Fast twitch muscle exercises incorporate your type II muscle fibers, which are responsible for quick bursts of strength. Powerlifters engage more of these fibers because of the way they lift: extremely heavy with explosive movements.
If you want to improve your PR or sprint faster, fast-twitch muscles (or really fibers) must engage.
So, you can benefit from exercises to build fast twitch muscle fibers for:
Pure strength and mass
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through a few exercises and routines to add to your training to really focus on the fast-twitch group of fibers.
Tips Before We Discuss Specific Exercises for Fast Twitch Fibers
If you’re an advanced lifter, you can likely glance over this section, but we find it to be crucial for anyone that is new to focusing on certain muscle fibers. Since you need to lift heavy or very intensely to engage these fibers, please follow these tips:
Form: Remain cautious of your form and even look at how to perform some of these exercises properly to lower your risk of injury.
Find Your 1RM: You can find your 1RM (rep max) by finding your new PR. This is the heaviest weight you can push for one repetition. You’ll need to warm up, have someone spot you and try to find your one rep max.
Rest: When lifting heavy, you’ll deplete your (Adenosine Triphosphate) ATP energy stores quickly. Studies find that most people need 2 – 5 minute rest periods between sets to adequately restore ATP to power through your next set.
Reps: You’ll want to keep reps between 1 and 6 at the maximum, maybe 5 maximum. Sets should be 4+.
For every exercise that you’ll be performing for fast twitch muscle fiber building, you’ll want to keep your weight between 70% and 82% of your 1RM. Some research does show going as low as 55% of your one rep max, and you can feel free to do this. However, when you go heavier, you’re really engaging these muscle fibers more.
7+ Fast Twitch Muscle Exercises to Improve Your Workout
1. Pull Ups or Chin Ups
Chip ups are intense, but they work a wide range of muscles. You can also perform chin ups with a powerful burst up. You have two options here because a lot of people cannot do chin ups, but you can do:
Assisted pull ups / chin ups
Weighted pull ups / chin ups
With the assisted variety, you can use bands or some gyms have a machine, which will help you offset the weight. Let’s assume you weight 180 and can’t perform either variation of this exercise. With an assisted machine, you can add 70 pounds in counterweight to help you build your chin up or pull up properly.
For the beasts that are reading this and can do pull ups / chin ups while talking on the phone or browsing Reddit, you can perform the weighted variation of this exercise.
You can see a good example of how to use bands for assistance below:
And if you plan on doing chin ups or pull ups, please watch the video below. Jeff goes through the right way to perform a chin up and pull up and explains in great detail which muscles are engaging with each.
Sprint training is one of the best fast twitch muscle exercises for athletes because it can be performed with running, skating, biking, swimming – whatever activity you require. However, if you’re in the gym, you can also do sprint training on:
The key will be to use resistance when training, or in the case of a treadmill, you can use incline levels for sprint training.
Next, warm up on the machine and then sprint for 30 seconds at the resistance or incline level that’s difficult for you. For me, I often do this on the elliptical and will do something like this:
Sprint at 3 resistance for 30 seconds
Lower to no resistance for 3 minutes
Sprint at 6 resistance for 30 seconds
Repeat and increase
If you’re just starting out, this slow increase will allow you to judge the resistance that you can do. An alternative option is to sprint at your top resistance for 30 seconds at the start, middle and end of your workout. This is what athletes will want to do because my example above likely tires the muscle somewhat before reaching my peak resistance.
One study found that sprinting 2 – 3 times per week for 4 – 6 weeks with 15 – 20 minute rest periods between sprints increased type IIA muscle fibers by 20%.
3. Squat Training
We wrote about leg workouts for strength and mass previously, and we do provide a lot of great form recommendations that you need to follow. Squats are an exercise that you need to do explosively to engage fast-twitch fibers, but you also want to maintain proper form to avoid hurting you:
Put on your desired weight based on the 1RM recommendation above, and perform explosive squats. You’ll likely only be able to perform a handful at 80% of your 1RM max, but that’s perfectly fine. Anywhere from 1 – 6 reps will be fine here.
Just focus on going up from the squat with explosive speed.
You do want to go down into the squat with control to avoid damaging your knees.
4. Bench Press
If you’re trying to build a bigger chest and gain strength in your bench press, you can also achieve great muscle growth and adapt your muscle fiber composition to fast-twitch with a bench press.
There are a lot of variations that you can follow here, but one that I like is to use a board press.
You definitely want to be cautious when benching and use a spotter. The last thing you want to do is drop the weight on yourself and have to recuperate from an injury.
