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Articles.elitefts.com-Training With Purpose Heredity Genetics and Trainability

Articles.elitefts.com-Training With Purpose Heredity Genetics and Trainability

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Published by Thomas Aquinas 33

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Published by: Thomas Aquinas 33 on Sep 20, 2013
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Training with Purpose: Heredity, Genetics, and Trainability
Often times, we see athletes touted as genetically gifted. It is said they come from an athletic familyand are predisposed for success. On the flip side, we see people who will blame their poor geneticsfor failure or act as if they’re completely geneticallybankruptand built every stitch of what they had out of hard work. The purpose of this article is to examine how heredity and other factors contribute to athleticsuccess and what traits are highly related.
Sports families
To go with the most simplistic view, let’s take a look at a few sports families. This isn’t necessarily the mostreliable form of assessing heredity because these cases aren’t regular occurrences. However, it has beennoted that high level (Olympic and professional) athletes usually have parents who are more developed thanthe general population with some experience in sport.
Here are a few examples:
FatherWeightlifter (heavy weight), USSR; set seven world records, held one gold and twosilver medals
SonWeightlifter (105 kg), Russia; holds a silver in the Olympics and one gold, twosilver, and two bronze in world championships
FatherKayaking, Yugoslavia; world champion in 1978, 1979, and 1982; silver medalist at1984 Olympics
DaughterKayaking, Hungary; world champion 2002–2007; two-fold Olympic champion in2004 and Olympic champion in 2008
Matty Alou
BrotherPlayed outfield for MLB with extended career in the majors
Jesus Alou
BrotherPlayed outfield for MLB with extended career in the majors
BrotherPlayed first base for MLB with extended career in the majors
Son of Felipe AlouHad extended career that spanned nearly two decades in the majors; six-time All-Star, world series champion, two-time Silver Slugger, and Babe Ruth award winner 
FatherNFL quarterback who had 13-year career with two pro bowls, one all-pro selection,and an NFL Offensive Player of the Year award
SonNFL quarterback with a laundry list of achievements that would take up a lot of space to list
SonNFL quarterback with a list that is nearly as long as his brother, albeit more Super Bowls
Cooper Manning
SonFormer Division I receiver (aka “the Manning no one cares about”—that is a joke,so hopefully Cooper Manning fans don’t get their panties in a wad)While using talented parents as a sole method for determining whether offspring will be talented in sport isn’twarranted, it is hard to ignore that many high level athletes have parents who were accomplished in sport. Thiscan be due to both genetic factors but also environmental factors as well. This will be covered in further detailin the following sections.
Genetic influence on somatotype
Somatotype is the combination of length, width,muscle mass, and fat. Genetics play a large part in certaindimensions of this, but in others, it isn’t as strong.
Studies have been performed (1) demonstrating that:
Body lengths (height, length of limbs, and length of feet) have the strongest influence from geneticswith a 70 percent level of inheritance observed.Body width is also strongly correlated to genetics with a 50 percent level of inheritance observed.Muscle mass has a somewhat lower correlation with only a 40 percent level of inheritance observed.Bodyfathas the lowest level of inheritance with only a 20–30 percent level of inheritance observed.
So what does all this mean? First, there is some truth to the old “you should have picked better parents” line inregards to
traits. If everyone in your family is short—and this is the case going all the way back to your ancestors—most likely you will be short. The same goes for your width. However, you have a greater chanceof adding on some muscle and not being a complete fat ass. This goes to show that the old “I’m fat becausemy family is fat” yarn is most likely not as much a factor of genetics as it is an environmental one. This meansthat while fat parents may have fat kids, it is probably more a factor of eating fast food and other crap threetimes a day every day.Before anyone says “I know a guy who is six feet, eight inches and jacked as shit, but no one in his family istall or large,” remember that there is the outside chance of this happening as the percentages show. Thismeans this person got lucky in the game of genetic Russian roulette and found the empty chamber.
Genetics and motor ability
Similar to somatotype, genetics play a large role in certain motor abilities, but in others, they may not be asmuch of a factor. While these abilities are more trainable than the somatic traits, there still is a predispositionthat can lead to success in certain disciplines. A similar study was done (1) that shows the level of correlation of genetics. However, I won’t list every singletrait. Instead, I’ll summarize. In the study, alactic anaerobic power has been shown to have the greatest level of inheritance (70–80 percent). This means that the ability to sprint, jump, and throw explosively has a stronggenetic base. If someone comes from a long line of slow, non-explosive people, this means he’ll be limited inevents such as sprinting, jumping, and shot put. This ability can be improved, but it all has a genetic startingpoint that will limit the amount of improvement. Conversely, aerobic power (Vo2 max) and maximum isometricstrength have a much more positive outlook, being tied to only 20–30 percent of genetic influences. So theendurance and slow strength (i.e. powerlifting) events are less tied in with how bad previous family membersmay have been at them, and you will be able to make more progress in these areas. Somewhere in the middlelies abilities such as coordination, flexibility, strength endurance, and so on. Again, there will always be outliers in every aspect, but it has been shown time and time again that certain traitsare strongly influenced by heredity. The played out, “You can’t coach speed” line is true to a certain extent(when we’re talking about the actual ability, not correcting technical errors or programming).

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