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Venom 10-04-2006 04:34 AM

What is the Role of Genetics and Practice in Superior Performance?
A member recently made a post on something I have been studying that is very interesting. Here is a link,;page=0#1229591

And a quote on what I am interested in:


While I (hopefully) have your attention, I would like your thoughts on the role genetics have in regulating mRNA transcription, protein translation and protein synthesis...


- Do genetics regulate/limit a human's ability to make lean gains?


- Can we manipulate these processes with exercise, diet and or supplements (i.e ebol)? In other words, is it possible that increased protein and AA intake could go to waste (somewhat anyway) if the user has less than desireable genetics?

[/ QUOTE ]

Deep, deep question.

Incidentally, I am studying this very question right now. Unfortunately, I don't have an answer, yet. [img]/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

One of the leading research scientist, Anders Ericsson, has done an incredible amount of research on the mechanisms behind elite performance.

To summarize his data, he strongly believes that the key to peak performance is deliberate practice: that is, practice, with intent. So if someone practices enough, using the right training variables and such, he believes anyone can reach a peak level of performance.

He shows a lot of convincing evidence for this.

The model he has created is called the expert performance model. Here is how it works.

1.) Find an expert performance that can be replicated in the laboratory, such as 100 meter sprint, or marksmen shooting skills. 2.) Find the cognitive, anatomical, or physiological mechanism which underlie these superior performances through various paradigms. 3.) Identify how different types of experiences and practice activities explain the acquisition of these mechanisms, and whether experts practice certain ways to obtain these skills.

Let me give you an example.

They have tested expert marksmen shooting accuracy in a laboratory (step 1), they notice that certain sides of their brain are not active during their shots, and others sides are (the left and right hemisphere, respectively; the right hemisphere is associated with vision, so it is needed for their skills). They correlate performance with activation of these sides of the brain, and find that when one side of the brain is inactive during the shot, the performance is high; but when it elevates slightly, errors occur (step 2 validated). This identifies that the inactivation and activation of certain areas of the brain during expert shooting is an important component of performance (step 2; mechanism of superior performance identified). What results indicate, is that experts go through complex learning and problem solving techniques to lead to these superior adaptations in performance (step 3).

Anyway, while he showed a lot of convincing evidence that high level performers do not have a genetic advantage in things such as memory state, he did a poor job, in my opinion, on physiological mechanisms, such as muscular hypertrophy which underlie high level performance.

Basically, all he showed is that it takes practice to facilitate superior performance.

Yes, the evidence is absolutely clear that deliberate practice is a mandatory component to peak performance.

But my problem with what he is saying, is that does not mean that someone cannot reach peak performance with greater ease, and less practice.

Further, his definition of peak performance was vague. He and others define Expert Performance as consistent superior athletic performance over an extended period. But what does superior mean? It is much to subjective.

The key question I have is: is one of the differences that separates a triple A baseball player from a professional, genetics? Clearly both athletes are performing feats of superior performance; but one is performing better than the other.

He also says all healthy humans have the same genes. So genetics can't explain superior performance. Sure, we all produce fast twitch fibers, and can stimulant protein synthesis through diet; but this does not mean at all that our genes have the same efficiency. So I find this arguement very lacking.

He suggests that the key is longitudinal studies. For instance, you test people during a whole life span, and see what practice variables and such underlie superior performance. This is lacking in the literature; logs are the closest thing they have on this.

What would be great is to take hundreds of individuals, put them on the same training program from youth, and see who grows more. But that would be hard to do! Especially to control all external variables.

There also appears to be a "window" in which we can really facilitate peak performance for sports. And this window is related to age. For instance, ballet dancerís ability to turn out their feet and the range of motion of a baseball pitchers shoulder joints are both influenced by appropriate practice at a young age; and once their bones calcify around 8-10 years old, this change is permanent.

To summarize my question:

1. What role do genetics play in peak performance, particularly muscular hypertrophy?
2. If genetics do play a role, can they be overcome, through increased practice, diet, and other variables? Or are certain people destined to be mediocre athletes?
3.) what window(s) do we have to maximize our athleteic potential, as related to age?

I look forward to your thoughts! I am going to be investigating this, and discussing it with several of my colleagues tomorrow.

And if anyone is interested, I can give more information on this topic, and various studies.

Venom 10-04-2006 05:02 AM

Re: What is the Role of Genetics and Practice in Superior Performance?
Also, Ericsson believes that the only determing factors genetics pertaining to superior performance is height and your body frame, because these cannot be influenced by practice. So someone who is 4-9 is at a clear disadvantage in basketball!

Qester 10-04-2006 05:32 AM

Re: What is the Role of Genetics and Practice in Superior Performance?

It is my personal belief that when it comes to such thing as body composition, and being athletic one is born into a sort of 'caste'. All of this is from personal experince.

Example One: Myself; Phsyical 'inferior' obesity runs in my family along with a long list of other health related problems. I've overcome this with hard work and dedication; played nearly everysport starting as a child(when i was obese) and have now played varsity wrestling and football therefore being classified as an 'elite' athelete.

Although on the wrestling team at the university I am in the lower 'caste' of being an elite athlete, there are many more physically superior wrestlers than me in regards to strength, speed, and agility. The likes of which I could only dream of aquiring. As such I believe

I would be classified in such a range from Low Athleticism Naturally-Average Athleticism with training and maxing out at the lower echleon of an eliete athlete at maxamium training. (As a side note even as a obese child I was always sound on all techniques for sports, played allstar hockey,baseball)

Example2: Friend; My friend on the other hand is a physical specimen, women have described him as being what they are innatly attracted to, large jaw, broad shoulders etc. Everyday on the way to school he would eat an entire box of dunkaroos. Not just one little thing of them, an entire box for breakfast. Has never weight lifted a day in his life, has horrible diet and an even worse work ethic. Yet his physical superiority has made him stronger than anyone at the highschool level of wrestling along with being in the middle strength level at university.

I would thus classify him of having the natural ability of an elite athlete naturally and could potentially become a world class athlete if he were to work for it.

A more famous example would be that of Michael Jordan. Michael Jordans older brother was a more talented athelete than him but through hard work MJ was able to become one of the most amazing atheletes in the world. Could another person with MJ's drives but far inferior genetics have achieved this same goal? I think not.

HalleluYAH 10-04-2006 11:16 AM

Re: What is the Role of Genetics and Practice in Superior Performance?


It would seem that genetics would play a large role in regulating muscular hypertrophy.

I am eager to learn more. Thanks for starting this thread.

HalleluYAH 10-04-2006 11:57 AM

Re: What is the Role of Genetics and Practice in Superior Performance?

Venom 12-04-2006 12:34 AM

Re: What is the Role of Genetics and Practice in Superior Performance?
To give an update on this.

I am doing some crazy research on the topic right now.

I am investigating the deliberate practice hypothesis from a physiological point of view; something that is not discussed nearly enough in the expert performance literature.

I actually came in with a slight bias thinking genetics would play a rather large role. Well, they do. But the question is: can you overcome your genetics with practice? Right now...I am starting to think you could make some incredible adaptations with physical exercise. What I am reading is contrary to a ton of mantras I have been taught.

I will keep you guys up to date!

dashforce 12-04-2006 06:03 PM

Re: What is the Role of Genetics and Practice in Superior Performance?
Nice. Good news for little guys like me! [img]/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

President Wilson 12-10-2006 03:54 PM

Re: What is the Role of Genetics and Practice in Superior Performance?
One of the leading research scientist, Anders Ericsson

[/ QUOTE ]

Not to brag, but he's on our faculty at FSU [img]/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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