5, 6, 7 and Beyond
A few additional exercises that you can try this with are:
Barbell shoulder press
You can adjust many of the exercises to incorporate these explosive movements. However, it’s often best to perform them with compound movements for overall strength increase. If you’re someone who is trying to become the strict curl champion or has a specific goal in mind, simply adjust your workout to meet the fast-twitch activation requirements: heavy weight and explosive movements.
Note: Explosive movements and heavy weights take a toll on your muscles. If you want to see results, you must feed your muscles with protein shakes after workouts, especially when focusing on fast twitch muscle exercises. You also want to get to bed on time and allow your muscles time to repair.
Slow twitch muscle exercises are crucial for endurance athletes, and many studies show that endurance athletes actually have more slow-twitch vs fast-twitch fibers.
Endurance athletes train with:
It’s no secret that if you want to run a marathon, you need endurance. Slow-twitch fibers use lower energy levels than fast-twitch fibers, and they allow you to reach the last mile of a triathlon or have the energy to hike six miles without breaking a sweat.
Slow-twitch fibers use mitochondria for energy and provide their own source of energy. If you need to do any activity for a lengthy period of time, the fibers’ ability to create its own energy is going to be crucial to your success.
We’re going to cover exactly how to perform these exercises and a few that you should incorporate into your workout routine.
What You Need to Know Before Focusing on Slow-Twitch Muscle Exercises
Before we go into specific exercises to engage these muscle fibers, it’s important to know a few things:
Body-weight exercises work very well to improve the concentration of slow twitch fibers
Resistance training can also hit these muscle fibers, but you will want to focus on high reputations for aerobic metabolism, which is a fancy way of saying keep your reps at least 15 or higher
Rest periods should be kept low, in the 30-second range, because you won’t need the lengthy rest period required to replenish ATP energy
Weight, if you’re using resistance, should be no more than 50% of your one rep max, unless you can do a higher percentage for 15+ reps
You can incorporate cheat exercises when trying to reach higher reps, such as 30 or more. However, you do want to be cautious of your form because some exercises can cause injury even if you’re using a much lower weight than you can handle on a typical day.
We’ve dived into slow and fast twitch muscle fibers quite a bit on this site, and we have a few articles that you may want to read to educate yourself further on this topic:
Finally, let’s see some examples of slow twitch muscle exercises so that you can begin incorporating them into your routine.
3 Ways to Incorporate Slow Twitch Muscle Exercises Into Your Workout
1. Low Weight, High Reps
Lifting weights, using bands or any type of resistance training, can be modified to focus primarily on these muscle fibers. However, you have to consider the type of exercise you perform, too.
Complex movements often engage both fast- and slow-twitch fibers.
The key to building up these fibers with resistance training is:
High reps of 15+
Sets of 3+
Rest of 30 seconds or less
You don’t want to perform explosive reps out of fear that you’ll engage more type II fibers. Instead, slow, controlled and volume are what you want to focus on here for proper muscle fiber engagement.
If you want to be the best athlete you can be, you’ll find that these types of exercises and an endurance workout plan will help round out your fitness.
2. Burnout Sessions
Burnout sessions are going to be questionable for a lot of people reading this article because you’ll work on both types of muscle fibers. For example, you may do the following:
4 sets of 8 seated rows
1 set of X seated rows to burnout
You can do this with any exercise, such as shoulder press, bench press, deadlift or any other that you see fit.
When you’re done with your “strength” training, you’ll lower the weight and perform as many reps as you can until you reach failure.
Burnouts are performed by doing one exercise at the end of a workout.
For example, you may burnout with rows as your last exercise on back day. However, you can do the same with your biceps, triceps – any muscle. But, you also want to be sure that you use precaution to not cause injury on the final reps.
Someone burning out with squats, for example, will want someone to spot them to ensure that they don’t collapse at the end or can’t get up from the squat.
Something to Remember
Performing high reps will often help you finish your workout faster. You won’t need to spend time warming up before a workout and the 30-second rest period allows you to fly through your workout.
But if you’re burning out, meaning that you do moderate or heavy weight at some point during your workout, you do want to warm up beforehand.
3. Cardio Sessions
Cardio, and sprinting specifically, is one of the most studied areas of slow-twitch muscle. A great study on this subject found that during 13 weeks of marathon training, and a three-week tapering period:
Type I muscle fibers increased from 42.6% to 48.6%
Type IIa fibers decreased from 40.1% to 35.8%
It’s crucial to note that researchers focused on novice runners because they wouldn’t have the same higher ratio of type I fibers as someone who runs marathons often. In fact, it’s hypothesized that if you already have a large concentration of type I or II fibers, it may be difficult to build more.
