Muscle Endurance for fast twitchers

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  • #19774
    Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Since attending the Bozeman ME seminar I’ve been all in with the ME training. It’s been noticeably effective, so thank you for the additional protocol to add to my training toolkit.

    One take-away from the seminar was the weight adjustments that need to be made for fast twitch vs slow twitch dominant athletes. I fall into the fast twitch category, so was really piling on the weight for the nordic season. In the end I was up to 75 lbs in the pack while doing V1/V2 skate ski hop drills in a controlled environment due to not feeling all that safe going on the trails with that much weight on my back. This was following the ME nordic protocol by maintaining a low Z1/Z2 HR for multiple 8-10min intervals, with the same amount of rest in between.

    Now that spring is upon us I’ll be transitioning to the hill climb method in prep for trail running. My question is should I expect to bump up the additional weight to the same amount I was using for the nordic method? or should I reset the formula and drop back down to the prescribed 10-20% body weight and go for longer sessions?

    I know there’s going to be some experimentation involved, but would appreciate your advice on where I should be targeting here at the beginning as a fast twitcher.

    Thank you!

  • Moderator
    Scott Semple on #19798

    My first thought is… take a break.

    ME work is intense, so you may want to back off for a while to get the best effect from your next series.

    As far as weight goes, I was using ~60% of bodyweight and I had good results with it for running and skimo.

    Scott Johnston on #19801


    Coll that you were able to jump skate with 75lbs on your back. Sam Naney (like you and Scott also a FT guy) did a lot of weight vest skating with as 60lb vest. Torin Koos and Erik Bjornsen who are ST athletes got very good results never using more than 30lbs.

    I agree with Scott that you need to take a break from the ME. To much a good thing if you know what I mean. Since you are transitioning to running form skiing use this period to put on easy miles. This will have dual benefits of rebuilding the aerobic base after a ski racing season and condition your legs to running.


    Ryan Fitzpatrick on #19804

    Thanks for the feedback! Yes, I totally agree on the rest period. Especially going from nordic -> running. I’ve made that mistake in the past and am all the wiser for it.

    Just out of curiosity how did you approach the workouts with that much weight? Do you go for specific time intervals or vert targets? Or just keep it simple and go for a hike without the watch?

    Scott Johnston on #19860


    Not sure if your questions are addressed to me with regard to the XC skiers or to Scott S for skimo. Here is the format we used for these on snow ME workouts.

    Torin and Erik were doing 3x17min steep uphill (10-12% grade) no poles skate with something like 30lbs. I would ski behind them and the effort was definitely ME in that it burned their legs but HR was low and hey could chat going up the hill. So local muscular fatigue was the limiter as it needs to be fo the best effect. The result of this training for both of them was that the noticed much higher fatigue resistance in their legs. Erik went 1st-1st-2nd at junior nationals that year and said his legs never got tired. He only did 3 of these workouts in the final weeks leading up to JNs. Torin went on to have one of his better seasons with similar sentiments. He was also doing a great deal of high speed training at the time.

    For Sam (FT athlete) he would be killed by these long duration MEs and so his reps were kept short at around 10 sec and the total reps kept around 10. With full recovery between. FT guys can’t do long duration hard aerobic work with serious problems. So HIIT reps need to be shorter and with more rest.


    Scott Semple on #20306

    I used ~60% of body weight and the Verkhoshansky protocol from his Block Training System PDF. The same protocol is also on page 189 of Special Strength Training.

    I’ve never done long-duration ME work. Like Sam, I’m on the FT part of the spectrum, so the Verkhoshansky protocol worked well for me. The work periods are 8-12″ with 10-60″ rests and 8-10′ active recoveries between series. Over eight weeks, the work periods get longer; rests, shorter; and recoveries, longer. I’ve done the ME work over the past two summers, and both times they led to the feeling of running on springs as my leg strength increased.

    Scott also has a bodyweight ME protocol that is a good place to start is ME is new to you. It’s probably where I should have started as well because I couldn’t finish the Verk series the first year.

    Anonymous on #38109

    Scott, I started the gym based protocol and immediately noticed I needed to go up in weight, to ~65# pack and 5# ankle weights for the step ups. I just started split squat jumps with no weight but will be adding for that as well. Is this pretty normal for fast twitchers? I know Verkhoshansky says 35-40% bodyweight for the squat jumps.

    Also, what is happening with HR is interesting. With a light weight, my HR stays down and I feel some fatigue in my legs but not the zone 4 type that I get with the heavy weight. With the heavy weight, my HR goes straight to LT however my respiratory rate is nil, still very much z1 breathing. Have you found similar findings with your fast twitch athletes or even yourself with doing these heavier ME workouts?

    Scott Semple on #38125

    Is this pretty normal for fast twitchers?

    I’m not sure!

    With the heavy weight, my HR goes straight to LT however my respiratory rate is nil, still very much z1 breathing. Have you found similar findings with your fast-twitch athletes or even yourself with doing these heavier ME workouts?

    Again, I’m not sure. When I did the Verk series, my heart rate would peak higher after each round. Eventually, it was AnT +10. The weight I used was quite heavy.

    I’ll ask Scott J. to chime in.

