Learn Ways To Improve Fast Twitch Reactions

Brad Robinson
Written by
Last update:

How To Improve Fast Twitch Reactions

If you are training to become a tennis player, swimmer or simply want to increase your quickness, then you should definitely focus on improving your fast twitch reactions.

What are fast twitch muscle fibers?

Whether you’re a professional athlete or just hoping to improve your fitness, proper understanding of fast twitch muscle fibers will definitely help you in that journey.

With that said, the key to improving your fast twitch reactions is to increase the strength and speed of your fast twitch muscle fibers.

Here’s how you can get started:

Build Up Your Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers
There are three types of muscle fibers which are actin, myosin, and myoglobin.

Actin and myosin make up nearly all the protein in human muscles. A fast twitch muscle fiber has many fast-contracted myosin molecules.

And as you can see from the picture below, actin is to a fast twitch muscle fiber as myoglobin is to a slow twitch muscle fiber.

All the fast-twitch fibers have actin and myosin. But myoglobin is the difference.

The more myoglobin a muscle fiber has, the more fast-twitch muscle fibers it is. Fast-twitch muscle fibers have more myoglobin than the slow-twitch ones.

Muscle Fibers

Staple and chicken are very similar types of meat. The only difference is their caloric content. Mild to taste and tender to chew, they also come in numerous cuts. But that’s not the detail we are interested in.

If you are a gym-goer, you must have heard the term fast twitch muscle fibers many times. But exactly what they are, how they differ from each other and what our body is better off with, is what everyone is trying to figure out.

Fast twitch fibers basically co-contract in response to a stimulus. They are a type of muscle fiber within the fast glycolytic muscle fibers family.

They are constructed of fewer myofibrils and are smaller than the slow-twitch fibers. They also possess smaller mitochondria and capillaries.

These fast fibers are present in almost all the muscles in our body. However, the degree of their presence varies from muscle to muscle.

In certain muscles, such as the biceps brachii, they are nearly absent, that is, slow-twitch fibers are the only muscle type present within the muscle.

Improve Your Fast Twitch Reaction

The physiological differences between fast twitch muscle fibers and slow twitch muscle fibers are the basis on which sprinting versus weightlifting takes place. Each set of muscle fibers is designed to function optimally under different circumstances, with the fast twitch muscle fibers functioning best in a high power output environment, the slow twitch muscle fibers functioning best in a low-power output environment. In layman's terms, the fast twitch muscle fibers are designed to perform tasks which require strength and quickness like sprinting, and the slow twitch muscle fibers are designed to perform tasks which require endurance, like running a marathon. Both sets of muscle fibers can benefit from simple exercises which can be performed throughout the day, but the focus in this section will be on those exercises which will primarily target the fast twitch muscle fibers, in particular those exercises which are best suited as warm-up exercises for athletes who play sports which require quickness and speed.

Imagine a professional sprinter versus an ultra-marathon runner. The professional sprinter is muscular, stocky, and powerful, while the ultra-marathon runner is lean and lanky. The difference in body types between the two athletes is primarily explained by the physiological differences between fast twitch muscle fibers and slow twitch muscle fibers. While both sets of muscle fibers can benefit from these warm-up exercises, it is best to focus primarily on those exercises which target the fast twitch muscle fibers.

Increase Your Fast-Twitch Potential with Isometrics

Many sports are won or lost by fractions of a second. Deciding the victor in baseball, winning that race in track, winning the game in football or soccer or even when you hit the winning shot in basketball. That fraction of a second may be the difference between success and failure.

If you want to increase your fast twitch reaction time, you have to practice fast twitch muscle growth by using isometrics. Isometrics can help you do that so that when those fractions of a second come, you are so sensitized to fast movements that you react quickly.

Isometric exercises are performed by exerting force against an immovable object. This is the opposite of an isotonic exercise where the muscle creates force towards the object. Simply put, that isometric contraction is where the muscle neither contracts, nor does it extend.

This results in a static but isometric contraction in the muscle fibers. This causes an accumulation of lactic acid, even though the muscle is not generating power. It is the buildup of the lactic acid that causes hypertrophy of the fast muscles fibers.

So what muscles are we talking about?

