Endurance vs Power Athletes

Email from Jun Wen:

Hi Pang Sheng Jun, have enjoyed reading your blog. 

I train for about 6-8 sessions a week, and there is a question that I would like to ask you.

I’m not seeing any improvement in my 50m Freestyle but all of my other distances like 100m, 200m, and 400m are improving.

For example, I swam a 5mins 45seconds for my 400 free in IVP and improved my time to 5mins 34seconds in the SSA time trial which was only a few months later (sorry I’m really slow). 

So what should I do to see improvement in my 50m Freestyle?

Would be grateful if you could help me with your experiences and thank you for your time.


My reply: 

Hey Jun Wen,

It’s great that you’re training 6-8 times a week, that’s really frequent! Keep up with the good work.


Endurance vs Power athletes

Processed with MoldivPhoto (Left to right): Sun Yang & James Magnussen 

Well, I stated in my previous blog post before that we all have different types of muscle fibres. So basically we have 3 types of muscle fibres in our body, namely type 1, type 2a and type 2x.

Type 1 is for endurance athletes, whereas type 2s are for sprint/power athletes.


Type 1 muscle fibres:

–          Low power output

–          Fatigue resistant

–          Suitable for long duration and low intensity activities


Type 2 muscle fibres:

–          High power output

–          Not fatigue resistant

–          Suitable for high intensity and short duration activities

So as you can see, your muscle fibres define whether you’re a sprint or endurance athlete. Both muscle types have their strengths and weaknesses. Take for example the World Record holder for 1500m Freestyle Sun Yang, he definitely has more type 1 muscle fibres than type 2 muscle fibres whereas for 100m Freestyle World Champion James Magnussen he has got more type 2 muscle fibres.

Endurance athletes (take you for an example) have predominantly type 1 muscle fibres in your body, that is why you can see improvements in your longer races because that is what your muscle fibres are suited for.

However you may not be able to innervate all your muscle fibres during a 50m race, which is why you find it hard to improve.

But not to worry, approximately 10% of your muscle fibres can be altered with a change in training program.

What you would like to add in your training regime is probably more sprint sets (e.g. 25m or 50m sprint with short rest intervals) and you should be able to see more improvement in your sprint events.

Hope I answered your question! Feel free to ask me anything else.


Have a question as well?

Feel free to email me at hello@pangshengjun.com and I will be happy to answer them for you.


For more updates LIKE and FOLLOW me on:

Facebook: swimPSJ

Twitter: @swimPSJ

Instagram: @swimPSJ


Hard Work Pays Off

Share this article:

Leave a Reply