the muscle. This allows the muscle to quickly get “pumped” as it floods with blood. This is most easily achieved by applying about a seven or eight out of 10 tightness of pressure to the top of an arm or a leg with a material that roughly covers one-fourth of the limb.
So how does this help convert slow twitch fibers to fast twitch fibers? Slow twitch, also called Type I, help with endurance training like running and are more reliant on oxygen as a source of energy. This means they are mostly aerobic. Fast twitch fibers on the other hand are more important for increasing muscle size due to the fact that they are larger and have a greater potential to grow. These fibers, also called Type II, are anabolic by comparison and don’t need much oxygen. By restricting blood flow, the slow twitch fibers fatigue much quicker than fast ones which then allows the fast twitch fibers to activate at a much lower weight than they are used to.
Here’s a video of a workout I did last week. Make sure you turn on your audio for my commentary. Sorry I was late getting it out, but I’ve been working on another project that I hope to tell you guys more about soon. But for now let’s do some arms! Here is a BFR giant set of neutral grip dumbbell curls, narrow grip preacher curls, and reverse curls. Switching up the standard protocol, but hey, the gym is all about experimentation 🔬 And no those aren’t my legs at the end…it’s a BFR pump baby! #arms #armday #biceps #curls #curlsforthegirls #goldsgym #giantset #musclepump #pump #bfr #occlusion #occlusiontraining #venice #goldsgym #fitness #fitnessguru #bodybuilder #nosleeves #bodybuilding #train #personaltrainer #gym #grind #summerbody #lift #aesthetic #superset #workoutroutine #fit #sweat
A 2008 study found a shift from type I to type II fibers over the course of a two week span when using occlusion training. This means that some of those slow twitch fibers which are not optimal for increasing muscle size actually transitioned into becoming fast twitch fibers. Thus, there was now greater potential for muscle growth and size.
Basically, if you are looking for a simple way to increase the size and strength of your muscles, start supplementing your workouts with some occlusion training mixed in. If endurance is not your main concern and you have no real need to keep those slow twitch fibers hanging around, it may be time to trade them in for a faster module.