Building mitochondria

foobar

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
There have been some interesting articles about slow twitch fiber hypertrophy
(using prof. Seluyanov stato-dynamic exercises).

There's also ben some discussions about building mitochondria in fast twitch
muscles. One of the protocols mentioned was essentially S&S swings with
long rest (example: 10 swings in 15 seconds followed by 45 seconds rest).

I'm looking for a protocol for building mitochondria in fast twitch fibers
of the upper body: upper and lower back, pecs, lats.

[Edited to add more context]:
In cross-country skiing one of the most important techniques is double-poling:
where you mostly use core and upper-body. It's been shown that one of the
big reserves is increased aerobic capacity of upper body. Assuming you are
already well trained, you can increase aerobic capacity by:
1. Slow-twitch fibers hypertrophy (ie, using stato-dynamics)
2. Increasing mitochondrial density in slow-twitch fibers
3. Building mitochondria in fast-twitch fibers

By assumption that you are already well trained, #2 above is out (or at very best
requires lots of specific, slow, training to increase mitochondria cristae density)
since you already maxed out mitochondrial density due to years of training.

Since upper-body muscles are proportionally more fast twitch to begin with, what's left
is try to build mitochondria in type II (fast twitch) fibers. But that's very very hard.

Any suggestions about what exercises might be effective and the protocol?
 
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pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

@foobar
What about plyometric push ups for 10 reps. Then, rest for 30s - 40s. Then repeat this sequence. During this move, this is important to keep the core always engage to keep a straight back. The idea would be to pick up a ballistic move (swings are the example you mentioned) and then doing a moderate rep set very explosively and taking good rest. You would start another set once rested (kind of talk test, HR monitoring)

Otherwise, do you follow a specific protocol ? Do you have a specific goal ?

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
@foobar

I'd think developing a slightly more specific goal in terms of athletic performance or health outcome might be a good first step. Pretty much all training enhances mitochondrial density, and IIRC how you train will determine the ability of the mitochondria to preferentially burn carbs or fats at varying intensity (higher intensity=more carbs, lower intensity=more lipids).

Keeping in mind, in a trained athlete both pathways are improved anyway. Preferentially training fast twitch vs slow twitch (or mixed, which is the bulk of most training response) is a little more specific.

If training for speed I would include some plyos @pet', and definitely some isometrics in addition to traditional strength building (rows, pushups, pullups, pressing) movements done at high %1RM with low reps, high set numbers and lots of rest between. I would not mix training protocols on the same day.
 

foobar

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Thanks for feedback. I have edited my original question to provide more context.
 

Harald Motz

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
first, I know to know nothing, not only to this subject...
"Building" and or growing Mitochondria is one thing. Another thing is to not doing harm to them and destroy them via exercise, building up excessive acidity to the whole body, repeatedly. There are "healthy" and sustainable ways to train I am sure.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
Any suggestions about what exercises might be effective and the protocol?
Are you training for cross country skiing or is that just an example?

Personally if the goal is specific to a sport or physical endeavor, you might do best with a varied routine including low intensity aerobic to increase overall mitochondrial density, some heavy weight/low rep/high set count/long rest between sets, and plenty of whatever the specific activity is. In the case of high output long duration work that exceeds the aerobic threshold, some glycolytic work is also in order to build reserves and responses specific to the demands.

The ready answer is to do Simple and Sinister along with whatever the specific activity is. If the goal is not specific the training options expand exponentially.

Another factor is how much time per day/week can you devote to training.

If I understand most of the literature correctly, mitochondrial density increases are not specific to particular fiber types, as opposed to adaptive muscle fiber responses which are somewhat specific to various training protocols. Train to stimulate the fiber type for the intended activity and the mitochondrial adaptations will follow.
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
iirc, there's a section in Simple & Sinister book that talks about subsets of muscle fibers, and building strength endurance. Some types of fast twitch can't be trained for endurance, but some can or something. Never seen a good athlete that worried about this, tho. Most pro athletes I've known worry about "love" interests and/or making/spending more money.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
I renew my standing request for ONE piece of evidence of exercise induced mitochondrial damage from "acidity".
I have yet to come across any definitive evidence either, though it is proven to cause harm to mitochondrial enzymes and the hypothesis is extrapolated from that.