Again, the main switch in routine for cardio was to gravitate towards high volume work.
For example, let’s assume that you’re running 1-mile per day.
If you want to focus solely on the slow-twitch muscles, you’ll want to increase this to 2, 3, 4, or more miles a day, thus adding more volume. You don’t want to add resistance, so you’ll avoid focusing on hills or wearing a weighted vest.
The same goes for a cardio machine.
You’ll want to focus on distance without adding in resistance or an incline, which will engage more muscles and add to your type II muscle fibers instead.
Note: Cardio sessions should not include sprints. Why? These explosive sprints will lead to you engaging your fast-twitch muscles. Instead, maintain a steady pace for as long as you can to reach your goal.
Slow twitch muscle exercises may not seem as “impressive” as building mass or hitting a new PR, but they’re crucial to your overall fitness level.
If you’re going to the gym, training hard and seeing results, you probably don’t give much thought to fast twitch muscle fibers vs slow twitch. However, if you want to maximize performance and reach your goals, you need to be able to answer: what is the difference between fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers?
We’re going to outline:
Different muscle fiber types
Which muscle fibers are necessary for each movement
Exercises that engage different types of muscle fibers
What Is The Difference Between Fast-twitch and Slow-twitch Muscle Fibers?
What are Fast-twitch Muscle Fibers?
Fast-twitch muscle fibers are type 2 fibers. Everyone has type 1 and type 2 fibers, which are slow or fast fibers. If you’re engaging fast-twitch fibers, they’re used for:
Sudden bursts of strength
Energy used for fast-twitch muscles is created anaerobically. Imagine working through an endurance workout plan, which may be challenging, but you won’t need a sudden burst of energy for these movements.
However, if you’re powerlifting and trying to bench press 400 pounds, you’ll need to engage your type 2 muscle fibers.
You need a lot of energy, quick.
Type II fibers also include:
Type IIB/IIX: known for being inefficient yet produce the most force.
Type IIA: known for fatiguing slower and being a mix of both IIX and Type I fibers. These are “intermediate” fibers.
You can train to improve all of these types of fibers, based on your own individual goals.
Considered your type 1 muscle fiber, these fibers will engage first before your type 2 fibers do. However, most people use slow-twitch fibers because they require even, steady energy to be performed.
When engaged, these fibers will run on oxygen rather than anaerobic energy, like fast-twitch fibers.
When are Fast-twitch Muscle Fibers Used?
Confused? Don’t be. Fast-twitch fibers will be used naturally by your body when they require a fast burst of energy. The massive energy burst will allow you to perform a PR, but then you’re going to need a rest.
Your energy will be depleted, and rest will help you get it back.
Fast-twitch fibers may be sufficient for a sprinter, and they often have as much as 75% of type II fibers, but they tire out faster than a marathon runner.
So, suppose you’re wondering why sprinters can’t run long distances as efficiently as a marathon runner. In that case, it’s because their bodies have adapted to utilize more type II fibers than type I fibers.
Training discipline would need to change for a sprinter that wants to become a distance runner.
In short, fast-twitch muscle fibers are for power athletes.
When are Slow-twitch Muscle Fibers Used?
Slow twitch fibers are higher in endurance athletes. In fact, a 2021 study showed that endurance athletes had more slow-twitch fibers. For example, you’ll need these fibers to engage if you:
Lift with low resistance and high reps
Are a distance runner, swimmer, etc.
If you need to perform activities for long periods of time, you’ll want slow-twitch muscle fibers to engage because they use lower amounts of energy, evenly. You can’t fatigue during a marathon or you won’t make it to the end, and this is why you’ll have slow-twitch muscle fibers engaging.
In short, slow-twitch muscle fibers are ideal for endurance athletes.
Bringing it all together, your fast-twitch fibers will also recruit slow-twitch fibers. For example, if you’re doing high-intensity endurance training, both of these fibers will engage to increase your aerobic power.
Exercises for Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers vs Slow Twitch
You can increase either of these fiber types when training. For example, if you want to create more fast-twitch fibers, you’ll need to:
Focus on power movements
Additionally, studies have shown that when training for a marathon, participants were able to increase their slow-twitch muscle fibers. Tapering was used in the study, which means that the participants reduced volume and intensity throughout training, which led to higher slow-twitch performance while also improving strength and power.
