Genetics...friend or foe? Does it matter when it comes to adding muscle size and strength?
By in large, genetics, as it relates to the art and science of physical transformation, is overrated. Generally speaking, 90% of the population have "average" genetics with 5% being genetically afflicted and 5% of the populace being genetically blessed. True, there are shades and divisions and degrees within the larger 90% - however the 90% are all basically in the same gene pool. Set aside the outliers and set aside the talk about ‘superior' and ‘inferior' genetics: you don't know what you are talking about unless you are Bo Jackson (exalted genetics) or Stephen Hawking (genetically challenged.).
If you are reading this and into fitness you have a 90% chance of being one of the vast middle of people with just average stinking genetics - so let's quit wondering if you are the second coming of Jim Brown or Kenny! on South Park, forget genetics, buckle down, start training - harder - whatever you are doing do it harder and more intense. That's the best advice any seasoned old transformational pro will tell you. Building muscle, melting off body fat is less about what you do and more about how hard, how intense, you do it..
Better to use a moronic progressive resistance training protocol with great fire and verve than some super-sophisticated cutting-edge regimen in half-hearted, distracted fashion. The effort, the degree of difficulty is the determining factor. I usually hear genetics invoked as a rationale for lack of progress, as in, "Yeah, my light bone structure prevents me from adding any significant amount of muscle - Nature dealt me a bad hand!" Apparently she dealt you a good hand for growing body fat; your 40-inch waist is perfectly symmetrical with your 40-inch chest and showcases those 14.5-inch "guns." .
Listening to the dumb boys talk dumb in between sets at the local iron house, you would think that the guys that had placed 3rd in the Mr. Colossus competition at the local high school last month, attended by 150 people, had the genetics of basketball terminator Shaq - now that man had some genetics: it was as if a thick, stout man, say 5-7 and 220 was suddenly and magically stretched to 7'1 weighing 320. Great height, great singing voices, brains, good looks, perfect physical proportion, low body fat, these are all forms of genetic gifts, true genetic gifts..
You can't be naïve about accessing your strengths and weaknesses: a man that is lightly built with narrow shoulders, long limbs and 6' 6" in height is wise to pursue basketball, volleyball or swimming - if he insists on becoming a successful competitive powerlifter he is going to be sorely disappointed. Conversely the 5' 5", 200 pound squat and stocky man is delusional if he thinks he has a future as a basketball player or marathon runner. We need match our physiology to our athletic pursuits. Forget genetics. Double-down on the training intensity. .
About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of numerous books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.