Athletic performance and strength starts from within—it’s unique to your specific genotype and can be enhanced based upon proper understanding. Our genetic-based athletic performance solution will provide you with the insights and recommendations that will help you achieve your athletic performance goals.
Genetic analysis will provide an in-depth perspective of how your specific genes impact your ability to perform physically. You’ll learn about the genetic codes that indicate:
- If your body is more inclined to power or endurance sports
- How well your body responds to cardiovascular training
- Your potential level of strength
- The potential capacity of blood volume in your heartbeat
- Your potential testosterone levels
- How effectively your body utilizes protein in your diet
- How prone you are to muscle and bone injuries
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These genes have been shown to have significant associations with a person’s endurance and/or power potential, or how likely you are to have a positive response to aerobic endurance and/or power training, which in turn may help determine the activities at which you will be most successful.
Researchers have identified nine genetic variations that have significant associations with being a power athlete. Other research has found that a specific allele of the ACE gene is heavily represented in endurance athletes like elite long-distance cyclists. Knowledge of your genetic makeup can help you hone your training for the optimum outcome.
Studies have shown that athletes who follow a DNA-informed training profile perform significantly better than those who do not.
These genes have been shown to have significant associations with a person’s cardiovascular fitness response to moderate-to-high intensity exercise. VO2 Max is generally considered the best indicator of aerobic fitness and endurance potential.
Factors that impact VO2 Max include:
- How strong and efficient your heart is
- How well-developed your capillary system is to deliver blood into your muscles
- Size and number of the energy-producing furnaces known as mitochondria in your muscle cells
- Age (VO2 Max naturally diminishes over time)
Your VO2 Max will improve with moderate-to-high intensity training. How much you can improve your VO2 Max depends upon myriad factors, including your current fitness level and the intensity of your training.
Research finds that sedentary people who start training at about 75 percent of their max for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week can increase their VO2 Max an average of 15 to 20 percent over six months, but the range of response is large. Some people make enormous gains, while others make very few. The reason, we now know, is in your genes.
Genes in this group have been shown to have significant associations with a person’s grip strength, which in turn may help determine how successful you’ll be in activities requiring muscular strength and muscular endurance.
Handgrip strength is more than a firm handshake; it reveals a great deal about your intrinsic muscular strength, fitness and vitality.
Research has found that handgrip strength is strongly correlated to muscular power and endurance. In one study, significant correlations were found between grip strength and performance in tests of muscular strength and endurance including sit-ups, push-ups, leg extension, and leg press.
Grip strength is also highly heritable. A large-scale genome-wide association study including a combined sample of 195,180 men and women identified 16 SNPs associated with grip strength. A number of these are also associated with genes that are implicated in the structure and function of muscle fibers, which helps explain why grip strength is a good indicator of intrinsic overall muscular strength. The study also confirmed that these genetic determinants of muscle strength were linked to fracture risk, likely because low muscle strength increases risk of falling.
This gene has been shown to have significant associations with a person’s exercise stroke volume response. There are two ways for your heart to get more oxygen-rich blood to your exercising muscles: pump faster (heart rate response) and pump out a greater volume of blood with every beat. The latter is your stroke volume response, the amount of blood ejected per beat from your left ventricle, as measured in ml/beat.
Stroke volume increases as your exercise intensity rises. How much your stroke volume improves with exercise is also largely hereditary. The HERITAGE Family Study of 483 men and women from 99 nuclear families found that after 20 weeks of endurance training, the average increase in stroke volume during steady state aerobic exercise (60% of VO2 Max) was 3.9 ml/ beat. But there was a large range of stroke volume response among individuals, ranging from a decrease of 41 ml/beat to an increase of 45 ml/beat. Variations in the KIF5B SNP were strongly associated with stroke volume response to exercise, explaining nearly 30 percent of the variance.
Gene SHBGhas been shown to have significant associations with testosterone levels in men, which in turn may impact your stamina, body composition, strength, mood, and ability to make and maintain lean muscle mass.
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that is secreted by the testes and adrenal glands. It is instrumental in determining muscle size, strength, and function and also plays a role in maintaining lower levels of body fat. Low testosterone levels (defined as less than 300 ng/dl) not only hinder your ability to make gains in the gym, but also can be harmful to your health, as it’s been associated with heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, muscle loss, and increased mortality risk.
Testosterone gradually declines after age 40 (a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “andropause”). Being overweight also lowers testosterone, as does smoking and excess alcohol consumption. Testosterone levels are also largely hereditary. Studies in male twins indicate that genetic factors account for about 65 percent of the variation in serum testosterone.
This gene has consistently been shown to be associated with body fat mass and BMI. As an athlete, you need more protein than the average person, as protein is required for muscle growth and repair after training, workouts, and competing. Many active people also rely on a heavy protein intake to shed and maintain weight, with a large contingency adopting protein-centric eating plans like the Paleo diet in hopes to maximize lean body tissue and minimize fat. How well that approach works may be largely dependent on your DNA.
One large study found that people with a specific FTO variant had more successful weight loss and shed more body fat, particularly high-risk abdominal fat, if they ate a moderate-to-high protein diet (25-30% of total daily calories) compared to a lower protein diet (15-20% of total daily calories), regardless of the percentage of their that came from fat and carbohydrates. However, they also lost more non-fat mass—which includes muscle—with the weight loss, even though they were eating a higher protein diet and exercising.
The genes and their associated SNPs in this category have been shown to have significant associations with a person’s bone mineral density and risk of fracture. Strong bones are essential for good health and longevity as well as to support your active lifestyle and avoid injuries like stress fractures and breaks.
Throughout your life, your body is constantly breaking down old bone (in a process called resorption) and laying down new bone. You reach peak bone density at about age 30, after which you may start breaking down bone faster than you make it. If this loss remains unchecked, you can end up with dangerously thin bones that increase your risk of fracture. Because of hormonal reasons and the fact that they have thinner bones to begin with, women are at particular risk for thinning bones and osteoporosis (a disease where bones are porous and prone to breaks), especially after menopause.
Research reveals that up to 85 percent of the variance in bone mineral density (BMD) is determined by genetics. The largest meta-analysis of 17 genome-wide association studies found that certain genetic scores were highly associated with BMD and fracture risk. The only way to know for certain that you have healthy or low BMD is to have a bone density test, called a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry or DXA scan, which measures bone density in your hip and spine.