Training Type 1 and 2 Fibers at Once
You can train both muscle fibers at once. Remember, your fast-twitch fibers will often engage your slow-twitch muscle fibers, too. One way to train both of these at once is through following a fluid training routine where you:
Engage in strength training
Mix in endurance training
Mix in power training
If you focus on just one form of training, you won’t reach your potential across the board. With that said, you wouldn’t expect someone that is a powerlifter to put a heavy focus on endurance training, because they’re trying to move as much weight as possible.
General resistance training will engage type 1 and 2 fibers, but you’ll want to do more than 1 – 3 reps to get in the slow-twitch fibers.
Training Type Fast-twitch Fibers Specifically
How do you know when your fast-twitch muscle fibers are engaged? Typically, they engage when you can only perform an activity for a short period of time before becoming tired. A few examples include:
Lifting heavy weight
Training Type Slow-twitch Fibers Specifically
Alternatively, you can train your slow-twitch muscle fibers intentionally, too. You will engage these fibers for:
Even yoga is a great way to engage these slow-twitch fibers.
Note: We are preparing articles on how to train fast-twitch muscle fibers and how to train slow-twitch muscle fibers, if you want to maximize your athletic potential.
Fast twitch muscle fibers vs slow twitch seem complex, but they’re all about energy. If you want to train for endurance, you’ll need to work on those slow-twitch muscle fibers. However, if you want to become a powerlifter, you’ll naturally work your fast-twitch fibers because you need a large, quick burst of energy.
Do you have digestive issues or just find your normal source of protein difficult to digest? Then, hydrolyzed protein benefits are perfect for you. Hydrolyzed protein powder comes in whey isolate form, so it’s ideal for an after-workout shake or just to add more dietary protein to your diet.
What Is Hydrolyzed Protein?
Hydrolyzed protein is often associated with dog food – really – but there is also hydrolyzed protein powder made for human consumption. Hydrolysis occurs to isolate certain amino acids, but when it’s used in protein, it is often done to reduce the allergen properties of protein.
For example, infant formulas often undergo hydrolysis to help reduce allergens, especially milk intolerance.
The main reason to use this type of protein is that people have:
Digestive function issues
Allergies to certain proteins
People who have issues digesting normal protein will benefit from the breaking down of peptide bonds responsible for holding amino acids together. Enzymes are used to break down the peptides into one of two types of protein:
Partially hydrolyzed protein
Full hydrolyzed protein
If a protein is fully hydrolyzed, the amino acids have all been isolated. Otherwise, the product is likely partially hydrolyzed, meaning that long protein strands have been broken down to smaller protein strands or, even single amino acids.
4 Hydrolyzed Protein Benefits
What are the benefits of hydrolyzed protein? There are quite a few. We’ve added only the benefits that have studies to back their claims. But there may be even other benefits that researchers haven’t validated.
1. Easy to Digest
The main reason most people seek out this type of protein is that it’s easy on the digestive system. If you have allergies or a compromised digestive system, hydrolyzed protein will be beneficial because it’s already partially broken down.
When taking any whey protein, it can be difficult on the stomach due to lactose.
Depending on the person, they may experience none or some of the following symptoms:
Bloating is common, but then some people feel 100% fine after taking their protein shake. Of course, your digestive health will play a significant role in how you feel, but the hydrolysis process makes it much easier to consume protein without digestive discomfort.
With this said, if you have a severe allergy to milk protein, you’ll want to seek out another form of protein that isn’t derived from lactose.
2. Enhances Muscle Recovery More Than Just Whey Concentrate or Isolate
A 2009 study on the benefits of hydrolysate whey protein looked at the supplement’s ability to enhance muscle force-generating recovery. The study was setup as follows:
Participants engaged in eccentric exercises
Participants consumed 25 grams of protein following exercise
All protein was consumed with flavored water following intense workouts. The study found that recovery of muscle force was greater in participants who consumed the hydrolyzed whey than in those that had the isolate version.
Soreness in the two groups was equal, so this easy-to-digest protein won’t help reduce muscle soreness.
However, if you need to have fast muscle recovery, such as is needed by athletes or even strongmen that may train close to competitions, it may be beneficial to swap in a hydrolyzed protein into the mix.
3. Increases Muscle Protein Synthesis
Protein synthesis is why many people are reading this article and focusing on their protein content. A 2019 study wanted to determine the muscle protein synthesis benefits of whey hydrolysate vs intact whey protein.
