You may know the following situation: You train hard and pay attention to your diet and recovery, yet there are weightlifters in your gym who build muscle much faster than you.
Some people seem to be blessed with outstanding genetic makeup. But what influence do genetics have on muscle building and strength training?
Muscle building and genetics
Some people look very muscular after just one year of training, while other weightlifters barely achieve results despite proper diet and training. In this case, we speak of so-called "non-responders".
Your potential for muscle building is determined by your genetics, at least to a large extent.
Genetics is the science of the origin of characteristics. It is based on the principles of chromosomes, genes, mutations, and other elements. These have an impact on a person's ability to develop and on their genetic makeup.
In other words, genetics deals with generating and replicating particular characteristics within a larger system.
Genetic requirements for hypertrophy (muscle growth)
Your muscle growth depends on the efficiency of your satellite cells. Satellite cells are muscle stem cells that circle around your muscle fibers like satellites.
They are responsible for allowing your muscle fibers to generate and grow. They play an essential role in myonuclear addition.
Myonuclear addition is a process in which muscle fibers and nucleotides (basic building blocks of our genetic material) are connected. This connection establishes new proteins.
This process is essential to keep muscles and tendons functioning correctly. Without this process, it is difficult for your body to build muscle effectively.
So, the satellite cells are responsible for regenerating your muscles and their growth. How effectively these cells work is determined by your genetics. Some people have a genetic predisposition to activate as many satellite cells as possible. This results in better muscle growth and illustrates the connection between muscle growth and genetics.
Genetics and strength
Your body or muscle strength is also heavily influenced by your genetics. Strength, in this context, means the ability of a muscle to maintain its maximum possible contraction force.
It is made up of factors such as the size, the volume of the muscle, and its ability to perform. In your body, you have exactly two types of muscle fibers:
- Type 1 - Slow twitch muscle fibers
- Type 2 - Fast twitch muscle fibers
Type 1 muscle fibers are ideal for endurance performance. Extended muscle contractions over a longer period characterize them. Marathon runners or cyclists especially benefit from a high concentration of muscle fibers.
Type 1 muscle fibers develop their maximum performance when the oxygen concentration in the blood is high. This way, the energy-rich molecule adenosine triphosphate is used effectively over a longer period. This type of energy production is called aerobic metabolism.
Type 2 muscle fibers are responsible for explosive movements. They have the highest contraction rate and are perfect for weight training. The muscle fibers contract particularly quickly and strongly and generate a strong force for a short period. In opposition to type 1, the anaerobic metabolism initiates the energy supply of the fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Anaerobic metabolism uses glucose and fatty acids as an energy source. This takes place in the exclusion of oxygen. The main advantage of anaerobic metabolism is that the body can produce energy quickly. It, therefore, provides ATP (adenosine triphosphate) more quickly.
The distribution of muscle fiber types is genetically predetermined. Some people have more rapidly contracting muscle fibers than others. They can set stimuli much more easily and achieve strong muscle growth. There is a connection between muscle growth and genetics in this case.
You can see this in athletes of different disciplines. For example, powerlifters have a higher concentration of fast-twitch muscle fibers than biathletes, who benefit significantly from slow-twitch muscle fibers. Accordingly, muscle genetics has a significant influence on athletic success.
If you want to dig deeper into the topic of ATP, check out the Alpha Progression article on creatine and muscle building.
The ratio of bone mass to muscle building potential
Also, the ratio of bone mass to muscle-building potential shows how much you depend on your genetic makeup.
This relationship is as follows: The larger and heavier your bone mass, the greater your potential to build muscle. A large and heavy skeleton provides a larger surface area to accumulate muscle mass.
You can build muscle even with "bad" genetics. Because your potential to build muscle is not determined by your genetics alone. You can still build muscle effectively even if you haven't hit the jackpot in the gene lottery. Your muscle growth depends on many factors:
- effective training plan
- sufficient regeneration
- high protein diet with a caloric surplus
- daily life and stress management
- mental and physical health
- the right attitude, discipline, and perseverance
For the most part, you can determine the mentioned points by yourself. Until you reach your genetic limit, you can grow well and accelerate your muscle growth with a lot of dedication. Many strength athletes often use their supposedly bad genetics as an excuse.
However, they often don't have the right attitude, train incorrectly, or don't eat well. It's a fact that not all of us have "good" genetics.
However, you can still get the most out of yourself and become the best version of yourself.
Check out the Alpha Progression app to track your workouts and build muscle effectively.