Genetic Potential

In my last article I talked about the three different body types and how we tend to be a mix of the three. Genetically a Mesomorph will find it easier to build muscle and strength then an Ectomorph will. This doesn’t mean that an Ectomorph can’t build muscle and strength, it simply means it will take them longer.

There are more genetic factors which will determine how much muscle and strength a person can build. The most obvious one being if you are born a male or female. Genetically someone who is born a man will be stronger then someone who is born a female and they will be able to build more muscle. This is because men naturally have higher levels of testosterone. Women do not need to be scared about looking like a man if they lift any sort of weights. Unless Anabolic Steroids are used, a woman will not build the same amount of muscle as a man.

The next factor to consider is your own make up of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibres. Fast twitch muscle fibres are stronger and more explosive then slow twitch muscle fibres. That means the more fast twitch fibres a muscle has the greater its potential for strength and speed when exercised correctly. One of the reasons Usain Bolt was so much faster than his competition was because he had a greater amount of fast twitch muscle fibres in his legs than anybody else. He was also blessed with a narrow waist and long legs, allowing him to develop a longer stride length. Despite his gifts for sprinting, Usain Bolt still had to train harder and more intelligently then his competition. Had he simply relied on his genetic potential he would not have been as successful.

The third thing to consider is the length of the muscle and where it connects to the tendons. If you have a relatively short muscle belly in your calf muscles and a long Achilles tendon you will not be able to develop as large a calf muscle as somebody with a shorter tendon and longer calf muscle. In terms of total competition wins Ronnie Coleman is the most successful bodybuilder in history. Despite this he was never able to build up his calf muscles to a size in which they would have been in proportion to the rest of his body. The reason for this is because his calf muscles attached higher up his shin bones then his main competition. Contrast this to the winner of the 1982 Mr Olympia Chris Dickerson. Chris Dickerson’s most impressive body part was his calf muscles. His calf muscles had long and full muscle bellies and he also had a relatively short Achilles tendon. This enabled Chris Dickerson to develop calf muscles that Ronnie Coleman and Arnold Schwarzenegger never could. Below you will find a picture on the left of Ronnie Coleman and Chris Dickerson on the right.

RonnieColeman2chris dickerson

Keep in mind that even if you have the best genetics for your chosen sport it doesn’t mean you will automatically be the best at it. What is important is how much time and effort you are willing to put into developing your skills or into building up your muscle size and strength. A less gifted athlete who is willing to put in the time and effort to improve their abilities will always do better then somebody who simply relies on their talents to coast by.

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