The Importance of Genetics in Bodybuilding
The very first question most people ask themselves when they begin weight training is, “What will my body look like after several months or years after training?” Many guys become interested in bodybuilding after looking at photos of bodybuilders in different magazines. It’s very hard to imagine that the human body (especially your own human body) could achieve the incredible muscle development shown in the magazines. That brings up the question of genetics in bodybuilding.
In this post you will find out what exactly do we mean by genetics, how does it apply to bodybuilding, and how much does it factor into developing the physique you desire.
What is Genetics?
Genetics are nothing less than the blueprint of physical traits passed on to you by hundreds and thousands of generations of ancestors. Are you tall and have blonde hair? If so, either your mother or father probably comes from a long line of tall, blonde folks. Are you short with dark, curly hair? Same deal. Just a few of the things genetically predetermined before you were born were your height, hair and eye color, facial features, skin color, and bone structure. Have you ever noticed that fat parents tend to have fat kids? Part of this is simply passing on bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle, but heredity is often responsible as well. Some people are genetically programmed to be thin and lean. They will look this way no matter what they eat or whether or not they exercise. Others are programmed to be obese, and can only overcome being fat by a total dedication to proper eating and regular exercise. And of course, many medical conditions and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease seem to run in families too, being passed on in the genes just like freckles and big noses.
Understanding Your Genetic Potential
What can you expect from your bodybuilding efforts? The entire subject of genetics, or inherited factors which cannot be controlled, is much discussed in the world of bodybuilding and weight-training. Your basic physical structure, metabolism, tolerance to strenuous exercise, capacity for gaining muscle, and other qualities which are largely governed by your heredity, have a great deal to do with how well you can do.
You have to understand that some genetic characteristics (factors) are predetermined and are not subject to change, for example, your height or the color of your eyes. However, you can overcome certain genetic traits through exercise and nutrition, more or less easily.
Most Important Inherited Traits for Successful Bodybuilder
Have you ever looked at a muscular athlete or bodybuilder and asked yourself, “What does it take to look like that?”. As we already hinted, a big part of the answer is having the right parents. It takes a certain rare combination of inherited traits to allow a man or a woman to look like a bodybuilding champions who win the major contest and grace the pages of the magazines. Your genes determine many important pieces of the muscle building puzzle. Use these factors to determine your genetic potential.
- Your maximum number of muscle fibers.
- Your percentage of fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers.
- The shape of your muscles when they’re fully developed.
- What body type are you – endomorph, ectomorph, or mesomorph.
- The size of your joints and bone structure.
- Your metabolic rate.
We were not all equally gifted with favorable genetic attributes for bodybuilding. In this post we are not going to discuss further about each of the factors mentioned above, but you should be able to determine do you have the genetic potential for professional bodybuilding.
Can Genetics Be Changed?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the simple truth is that genetics can’t be changed. This means if you were meant to look like a pro bodybuilder, you will, and if you weren’t, nothing is going to change that. Immediately many of you are thinking that massive doses of steroids do have that power to render meaningless any poor genetics you may have been dealt thanks to your parents. This is also untrue. Steroids certainly can make you much, much bigger than you were ever meant to be naturally, but even then you are limited.
The Final Truth About Genetics in Bodybuilding
Genetics plays a key role in your ability to build a muscular physique. Anyone who trains properly over time can make impressive gains—but not everyone can become a champion bodybuilder. It may seem unfair, but some people are born with a genetic makeup that lends itself to great muscularity. These people often train less than others, yet they achieve far greater results. You need to realistically assess your body before you begin serious training. You don’t have to be naturally athletic in order to achieve bodybuilding success, but it helps. So, superior genetics and successful professional bodybuilding are closely related.
Bodybuilding Without Superior Genetics
Anyone can build muscle and reduce fat by lifting weights. So if the question is will your genes determine if you will get stronger or bigger by weightlifting – the answer is no. It does not matter what your genetic proclivities are you will improve you physique and your health by weightlifting.
Ultimately how big, or how strong you will get is determined by genetics. This is why you can take any two people, with the possible exception of identical twins, put them side by side in the gym, give them exactly the same routines for the same amount of weeks – and they will undoubtedly build muscle and burn fat at different rates. We all know that person, whether they are weight lifters or not – that just seems to be able to eat whatever they want, and stay lean and muscular, never seem to put on weight. While there are others, probably most of us actually, that ”just look at food” and you put on fat. This is truly a genetic factor.
No matter what your genetic make-up is you will benefit from weightlifting and building muscle mass to your maximum potential given your genes and your lifestyle. Bodybuilding isn’t really about the sport of bodybuilding. It’s about the lifestyle, and about you making improvements and looking better than you ever had before. All you can ever do is work on any weak points and try to make sure you present a better package every single time. And for most of us who will never compete, the main key is still self-improvement.
If on the other hand you dream of being a professional bodybuilder or weightlifter then you must consider more closely the hand your genes may have dealt you. It is just unlikely for a person with a smaller genetic frame to become a champion bodybuilder.
Many feel that genetics are limiting factors only, while others feel little attention should be given to this and that you can make almost unlimited progress in spite of the genetic factors. In truth, everyone has both limitations and abilities. The crucial factor is that the more you are able to develop a realistic training program that takes into account both limitations and abilities, the more likely you are going to be able to maximize your results. No one can guarantee you a championship physique or championship-level strength, but within the framework of your genetic potential, whatever it is, you can learn to come far closer to fulfilling that potential by training wisely.
Remember, your genetic makeup was determined before you were born. Therefore, some individuals will have to diet and exercise harder than others to achieve similar results as someone with superior genetics. We can conclude that the role genetics in bodybuilding is very important, but not decisive.