Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Athletes - Hard Work or Genetics?

Athletes - Hard Work or Genetics?

All successful athletes put in a substantial amount effort, and work to get to where they are.  The amount of training and the diet definitely attributes to an athlete's success, but is also reported to depend on genetics.  

Playing sports all my life, and still in college this makes me wonder if some people may have an advantage depending on their familial history.  Neither of my parents were athletes at high levels above grade school so could this attribute to the type of athlete I am?  Research shows that there is a lot of genetic influence on athletic ability!  Genetics affect strength, and a big part in this is the type of muscle fibers someone may have in abundance.  Whether an individual has more slow-twitch or fast-twitch muscle fibers can lead to a certain athletic ability.  Most people have about an equal amount of slow and fast twitch fibers.  But if someone has more slow-twitch fibers, they have an advantage of possibly having more endurance which could help them in sports where they would be doing long distance running.  Someone with more fast-twitch fibers would have a greater ability of short distance sprints or short rapid movements.  They each have their drawbacks though, because when someone has more of one type of fiber, they have less of the other.  The type of muscle fibers someone has can influence their athletic ability greatly and either give them an advantage or disadvantage.  

As well, lung  and cardiac capacity, can play a major role as well.  If someones heart can't deliver enough oxygen to their blood supply, they can tire easily and will most likely have difficulty taking part in athletics.  The effect is similar with lung capacity, because if they can not breathe properly in rigorous activity, they may not be able to perform as great as others who have ease.  Both lung and heart capacity are greatly influenced by genetics, but they don't necessarily have to stop someone from taking part in athletics.  There are medical interventions that could help, like lung capacity for example there are inhalers and drugs that can help maintain normal levels of oxygen during activity.

Even though genetics definitely play a large role in how an individual can excel in certain athletic abilities, it doesn't mean that someone without the same genetic makeup can't do just as good if not better at the same sport.  Being an athlete takes training, dieting, and motivation.  If someone has muscle fibers that can help them run farther, or lift more weight it doesn't mean they necessarily can without training and practice.  Overeating and under use of the muscle fibers will result in weaker muscles and less ability.  There is potential for people with advantageous genetic backgrounds to have more ability, but they need to work just as hard if not harder to reach their maximum ability.  As well they may have to make up for some of the drawbacks they have.  Even though research shows genetics play a large part in athletic ability, it also shows that you must maintain your body to be successful, therefore most people with determination to be successful can be. 

Posted by Victoria Bortolussi (C)


  1. Very interesting post! Usually I assume a person's athletic ability is solely based off of the amount of training and effort they put into it, so it's interesting to see how genetics can take part in that. Maybe this can help to explain why some families appear to be so naturally gifted in certain sports!

    -Hilary Mello

  2. Nice job! I think that this is an interesting subject, and I like that you point out that someone's athletic ability isn't only about their genetics, it does have to do with hard work. I think that it is interesting to see that some people have a natural affinity for being more athletic though, and I feel that evolutionarily this makes sense. Some people would pass down their genetics for stronger muscles and better speeds.

    -Madison Boone

  3. Great post! I learned about the difference between the slow and fast twitch muscle fibers in my cellular molecular biology classes. The ratios of these that an individual has could indeed contribute to their athletic abilities. But I would have to agree with you that hard work is necessary to achieve true athletic strength, but genetics can give you a boost for sure.

    -Ashley Condon

  4. I like this post, it is very fascinating to know that some people just aren't born with it! Now that I think about it, it seems pretty obvious that some aren't born with amazing athletic abilities (great muscles and great cardiac capacity). But it also encouraging to know that if you are born without those things, you can still achieve your goals with hard work.

    Erika Nevins

  5. This is interesting, I have been thinking about this because I have two siblings and all three of us play sports but we're are all have different athletics abilities. Its made me wonder if it had to do with genetics because my dad was a soccer player and my mom wasn't as athletic and if this had any effect on our abilities. But I guess it can be a little of both in that determination and training contribute to improving your athletic ability and being successful.

    - Jazmin Granadeno