How to Grow Muscle and Burn More Fat

3 05 2019

Beth knows how to grow the guns and you can too.

Updated, 3 May 2019 by Staff

If you want to grow muscle and/or burn more body fat – it is important to know muscle groups have three muscle fiber types that are stimulated to grow or endure physical activity. And during exercise or work activity, muscle also prefer certain fuel sources to achieve the fitness goal.

Research shows us, muscle is stimulated to grow when slow, intermittent and fast twitch muscle fibers within the chest, back, arms, abs and legs and buttocks contract at various rates of speed during low-to-high intensity exercise. Learn how to combine muscle fiber and fuel preference knowledge to select the proper training methods to naturally achieve your  weight loss, strength and muscular endurance and competitive and recreational sports goals.

If you need help in customizing a fit healthy habits and training program – Ageless MirrorAthlete “Overweight and Unfit No More” breaks down all these concepts and so much more. Learn how to live life to the fullest today. Click on the image below and become an Ageless MirrorAthlete today!

Muscle Fiber and Fuel Knowledge is Invaluable to Achieve Set Fitness Goals

All muscles have various composition of primarily 3 types of muscle fiber. And when exercise is programmed to lose weight, or increase strength, or endure a physical task of duration and intensity a specific fuel source is preferred by the body.

A couple of quotes from the book help to put this knowledge into perspective.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are less vascular than slow and intermediate fiber types and appear white in color and are highly stimulated during anaerobic (speed, power and strength) training. These muscle fibers use carbohydrate fuel to produce the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy at 2 times the contraction rate of the red and vascular (oxygenated slow twitch endurance muscle fibers). Slow twitch muscle fibers contract at lower intensities and rate of speed and prefer fat fuel to produce the required ATP energy for long endurance activities. The 3rd muscle type intermediate makes use of both metabolic worlds to support the ramping up and down of exercise intensity and rate of physical movement (Katch and McArdle 1993).”

Human muscles contain a genetically determined mixture of both slow and fast fiber types. On average, we have about 50 percent slow twitch and 50 percent fast twitch fibers in most of the muscles used for movement. However, Olympic sprinters have been shown to possess about 80 percent fast twitch fibers, while those who excel in marathons tend to have 80 percent slow twitch fibers. These well-conditioned slow and fast twitch muscle fibers may be genetically provided within naturally lean-muscular body types (Quinn 2013).”

From a genetic perspective this is likely the reason most of us will never be Olympic contenders no matter how hard we train. One thing appears certain, if the average human muscle is comprised of 50% slow twitch muscle fiber; it stands to reason, the majority of us have a genetic and competitive advantage to burn body fat when participating in low intensity aerobic exercise.

There is also an order of muscular contraction where slow twitch fibers yield to fast twitch muscle fiber as physical effort increases. Also a muscle fiber fuel preference shifts from a low intensity fuel source [stored body fat] to [glucose and stored muscle glycogen] to produce the energy and muscle contraction rate necessary to achieve the speed, power and strength needed to accomplish the high intensity training task or goal.

Marc Woodard with good friends hiking Forest Park, Portland OR

For example, when you walk you’re mostly stimulating the leg muscles slow and intermediate muscle fibers to perform long endurance activity. When you sprint or squeeze out those last reps on a heavy bench or leg press station, the slow and intermediate twitch muscle fibers yield to the faster muscle twitch fibers to work at a higher rate of intense speed to achieve the high endurance and strength conditioning goal.

Sprinting with all-out effort is similar to squeezing out that last rep on the bench press. The fast twitch muscle fibers fire (contract)Â at a high rate of speed and intensity while the slow twitch muscle fibers yield or stand-by after high intensity effort produces lactic acid buildup – which allows a less intense effort to continue thereafter. Especially when short periods of rest between exercise is the case.

The rope climb is an intense exercise activity that exhausts the fast twitch muscle fibers prominently found in the shoulders and arms. The by-product of intense exercise is lactic acid. After 2-4min on this exercise… talk about an arm pumping activity to grow those guns!

We all know a high level of muscular intensity has continued physical effort limitations.

That is fast twitch muscle fibers utilize a preferred- quick fuel source [glucose] first, which lasts only seconds.

The glucose fuels intense contractions for up to a maximum period of 10 seconds.

After this time and up to a period of 3 minutes – the next available fuel source is made available [stored muscle glycogen].

In contrast, slow twitch fibers use a combination of glucose and stored body fat fuel for low intensity and long duration exercise activities.

This is a much slower and less intense training process and can be maintained with constant intensity for a continued time period (Fitnessbeans 2012).

Now that we’ve reviewed some basics of muscle fiber characteristics and fuel preferences during specific types of exercise activity, lets answer the question…

What training method will grow muscle and burn more fat?”

Marc Woodard, 2018

The answer is fairly straight forward, train task specific. If you want more bulk, strength and power, train anaerobically – lift heavier weights at increasing intensities of short duration [engage the lactic acid buildup]. If you want more endurance, train aerobically at high intensities that moderate and condition the muscles to limit-pacing or avoid chronic lactic acid buildup. E.g., sprinting, wrestling, karate, boxing, basketball, football, etc.

