Bodybuilders can do long distance runs

Muscle fiber types: were you born a sprinter or a marathon runner?

Sprinters or marathon runners - a look at our muscle fiber types reveals something surprising.

Properly trained muscles allow you to accomplish deeds that you would never have thought possible before:

  • You can run, cycle or swim for hours.
  • For seconds you develop an almost superhuman strength and speed.

Perhaps you have already asked yourself one of these questions:

  • Why are there people who build muscle faster than others?
  • Why are there people who can run faster and longer with less exercise?
  • What role do your genes play? Could Schwarzenegger have gone from being a muscle man to a marathon man with the right training?
  • Which muscle fibers should you train to achieve your goal as quickly as possible?

The secret - and the answer to these questions - lies within Hidden from your muscles. Time to air it out.

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What is a muscle

A muscle is an organ that can contract to move part of your body. You have around 650 different muscles.

Every muscle in your body is unique and has a special task.

There are three types of muscles for different requirements in our body: striated muscles, smooth muscles and heart muscles.

  • Smooth musculature: The muscles of our intestines, e.g. the intestines. We cannot consciously control them and yet they work tirelessly in the “background” day after day.
  • Heart muscles: Although the heart muscle consists of striated muscles, it is otherwise completely controlled separately. He also has another important quality: he cannot cramp - not even with a magnesium deficiency.
  • Striated muscles (“Skeletal Muscles”): These are the muscles that interest us. We can consciously tighten and relax them and are - as the name suggests - connected to our bones.

We are interested in the type of muscle that we can consciously control, the striated muscles. When I refer to “muscles” in the following, I mean this type.

The composition of our muscles determines whether you are strong or persistent - possibly both ...?

What is a muscle fiber?

Your muscles are over Tendons with the Skeletal bones connected.

Each muscle consists of individual muscles, separated from one another by fascia tissue Muscle strands. You can think of a muscle strand as a bundle of many muscle fibers imagine: A muscle strand unites many individual muscle fibers.

The properties of the muscle fibers can differ considerably from one another: There are different ones Muscle fiber types.

Electron microscope free: Now we zoom in one more step.

A muscle fiber is made up of different types of protein. Form these proteins Filaments, these are thick and thin structures that slide into each other.

When you tense your muscles, you make sure that these structures slide into each other - the muscle fiber becomes shorter. This force is transmitted to your skeleton via tendons.

You can lift weights, stand up, jump up or run from your apartment to the gym.

What types of muscle fibers are there?

Now it's getting exciting: You have different muscle fiber types that either

  • fast and powerful or
  • long and not quite as powerful

can contract.

There are three types of muscle fibers:

  • Type 1 muscle fibers
  • Type 2a muscle fibers
  • Type 2b muscle fibers

I know these terms really aren't that handy. It will be more vivid in a moment!

The three muscle fiber types differ, among other things, in:

  1. colour
  2. Number of mitochondria (mitochondria are the power plants of the muscle cell - here fat and sugar are converted into the only form of energy that our muscles can use - ATP)
  3. The speed at which the muscle fiber can contract
  4. Volume (how “thick” does the muscle fiber get when it gets stronger?)

The exciting question is ...

Which muscle fiber types do sprinters, which marathon runners?

Marathon runners need excellently trained type 1 muscle fibers. If you like to swim or climb, you need the 2a muscle fiber type. And if you want to look good naked, you shouldn't neglect your type 2b muscle fibers.

Muscle fiber type 1 - the marathon runner (> 30 min. Load)

  • Red color
  • Fatigue: very slowly
  • Mitochondria: very many
  • Contraction: slow
  • Force: low
  • Volume: thinner
  • Sports: long-distance running, cycling, triathlon, marathon, ironman (continuous exercise over 30 minutes)

This type of muscle fiber will too slow twitch - slowly contracting - called.

Muscle fiber type 2a - the middle-distance runner (1-30 min. Load)

  • Red color
  • Fatigue: slowly
  • Mitochondria: many
  • Contraction: relatively fast
  • Power: medium
  • Volume: thicker
  • Type of sport: medium-distance running, swimming, climbing (continuous exposure of less than 30 minutes)

Muscle fiber type 2b - the weightlifter (<60 seconds load)

  • Color white
  • Fatigue: quickly
  • Mitochondria: few
  • Contraction: very fast
  • Power: high
  • Volume: thicker
  • Sport: sprinting, weightlifting, gymnastics (continuous load less than 60 seconds)

The muscle fiber type 2 will also almost twitch - fast contracting - called.

