Born an Athlete
08/29/2016 | Genetics 101
With the conclusion of the Rio Olympics I’m sure you are still astounded by the athleticism of the athletes. How many of you watching thought; that athlete must have impeccable genetics to be able to run/swim/jump as swiftly as they do.
Of course athletes have dedication, many hours of training, consistency and perseverance. But one very significant contributing element is their genetic makeup. Some of you may never have been able to sprint or jump. There’s a substantial reason for that. You may not obtain the genetic makeup that allows you the inherit ability to sprint or jump proficiently.
The “sprinter gene” refers to the form of the ACTN3 (alpha-actinin-3) gene that is associated with the presence of a muscle protein found only in the fast-twitch fibers that are required for sprinting. Fast twitch fibers use anaerobic metabolism to create fuel, so they are better at generating short bursts of strength or speed and fire more rapidly than slow muscle. Elite athletes, such as Olympic sprinters, are proven to possess about 80 percent fast twitch muscle fibers.
Another important gene to consider is related to VO2max. Genetics plays a major role in a person’s VO2max and heredity can account for up to 25-50% of this variance (1). VO2max has been defined as “the highest rate of oxygen consumption attainable during maximal or exhaustive exercise”(2). According to a study performed the rs8192678 SNP in the PPARGC1A gene, which is a key regulator of energy metabolism, was associated with baseline VO2max (3). The A/A genotype of rs8192678 was associated with a reduced VO2max, which is not desirable for an athlete.
Aren’t you curious to know if you were born an athlete? A genetic test is an easy, proactive and non-invasive way to help you unveil how genetics impact your athletic abilities or lack thereof. By understanding your genetic makeup you can learn what type of training is most effective according to your DNA and create a personalized exercise regimen.