If you want to burn more body fat train aerobically by performing low intensity – long duration exercise activity, e.g., walking, jogging, biking, dance, etc.

If you want the best of both worlds, you must cross-train

For example take your exercise time and split into two training sessions daily (train aerobically and anaerobically). For instance, if you only have one hour to exercise, spend 5 minutes stretching, and then 25 minutes on aerobic exercise of choice [low-intensity walking, stationary bike, jogging, tread mill equipment, etc].

During the last 25 minutes increase resistance on free weights or stationary equipment and/or circuit weight training equipment – then 5 minutes stretching cool down. On alternating days if a secondary fitness goal is a competitive sport activity… spend a full exercise day participating in that activity: e.g., racquetball, basketball, baseball, soccer, dance, running, power lifting, boxing, karate, etc.

Somewhere mid-week be sure to take a day off to rest muscles so they can repair and metabolism recharges its battery. This is especially important if training at a high rate of intensity daily. If you over train muscles and don’t rest adequately they will be in a state of constant repair more so than making the muscle and endurance gains you desire.

If you have a public use outdoor fitness center make use of it during walking, biking and hiking activities.

If you can’t participate in your favorite intramural-team sport, or train in a gym for whatever reason, train the next best way possible. Head to the nearest public school, or community sports field, City park or trail system and perform repetitive sprint-jogging-walking exercise.

You can also make use of running up/down bleachers, perform sit ups, push-ups etc. Or exercise at home using a stationary bike, repetitive speed bag, jump rope – follow a daily aerobics DVD video dance or yoga program, etc.

If your goal is to lose body fat weight, chose activities of long-endurance and low-intensity physical effort (walking, jogging, biking).

If you want more muscle bulk, strength and speed, choose short-endurance and high intensity exercise exercises with increasing resistive weight loads.

If you want the best of both worlds: Cross-train to achieve your set fitness goals.

Citations and References

Fitnessbeans. “Muscle Fibers: Fast Twitch Versus Slow Twitch. FitnessBeans. BeansPublishing, 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

Katch, Frank I., William D. McArdle, and Frank I. Katch. “Chapter 11/Energy for Exercise.” Introduction to Nutrition, Exercise, and Health. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1993. 169-90. Print.

Loya, Dennis M. “Training Fast and Slow Twitch Muscles.”, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

Quinn, Elizabeth. “Fast and Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers.” Sports Medicine., 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2019 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc.,, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Superior Fitness Principles Include Cross Training Exercise

24 06 2014

CrossTrain Muscles Using a Variety of exercise

I recall cross training during the 80’s as a popular strategy used off-season in-between sports to sustain fitness levels.  Today the same cross training fitness principles are used by a new generation of athletes and activity enthusiasts to sustain superior physical condition year round.

Cross training exercise is identified and made new again by a popular brand known as “CrossFit” training.  CrossFit, Inc. is a fitness company founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000.  Its training philosophy and programs make use of a wide variety of age old sports conditioning, physical activities and exercise to sustain high fitness and performance levels.

For instance, CrossFit exercise incorporates a mix of high-intensity interval training, girevoy sport (Russia Kettle ball lifting), plyometrics (jump training), strongman, powerlifting, calisthenics, gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting and other exercise.  A mix of these exercise activities are now offered within 9,000 affiliated gyms with this particular cross train brand.

If a gym offers cross training, or CrossFit programs and services, then there will be exercise areas that offers more than free weights, stationary weight lift and aerobics equipment, swimming pool, racquet ball courts and aerobic dance classes.  For example, in/outdoor boot camps and/or specialized and singular workout areas within fitness centers may also offer obstacle exercise stations specifically designed to move the body, e.g., climb, jump, roll, leap, etc.   Parkour courses originated within the military and are still used today to condition and cross train soldiers for the rigors of war.  To relate, think of the popular game show “survivor,” which uses a variety of Parkour course-like physical challenge stations to win immunity and awards.

Cross training programs have been introduced to the “Y” and millennial generation through numerous newly minted small 24/7 secure access workout centers that may or may not be affiliated with the CrossFit brand.  As a matter of fact the cross training principled fitness philosophy may fall under many types of fitness brands offering unique variations of exercise modalities that can accommodate any customized fitness program need.

Back in the 80’s we used cross training routines to maintain superior fitness levels through exercise activities that included martial artistry, gymnastics, climbing, running, jumping and leaping station challenges.

These unique training areas were created or accessed in a back yard, field, natural wooded area or garage.  We customized our cross training areas based on exercise activity ideals found in magazines, books and imagination.  These customized training areas weren’t traditionally offered within any commercial gym, or fitness facility of the time.  For instance, you couldn’t go into any facility and find a rock climbing wall, Parkour exercise area, free weights, aerobics, gymnastics equipment, or unique combination thereof to meet all fitness programming needs.  Today you can find a plethora of cross training programs and services built into one fitness facility.

