You may have heard about genetic testing and how it's now available to fitness trainers and athletes at all levels. I recently took a test, which involved sending off an example of my 'spit' to Musclegenes, who analysed it's genetic contents and then email back a very detailed report. The service they offer is an every expanding one, and at no extra cost they update you on further genetic results from your test when new tests come online, for example caffeine response.
Here's a brief overview of my result; in a way they confirmed what I already knew.
I possess an RR allele rating for speed; those two copies of the relevant gene make for enhanced sprint capability rather than endurance. In terms of fat burning I was CG (one fat burning and one power allele); apparently this is an unusual combination and is one that’s found again in power athletes.
Now in terms of endurance I was DD, which indicates – and you’ll be getting the thread by now - a strong affinity for anaerobic training. This response naturally indicates a predominance of fast twitch fibres. In terms of metabolism I scored AV, reflecting an “intermediate” metabolism and this result showed an: “insulin sensitivity below average” – which means I should avoid excess sugar and starchy carbs, for example.
I also had a KR pairing for hypertrophy indicating a propensity for low body fat and muscle gain. I also had for my age good levels of testosterone, which is good for muscle mass maintenance.
Is the test worth it?
I'd say so particularly for a young athlete looking to find out literally what they're made of. The results can be used to inform the type of sport or event, as is the case with athletics, that they'd be suited to. Training and nutritional requirements can also be specifically tailored, thus enabling a greater potential for getting it right.
Sports science tests that were once the preserve of the elite are now available for the masses and that's a good thing for both coaches and sportsmen and sportswomen.
Kit Cost: US$149 (currently £99)
What's in John's genes part 2!
I thought that I would share a little more about my recent genetic test.) I'm going to primarily focus on weight gain and fat loss in particular. An an athlete, and through my writing, I already had a good idea of my genetic make-up, but the results did throw up some interesting further insights and provided some food for thought, for coaches, athletes, personal trainers and clients.
If I were a personal trainer with a client seeking for example, weight loss then I think that the results of the client having the test could definitely be useful when pulling together a training plan. A person seeking a fitness plan may be much less aware of their genetics and training means and adaption compared to a serious athlete. They may also 'think' they should (or want to) train a 'certain' way when in reality it could be much more profitable to train in another. The PT could therefore use their gene results to make much better informed choices in and out of the gym (there are genes relating to metabolism for example, and nutrition response). And the client will benefit, as their gains will come much more quickly as they are specifically training in a way that maximises the adaptive potential of their body (although it may be contrary to what they ideally may have wanted).
Now here's another thought... If you got your report and noted that you had higher obesity risk genes and a slow metabolism and a limited ability to gain lean muscle, would you be more or less motivated to train and follow a related nutrition plan?
In the past people have often blamed 'big bones' for being 'heavy' but now they could actually and genuinely blame their genes. And in response nobody could really argue against them for saying this. They could just hand the enquirer their genetic results!
Returning to sport you could be a sprinter - yet your gene profile comes back more endurance oriented - would this take you from the blocks to the mile? Maybe not but maybe the 400m, so there are conundrums that exist with gene testing.... And I've yet to mention nurture which throws in the curve ball... Train for sprints and your muscles will adapt accordingly....
I mentioned my results to a friend and they were intrigued and interested in eye colour! Yes, the test also tells you that too and the percentage chance of having a certain colour. Incidentally I had more chance of green eyes, but have brown... so perhaps genetic probability can be challenged...
Some of my results pertinent to the above.
YOUR RESULT: TT
You have two copies of the 'typical obesity risk' T allele.
Those with two copies of the T allele weigh about 3kg (6.6 lb) less, on average, than those who carry two copies of the ‘increased-obesity-risk’ A allele! Research has shown that those with the TT genotype have a lesser appetite and exhibit more controlled eating compared to carriers of the A allele.
This is an interesting one personally, as I can eat! But the relatively small weight gain over my life thus far 3-4kg over my mid twenties 'best shape' to 20 plus years later, probably also reflects my active lifestyle and the fact that mind willing, I'm fortunate to still be able to work out intensely. And also from the possession of a relatively fast metabolism - well actually intermediate one...
You have one copy of the 'fast metabolism' A allele and one copy of the 'slow metabolism' V allele.
The V allele is linked to a more efficient metabolism and is found at higher frequencies in elite endurance athletes while the A allele is linked to a faster metabolism and a lower risk of weight gain, particularly if combined with exercise. As you carry a copy of each, you are likely to have a metabolic rate intermediate between AA and VV types.
I recently took a long jump session for Sussex Athletic Association in Horsham in conjunction with England Athletics. The 3-hour workshop was aimed at both coaches and athletes,
I hope I kept everyone entertained and involved! We began with the warm-up and I explained how I don't really like the term warm-up for my sessions (!) as I see the 'units' that I use from the moment the athletes get to the session as conditioning, technique, skill and power training for example.
After I had explained this (look out for a more detailed blog post on my unit approach to training), we then moved onto run-up structuring and then take-off movements and mid-air technique in the morning.
I got the athletes to understand that the run-up ends when the athlete lands in the pit and not at the board. It was pleasing that many realised this in the first place. We discussed start techniques and practised - the knees forward approach to starting that is highly prevalent at the moment and one that I favour.
Drills were done for the take-off and discussion on the length of the final three steps ensued. At elite level the ratio of these steps seems to vary but the last is always the shortest. I showed some drills regarding the flat foot positioning of the penultimate step and for the free leg swing through the take-off. There was lively debate with the coaches about the measurements of the final steps and I discussed how you can adjust board placement on the penultimate step.
Then we went onto the learning of the take-off and in particular the hitch-kick. Very surprisingly many of the jumpers did not have a definite technique - yet, within 5-10 minutes most could complete a hitch kick! Or the sweep back of the leg after take-off for the hang. The drills I use are adaptable to either hitch or hang.
In the afternoon we discussed long jump conditioning and the role of weights and plyometrics and discussed different types of muscular action and how they must all be trained in order to maximise progression. I stressed the importance of speed of reaction to the ground and not laboured movements. Reactivity is key to take-off and sprint speed.
Hopefully they'll invite me back!