Human Performance & Athletic Development
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Genetic Based Training for Best Gains?

Testing our genetics to insert the proper training?

Why Genetics Matters

A study released earlier this year tested athletes' saliva for specific genes that either expressed a more endurance genotype or power genotype and placed their results in the DNAFit Peak Performance Algorithm. The results found that when training type was matched with genotype leads to a more effective resistance training prescription.

Graph, courtesy of Strength and Conditioning Research


As a trainer/coach I spend plenty time trying to figure what works best for the individually. Some of us respond to very intense training while others respond better to higher volume. This is usually a trial and error process that is great since the majority of times results still occur but we want what is optimal.

We do not know with 100% confidence of how each person will respond to a stimulus. Sound methods and more effective training techniques are in place, but they are not 100% sure to maximize your gains. We have all heard the term "genetics matters" and usually this goes with hypertrophy and performance based training but this could be simply due to prescribing training to the incorrect genetic disposition. Or you're playing a sport that do not cater to your genetic's best interests.

Volume and Intensity

These two terms are easily confused in the training realm. To be explained simply, the term volume is the total amount of overall work sets x reps x weight while intensity is the overall effort needed to perform each lift. You can perform a lot of volume at a lower intensity but it would be very difficult to perform an immense amount of volume at a high intensity (90% of your 1 rep max for example). For this study, endurance training was based on overall training volume while power training was based on intensity:

Endurance: 3 sets of 10-20 reps or 3 x 10-20

Power: 10 Sets of 2 Reps or 10 x 2

As you can see, there are more reps in the volume training which is better matched with endurance training since it is longer in duration. If you have this genotype, you will have more muscle fibers being receptive to this type of training. If you have a high percentage of genes that express the power genotype (fast twitch) your muscle fibers will be more receptive to intense training.

The Take Home Message

Based on this study, matching training type with the genotype (genetics) proved to be a superior method of training implementation. The measures given (counter movement jump height and 3-minute cycle test) improved when individuals who had a higher expression of endurance genes were prescribed the endurance (volume) training and those who had the expression of power genotype were prescribed intensity. 

We have speculated this for a while but could not have the experimental data to match. Although the data backing speculation is early, this can prove to be a promising leap in the ability to provide appropriate training prescriptions and boost performance faster. Do we all have access to genetic testing for our training? Not yet but if we can continue to progress in the availability of these measures trainers/coaches/practicitioners such as myself can have an even more calculated approach to training.



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Charles SamsComment