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Comparing vertical leaps, muscle fiber type(16 posts)

Comparing vertical leaps, muscle fiber typeBreakfast
Jun 10, 2002 8:23 AM
I got a e-mail newsletter from RBRPublishing that included an excerpt from a national magazine about testing your muscle fiber type by a vertical leap test.

I did it and my vertical measurement was 16.5" and I'm 44 years old, 5'10" 188 lbs and I am a powerful climber on the road but certainly not a true climber, an OK time trialist, a sport level MTB racer, an average sprinter, but basically I seem to be in the middle between a fast twitch athlete and a slow twitch endurance athlete. I'm curious what other's vertical test reveals.

Here's the test:

>"Experience may have already tipped you off to your fiber
type. Now here's a test to confirm it or, perhaps, tell you
something you didn't know:

---Stand flat-footed by a wall. Wet your fingertips, reach
as high as you can, and make a damp mark.

---Wet your fingers again. Bend your knees and spring up
while swinging your arm in a high arc. Do it several times
till you're sure that you can't make that second wet mark
any higher.

--Measure the distance between your standing mark and your
jumping mark. Then compare your number with the average for
your age:

MALES
15-19, 18.5 inches
20-29, 19.7 inches
30-39, 16.5 inches
40-49, 13.0 inches
50-59, 11.8 inches
60-69, 10.2 inches

FEMALES
15-19, 13.0 inches
20-29, 11.8 inches
30-39, 11.4 inches
40-49, 9.4 inches
50-59, 7.1 inches
60-69, 4.7 inches

The higher you leap over your age's average, the greater
your percentage of fast-twitch fibers. Leaps below the
average tell you just the opposite -- you have a higher
percentage of slow-twitch fibers.">
I did that last week tooTig
Jun 10, 2002 8:32 AM
I was happy to confirm that I have a decent amount of fast twitch in my legs. I'm 39 and could manage 18.5 inches consistantly. Now if I could only keep up with the younger guys until the sprint! LOL

The RoadBikeRider.com weekly newsletter and their books are excellent sources of info. I'd suggest everyone to put themselves on their free newsletter list.
another indicatorishmael
Jun 10, 2002 8:36 AM
blood from your knee on the wall shows you to be neither a climber nor a sprinter
What if you're really fat?Sintesi
Jun 10, 2002 10:33 AM
Wouldn't this skew the stats? For this to be accurate, I think body weight should figure into the scheme.
it wouldn't mattercyclopathic
Jun 10, 2002 11:30 AM
test defines amount of fast fiber vs body weight /not fast vs slow/. Same needed for sprint. If you have extra 10lbs of fat, they will equally handicap you on jumps and sprints
this never worked out for meDougSloan
Jun 10, 2002 11:27 AM
There is a lot more to leap than twitch content, I think.

For some odd reason, I never could get over a foot off the ground. At 5'9", it was all I could do to even touch the basketball net.

Yet, I could run a 48 second 400 (not reeeaal fast, but not slow) and a 200 under 23 seconds. I won almost every sprint race I did as a kid until high school, and had all sorts of medals for sprinting. I can outsprint many other racers on the bike, even those who can clean my clock in a time trial or hill.

This is just anecdotal crap, I guess, that shows that in some cases these tests may not mean much.
Something to be said for...Slowclimber
Jun 10, 2002 11:35 AM
Coordination...

Jumping does take a certian amount of coordination. I had a somewhat similar problem in that I couldn't ever jump off of one leg but could jump out of the room with both feet.

On the vertical leap test in college I had a 32-34" vertical leap with both feet and could do 10.5 feet in a standing long jump. I however couldn't get more than a foot off of the ground with one foot (trying to do layups and such).

In your case it sounds like a bad case of timing when jumping, at least off of both feet. Considering your times in the sprints I would say that you are mostly fast twitch muscle fiber though.
what about femur length?DougSloan
Jun 10, 2002 11:39 AM
I read somewhere about ratio of femur to leg length, and how that effects jumping. Anything to that?

Of course, it could be my skin color.

Doug
I'm sure there is something to it...Slowclimber
Jun 10, 2002 12:50 PM
I just don't know how much. For me, I have short legs with a 31.5" inseam and being 6 feet tall.

As for skin color, I would agree except I've seen people of all colors jump. A friend of mine (caucasian of course) who was 6' 4" could dunk from just in front of the free throw line and jump like nobody I've ever seen, at least in person. He was quite lanky though and had long legs/femurs. It was quite amazing to see a white farm boy from Oklahoma leap like he could. To bad he didn't have any other really good basketball skills other than jumping.
Everyone!-What about skills as a rider?Breakfast
Jun 10, 2002 12:59 PM
Forget basketball and running for a moment. How does your vertical leap and/or muscle fiber makeup account for your special abilities as a bicycle racer/rider?

Sprinting, hillclimbing, TT's, double centuries, etc.?
Cycling? Who want's to talk about cycling?Slowclimber
Jun 10, 2002 1:22 PM
Just kidding, it's easy to get sidetracked on this board.

You will probably find some corelation to muscle fiber make up and cycling abilities but not as much as you might think because there are so many other factors that come into play.

