Smith Machines & Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers
By Christian Duque
Bodybuilders love how they look. Powerlifters love how they lift. Some folks want the best of both worlds, but this is a lot easier said than done. To be honest, it’s not even a question of juicing. I know… that’s totally unexpected, right? Many people think that drugs make it all better, but that’s simply not the case here. Drugs could make an average physique look decent, but drugs won’t make you into a badass powerlifter. In order to gain strength, it’s imperative to hit fast-twitch muscle fibers in the gym. The only way to successfully accomplish this end, is to squat and deadlift & to do so with big poundages (relative to you). The only way to activate these fibers is put the body through maximum output, but also keep in mind that each person is unique.
For example, personal records for someone who’s 5’5, 140lbs will be substantially less than someone who’s 5’10, 200lbs. Additionally, a case could be made for a second guy that’s 5’5, 140. In other words, we could have two men of similar height, weight, & even age, but still have dramatically different maxes, differentials, and rep ranges. The point in time when fast-twitch fibers are activated could differ vastly. Merely lifting a heavy weight is not enough, so don’t make that your approach. It’s about creating a challenge for yourself, not a road to injury. Athletes need to be very mindful of what approach works best for them. Unfortunately, there’s not a simple reason besides listening to the body.
That having been said, I would urge you (for whatever it’s worth) that the best way to train in this regard is to listen to the muscle, the joints, the whole temple. Smith machines, on average, take all the guesswork out of the equation. The machine, not the lifter, balances the weight, controls the ROM, & often times reduces the tension per lift. Activating these fibers isn’t impossible on pullied machines, but it’s severely hindered. As your resident gymrat, I’d advise against it.