Do you ever wonder why some dancers have a natural propensity for fast, powerful locks while others can bend time with the slowest, and juiciest figure 8s? The answer may lie in the composition of their muscle fibers.
The human body contains over 215 pairs of skeletal muscles and each muscle is comprised of a combination of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers. Slow twitch muscle fibers (Type I) contract with little force and contain a higher density of capillaries which allow the muscles to carry more oxygen to the muscles for aerobic activities and sustain those activities for a longer period of time (10 minute shimmy drill, anyone?).
Fast twitch muscle fibers can be divided into two types, type IIa and IIb. Type IIa are the “hybrid” muscle fibers, and they retain properties of both fast and slow twitch. Type IIb are the true fast twitch muscles. With a twitch rate of up to 70/sec, these muscles contract quickly and powerfully. Your Type IIb muscle fibers allow you to strike like a cobra and unearth your most vigorous pops and locks.
In order to remember the speed and force qualities of each type, it may be helpful to think of them in
terms of lighting. Slow twitch muscles are like a lava lamp, the light being given off is relatively dim (displaying little force), but the lamp can remain on for extended periods of time. Fast twitch muscles on the other hand, are like a strobe light, they’re quick to turn on and quick to turn off. They’re not going to provide a sustaine...