The market supply and demand model of the 80’s basically offered free weights and circuit training equipment.  Some aerobics equipment and dance classed were also offered.  You may have also had access to a swimming pool, gym and racquet courts and indoor track in large facilities at in increased membership expense.

However, if you needed specific cross training equipment in preparation for the standard sports season, you were limited to the local offerings of the time.  For example, if you played football, your cross training program off-season would revolve around jog-sprint activities performed on urban roads if you didn’t have access to a school track.  Weight lifting facilities offered free weights to exercise chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs.  To include clean and jerk, bench and dead lift strength and power exercise stations, etc.  These exercise staples are still used today to cross train and condition a football player’s fitness levels year round.

Regardless of fitness programming, resources and training practices during off-season; to get an athlete to the next fitness level requires an interim cross training resources to achieve the competitive condition.

Professional athletes must exercise and scrimmage to its sport specific activity to work muscle memory [neurological mind-body connection] as close as possible within its natural environment to be competitive.  Although cross training exercises are used to keep the brain-body system(s) firing at a good rate of return, it is not “peak or optimum relative to competitive sport play if not performed with frequency, within its natural and conditional environment.”

Now let’s focus on a competitive rock climber looking to challenge themselves by preparing a vertical rock face climb for the first time.  How should he/or she cross train in preparation for the event?  An indoor rock climbing area, yoga class and weight lifting center with endurance and resistive workout stations are all good cross training resources to precondition the necessary strength, flexibility and endurance in preparation of the actual event.  But in no way is a substitute for the real thing.

Controlled facilities cannot provide the specific environment, weather conditions and test the mind-body in the same way as natures opposing gravitational forces.   To obtain a well-conditioned and relative muscle memory performance focus for this event, environmental field training is necessary.  Like a football training camp, a relative rock climbing base camp must be part of the training program.  If you climb vertical mountains year round you’re likely in a conditioned league of your own and using your natural environment as a relative Parcour training ground.

To maximize your rock climbing skillsets a preconditioning period of acclimation, strategy and exercise training at ground zero is necessary.  For instance, ground zero training areas is considered smart planning and strategy prior to negotiating a vertical climb similar to the NW face of half dome in Yosemite Park, CA.  Those that don’t program and plan accordingly are at greater risk of injury and/or death when cutting corners in this particular sport.

Regardless of physical activity or personal challenge, many athletes and adventure seekers cross train by using a mix of swimming, biking, jogging, running and resistive weight lifting exercise and other routines.

We didn’t have the variety of facilities and equipment during our generations competitive sport years.  But we all understood the benefits of cross training fitness principles.  If we needed to condition ourselves with a similar exercise we’d build it in our garage or back yard, or find an obstacle course in an outdoor rural environment.  At the time we didn’t know it, but we were the innovators and developers of modified Parkour courses and cross training within urban and rural areas.

Cross training centers may not offer a training program specific to your competitive needs.  However, if you’re serious about taking your fitness condition to the next level, you can find a skilled fitness trainer to help you customize a relative cross train program in support of your fitness goals.

For example, if your training to become the next American Ninja Warrior then your cross training program must focus on upper body and grip strength [hang time], powerful and explosive legs for jumping, vaulting, swinging and leaping; free running (high intensity run through obstacles) with the cardio muscular endurance and flexibility to endure such an event.  You must find a skilled trainer and/or facility to help customize an exercise program that includes relative quadrupedal (hand-leg) movement within a similar Parcour or similar exercise area and conditional environment.

The variations of balance, movement, hand-eye coordination, flexibility, power and cat-like reflex skillsets needed to compete in Parcour courses can be improved upon through the study of shaolin Kung-Fu philosophies rooted in the animal kingdom.  There is a lot to learn in movement and balance by watching how cats, dogs and monkeys play.  For instance, if a Ninja Parkour course requires a “cat-like” run-jump-grab-swing to reach a 10’ platform, then study a video of a cat’s movement as it jumps from ground to top of fence and then balances itself.  A Parcour training facility should include this exercise station, or assembly and training provided relative to animal movements.

I’ve watched professional sports players compete in physical challenges outside of their trained professions.  Because body types, passion, genetics and training techniques favor particular strengths, every one of us is wired to be competitive at various activities and at different levels.  The point is, if you’re looking to be physically good or competitive at something, or you simply want to stay in shape, determine your physical strengths, weaknesses and passion for a particular exercise activity.

Start out with a low-intensity cross training exercise program.  Then train to the environment 30-60 days before the actual activity or event to achieve a competitive advantage regardless of age group.  When you cross train relative to your fitness goal you activate more musculoskeletal movement and stimulate more neurological functionality of the brain and body then you would otherwise.  Thereby making you more competitive and healthy relative to your age.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, MSC Officer, ANG Ret.2014 Copyright.  All rights reserved, MirrorAthlete Publishing @:, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.