Our discussion on basketball, running and such does relate because it shows how one can have good running abilities and not be able to leap or good leaping abilities and not be able to run.

Just because one has a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers does not mean that they will be able to sprint with Mario Cipolini, nor does having a lot of slow twitch fibers make you a great climber. Knowing when to jump, who to follow, how hard to go and when, knowing how to fit the bike properly and buy the right parts for ones abilities all make a difference.

Also don't forget pedaling technique, aerodynamics and an ability to find the best lines around corners and through packs.

Then add in the shape and dimensions of your body, ie. long or short femurs, long or short legs, torso length, width of your body and overall weight of the rider.

That's what makes cycling such a strange sport and why many times people that do not excel in any group sports excel in cycling.

As far as how muscle fibers make a difference in your ability to ride certian events people will tend to gravitate to that which they are good at.

-If you are a big, powerful rider you will more than likely end up a sprinter (assuming you can stay with the pack in the first place).
-if you are small or very light weight, probably a climber.
-If you have good fast twitch fibers but are small maybe a good rider who can climb short climbs very well and get a break away where others can't.

For the most part though, there are too many factors to put in to say that one person is going to be a good sprinter because he has predominatly fast twitch fibers or another is going to be a good climber because he has predominatly slow twitch fibers.
it's still mostly trainingDougSloan
Jun 10, 2002 1:49 PM
No matter what your natural tendencies, everything is still mostly about training.

I'm sort of a sprinter, but I love long distances. In high school I ran the quarter mile AND marathons. I was pretty worthless at everything in between, but at least top 10% in both of those. What did it? Training. I ran a lot. The past few years, I biked a lot. Whaddyknow, I can ride 500 miles after doing lots of 200 mile rides. Anyone could.

I really think there is something to the say, "sprinters are born, marathoners are made." Sure, most of us may not be able to win long distance events, but even if we don't have natural endurance, we can develop it. It's much more difficult, it seems, to develop top speed.

I think you are right, we gravitate toward what we are good at, or away from what we are bad at. I don't like oxygen debt. It hurts. I can sprint for fun, or ride evenly all day long, though. So, I gravitate away from hilly 50 mile road races that hurt like hell. There must be lots of people in the same boat.

As you note, though, sprinting technique can be improved a whole lot. It does take knowledge and practice, though.
all kindsDougSloan
Jun 10, 2002 1:01 PM
Actually, I was on the Fresno State track team with a high jumper who was 5'7" (and white). I think he was doing over a 7 feet high jump at the time. He could jump flat-footed and put his shoulders even with a basketball rim. I am 2 inches taller and could barely touch the net running. I could out sprint him, though. Go figure.

Seriously, I read the a disproportionate number of black athletes have longer femurs relative to leg length compared to whites, and this in part did account for an ability to jump. This is what I was getting at. Of course, there are numerous exceptions to the generalization.

Doug
I've heard several things on this topic actually...Slowclimber
Jun 10, 2002 1:32 PM
At least as far as leaping ability of african american athletes.

I've heard that the longer femurs help their jumping ability as well as overall speed ability in sprints and such.

They also tend to have smaller calf muscles, larger glutes and larger thighs (though not around the knee) than other ethnic races.

I also wonder how much of it has to do with having or not having certian muscles. I vaguly remember while attending a one day cadaver class in college that it only takes 60% of the population to have the same muscle or bone in the same place for it to be put in the books as an actual muscle or bone in the body.

The point to this being that some people may actually have more muscles than others or less muscles than others. If this is true, and I'm really not sure that it is then maybe they have the right combination of muscles that lead to high jumping ability and speed type activities. They don't have certian muscles getting in the way of their jumping ability where as you and I do.

It's an interesting topic to discuss, but one that people can get offended at due to the race generalizations that can take place. But look around at all of different races and you can see some body diferences in them that make one better than another. I also somewhat remember Andy Roony (?) getting into a lot of trouble discussing this topic several years ago.
I teach gross anatomy...Wayne
Jun 11, 2002 10:43 AM
and dissection. I can assure you that most everybody has the same bones and muscles. There are a few very small muscles that are highly variable. There may be some genetic disposition that is/was geographically based that could lead one population to be more inclined to excel at a given sport. The most obvious is something like height which has a genetic component and differs in different geographic populations. Clearly being tall is an advantageous trait to get into the NBA, but I would say cultural influences probably account for a much larger contribution as to which populations excel at which sports. You're going to get athletes that excel at a sport if a larger percentage of kids in a population play that sport and want to be pros at it.
Wow! A little Jimmy the Greek-esquesidley
Jun 11, 2002 6:45 AM
First, I generally maintain that psuedo-scientic evolutionary explanations of athletic performance are complete bs. The genetic trait to which you refer, long bones, is common to all equatorial populations not just Africans, as a means of heat dispersal (or at least that what they told me in college). Second, I know you meant no harm, but too often statements like yours are followed by ...that's why whites can swim and blacks can't (enter Jimmy the Greek). You just carefully explained the importance of training and conditioning as means of achieving athletic performance but I guess there is a limit