Genetics and Strength Training: Just How Different Are We?

strengtheory There is no doubt that genetics play a role in how well people respond to building muscle and developing strength. Greg Nuckols goes in-depth in his latest article to determine just how much we differ from each other.

Genetics. I know it’s a touchy subject. Discussing genetics means addressing some of the most fundamental and emotion-laden questions we face.

How much of success comes from talent, and how much from hard work?

How much control do we really have over our outcomes?

Am I really in control of my life, or am I just a product of my DNA and my environment?

Hell, even most scientists (at least in America) aren’t particularly interested in studying genetics’ impact on athletic performance, and the government isn’t interested in funding such research. I think this is a topic that makes everyone a little uneasy.

I assume that we’re all coming to this discussion with our own prior beliefs and biases. As with most topics of discussion, it seems like the most extreme voices are also the loudest.

On one hand, we have the notion that’s deeply ingrained into the Western (and especially American) psyche that hard work is the only thing that separates the best from the rest; we start life on a level playing field, and the choices we make are the sole determinants of our outcomes. This was the cornerstone of John Locke’s tabula rasa (blank slate) philosophy that was at the cornerstone of the enlightenment, and it’s been bolstered in recent years by Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule (which, I’ll note, is mostly wrong. More practice tends to be better than less practice, but there’s nothing magical about 10,000 hours, and 10,000 hours of practice does not guarantee you’ll become a master of whatever you were practicing).

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