What generates greatness: Genes or guidance?

February 23, 2014


Is it training or talent that generates greatness?

Have you every wondered why some people seem to naturally excel while other fumble over their own feet? If you have ever spent more time on the ground than on the court or field you know how frustrating it can be to try your best and still not excel, while someone else breezes by with much less effort.

Is it genetics, a natural talent, or is it simply that they are better trained? ASAPScience explains that the appearance of natural ability may actually be in your genes. However, there may be more to athletic ability than genes. So there is hope for the rest of us.

In regards to athletic ability, scientists have subjected untrained individuals to identical exercise to see if it would lead to varying results. Not to much surprise, different people saw different results. Some improved greatly with training, while some made no improvement at all. However, individuals who were related, saw similar results in their training ability; indicating that their athletic potential could be genetic.

If your parent or sibling saw great improvement by training, odds are, so would you. These individuals are considered “high responders” to the training. After analysis, scientists found 50% of improvement was linked to genetics. So, in other words, great athletes are born with great genes and great potential. Now, scientists have discovered a particular set of genetic markers responsible for “high responder” traits. So regardless of your starting fitness level, if you have these genetic markers, you improve leaps and bounds over those who do not possess these genes (termed “low responders”).

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Scientists also found that people have different baseline endurance levels. “High responders” have a much higher starting level than “low responders.” So you can have a high baseline, or a high trainability level, or both. Making some people genetically predisposed to excel over others starting with low baselines and trainability. It is likely that winning Olympians train hard and have great genetics.

The bottom line: talent is trainable under the right circumstances and some people will train easier than others.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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