The key determinant of footspeed in sprinting is the predominance of one distinct type of muscle fiber over another, specifically the ratio of fast-twitch muscles to slow-twitch muscles in a sprinter's physical makeup. Though fast-twitch muscles produce no more energy than slow-twitch muscles when they contract, they do so more rapidly through a process of anaerobic metabolism, though at the cost of inferior efficiency over longer periods of firing. The average human has an almost-equal ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch fibers, but top sprinters may have as much as 80% fast-twitch fibers, while top long-distance runners may have only 20%. This ratio is believed to have genetic origins, though some assert that it can be adjusted by muscle training. "Speed camps", which purport to provide fractional increases in maximum footspeed, are popular among budding professional athletes, and some sources estimate that 17% to 19% of speed can be trained.
Though good running form is useful in increasing speed, fast and slow runners have been shown to move their legs at nearly the same rate - it is the force exerted by the leg on the ground that separates fast sprinters from slow. Top short-distance runners exert as much as four times their body weight in pressure on the running surface. For this reason, muscle mass in the legs, relative to total body weight, is a key factor in maximizing footspeed.
The highest human footspeed ever recorded is 48 km/h (29.8 mph), seen during a 100 meter sprint by Asafa Powell. (His average speed over that distance was 36.96 km/h (22.95 mph) owing to the need for acceleration.) Maximum human sprint speed is strikingly slower than that of many other animals, due to a low density of the energy-producing organelles known as mitochrondria. Compared to other land animals, humans are exceptionally capable of endurance, but exceptionally incapable of great speed. For example, cheetahs can attain short bursts of speed well over 100 km/h (62 mph), the American quarter horse has topped 88 km/h (55 mph), greyhounds can reach 72 km/h (45 mph), and the Mongolian Wild Ass has been measured at 64 km/h (40 mph). Even the domestic cat may reach 48 km/h (30 mph).