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Training to your genes: power vs. endurance

Your genetics affect the way you respond to different types of exercise. Understanding your genetic profile can help personalise your workouts to help you reach your fitness goals in the new year.

Do you struggle to find the right training method for your goals? 💭

What works for one is often less effective for another - that’s because we’re all different, including the way we respond to training. 

You’ve probably come across all sorts of different advice offering the new best workout that promises to change everything. Every fitness craze prescribes a one-size-fits-all approach for you to achieve your #FitnessGoals. Then you hear about power and endurance, but what does that really mean? 🤔

We may be familiar with the words ‘power’ and ‘endurance’, but what do they mean when it comes to fitness. Our genes predispose us to various risks and responses when it comes to fitness and exercise. Power and endurance are two of those responses. 💪🏃

At DNAfit we analyse DNA for a selection of the most-researched genetic variants connected with a response to exercise.

What is endurance training?

Endurance training is defined as lower intensity activity performed for a longer period of time

What is power training?

Power training is identified as high intensity exercise performed quickly, but over shorter time periods. 

How do we discover your power and endurance response

We analyse your body’s response to key genes associated with power and endurance to create a summary of where your genetics lie on the spectrum. 

Everyone’s fitness benefits from both power and endurance training. However, some people are genetically predisposed to respond better to one than the other. Understanding your power/endurance response allows you to leverage your genetic makeup for more personalised training. 🎉

Here’s Andrew Steele, former Olympian and Head of Product at DNAfit, telling us a little bit about how DNA testing can help you train with your genes–helping you leverage your strengths.


Training intensity response and genetics

At DNAfit, we look at four essential fitness and exercise areas. They are: 

  1. Power and endurance response
  2. Aerobic trainability
  3. Injury risk
  4. Recovery rate

If you are keen to find out your predisposition for these four fitness categories, a genetic test can bring you the insights you’re looking for.


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Genetics and power and endurance

There are a number of genes involved in finding out your power and endurance predisposition.

ACE, ACTN3 and PPARGC1A are considered as the ‘main genes’ to look at when deriving power and endurance insights. However, there are many other genes that also play a role in discovering your response to power and endurance, they are: 

  • IL6
  • VEGF 
  • COL5A1 
  • PPARA 
  • AGT 
  • BDKRB2 
  • TRHR 
  • VDR 
  • ADRB2 
  • NRF-2 
  • CRP

The main power and endurance genes


ACE is the most researched gene in relation to sporting performance. ACE was the first gene to be linked to human performance.

The angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) gene’s main function is to convert angiotensin-I to angiotensin-II. Angiotensin I-converting enzyme is a small enzyme that plays an important role in blood pressure regulation and electrolyte balance. Its activity leads to blood vessel constriction and increased blood pressure. You can see immediately why this gene is important to fitness. When you’re  working out and feel that blood rushing through your body with dynamic purpose, there are so many complex processes in motion, and the ACE gene is in the mix. 

The ACE  gene is reported on in a slightly different way to most of the other genes too. You can have the:

  • Insertion (or I) allele, or 
  • Deletion (D) allele. 

This is classified as a variation in which a piece of DNA is either present (I) or deleted (D) from the gene. 


Alpha-actinin-3 (ACTN3) is another one of the most well-studied genes with regards to sporting performance. ACTN3 codes for a protein that is found exclusively in the fastest kind of muscle fibres, type IIx, called a-actinin-3. Fast twitch muscle fibers can contract quickly and powerfully, and as such are linked to sprinting or weightlifting. 🏋

Generally, people who are quick or strong will have plenty of type-IIx muscle fibers, whilst people who are better at long distance running will have more type-I muscle fibers (often called slow twitch muscle fibers). 🏃


PPARGC1A is a gene encodes for a protein called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1a). Now, that’s a mouthful! 🙊

PPARGC1A causes some of the positive changes that occur in our body following exercise. One of the ways that exercise can lead to improvements is through something called mitochondrial biogenesis, which is the production of new mitochondria within the muscle itself.

Mitochondria are often called “cells within a cell”. You might remember from school biology class that they are where energy is produced. If we have more mitochondria, then we can better produce this energy, which in turn allows us to exercise for longer, making us fitter. 🙌

When our muscle cells aren’t getting enough energy to allow us to continue to exercise, then PPARGC1A becomes switched on, allowing for an increase in PGC-1a production. 

The PPARGC1A gene is important, because different versions of this gene allow more or less of this protein to be produced, which can affect how well we respond to certain types of training

Fitness and exercise

Depending on your predisposition you would lean more towards different types of exercise. If you lay in the middle of the spectrum you would do a combination of both, for better results.

Power exercises

Livestrong.com suggests: “When training for power, quality of movement is more important than quantity of repetitions. Perform short sets with maximal intensity interspersed with rests that are long enough for you to work at maximum intensity during each set you perform.”

Power training typically involves exercises which apply the maximum amount of force as fast as possible; on the basis that strength + speed = power. If you were predisposed to power exercises you would include: jumping rope, sprinting or even Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting.

Endurance exercises

Scientifically endurance sports are “...characterised by repeated isotonic [(of muscle action) taking place with normal contraction] contractions of large skeletal muscle groups.

If you were predisposed to endurance exercises you would include: walking briskly, running, jogging, dancing, swimming, biking, climbing stairs at work or even ‘low weight high repetition’ training as well.

If you would like to know whether you are a power or endurance responder, to tailor your training sessions for better results, taking a genetic test can bring you the answers you’re looking for. Our holistic offering of Health Fit, highlights factors like your sleep and stress as well as you diet insights which can also affect your fitness results.

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