Blaming Genetics and Body Chemistry
Let’s face it: some people are genetically predisposed to gain muscle, lose fat, and excel at certain physical activities. But don’t let that mindset poison your gains. “Certain parameters in body composition and performance—such as VO2 max, the body’s oxygen-consuming capacity, or slow- vs. fast-twitch muscle dominance—are either partly or wholly determined by factors unique to our individual bodies,” Anderer explains.
But both Anderer and Marcovici are quick to point out that any genetic limitations shouldn’t deter you from customizing your workouts to hit your goals. “While there’s something to be said for people with a genetic predisposition to look a certain way or perform better at a certain sport, no amount of raw talent or genetic odds should affect how intense you’re actually able to train,” Marcovici says.
Anderer suggests playing to your strengths. “Doing interval runs or fartlek workouts can increase your VO2 max, for example,” he suggests. “If you’ve determined that you’re more fast-twitch muscle-dominant, you tend to excel in exercises employing bursts of speed and power, but probably fatigue quickly. You should generally play to your strengths, but also add in a workout or two a week targeting the slow-twitch muscles in your body. One way of doing this would be to generally lift heavy with a low-rep scheme and work in kettlebell or medicine ball workouts, and then to alternate this with some isometric or circuit training to round things out.”
Remember: All the raw talent and genetic gifts in the world won’t make a difference if you’re not putting in the time to train and making a plan toward your specific goals.
Dr. Erich Anderer, a board-certified neurosurgeon and graduate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, completed his training at NYU Langone Medical Center. He has expertise in both cranial and spinal disorders, with a special focus on spine surgery. He is currently the chief of neurosurgery at NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn and is an avid runner, skier, and CrossFit athlete.
One Medical’s Dr. Daniel Marcovici’s main focus is on prevention, working with patients to identify lifestyle modifications that will help achieve their health and wellness goals. In his spare time, he leads an active lifestyle including weight training, gymnastics, and trying new healthy recipes. After graduating from the Sackler School of Medicine NY Program in Tel Aviv, Israel, he completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital.