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Struggle: Can't Sprint Faster

posted on 12/3/2016 Facebook Facebook

Gene for speed: ACTN3
Certain variations of the speed gene ACTN3 yield a greater baseline of strength, a protective effect against muscle damage, and an increase in fast-twitch muscle fibers. (Fun fact: One particular version of ACTN3 has been found in nearly every Olympic sprinter ever tested.) If you don''t carry the "sprinter" version of the gene and carry copies of the "endurance" version, your body isn’t able to create rapid, forceful muscle contractions (i.e signal to your fast-twitch fibers) which is necessary for speed and power sports.

"Some people naturally have sprint tendencies," Reardon says. "West Africans’ limb length, hip mobility, combination of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers, and propensity to respond well to training makes them faster, more powerful sprinters," he adds.

The hack:
"It''s not about building more fast-twitch muscle, it''s about activating the most fast-twitch muscles you already have, and signalling some slow-twitch muscle to take on fast-twitch tendencies," Reardon says. If you''re not naturally a sprinter, you need to maximize power training and explosive-type work and minimize activities that optimize slow-twitch muscle. You want to incorporate box jumps, medicine ball slams, kettlebell swings, power cleans, push presses, and jump squats; and when you lift, lift heavy and fast. You don''t want to do long bouts of steady-state cardio, or resistance training with time under tension exercises, or higher reps with a slow tempo.

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