Also is known some metabolic waste products spur muscle growth. I'm of the opinion the poison is in the dose, and when training in what I presume to be a higher acidic state, I simply reduce length of the workout and/or increase my recovery time.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Whoah the amount of misinformation on this thread is outstanding.

@foobar : There's 3 ways to generate ATP for exercise. The first one is through creatine regeneration where creatine donates a phosphate group to ADP to make ATP. This lasts for around 10 secs, is known as Alactic anaerobic and explains why creatine supplementation is effective.

The second is through glycotic regeneration, using the glucose stored in the muscles. This produces lactic acid as a by-product, can last for up to around 90 secs and is known as Lactic Anaerobic. This explains why bodybuilders on low carb cycles look deflated (their glycogen stores are empty).

The third is when mitochondria and, through the Krebbs cycle, uses oxygen and fatty acids to regenerate ATP. This is known as aerobic, is extremely power efficient and can go forever.

Muscle fibers actually match up to those energy systems. Fast twitch fibers are choke full of contractile protein and well capable of the Creatine regeneration. They also contain very little mitochondria because they're not meant to be powered that way. Slow twitch fibers are the opposite. Absolutely choke full of mitochondria because that's the absolute predominant form of energy.

As far as I'm aware, the only way to destroy mitochondria is with a genetic disease. Lactic acid isn't destroying anybody's mitochondria. Pavel has made statements like that but then again Pavel has said things like "you can breathe with your chest and shoulders without using your diaphragm" so he likes to over simplify things to the point where it's false.

The idea of building mitochondria in fast twitch muscle fibers is akin to putting diesel in your Tesla. If you need fast twitch muscle fibers, you need to train with power and high strength movements that will literally build up the glycogen reserves (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy) and the contractile/creatine reserves (myofribillar hypertrophy) that those fibers run on. They aren't meant to run on aerobic systems and building mitochondria in them is nonsensical. Obviously this is oversimplified (fast twitch does have a bit of mitochondria) but you get the idea.


If you need aerobic capacity/endurance in your upper body, you need to do slow twitch training AKA endurance training. That's high reps. Your capacity to improve this is rather large and not "out" by any means as you think. The more endurance you do, the more your slow twitch fibers and your aerobic ability will develop.



Never have I heard that high power, short sets (like an O-lifter or PLer) build mitochondria (the way S&S suggests). Actually those populations have much less mitochondria than Bodybuilders who hit the higher reps and don't care about lactic acid buildup. I can be wrong on it but the idea of S&S building mitochondria is very strange.


Source: Practical Programming's chapter on Physiology. Supertraining's physiology chapter says the same thing but Idk if people are as familiar with that text.
 
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North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
Don't want to be a d... here, but that's exactly @Bill Been 's point.
You (and by the you I mean everyone including me) can't use words like "proven" without providing a study etc. with the actual proof.
100% correct. Although I am certain I have read the studies that observed high acidic environments being harmful to mitochondrial enzymes. I'll dig some up when I get time.

Also, while fast twitch work will not increase mitochondrial density, it is the only way to work fast twitch muscle fiber. Arguably, lots of work that is not targeted specifically to fast twitch will indeed benefit those fiber types, hence my recommendation to just focus on the desired outcome.

Another factor to keep in mind is that mitochondria make use of pyruvic acid in an aerobic manner after the initial anaerobic use in glycolytic pathways (IIRC).
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
a few months ago, I heard a guy (who had just gone to a first workout with a trainer a day or two before) mention he had "DOMS" to a guy who played 8-9 yrs in NFL, couple pro bowls, etc. The former football player said "What's that?" The newbie explained it to him, and the former player sincerely said "wow, they've got a name for everything, now, don't they?"
 

ali

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
The idea of building mitochondria in fast twitch muscle fibers is akin to putting diesel in your Tesla. If you need fast twitch muscle fibers, you need to train with power and high strength movements that will literally build up the glycogen reserves (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy) and the contractile/creatine reserves (myofribillar hypertrophy) that those fibers run on. They aren't meant to run on aerobic systems and building mitochondria in them is nonsensical. Obviously this is oversimplified (fast twitch does have a bit of mitochondria) but you get the idea.
2 types of fast twitch, a/x, or fast/superfast glycolytic or intermediate type1/2....
superfast glycolytic have very few mitochondria, fast 2a fibres have mitochondria as do type 1 slow, as do type 1/2a hybrids....S&S targets them for power endurance. They are capable of being trained as a fast fibre or slow. If you are blessed with an abundance of superfast fibres, or not blessed, intermediate fibres can be trained to behave as fast, or slow, or both. Mitochondrial biogenesis occurs in these fibres as a response to a demand, more mitochondria in these fibres results in more potential free creatine supply within the mitochondria.....more sustained power output.

