We are all guilty of it - we see someone (male or female) with a great physique or demonstrating impressive efforts on the gym floor. We want to be like them, we wish we can be like them, but then we quickly make ourselves feel better by telling ourselves, “they were just blessed with great genetics”, then we go about our day.
So let’s flatten this out and get some real clarity on the matter.
How much of a role do genetics really play in regards to muscle growth?
The amount of skeletal muscle mass an individual can put on will vary significantly from person to person. Muscle mass can -and will- increase if a person undertakes strength exercise, but genetic factors play an equally important role in determining how much muscle mass a person can have and how quickly they can put it on.
Genetics play a huge role in our lives. Genetics affect our chances of having several common illnesses, like heart disease, asthma, diabetes and as stated above, genetics also plays a huge role in our muscular development too. Interestingly enough though, so do many other factors like our diet, lifestyle and exercise regime.
So what we know now is that genetics act like a predetermined environment (the genetic makeup we are born with), but we also know that how we care for ourselves can change this environment, our lives, or in this case, our physique development.
Enters the ‘Nature VS Nurture’ argument.
Sure, we can take what our genetics has given to us at face value and settle for what has been given to us, OR, we can choose to nurture a new environment and create the change we want to see.
Rather than settling, we can take a more proactive approach and pay closer attention to our genetic structure and history. By doing this, one can zero in more on what needs to be worked on harder as opposed to the other areas that may not need to be focused on so much. The sport of Bodybuilding has a way of exploiting strengths and weaknesses, which is good because it provides a target for any individual to aim at for getting bigger and better.
Because of genetics, we will always gravitate towards what is easy or what is easier to develop.
Sure, it’s easy to go to the gym and just work on what you are good at, but take leg development for instance.
If your legs are small and weak and everyone in your family has small and weak legs, chances are, your genetics will try to dictate that you too will have small and weak legs. Identifying this means that you have found your new focal point when it comes to training. No body part is fun to train that seems to be lagging, so get it to not lag! If you want bigger legs you have to train them harder, with more volume and at greater frequencies than others who may just have genetically bigger legs.
Everyone has issues with genetics that unfortunately need to be worked around.
Some people genetically carry more extra fat than others, and so they will need to diet harder in order to get lean. Some people are genetically of a slimmer build and have trouble putting on muscle mass, and so they will need to train harder and eat at a much larger surplus than others to elicit a muscle gaining response.
The way that every individual should look at their genetics is by thinking of it as the first chapter of an unfinished novel which tells us everything about the main character, which is you.
From there, it is up to you to continue to complete the novel. Will you allow the first chapter to dictate the outcome of the novel, or will you change the narrative by taking control of the environment.
Results start HERE.
Written by ELITE coach Patty Roach