Your genetics? They suck.
You always kinda knew it. You didn’t win the genetic lottery. At least not $137 million on the Power Ball – more like a free car wash on a Scratch & Win.
But it does explain a lot, right?
Why you can’t seem to lose weight after being sooo good on your diet all week? Or get stronger after 6 hard months of lifting? Or build a muscular body after spending your student loan on pink workout drinks?
It’s not your fault. The whole game was rigged from the moment you were but a zygote.
Like Neo in the Matrix, you were a born a slave, except not destined for servitude but for athletic mediocrity. The poster child for science fairs and spelling bees and 8th place soccer tournament ribbons.
Destined to suck.
Wait a second.
Yes, your genes do play a massive role in how you respond to diet and exercise, including resistance training.
My colleague Bret Contreras recounted a study showing subjects performing identical resistance training programs can respond completely differently: some outliers will increase their strength by 250% or more, while others a paltry 2%.
250% versus 2% — doing the exact same workout. You can thank physiological mechanisms like satellite cell signalling amongst many other things.
There’s also tremendous genetic variance for losing bodyfat.
You don’t need a study to back this up. We all know that people that seem to lose fat almost overnight and certainly without “dieting.” They just eat “less shit” for a few days and whammo — 10 pounds lost and down a dress size or two. But for others it can be a damn near impossible grind.
There’s a lot of metabolic factors at work here too, some of which were essential to your very survival. Curse it all you want but there was a time when a slow, “thrifty” metabolism was a huge survival advantage. Unfortunately that was before In ‘n Out and 24-hour monster cookie delivery.
So yeah, you got shit genes kid. Back to Nintendo.
Or is there more to the equation?
I recently had lunch with a sorta old friend.
We go back about 10 years or so. Between bites of his cheeseburger he commented how easy it must be for me to stay in shape since I have “good genetics.”
I was floored. I must’ve sat there for 5 seconds, mouth agape. A dental hygienist at the table next to us even commented that I should floss my back molars more.
I was so flummoxed because had this pudknocker been one of my 30-year friends and not just a recent addition, he would know that my genetics are anything but “really good.”
I never had “newbie gains” – at least not the kind you’re supposed to have. My “growth explosion” was a lot less bang and a lot more whimper.
It took me 5 full years of training to bench “two plates,” which was more like a 225-pound upright row for my unsuspecting spotter.
Reaching even 200 pounds took me over two decades. And much of that, in retrospect, was bodyfat. Until I finally figured what worked for me.
Now compare this to the experiences of my first training partner, Rafi. Instead of going to social studies he’d join me to work out. Sorta.
And he went from a 140 pounds to 180 — in one semester.
Same training program, same effort. Way different results. But he didn’t spend his newspaper money on Hot-Stuff and egg protein powder. Fact is he ate two meals day out of a vending machine.
Yet for all I lacked
in genetic potential, I did have passion and work ethic and above all, perseverance. These intangibles led me to try new things, learn from others, and separate fact from fantasy. And never give up.
So when I combined those less dynamic qualities with time – and lots of it — “suddenly” I was being lumped in with the genetic “winners.”
Here’s what I’ve come to learn:
This whole journey is like a road trip, and your body is the very unique car you’re driving. And genetics determines how far it can potentially go and certainly how fast it can get there.
But you’re still the one behind the wheel.
No one has “perfect” genetics, save for a handful of very gifted people. Everyone has something they struggle with, whether it’s building muscle, getting lean, stubborn bodyparts, or just wonky fat deposition.
That’s just the cards you get dealt. Now how are you going to play the game?
In the end, it really is like that classic bodybuilding meme:
The longer and harder I train and the better I eat, the better my genetics get.
Never quit. Never ever ever.
In an upcoming post, I will describe the absolute best strategies for overcoming some common genetic “roadblocks.” Get your bro on!
Some guys just want to look good. Others are willing to learn what it takes. Which guy are you? Click here to learn more about building the body you want.