The study looked at:
Fractional synthetic rate (FSR)
Muscle protein synthesis (MPS)
It’s well-known and understood that one of the hydrolyzed protein benefits is the ability to stimulate MPS. However, researchers wanted to determine if hydrolyzed provided higher MPS than intake protein.
Researchers made the rats swim for two hours and then ingest protein. The rats were then tested every 30 minutes for the first two hours after exercise to measure FSR.
Whey protein hydrolysate was shown to offer greater MPS after exercise, especially when consumed at lower doses of 0.5g per pound of body weight versus 2g per pound of body weight.
Note: The study was conducted on rats, so more research in this area is certainly needed. However, the benefits should also be experienced in humans.
4. Restores Glycogen Post-Workout
Glycogen is an integral part of recovering from a workout or any strenuous activity. When you need to restore your depleted fuel stores, muscle glycogen is what your muscles need. With all of this in mind, a 2004 study from the University of Texas at Austin conducted a study that found carbohydrate drinks with the addition of protein can help with:
Fueling your next workout
Limiting muscle damage after a workout
However, the study does leave a lot to be desired. But a study from 2010 showed that when you mix carbohydrates with whey protein hydrolysate, skeletal muscle glycogen activates key Akt/PKB enzymes and even PKCs.
Overall, glycogen stimulation was higher when hydrolyzed protein was added.
If you’re having difficulty recovering from intense workouts or want to maximize your recovery efforts, you may want to consider adding carbs and protein into your after-workout protein shake.
Don’t Forget About the General Benefits of Protein
There are a lot of specific hydrolyzed protein benefits to consider, but don’t forget about general protein benefits either. Consuming more protein also helps with:
Hunger and Appetite. Are you always hungry? It’s easy to reach for a carb-heavy snack. However, if you want to lose weight, protein can help. Studies on protein and weight loss found that protein makes you feel fuller even when you consume lower calories. For example, consuming 200 calories of protein will help you control hunger far better than 200 carb-filled calories. In fact, increasing protein intake by just 15% – 30% led to overweight participants in one study eating 440+ fewer calories – naturally.
Boost Bone Health. No one really thinks about their bone health until they have bone-related issues, but your bones will begin to lose mass as you age if you don’t maintain a good diet. Studies show that eating protein over the long-term will help you maintain bone mass. Additional studies show higher protein consumption lowers your risk of fractures, osteoporosis and bone mass loss.
Increase Your Metabolism. Do you want to boost your metabolism? Studies show that protein has double or higher the thermic effect compared to fats and carbs. In addition, studies also show higher protein counts can lead you to burn an additional 80 to 100 calories per day. When compared to low protein eaters, calorie expenditure may be 250+ calories higher.
Aids in Maintaining Weight Loss. Eating fewer calories per day and increasing your metabolism by consuming more protein will lead to significant weight loss benefits. It should come as no surprise that higher protein consumption can also help a person maintain weight loss over the long-term. An interesting 12-week study found that overweight women who increased protein consumption by 30% and made no other dietary changes lost 11 pounds, on average.
Add in the benefits of an increase in muscle mass and strength and trying to up your protein intake makes a lot of sense. Even a small boost in protein consumption will lead to significant benefits in muscle mass, bone health and even caloric intake.
Still have questions about hydrolyzed protein benefits or this protein in general? The following questions should help clear up some of the questions that you have.
Hydrolyzed Protein FAQs
What Is Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein?
Hydrolyzed wheat is meant for hair health in most cases. This protein comes from wheat germ and extracts amino acids and peptides thought to be good for your hair.
What Is Hydrolyzed Whey Protein?
Are you trying to crush your leg workouts, lift heavy or just want to stack on muscle? Then, you’ll likely want a hydrolyzed whey protein powder.
It’s the same whey protein that bodybuilders swear by
Absorption rate is even faster
If protein supplements or high protein diets cause you digestive discomfort, a hydrolyzed protein diet may be a good option for you.
Whey protein hydrolysates were shown in one study to accelerate muscle protein synthesis compared to traditional whey.
What Is Hydrolyzed Soy Protein?
Just like the other forms of protein, soy protein hydrolysates are the breakdown of the larger soy molecules into smaller particles. However, this isn’t something that you’ll take as a protein supplement.
Instead, soy is used to create vegetable protein products and is used as a flavor enhancer.
Whey Protein Isolate Vs Hydrolyzed: Which Offers Faster Absorption
Hydrolyzed protein powder absorbs faster in the gut than both isolates and concentrates. The hydrolysis process helps remove or unbind amino acid and allow for faster metabolization. The one downside is that the extra processing of the protein makes it more expensive.
