Want to improve your vertical jump? It takes more than just doing the right type of workouts and exercises. You’ve also got to make sure you are giving your body the right fuel so it can meet the demands of explosive energy you are putting on it.
Fast-Twitch Muscle Fiber Energy Requirements
Your muscles are made up of two different types of fibers: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Slow-twitch muscle fibers contract slowly, so they don’t produce explosive energy. By contrast, fast-twitch muscle fibers contract very quickly. The speed of contraction is what makes them capable of producing explosive energy, such as required for jumping high.
Slow-twitch muscle fibers use fat, glycogen, and oxygen for energy. They are very efficient and use little energy, thus making them suited for endurance activities like running. Fast-twitch muscle fibers mainly use glycogen for energy. They do not rely on oxygen for energy. Not too surprisingly, they use a LOT of energy and they get tired very quickly.
*Glycogen is a type of glucose (sugar).
When glycogen breaks down to provide energy for fast-twitch muscle fibers, it creates lactic acid as a byproduct. When lactic acid builds up in the muscles, it creates that burning feeling you are probably familiar with from working out too hard. It also causes the body to slow down so it can recover. This is a natural defense mechanism and WILL affect your athletic performance! Not even those muscle pain-relievers will help.
Calories for Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers
To prevent muscle burnout from lactic acid buildup, you better make sure your body has enough glycogen stores for your fast-twitch muscle fibers during jump training. Remember, fast-twitch muscle fibers will continue to burn calories for about 8 hours after jump training, so you need to give them glycogen after training as well!
For the sake of comparison, consider the fact that slow-twitch muscle fibers only burn calories for about 1 hour after training.
Vert Shock gets into more detail about when and what to eat for increasing your fast-twitch muscle fibers. In general though, you need to remember to get low-glycemic carbs (which your body breaks down slowly for sustained energy). Eat these about an hour before your workout and again after your workout.
Other Nutrients for Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers
Since muscles are made up of protein, you obviously will need to get enough protein in order to build up your fast-twitch muscle fibers. However, a lot of amateur athletes incorrectly put too much emphasis on protein. During training, body only needs about 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or 2.2 lbs). So a 170 pound basketball player would need about 70 grams of protein. This is really easy to get, such as by eating 1 cup of peanut butter (of course, you’d want to get your protein from a variety of sources, not just peanuts!).
Instead of just focusing on protein, athletes who want to improve their explosive abilities need to make sure they focus on a broad spectrum of nutrients for their fast-twitch muscle fibers.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is very important for muscles because it contributes to fast-muscle fiber development. In winter, you might want to consider eating foods rich in vitamin D or taking a supplement.
- Vitamin C and E: These nutrients are antioxidants and can help alleviate stress in your muscles due to oxidation.
- B Vitamins: B vitamins are important for your nervous system, but also play a major role in metabolism. They help your body break down carbs into energy your fast-twitch muscle fibers can use.