    Scott Johnston on #38135

    Being a ST kinda guy for my whole life it is a bit hard for me to relate to the FTer’s response to ME. All the mountain runners and alpinists I work with get super sore and stiff from these gym based ME workouts and most are using no more than 10-15% of BW. I weigh 165 and use a 20lb vest and that’s plenty for me to see marked gains. Years ago when I read Verk’s recommendation of 40% of BW I thought it must be a misprint. Maybe his guys had a much more extensive strength training background thAn wimpy guys like me. I have trained Olympians using the protocol but none used that much weight. Recall that Verk also says that the weight must be adjusted to suit the individual and leaves that option open. IMHO what matters is the training effect. If it takes 65lb for you to feel that the limitation is local muscular fatigue where I only need 20lbs to get that same training effect we are both going to see gains.

    Having used the protocol now since 1992 I have come to realize that there is no one set prescription in terms of sets and reps or rest or weight that work. Many variations can produce good results. The protocol we have published is one I have extensively and it always delivers the goods.

    FTer’s do seem to need more weight and they seem to handle this sort of work better/easier and don’t suffer from DOMS very much or at all. The suggested perceived exertion and HR and breathing effect are much less important than the concept of using enough weight that the limitation is local muscle fatigue rather than a global fatigue like you might get when doing a 400m interval session on the track.

    I think that if you let this idea govern the weight you will see the gains I have.

    I hope this helps.

    Anonymous on #38164

    Scott S, when your HR was at AnT+10, what was your breathing like? Was that at normal AnT breathing or more of a Z1 easy respiratory effort?

    Scott J, thanks for that information, that is good to know that HR doesn’t matter that much. I had been under the impression that you wanted HR down lower to mimick more or less the HR one is competing at in competition. I am 150# but used to compete in powerlifting at a pretty high level, squatting and deadlifting 4, 5, 600lbs on a regular basis. Strength comes back so quickly for me it’s ridiculous, such as that my legs did get a little sore the first workout with 15#, and then the next workout with 30# I barely felt an effect. The next workout with 45# was okay, and then on the 4th or 5th workout I had to keep bumping it up to the 65# to get an effect. Silly genetics.

    One thing I’ve noticed, which is nice about the ME workouts, is that they can be performed under a high level of fatigue from aerobic work. Compared to interval training where you need to be fresh in order to hit the targets. If I recall correctly from the Ronerto Conova readings, it actually has the best training effect in this state. Would you agree here? I’ve thought about placing the ME workouts specifically after a Long Z1-2 day to get the most out of it, and then obviously 2-3 easy days after that.

    Scott Semple on #38197

    Scott S, when your HR was at AnT+10, what was your breathing like? Was that at normal AnT breathing or more of a Z1 easy respiratory effort?

    Way above AnT. I was using a weight vest and a kettlebell (90# in total), and the vest somewhat restricted my breathing, so it may be hard to compare.

    …600lbs on a regular basis.

    4x bodyweight? That’s awesome. I’m the same weight, but I’ve only ever lifted 2x. Nice work.

    However, your response to ME is probably going to be outside the norm. I’ll have to think about it more…

    One thing I’ve noticed, which is nice about the ME workouts, is that they can be performed under a high level of fatigue from aerobic work.

    I haven’t read anything about Canova suggesting this. Can you include a reference?

    From what I’ve read, most of Canova’s circuits are dynamic but at bodyweight and with faster paces during the recovery intervals. I haven’t read anything of him using extra weight.

    I’ve thought about placing the ME workouts specifically after a Long Z1-2 day to get the most out of it

    What’s the rationale? I would think the response would be better the opposite way around.

    Anonymous on #38221

    Glad to hear your breathing was hard too. I’ve been considering doing something like a block of the UA/Verk ME work and then transition to a block of the Canova method and then finally to normal intervals. That seems like it would flow well from non-specific to specific training.

    I believe I interpreted this statement wrong:
    “As our goal is to use the remaining strength in the worst conditions, as can happen in the final parts of the race. We want to build the capacity and recruit a large number of fibers when the saturation level is very high”

    That got the wheels cranking in my head saying, hmm, doing ME after a long z1-2 day when your legs are tired would force you to recruit more fibers in a bad condition. Mentally, it creates more of a challenge to really push that force production that Verk talks about, maintaining the same power output throughout the ME workout when your legs are already tired. Then a couple days of recovery to let the body absorb that stress. Doing it the other way around makes sense to mimick the back to backs, and learning to do a long day under fatigue, but maybe not necessarily promoting that idea of digging deep and pushing hard under fatigue since the Z1-2 days are basically recovery days (mentally, at least).

    Hav on #38321

    Curious about the training theory behind the different approaches to ST and FT athlete ME work? Are longer/lower-weight ME in ST athletes aimed at increasing the strength of ST fibers and the shorter/higher weight ME in FT athletes aimed at recruiting FT fibers and improving their aerobic capacity?
    I believe I’m a FT predominant athlete and am keying in on a race this summer with a high ME demand (Mount Marathon).
    Maybe I should just buy Verkhoshansky’s book. Thanks.

    Scott Semple on #38337

    The approaches we use aren’t fiber-dominance-specific; they’re event-specific.

    We use weighted uphill carries as a sharpening exercise for mountaineering, because it’s very sport-specific (low cadence, high weight).

    We use the gym ME protocol for skimo and running also because it’s sport-specific )high cadence, more dynamic, lower weight).

    The only slow- versus fast-twitch adjustments that we sometimes make are greater weight for fast-twitchers.

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