How To Reach Your Genetic Potential

Genetic Potential & You

There certainly is a genetic ceiling when it comes to how much muscle you can put on naturally. Often times you come across some mutant who’s got his genetic potential pretty higher than yours. Some famous examples:

Legendary Paul Anderson did 315 lbs for 10 reps and 400 lbs for 2 reps the very first time he squatted.

Genetic potential of paul anderson
Paul Anderson

6 times Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates benched 315 lbs on his first ever attempt.

genetic potential of dorian yates
Dorian Yates

The ace powerlifter Andy Bolton pulled 600 lbs in his maiden attempt on deadlifts.

genetic potential of andy bolton
Andy Bolton

The Great Arnold Schwarzenegger at the ripe age of 17 and only after couple years of training had a muscle maturity that other mere mortals can’t even achieve in twice that duration.

genetic potential of arnold schwarzenegger
Arnold At Age 17

Now, these super responders are certainly capable of building more muscle mass and strength than normal human beings, but they too have a limit. There are a host of physiological factors, discussed before in Part 1 and Part 2, that set this limit for everyone.

Defying Your Limits

There is not even a single person who doesn’t have any genetic issues to deal with. No one is perfect. Some have trouble putting on mass, some have the predisposition to carry extra fat, someone is slender in bone structure, and others have lagging body parts. Some have more issues, and some have less. The point is that everybody’s got to work around these imperfections. Even Arnold had weak calves that bugged him!

arnold in knee-deep water
Arnold used to pose in Knee-deep water to avoid showing his WEAK calves.

If you truly want to defy your genetics or reach your genetic potential, you need to tweak around the variables to optimize training methods for yourself. Different people require different methodologies to individualize their personal training. You may require a variety of stimulus in the form of training intensity, volume, density, frequency or variety. As your training experience increases you may need more of the one or the other type of stimulus. You also need to evolve with time, as you evolve your requirements change.

Scientific Approach To Programming

ben pakulski training in lab
Ben Pakulski

Since everyone has a unique response to training, you need an individualized program.  In order to devise an intelligent plan, you need to approach it through scientific methodology. Here’s how to do it:

  • State a clear cut objective

Set a precise and non-conflicting goal for yourself, possibly singular to allow you to focus your undivided attention on one particular objective. Getting shredded and building mass is an example of non-singular and conflicting objectives. Decide a single goal for yourself. You can add secondary goals which may assist in your primary goal. For example, If your main goal is mass gain then getting stronger alongside is a perceivable secondary goal.

  • Design a program and decide your progression

Create a layout of the plan focused on your main goal. Vary your volume, frequency, and intensity based on the qualities you want to focus. Decide the length of your program duration and select a progression plan accordingly. Keep in mind the following points while designing a program:

  1. Make big compound exercises the cornerstone of your plan.
  2. Utilize high tension strength work with hypertrophy work, either in the same workout or separately.
  3. Do not increase your volume unnecessarily by adding extra exercises or sets more than required.
  4. Use proven intensification methods like drop set, accentuated eccentrics or heavy negatives, and reciprocal inhibition judiciously.
  5. Apply de-load methods following an intense over-reaching to facilitate recovery and sur-compensation.
  • Analyze, record and readjust your plan

Keep track of your training progress by keeping either a detailed log book or some training software. Analyze your data to study the effect of the program on your progress. Keep an account of the factors which led to positive adaptations, as well as factors not causing favorable outcomes. Carefully examine the effect of each variable, one at a time, and readjust your plan per improvements. Don’t make haphazard changes to your program, like using multiple intensification methods at the same time, or altering frequency or volume abruptly. This way you won’t be able to track the variables responsible for changes.

How To Keep Progressing Always

Systematic experimenting with the above scientific approach will allow you to discover individualistic training response to the different stimulus. So even if you’re a low responder, you’ll be able to find an effective approach provided you stay consistent and keep experimenting & resetting. For some individuals, results come effortlessly due to their genetic make-up, but there is not even a single individual who won’t get results by training intelligently in the manner stated above.

For the advanced athletes near their genetic potential, it’s super critical to follow an intelligent plan to keep progressing. Most lifters turn to steroids when their performance begins to stall. Such pharmacy interventions permit one to exceed the genetic ceiling and allow a high-level performance. But any of the gains made on steroids are not sustainable due to the nature of your physiology.

victor martinez off steroids
IFBB Pro Victor Martinez

You should honestly evaluate your physical capacity to achieve your objectives without being egoistic. Not only will it let you keep progressing continuously for extended periods but also keeps you relatively injury free and healthy. You can’t change the traits you’ve inherited but being smart and realistic about it allows you to progress.

Training under the eyes of an able coach can make a big difference for you. Not only the experience and wisdom of coach prevents you from making mistakes and time wastage but helps you to better evaluate your potential strengths and weaknesses.

Genetics do make a difference, but being smart about it provides you tools to deal with it in better ways.

References

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  • Barash IA, Mathew L, Ryan AF, Chen J, Lieber RL. Rapid muscle-specific gene expression changes after a single bout of eccentric contractions in the mouse. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2004 Feb;286(2):C355-64.
  • Moore DR, Phillips SM, Babraj JA, Smith K, Rennie MJ. Myofibrillar and collagen protein synthesis in human skeletal muscle in young men after maximal shortening and lengthening contractions. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2005 06;288(6):1153-9.
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  • Schoenfeld BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2857-72.
  • Snyder BJ, Leech JR. Voluntary increase in latissimus dorsi muscle activity during the lat pull-down following expert instruction. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Nov;23(8):2204-9.
  • Lewis CL, Sahrmann SA. Muscle activation and movement patterns during prone hip extension exercise in women. J Athl Train. 2009 May-Jun;44(3):238-48.
  • Fry AC, Kraemer WJ. Resistance exercise overtraining and overreaching. neuroendocrine responses. Sports Med. 1997 Feb;23(2):106-29.
  • Kokkonen J, Nelson AG, Cornwell A. Acute muscle stretching inhibits maximal strength performance. Res Q Exerc Sport. 1998 Dec;69(4):411-5.
  • Izquierdo M, Ibanez J, Gonzalez-Badillo JJ, Hakkinen K, Ratamess NA, Kraemer WJ, et al. Differential effects of strength training leading to failure versus not to failure on hormonal responses, strength, and muscle power gains. J Appl Physiol. 2006 May;100(5):1647-56.
  • Sandberg JB, Wagner DR, Willardson JM, Smith GA. Acute effects of antagonist stretching on jump height, torque, and electromyography of agonist musculature. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 May;26(5):1249-56.

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