If you don’t have digestive problems, you can save money by purchasing an isolate or concentrate supplement.
Protein has a lot of benefits, whether it’s pea protein, whey, casein, isolated or hydrolyzed.
Which protein should you take?
It’s an impossible question to answer without knowing you or your goals better. But, many “gurus” recommended mixing protein to allow for different absorption times. For example, you may mix hydrolyzed whey protein with casein because of their differing absorption times.
If you’re trying to maximize your strength or power or just supplementing to meet your dietary needs, you should at least consider the hydrolyzed protein benefits above.
If you’re trying to add muscle mass and don’t consume enough protein, it will be an uphill battle. However, one of the benefits of taking pea protein is that it can help you build more lean muscle mass.
However, you do need to engage in resistance training to see results.
But don’t take my word for it.
A 12-week study was done on pea vs whey protein, and the following occurred:
Participants all took 50 grams of pea protein or whey
All participants were men
Participants weight-lifted over the 12-week period, following a similar routine
At the end of the study, both groups added roughly the same amount of lean muscle mass whether they took whey or pea protein supplements.
One of the top benefits of pea protein, or any type of protein, is that high-quality protein will keep you satiated. For example, if you eat a quarter pound of pasta, chances are you’ll be opening the refrigerator in a few hours looking for something to snack on.
Protein takes longer for your body to digest, so you’ll stay satiated for longer.
Complete proteins are a great addition to any diet, and you can be confident that there are a lot of types of protein powders that will fit into any diet you’re on.
However, don’t take my word for it.
The University of Washington School of Medicine conducted a study on high protein diets and found that higher protein intakes led to:
Reduction in appetite
Lower caloric intake
Body weight decrease
Fat mass loss
So, if you’re trying to find a way to keep yourself from overeating or snacking, add some protein to your diet.
3. Possible Reduction in Blood Pressure
Note: While discussing pea protein benefits, many of the following benefits are health-related. However, remember that you’ll want to discuss your options with your doctor and always follow their directions.
Pea protein hydrolysate (results may differ for isolates) was the focus of one study where participants added just three grams of this protein to their diet, and they lowered their systolic blood pressure by around six points.
Another study, this one conducted on rats, found that when the rats consumed hydrolysate pea protein, they reduced their blood pressure significantly in just three weeks.
More research is definitely needed on the benefits of pea protein for heart health and blood pressure, but the studies linked do show some promising results.
4. Easy Digestion
Are you lactose intolerant or have a hard time digesting most types of protein? A good option for people that have a hard time digesting whey or other types of protein is to try pea protein.
Pea protein is an excellent source of protein for anyone with dietary restrictions because it’s:
Additionally, if you choose a high-quality supplement or just choose to add high-protein beans to your diet, you’ll add in a bunch of fiber, which will help with digestion, too.
5. Potentially Reduce Inflammation
An interesting study from 2012 found that yellow field pea seeds, used for their protein content, showed promising benefits relating to:
Researchers suggest that pea proteins may be used as an alternative therapy for anyone at risk of inflammatory diseases.
6. Easy to Add Into Your Diet
Peas are easy to add into any diet, and if you don’t like eating natural peas, powders work well, too. Pea protein powder benefits include being able to add the powder into delicious treats. For example, you’ll find recipes for using protein powders in:
Or if you don’t mind the taste, you can mix up the protein powder and drink it.
Additionally, if you have fat in your kidneys due to high cholesterol levels, pea protein may also help. One study suggests consuming pea protein powders may help with the absorption of cholesterol while also helping rats control fat production. However, since the study was done on rats and not humans, more research is needed to clarify if these benefits will transcend to humans, too.
8. Works With Plant-Based Diets
If you’re not a big meat eater, vegetarian and so on, peas supply excellent protein content and can help fill in some of the nutrients that may be difficult for you to get in your diet. Plant-based proteins adhere to plant-based diets and offer:
Lactose-free supplement option
Essential amino acids
One of the best pea protein benefits is that it allows you to avoid animal products and animal proteins while offering a good source of protein.
Pea Protein FAQS
What Are The Benefits of Pea Protein Powder?
Protein powder will offer the same benefits as listed above, but keep in mind that the powders are often designed to maximize their effects. For example, when looking at Sunwarrior’s protein, you’ll find that there are a few additions in the blend, including:
Many manufacturers will further fortify their pea protein with additional BCAAs, such as Alanine, Cysine, Leucine, Proline and over a dozen others.
Are There Any Pea Protein Benefits for Skin Health?
