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Performance and Genetics

Research has found that genetics may determine 20-80% of athletic performance and with the completion of the Human Genome Project the link between heredity and performance has  been greatly enhanced and a major focal point both for the competitor and the coach in search for potential talent. To put it another way, if you take a random sample of individuals and train them all the same way, you will not end up with everyone on the same level of performance. Clearly, athletes are individuals who inherit the ability to respond well to training.

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In 2003 a study from Australia demonstrated that ATCN-3 gene is closely related to athletic performance. ATCN-3 gene produces the protein α actinin-3 expressed in fast-twitch muscle fibers which is responsible for generating force for high velocity movement in power sports. Two alleles of ACTN-3 have been identified –R allele, producing the most active form of the protein and X allele, producing the less active form of the protein. Consequently researchers have discovered that male sprinters have a much higher frequency of RR with elite endurance athletes predominantly possess the RX alleles.

It is likely that there is a “trade-off” between sprint and endurance traits that imposes important constraints on the evolution of physical performance in humans and other vertebrates (Garland et al. 1990). This hypothesis is supported by recent data from world-class decathletes, which demonstrated that performance in the 100-m sprint, shot put, long jump, and 110-m hurdles (which rely on explosive power and fast fatigue-susceptible muscle fibers) is negatively correlated with performance in the 1,500-m race (which requires endurance and fatigue-resistant slow fibre activity) (Van Damme et al. 2002). This suggests that an individual is inherently predisposed toward specialist performance in one area (sprint/power vs. endurance). In humans, this appears to have been achieved, in part, through the maintenance of genetic variation by balancing natural selection. The result is that there are genetic differences among individuals, such as we have demonstrated for the ACTN3 locus that may be useful predictors of athletic performance at the elite level

Another potential performance gene with distinct allelic drifts between power and endurance athletes is the ACE (Angiotensin converting enzyme) gene. ACE activates a hormone angiotensin that regulates blood flow through the circulatory system of the body. ACE also facilitates the retention of salt water in the body which allows cells to stay healthy and metabolise better to produce lots of energy. The two most common variants of ACE are I and D. The I allele produces the enzyme with lower activity and the D allele produces the enzyme with increase activity. Researches have found that endurance athletes like rowers and tri-athletes have a higher frequency of the I variant while power athletes like elite swimmers and sprinters tend to possess the D allele.

While training, diet, and mental fitness are all clearly important contributors to achieving athletic success, the fact that individuals reaching the pinnacle of their chosen sports often share both physical and physiological attributes suggests a role for genetics.

Genetics can never be a barrier in improving performance. Can genetics predispose you to certain sports? Yes. However it does not mean you can reach anything you want to accomplish but by taking the test with Genetic Performance you can immediately assess you future performance goals.  In many situations by taking the test the results loads the gun to what can be realistically accomplished. Use the Training and Nutrition services that Genetic Performance provides and take the fast track to success, the exercise programs will specifically design to suit your needs and can be structured towards a specific event such as a half marathon etc. Genetic Performance services provides the answer to a more scientific, cost and time effective way to train, beat the rest take the test!!!!!!

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