Genes and Athletes

Our genetic make-up in many ways dictates our abilities and pre-determines some strengths and weaknesses. Sports performance, in specific, is influenced by our muscular strength, skeletal structure, the elasticity of our tendons, and the sizes of our heart and lungs. Genes also affect our body mass, whose interaction with other anatomical and physiological processes determines training and growth response of our muscles. Bone density and shape are also factors that influence athletic performance.

Even some our hormonal responses and receptors in the body have genetic differences that influence our endocrine response. Some of these interactions can manifest as differences in strength.

Our bodies have three muscle fiber types. We have fibers that are slow and oxidative, meaning they require lots of oxygen and are mostly used for marathon type workouts. The second type are fibers that are fast oxidative, which use a combination of anaerobic and aerobic metabolism to work. The last type is fast glycolytic, which don’t make use of oxygen in order to carry out work. These are extremely fast and are mostly used in sprints, or quick duration exercises. Our genes initially say which fibers will mostly compose our bodies, though with time and training, the proportion can be shifted. Those who enjoy a majority of slow oxidative fibers have an advantage in sports such as marathon running. Others whose bodies are mostly composed of fast glycolytic fibers are predisposed to excel in sports such as weightlifting.

 The redder the muscle, the more mitochondria is has, meaning a higher oxidative capacity. The white muscles have greater aerobic capacity.

The redder the muscle, the more mitochondria is has, meaning a higher oxidative capacity. The white muscles have greater aerobic capacity.

Genetic factors also have a say in the recovery process. The ratio of certain nucleotides, which make up our genes affects the collagen in our tendons. These differences are the reason why some people are likelier to suffer certain injuries, or not.

 Recovery takes time and the length and process is different for everyone.

Recovery takes time and the length and process is different for everyone.

Our genes are what makes us all different and why training cannot be generalized. Keep this in mind as you progress through your fitness journey. This is also why training at The Ark is one of the best decisions you could make. Our coaches tailor workouts to fit individual abilities so that everyone is capable of showing improvement and reaching their goals.