fast-twitch slow-twitch muscle

Kenyans versus cheetahs, who wins?

From the BBC, Kenyans chase down and catch goat-killing cheetahs:

“The men waited until the hottest part of the day before launching the chase over a distance of four miles (6.4km).

The cheetahs got so tired they could not run any more. The villagers captured them alive and handed them over to the Kenya Wildlife Service.”

Cheetahs are fast but cannot run long distances. A cheetah’s muscles produce speed, a goose’s muscles are more for endurance, and human muscles are made for both. We have slow-twitch muscle fiber for endurance and fast-twitch muscle fiber for power and speed. Most of us will have an average mix, but there will be outliers.

One marathon runner’s biopsies of his legs indicated that his legs were 90 percent slow-twitch muscle fiber. That runner will never excel in sprints no matter how hard he tries, and cheetahs will never be long distance runners.

As personal trainers we see differences in responses to exercise. Most people fall in the middle of the curve, but some outliers are able to produce surprising strength for their size. They tend to diminish in strength quickly. Others seem comparatively weak, but they can often sustain exercise for a much longer period of time. Good trainers will recognize those individual differences and adjust the training program accordingly.

At Austin Fitness Trainers and at New Orleans Fitness Trainers we will develop the training program that is right for you; one that is safe, efficient, and effective for your condition and age.