This level of intensity improves strength, in part, by triggering greater neuromuscular activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers over time, which ultimately leads to superior force production and improved strength. On the other hand, the use of lighter weights between 20 to 30 percent of your 1RM, or low-intensity training, typically activates the weaker contracting, slow-twitch muscle fibers resulting in very little, if any, gain in strength. That is, unless you perform low-intensity training while partially restricting blood flow to the working muscle group using a training technique known as occlusion training.
Occlusion training, despite using light weight, actually provokes considerable strength gains by specifically stimulating the hypertrophic response in fast-twitch muscle fibers. However, unlike high-intensity training, occlusion training does not increase the level of neuromuscular activation of the fast-twitch muscle fiber – meaning that occlusion training combined with high-intensity training could be used to increase both fast-twitch muscle fiber size and neuromuscular activation levels for extraordinary gains in strength.
Achieving Optimal Strength
Optimal strength is typically achieved by high-intensity training requiring the use of heavy weights within a low repetition range.1 In fact, considerable research into strength training has clearly shown that training with a high intensity of 70 to 90 percent of your 1RM elicits the best gains in strength.2 The use of heavier weight augments strength, principally by inducing greater neuromuscular activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers that contract more quickly than slow-twitch muscle fibers and promote greater strength.
Targeting Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers
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