Q & A w Z: Muscle Fibers

Q. What is the difference between slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers? Why is it important to work both?

A: Let’s talk about muscle. Muscle allows the body to turn energy into motion. You won’t be able to do anything without muscle tissue. You have more than 600 muscles in your body. They help you move, lift things, pump blood through the body, and even help you breathe. Pretty cool, huh? I’m sure you’ve also heard about slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers, or Type I and Type II…Getting a bit more specific here. Little confused? No problem. Keep on reading and you’ll find out more about each and what they do.

I like to keep it simple and try to explain science in simple English. Type I (slow twitch) muscle fibers dominate in an elite distance runner’s body. They are trained in endurance. Think about running for a long period of time, at a steady pace, medium intensity; these fibers are fatigue-resistant. They also produce less force than Type II fibers and that’s the main reason why they can last a lot longer. Marathon runners, bikers, or swimmers for example, work on running endurance, which occurs when the slow muscles use oxygen to create energy for long-lasting muscle contractions.

Athlete Running Through Finish LineOn the other hand, Type II, fast-twitch muscle fibers, are associated with strength and power. Think about super heavy squats or sprinting. How much you can do? How long can you last? Not long. Your fuel runs out quickly. These fibers fatigue super fast. Fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism for fast energy instead of oxygen; the muscles get the energy faster, and in fuller force, but do not exhibit endurance. When we think of Type II fibers, we typically picture Olympic lifters, track sprinters, baseball players, and bodybuilders.

Everyone has a mix of both types of muscle fibers. People who have major disparity between muscle fibers often end up being elite athlete (genetics play a huge role). If you have a specific goal, you’ll gear your workouts towards Type I for endurance training or cardiovascular health or Type II for strength, agility, and bone density. Make sure not to neglect one or the other. Your workouts should include both the heavy loads necessary to stimulate what I call the “Big Boys,” the Type II fibers, as well as the lighter loads that do a better job getting the “Slow Boys” or the Type I fibers to grow.

One Healthy Breakdown: Now we know all about muscle fibers and that it is important to have some balance of the two types of exercise for overall fitness!

If you have a question for Z, email kiley@onehealthyhamptons.com or post on the OHH facebook page!

Q & A w Z: Caffeine

Q: Set the record straight – is caffeine good or bad?

coffee beans and brewed

A: Ok, if you don’t like coffee in general, then stop reading this post right now. If you are a Joe lover like me and need an extra boost for your morning workouts, this is for you. Coffee before your AM workout is a YES in my book!

Now let’s look at this from a scientific point of view. Caffeine is a natural stimulant, it increases cortisol levels before the workout and can help both mentally and physically. Mentally, caffeine can enhance focus, which can lead to better form and overall performance. It gives you extra stamina and increases your heart rate, improving blood flow from the heart to the rest of your body. This helps muscles produce greater strength and power output. The result is less fatigue and more endurance, a double win.

Like most things, everything in moderation. How much caffeine is too much? A good amount is 200mg for a 150 lb person, so for most people, about two cups of coffee. I go for a large Starbucks (aka a Venti, ahhhhh, that’s my little heaven right there.) Optimal time? Caffeine intake should be about 45 minutes to an hour before the workout. I usually roll into the gym with my coffee and finish it there within 10-15 minutes. There’s only so much time in the morning, right?!

To me, caffeine is a great pre-workout supplement. Others don’t tolerate it as well, It can make some people jittery, nauseous, or distressed. If you want to get the caffeine boost but are concerned with jittery side effects, consider taking 2 gm of vitamin C, which will help you metabolize the caffeine quickly and prevent that crashing feeling. Caffeine can also be dehydrating, so be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your cup of Joe.

If you have a question for Z, email kiley@onehealthyhamptons.com or post on the OHH facebook page!

One Healthy Breakdown: A cup of Joe a day… Listen to your body. If you enjoy your morning coffee or tea, drink up and kick some butt at the gym.

Q & A w Z: Rest Days

Q:  When should we give our bodies a day off?  How often?  How do you know it’s time for a rest day and how can we avoid feeling lazy on those days?