Which muscle fiber type are you: sprinter or marathon runner?

Every muscle has all three muscle fiber types. The amount matters: the higher the proportion of a certain muscle fiber type, the greater your potential.

The exciting question is therefore: How well are you equipped with the respective muscle fiber type?

As is so often the case, it depends. The number of individual fibers essentially depends on two factors:

  1. function: What is the task of the muscle tissue?
  2. Disposition: What is the distribution of your genes?

You will soon see why that training does NOT affect this distribution - and why it matters nonetheless.

Muscle fiber type distribution # 1: What is the function of the muscle?

Every muscle in your body is exposed to different loads and has to perform different tasks. And just as different is the composition of the muscle fiber types.

Depending on the function, a muscle has more enduring or powerful muscle fibers.

For example, the muscles that ensure an upright posture: back extensors, hip flexors, calves, etc.

Usually they don't need a lot of strength to do this, but they have to be continuously under tension for hours. So Mother Nature endowed you with a large percentage of Type 1 muscle fibers.

Your body is intelligent. If you use a muscle in sports or in everyday life, it will only use the muscle fiber type that does the job and uses the least amount of energy:

  • If you use little force, you will only contract type 1 muscle fibers - the type 2 muscle fibers remain relaxed. Example: walking.
  • If you need a lot of strength, the following happens: First, your body tries to cope with the load (in vain) only with type 1 muscle fibers and only then switches on type 2a and finally type 2b muscle fibers. Example: barbell deadlift for muscle building

Quiz question: Can Haile Gebrselassie become Schwarzenegger if he works hard?

Muscle Fiber Type Distribution # 2: Can a Marathon Runner Become a Bodybuilder?

Perhaps you also know such people in your sporting environment: The ones who, with obscenely little training, are among the fastest at the fun run.

And then there are the cardio refusers who just have a barbell for that look at need to build muscle.

Everyone is born with a certain percentage of the different muscle fiber types.

You're a sprinter, weightlifter or long-distance runner predisposed.

Science has been divided as to whether your body can convert one type of muscle fiber into another. So we assume that you can get along with what your parents gave you.

Fortunately, the story doesn't end there!

Proper training will make the types of muscle fibers you are equipped with more powerful.

Proper training does not change that number, but theproportion of the fast and slow contracting muscle fibers on the muscle cross-sectional area.

The more area your type 2 muscle fibers occupy in the overall muscle cross-section, the higher your maximum and speed strength - and the better the conditions for muscle building.

If you want to look good naked, you can train the right muscle fiber types. In addition, you can align all factors, muscle building, endurance training and nutrition, to your goal.

Some people - they call themselves hardgainers - have a harder time building muscle than others. Very few of them know that it is not the distribution of muscle fiber types but their eating habits that are the limiting factor.


Whether sprinter, weightlifter, marathon runner or triathlete - the secret of our physical performance lies in the capabilities of the individual muscle fiber types. You probably can't change how many muscle fibers you have of each type. So you can play with the cards that your parents gave you.

Perhaps you're not endowed with the type 1 muscle fibers of an Olympic marathon runner or the type 2 fibers of a world class sprinter or bodybuilder. But it doesn't matter, after all, you don't want an Olympic gold medal, you want to look good naked.

The good news for all those who stay tuned is that if you are ready to train your muscle fibers properly, you will achieve your goal. If you belong to the group of hard gainers, you can put an additional focus on your diet.

Question: Which muscle fiber type are you? What are your dispositions, what are your challenges and how have you best dealt with them so far? Write a comment.

Photos in the article “Muscle fiber types - sprinters or marathon runners”: iStockPhoto / Chatabox, john shepherd, Maridav, EXTREME PHOTOGRAPHER, MichaelSvoboda; “Flash Back“, “Peter Pan vs. Peter Parker (273/365)” by JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Category: Fitness with M.A.R.K., cardio training, muscle buildingTags: fitness, fitness training, hardgainer, hardgainer nutrition plan, muscle building training, muscle fibers, muscles, muscle growth, training, training duration, training theory, science, goals