anyway back to those mitochondria:

Some studies have shown that after high acidosis training sessions, mitochondria have been damaged beyond repair. High acidosis training includes hard sessions that lower the pH of the muscle. These are intense sessions that are above the Lactate Threshold. In my training session, both VO2max and anaerobic work such as Lactate Tolerance work can be considered high acidosis training. That's why this type of training should be used only so often and plenty of rest given afterwords for tissue repair. One other danger of training to mitochondria is when training with low glycogen stores. When your muscle glycogen supply is low, your body has to rely on other sources more and more for energy such as Fat and protein. THe problem is that protein isn't stored in your body like fats and carbohydrates. The protein in your body are the various enzymes, organelles, and structures such as mitochondria. So if you are severely glycogen depleted then your body might breakdown proteins like mitochondria for energy. That's why it's not advised to do a hard workout after a long run or long threshold workout because glycogen stores would be low.

from: The Physiology Behind it All
 
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ali

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
little bit more:

Sublethal muscle fibre injuries after high-tension anaerobic exercise.
Fridén J1, Seger J, Ekblom B.

."....At the light microscopic level, no signs of inflammation or fibre rupture were observed. However, at the ultrastructural level, frequent abnormalities of the contractile material and the cytoplasmic organelles were detected. Z-band streaming, autophagic vacuoles and abnormal mitochondria were the most conspicuous observations."

a lot of mitochondrial stuff relates to endurance, however, that study was on sprinters.

The above study was referenced in this other study:
Exercise-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in an elite athlete.
St Clair Gibson A1, Lambert MI, Weston AR, Myburgh KH, Emms M, Kirby P, Marinaki AM, Owen PE, Derman W, Noakes TD.

article here: Exercise-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in an elite athlete. - PubMed - NCBI

There is a readable pdf of that too here:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kathryn_Myburgh/publication/13781671_Exercise-Induced_Mitochondrial_Dysfunction_in_an_Elite_Athlete/links/578a02c808ae59aa66793203/Exercise-Induced-Mitochondrial-Dysfunction-in-an-Elite-Athlete.pdf?origin=publication_list

.....I've come across a couple more bits and pieces but dunno what I've done with some of the links!
It isn't absolute at all, nothing ever is, is it, really?
The research does seem to suggest acidosis perhaps where exercise is concerned but there is a lot of evidence on ROS affecting mitochondria output and health generally....lifestyle stress especially.
Does that equate to exercise induced mitochondrial apoptosis? If we consider exercise as a stress? Dunno, I'm a bloke.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
Don't want to be a d... here, but that's exactly @Bill Been 's point.
You (and by the you I mean everyone including me) can't use words like "proven" without providing a study etc. with the actual proof.

I have yet to come across any definitive evidence either, though it is proven to cause harm to mitochondrial enzymes and the hypothesis is extrapolated from that.
I should also clarify, when I refer to it I am talking about highly acidic environments in the clinical sense. There are metabolic disorders that have proven harmful to mitochondria in this manner. I can link to some of these. I am not endorsing or repudiating anything beyond that.
 

ali

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
The thing is too, whilst more knowledge is gained about the complex intracellular machinery that drives us along, we do know that doing too much intense exercise, too often is more detrimental than beneficial for our health and for performance. And the tipping point is different for all of us.
The mechanisms behind all this are complex so what do we do?
I don't worry about exploding mitochondria, really have no idea if my NAD + is optimum, nor if my glucose -6-fructinase is doing its job, or if I'm burning fat or carb or both.
I care about being able to produce energy via sustainable health pursuits. Moderately hard exercise often with a spike in intensity now and then provides that.
 

Kettlebelephant

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
we do know that doing too much intense exercise, too often is more detrimental than beneficial for our health and for performance
Do we know that?
Don't get me wrong, I'm a supporter of taking it "easy" most of the time and only going for the glycolictic burn once every 1-2 weeks, but what you say is highly debatable.
Anecdotal evidence shows me that someone who trains 3-5x per week, even if it's HIIT or other high intensity stuff, is still better off than someone who's not exercising at all.
 
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