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Question for Marc

Dec 27, 2008
Goleta, CA
I just wanted to say I really enjoy all your training info for softball, and I want to know your thoughts on fast twich fiber training. I am a 42 yearold ex-personal trainer with a pretty deep background in the training industry, especially that of the 80's and 90's. I have a daughter who just turned 11, and I have really increased her resistance training and core training over the last couple of months with great strength gain results. I am a follower of Dr Michael Colgan and his training systems (also a Canadian), and would like to know your thoughts on training for fast twitch muscle fibers or if it is even an option for girls, especially girls my daughters age. The general way for training fast twitch has been low rep, heavy weight, max effort, but it seems a bit much to expect out of an 11 year old. What do you think?

By the way, my daughter loves the increase in strength she has gained from her training. It has increased her confidence a great deal, and being a pitcher, that is tremendously beneficial.

If anyone else has any thoughts, it would be greatly appreciated.


Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
Montreal, Canada
Hi Stkevans,

Thanks for the kind words. I know Michael Colgan. I owned some of his stuff.

As you know well, the body is basically divided between fast and slow twitch muscle fibers. Slow twitch fibers are dominant for slower, endurance-type activities and fast twitch fibers are dominant for fast, explosive activities.

Obviously, softball relies almost exclusively on the fast twitch muscles fibers as everything in our game is fast and explosive. Some people are born with 50% Slow and 50% Fast while others are dominant in a certain type. Olympic marathon runners are genetically dominant in slow twitch and Olympic sprinters are genetically dominant in fast twiches.

While it is mostly a question of genetics as to how much of each you have, you can, only to a certain extent, influence it with training. Overtime with sustained training, you can move the percentage SLIGHTLY one way or the other based on the type of training you do (fast and explosive training will improve slightly the % of fast twitches over time).

You can also train the existing fibers to be more efficient (even faster and more explosive for fast twitch fibers). That is done through power training.

Power is explosive strength. You train explosive strength usually by doing:

- Plyometrics (aka jump training)
- Olympic lifting (cleans, snatchs and their variations)
- Explosive Medicine ball work
- Explosive lifting using regular resistance training exercises

The key here is not the number of reps but the ''explosiveness'' or how quick the action is.

Usually for Olympic Lifting, you are talking heavy weights and low reps. For med ball work and plyometrics, it is usually a matter of 8-15 (sometimes up to 20-25) repetitions done explosively.

For an 11-year-old, ONCE (and only then) you have establish a good base of muscular endurance (stability) and strength (functional), then I would do twice a week:

1) Low level plyometrics - 2-3 lower body exercises - 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
2) Med Ball Work for core and upper body - 2 upper body (throws, presses) and 2 core exercises (side tosses, swings, etc.) for 2 set of 8-10.
3) Introduce the power clean with only a very light bar to focus on form and do 1-2 x 10 reps to build a base.

Hope that answer your questions.

Nov 3, 2008

Excellent explanation on what makes people stronger/faster. Most people think muscle size dictates strength level. It’s really white fiber (fast twitch) vs. red fiber (slow twitch) that has a much greater impact on overall performance.

Addressing the initial question about exercises and a workout routine for an 11year old. Working at maximal weight week after week is one facet of the conjugate method I’m not to crazy about especially for a younger athlete. I like your recommendations but I’m not a fan of the Olympic lifts as the training curve is very difficult especially for the younger student. I like using the squat and the deadlift to build explosive power. My goal is hit neural muscle functionality. This part of the conjugate method I like. Use lower repetitions, high sets and low weight. Example:

Squat 10 sets of 2 with a 45 second rest between sets. I would use the lightest bar you could find and work on form. Once mastered you can start adding weight.

Trap bar deadlift 10 sets of 1 with a 45 to a minute rest in between sets. Again weight isn’t important form and explosiveness is.

I personally feel I don’t see enough people doing these two staple exercises.


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