A:  When you first start exercising, or you are unsure about when to rest, I suggest setting one or two days a week that are non-negotiable days off.  This way, you just know and you build it into your schedule.  If you’d rather not set a day and instead play it by ear, your body will tell you when it needs a break.  If you’ve trained hard for a few days in a row, your muscles need time to rest and recover.  When you’ve given your body the down time it needs, that’s when the true magic happens and your next workout will be that much more effective.  Results don’t actually happen in the gym, the transformation happens outside of the gym by treating our body right.  What you do in the gym only pays off if you nurture your body through ample sleep, good eating to fuel the body, and a healthy lifestyle.

For me, Thursday is my rest day.  I make sure to do something on Thursdays to pamper myself, whether it’s getting a pedicure or going shopping.  I still may train clients and walk my dog, so I am active, but I give my body the day to rest and recover from the heavy weight training I do.

Just like anything else, rest days are different for everyone depending on their fitness level, activity, lifestyle, and preferences.  The most important thing is to always listen to your body.

To submit a question for Z, simply email kiley@onehealthyhamptons.com, or post on our facebook page.  Z is here to field your questions and provide her expertise; she knows a ton about fitness and nutrition thanks to her interesting journey years ago.  Z teaches Les Mills classes at Hampton Gym Corp, TRX at B East, and complimentary classes at Lululemon.  For Z’s full bio, click here.

Q & A w Z: 30 Minute Workout

Our very first “Q & A w Z!” as in Zivile Ngo, well-known local fitness instructor, competitive athlete, and one super-sweet, bad-ass chick.  Every week, Z will be answering YOUR fitness questions.  To submit a question, simply email kiley@onehealthyhamptons.com or post on your “Q for Z” our facebook page.  Z will be fielding questions and providing her expertise…you’ll see below she knows a lot about a lot!


First, Z tells us a little bit about herself:

“I’m a self-starter. I came to this country six years ago from Lithuania. Leaving everything behind (homeland, family, friends) was not easy. It was quite difficult to find myself when I was thrown into a new environment. I was lost. Thankfully, I found the gym. It was the place where I found peace of mind, it was my therapy, and slowly but surely, it became my passion. In addition to my Master’s degree in finance, my true passion was dancing, which is quite far from the financial and business world. I was a dancer for many years and once I moved to the U.S., the gym became another dance floor for me. However, I felt like I needed to improve. I needed a challenge. I then got certified with Les Mills International and started teaching group fitness classes at Hamptons Gym Corp. I was still “hungry”, I wanted more. I became a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist, which allowed me to work one-on-one, design workout and nutrition programs, and make my clients stronger, healthier, and happier. This is my dream job. I love every aspect of it and I want to be better and better at it everyday. I also compete as a Figure athlete. I’ve been doing it for a couple years now, and it’s been an incredible journey, very challenging yet very rewarding, since I’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about nutrition, training, rest, balance, etc.  You can also come and hang out with me at B East studio in Amagansett where I teach TRX classes, or Lululemon in East Hampton, where I do complimentary classes. Fitness is a part of my life, fitness is a part of me, it’s my passion, and my respect for it will never die.”

That’s Z…And now for the Q and the A:

Q & A w Z

Q:  If I only have 30 minutes a day, what kind of workout do you recommend?

A: 30 minutes is enough time to stimulate the muscles if you pick the right exercise, the right workload, and the right timing. I would go with compound movements like squats, dead-lifts, rows, or presses to maximize effects because they engage more than one muscle group at a time. Everyone is different, so our workouts will be different. Each and every person is going to have unique goals, abilities, and personal preferences. Whether you choose to spend your 30 minutes doing yoga, strength training, cardio, or whatever it may be, in order to do what you do effectively, you must have a concrete plan and stick to it. In order to maximize the time, you must plan every move, don’t just do what sporadically pops into your head. Plan your workouts and write them down, so that when you step into the gym, or wherever you exercise, you know what you’re doing, how many sets, how many reps, at what pace, and for how long. Stick with your program and master it. Track your progress. If you’re unsure what’s right for you, it may make sense to consult a professional or hire a trainer for one session to create a program custom to you. Your program should challenge you, but not push you too far. It needs to be safe for your body and should be something you enjoy so you’re more likely to stick with it. If you plan ahead of time and stick to the plan, 30 minutes a day is enough time to produce results and get closer to your goals.

One Healthy Breakdown: great advice – whatever you do, make the most of it!  If you have a question for Z email kiley@onehealthyhamptons.com or post on the OHH facebook page!