What functions are the muscles carrying out when kicking a football?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
Fast Twitch Fibers and Fast Twitch Response
Fast twitch fibers are responsible for the speed of muscular contraction, and a fast twitch response is the ability of a muscle to rapidly contract to a specific distance over a short period of time.
Therefore, any training program that conditions your muscles to go from a state of complete relaxation to an immediate state of contraction is a speed training program.
Extensive repetitive contractions, as in weight training and plyometric training, have limited value to the speed with which a muscle contracts. (Do not confuse any increased coordination you may develop in performing certain plyometric exercises with that of an increased rate in muscle contraction. Increased coordination is common to all types of training that’s done on a daily basis and is only the first step towards developing fast twitch contractions.)
How and why will a muscle begin to contract faster when it has a specific target distance to contract to? Well, for a start, muscles have memory. They have the ability to learn a particular activity/movement and repeat it automatically with practice. The less they have to remember (one specific target distance), the quicker they can contract to it. Our brains work the same way. The less we have to remember, the quicker we can recall things.
For example: If you went into a room filled with a 100 different items, and someone asked you to find one particular item, a screwdriver for instance, immediately your brain will create the proper neuro-pathways (i.e., memory) associated with finding that screwdriver. And, if you were asked to go back and find that same item again, you would become quicker at finding it. Before long, you wouldn’t even have to think about it -- you would immediately know where to go (a fast twitch response). However, if each time you were asked to go into that room and look for a different item, your brain would never develop a consistent pattern of thought (memory), and you would constantly have to think about where something is. This non-specific pattern of thought would always take longer (a slow twitch response).
A muscle trained to contract to just one pre-determined distance or stopping point can do so a lot faster than a muscle that’s been trained to contract to and through an infinite number of distances or stopping points.
A lot of athletic skills that require speed are dependent upon this principle. Throwing a baseball, swinging a baseball bat, tennis racket or golf club, running fast, jumping high, kicking a ball far, etc., are all driven by your muscles’ ability to snap or contract with amazing speed through a specific contact point or predetermined distance.
Martial artists know this. They know that if they can get their muscles to go from a state of complete relaxation to a state of immediate contraction at the instant or distance of making contact with a board, it will snap in half. Train your muscles the right way and watch your speed increase.
To summarize - Fast twitch fibers are responsible for the speed of muscular contraction; and a fast twitch response is the ability of a muscle to rapidly contract to a specific distance over a short period of time.
Training with heavy weights using repetitions will make your muscles stronger (which is important) but will not condition your muscles to contract faster.