You’ll find many resources claiming that pea protein skin benefits are unmatched. Some claim that this protein is the “guardian” for your skin, and these statements are a bit of hyperbole. However, there are a few studies that suggest this type of protein may help with:
Aside from these three benefits, there don’t seem to be many studies on skin health and specifically pea protein.
Are There Any Pea Protein Benefits for Hair?
Yes, but the hair benefits aren’t produced just by pea protein. Instead, any type of protein will help improve your hair health due to the rich amino acid profile they contain. Amino acids help your hair in a few ways:
Whey is the “gold standard” in the fitness world because it has a quick uptake, which means that after you exercise, you drink a whey protein shake and the protein is absorbed quickly into the body.
Why is this important?
Fitness taxes your muscles. When you break down muscle fibers, they’ll need to repair to be stronger. The quick absorption of whey feeds the muscles the nutrients they need to maximize growth and repair.
However, the health benefits of pea protein powder are also impressive. Interestingly, pea protein has a digestion rate that is very similar to whey protein, with a rate or 89.8% compared to whey protein’s 90%.
Note: Absorption rate is based on pea protein isolate.
BUT, the difference in absorption is about 3 – 4 hours. This means that the protein will absorb over a three-to-four-hour period versus the fast absorption of whey protein, which is 1 – 2.5 hours, depending on the type of protein.
Finally, one interesting study was conducted based on:
8-weeks of high-intensity functional training
One group took 24g of whey protein
One group took 24g of pea protein
And the results?
There was virtually no difference in the participants at the end of the study. Pea protein provided the same muscle growth as whey did.
Pea protein benefits are impressive. If you’re just supplementing with this protein for muscle gain, it will provide benefits that are near-identical to whey protein. However, there are so many positive effects of this protein that it’s worth taking for heart health, digestion issues and muscle growth, too.
If you plan on taking protein supplements for muscle growth, you may want to consider mixing pea protein and casein or whey and casein to maximize your results.
Protein shakes are such an integral part of the fitness world that nearly every trainer will recommend them. Unfortunately, many people think “shakes will make me bulky,” but that’s not really true, depending on your goals. The benefits of protein shakes after workouts do include an increase in muscle growth, but they go well beyond that.
But, which benefit claims are true and which are anecdotal?
Let’s find out.
5 Benefits of Protein Shakes After Workouts
1. Boost Lean Muscle Mass
One of the most “popular” benefits of drinking protein shakes after workouts is that it will increase lean muscle mass. An interesting study found that consuming even a minimally higher amount of protein over several months led to an increase in lean body mass.
However, there’s also an interesting systematic study on protein supplements that everyone needs to read.
The study found:
Supplemental protein doesn’t impact lean mass or muscle in the first few weeks of training
Protein may promote hypertrophy, leading to enhanced muscle gain over the long-term
So, there is a period in an untrained lifter’s journey where the protein supplement they’re taking doesn’t provide much benefit. However, as you continue to take the supplement, it may help with:
Improvement in aerobic power
Increase in anaerobic power
You just need to continue training and keep your diet adequate to achieve these results.
2. Protein Leads to Higher Muscle Strength and Size
Dietary protein supplementation was the focus of a meta-analysis of 49 studies with a total of 1,863 participants. The study found that protein supplementation helped:
Improve muscle size
Increase muscle strength
Interestingly, resistance-trained individuals experienced higher benefits than those without resistance training experience. This goes with our previous point, which shows that your muscles respond better to protein when you have experience in the gym.
However, you can enjoy the benefits of protein shakes after workouts even if you’re new to exercise. You just need to continue with your training and after a few months, the protein will make a difference in muscle size and strength.
3. Promotes Muscle Recovery
Walk into the gym or wherever you exercise, breakdown your muscle fibers and wait for recovery. For many people, this is the simplest way to explain how muscle growth occurs. When your muscles heal and recover, they come back stronger.
One recent study found that consuming whey protein after a workout leads to:
Greater muscle recovery
Greater recovery than a similar caloric drink
So, if you’re pushing yourself hard, lifting heavy weights and trying to really maximize your results, protein can help with recovery.
4. Satiate You Until You Have Healthy Food Options
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released a report in 2015 that was a massive meta-analysis of over 30 studies over the last 20 years. The conclusion was that people who consumed 1.2 – 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram, normally with 25 – 30g per meal, experienced improvements in:
Fat mass loss
It’s not uncommon for people to hit the gym and stop off for a burger on the way home because they’re starving. But, unfortunately, most people are starving when they leave the gym and then make poor dietary choices.