In the upper body, the short head of the biceps, the small muscle at the base of the thumb, the pectoralis major and minor and the muscles in the posterior portion of the upper arm all contain fast twitch muscle fibers.

Increasing Your Movement Speed

The obvious answer to improving your speed is through muscle development. Not only is adding more muscle mass to your body beneficial for all movement speed related skills, but it will also boost your metabolism which will make your body more efficient and assist you in losing body fat.

All exercises in the gym will improve your fast twitch or speed-related muscle groups and abilities.

But what about your brain? What is the best way to get fast reactions?


Certain exercises have been shown to greatly enhance your reaction time and make you faster at changing movements.

These methods include:

Spinning – Spinning is one of the best methods for increasing your fast twitch muscle reactions.

The simple act of pedaling is a form of fast twitch movement. The more you spin, the more likely you will be able to react quicker while on the field or the court. So why not combine two of the most popular workouts into one?

The physical exertion of spinning will certainly improve your overall fitness level, but the fast spin movements will also work out the fast twitch muscles in your body, instantly making you stronger.

Keep in mind that the best form of spin is spinning on a static bike.

The Wall Punch Drill

Start by standing in front of a wall and then throw a punch with your dominant hand as hard as possible into the center of the wall.

Grab the rebound where the hand makes contact with the wall and rebound it back towards the original starting point.

Punch into the wall again with the same hand and grab the rebound and throw it back.

After your 5th punch into the wall, do a small turn to the left.

Isometric Sled Drill

Say hello to the hockey stick isometric exercise machine. Its a great way to bridge the gap between on-ice training and dry land training, and it will help you develop fast twitch muscle fibers and work capacity needed to be explosive.

Here is how its done:

Secure a hockey stick to the wall about 2 feet above your eye line. Next, place your heels on your isometric sled machine and stand with knees slightly bent and feet shoulder width apart. Next, brace your core and maintain a neutral spine with the shoulders above the hips.

Then begin with a big exhale and throw the stick up and forward, go as far as you can while maintaining a neutral body position. Once finished, inhale and focus on returning to the starting position.

Once finished, do 4 reps and increase your work capacity by increasing the length of each interval. The isometric sled is an awesome way to develop your fast twitch muscle fibers needed for explosive movements.

Plyometric VS Isometric Exercises – Effects On Force Development

Plyometric and Isometric exercises are two of the best types of strength inducing exercises for increasing force generation.

Plyometric exercises employ a stretch shortening cycle (SSC) for training, which is the same movement used in many sport movements, providing the desired benefits needed for athletes to develop power.

Examples of plyometric exercises include jumping (vertical, long, and broad), bounding and hopping drills, and the use of some motorized bikes or treadmills for an added plyometric component.

Plyometric exercises depend upon neuro-muscular efficiency, which is the speed at which a muscle can contract and generate force. As the muscle contracts faster, force can be produced at an increased rate, thus increasing force generation.

On the other hand, Isometric exercises usually involve the use of resistance equipment such as weight machines (where graded resistances are available) and free weights to provide resistance to the muscles, thereby requiring the muscles to be more efficient at generating force in the absence of lengthening and shortening of the muscle.

A central factor involved in generating the necessary force (P) is the amount of force the muscles can produce against the resistance (F) (F=P). With isometric training, this factor (F) is kept constant whereas it is changed in plyometric training to change the amount of force being generated.


Although most people have heard of fast twitch muscle fibers and their importance, there are few who have actually taken the time to research and learn how they work.

The simple truth is that you learn how to improve your fast twitch reactions by using them. So, try exercising using sprinting or tennis.

Those types of exercises will help you build fast twitch muscle fibers that you can control in a variety of activities. In long distance running, fast twitch fibers are used when you’re sprinting. But those people are using slow twitch fibers that they have trained for over the years.

Be advised that there are very few sports that use only one specific muscle fiber, but most of them use a combination of the two.

For example, the average sprinter needs fast twitch muscle fibers to run fast and strong but they also need slow twitch muscle fibers to carry out the aerobic activity of the sport.

Most of these sprinters have greater muscle types, but the sad reality is that some of them are hyper-sensitive to certain anabolic substances that enhance fast twitch muscle fibers.

Bottom line, you need to take some risks, experiment, and test your abilities if you want to play and win on the hard court.