Can someone be athletic by nature

The sports gene: Is it all just predisposition?

We all had this one schoolmate who was just the best at every sport. Back then, people simply thought “some are just more athletic than others”. Is there really such a thing as a “sports gene”? Do sportiness and performance really have something to do with predisposition? In this article we address exactly this question and you will find out why your training is not free even without this gene.

DNA variations determine how our body responds to exercise

You wonder why your training buddy builds more muscles or runs faster than you, even though you train as much and for as long as he / she does? What may seem incomprehensible and unfair to you is a biological factor alone: ​​Your training buddy’s body responds better to training because of his / her genes. Why? Because the genes of different individuals can differ from one another in individual sections. These differences, also known as polymorphisms, are the reason why we react differently to certain stimuli - such as sport. Over 200 gene variants are currently known in connection with physical performance. More than 20 of them are associated with top athletic performance. But only with two of these genes can we say with certainty that they have a direct influence on our athleticism: ACTN3 and ACE.

The "strength and power gene" ACTN3

Although ACTN3, also known as the “speed gene”, is found in each of us in the DNA, we do not all have the same gene variant. There are two different ones: The R and the X variant. Research has shown that people use the R variant to produce a certain protein (alpha-actinin 3) that is found exclusively in the fast-twitch muscle fibers that are used during explosive physical exertion, such as sprinting or lifting weights become. People with the X variant, on the other hand, are unable to make it and are therefore deficient in this protein. In comparison, they have a slightly lower muscle strength and sprint performance.

The "endurance and strength gene" ACE

The second “sport gene” is the ACE gene, which contains the genetic blueprint for the ACE enzyme. Among other things, this enzyme is responsible for regulating blood pressure. There are also two variants of the ACE gene: the I and the D variant. People with the D variant show better strength performance and faster muscle growth compared to people with the I variant. The I variant, on the other hand, is more associated with endurance and is very often found in the genetic fingerprint of long-distance runners. This can explain why your training buddy sees success faster and your strength lies more in muscle endurance and resilience.

Sportiness - A question of willpower or disposition?

Now we have brought you closer to the importance of these two genes for athletic performance. So, in conclusion, can one say that our abilities, strengths and weaknesses ultimately depend on it? If only it were that simple ... The field of genetics is extremely complex, and genes, gene variants and how they interact with each other has yet to be explored. The one shown above is only a fraction of the wide spectrum that is currently being explored. To answer the question “Does success in sport not depend on willpower, but mainly on our genes?”: Every body responds differently to training because of its genes. To some extent, the ACTN3 and ACE genes play a role in whether or not someone becomes a successful elite athlete, but this field is even more complex. And just because someone has the “wrong genes” does not mean that the training is free, because in addition to genetic predisposition, many other (external) factors play a role, for example training and diet.

The fact is: everyone is able to become fast, strong or agile - regardless of their genetic makeup. There is nothing that you cannot achieve with hard work, determination, and practice. Pay attention to your diet and you will see results faster; You don't have to worry about your DNA. All you need is persistence and willpower. Always remember: talent is innate. Top performance is a conscious decision. #noexcuses