Protein shakes after a workout offer a healthy way to consume calories and stay satiated until you get home.
And if you workout at home, the shake will help fuel your body while you cook up something delicious to eat.
5. BCAAs Protein Muscle Protein Synthesis
Protein supplements may (depending on the product chosen) be filled with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs have been thought to help stimulate protein synthesis for more than 35 years.
And there have been a lot of contradicting studies.
Essential amino acids (EAAs) seem to be the limiting factor in the above study. However, when BCAAs are mixed with a high-end protein shake containing EAAs, it can help promote muscle protein synthesis.
Should I Drink Protein Before or After My Workout?
One study of note found that muscle gain was the same whether a person consumed protein right before or after their workout. While many in the fitness industry will promote the benefits of protein shakes after workouts as the only option, there are studies showing that the 30-minute anabolic window may be longer and others showing that pre- or post-workout protein shakes will provide similar results.
Note: If you don’t like whey protein or it’s difficult for you to digest, you definitely want to read our article on pea protein benefits.
Pre Workout vs Protein Powder
We’ve delved deep into the benefits of protein shakes after a workout, but what about a pre-workout? A pre-workout is often low-calorie and may not have any protein included at all. In fact, let’s take a look at the top-selling pre-workout on Amazon: Cellucor C4 Sport Pre Workout.
I’ve never tried this pre-workout, but it contains:
Instead of focusing on muscle development, these pre-workout supplements are more about prepping the body for the workout and giving you a boost of energy. However, let’s take a look at a few other pre-workout options to see if they contain anything else:
Pre Jym, by Jim Stoppani, who is someone that offers great advice and programs, is another popular option. However, I have also never tried this supplement to have an opinion on it. But it’s well-rated and contains:
Black pepper extract
Beet root extract
So, as you can see, a pre-workout is a lot different than a protein shake. Ideally, you’ll use both if you’re trying to maximize your gains. Pre-workouts are good if you find yourself with no energy in the gym and want to give it your all during each set.
Also, if you want to improve your athletic performance while not increasing calorie intake by much, pre-workouts are an excellent choice, but they won’t help you reach your protein requirements.
Note: When we say “Pre workout,” we mean a pre-workout supplement and not a standard protein powder.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day Should You Drink?
You can drink 1 – 4 protein shakes a day, and I’m sure elite athletes are likely drinking more shakes. A general rule of thumb is two shakes per day is enough if you’re trying to maintain body mass.
But if you’re not getting enough protein from your diet, you may need to drink more shakes.
Athletes may drink three or four shakes a day. You also want to consider the type of shake you’re drinking. Isolate and hydrolyzed protein benefits are different. Additionally, you may want to mix it up:
Absorption rates are different. For example, whey protein will be digested within the first hour or two after drinking your shake. Casein can take six hours or longer to digest. So, many people drink casein before bed to continue feeding their muscles protein while they sleep.
Should You Drink Protein Shakes on Rest Days?
Yes. But it’s not 100% necessary. Protein is good for you whenever you consume it, and on rest days, you still want to consume a lot of protein to aid in muscle building and growth.
If you’re having trouble meeting your protein goals, drink a shake.
However, if your normal diet is high in protein and you can meet your protein goals without your shake, you can skip the shake on rest days.
Note: If you’re trying to lose weight, a protein shake will help keep you satiated, so it will help curb your appetite.
Can You Drink Protein Shakes Without Working Out?
Yes. Protein shakes can be consumed without working out and used as a dietary supplement. If you need dietary proteins or to increase your overall protein intake, shakes work well.
Do Protein Shakes Make You Gain Weight Without Working Out?
They can, but most shakes are low in calories. For example, let’s look at some of the top brands and see how many calories a serving contains:
Premier Protein – 30g of protein and 160 calories
Orgain Plant Protein – 20g of protein and 150 calories
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder – 24g of protein and 120 calories
Pure Protein – 25g of protein and 160 calories
You’ll need to drink a lot of shakes to gain weight. However, there are mass gainers that have a ton of protein and 1,000+ calories. Mass gainers are what you want to drink if you need to add mass, but for most people, they can opt for a low-calorie protein powder.
The benefits of protein shakes after workouts are substantial. Often, you just want to maximize your results and that’s what you’re doing when you drink your shake. If you’re doing drop sets, cheat exercises and exercising to failure, you must focus on recovery.
Protein is a small, important part of recovery that will boost your results.
Just like you should be warming up before a workout, you also need to focus on your nutrition. Protein is what your body craves and needs immediately following a workout, so feed it protein.