Now is about the time where I start hating myself for writing about all of this, because I always err towards the side of genetics not mattering.
But they do.
If you flap your arms, you aren’t going to grow wings. You have anatomic limits. you don’t have infinite adaptation capacity. there are critical growth periods, which is why you'll never become “feral” after a certain age.
the good news is that we're not flying in the face of our genes all together. we're not trying to grow wings.
the things you’re trying to manipulate (body fat, muscle mass, mobility) are within your anatomic limits, which is why you’ve probably noticed changes in these attributes over time.
When I was five years old, I could put my big toe in my mouth. I can't do that anymore. if i had put my big toe in my mouth every day since i was four years old, i could probably still do it. but i didn't. no one gave me the “put your big toe in your mouth or else you won't be able to when you're thirty” memo.
the bad news is that the best athletes, the ones you look up to, probably have a genetic predisposition for success in their sport. which isn't to dismiss the amount of time and the amount of work any one athlete puts into the craft.
because there is a lot of work.
but when you hear that baseball players have superhuman vision that allows them to better see a 90 mile per hour fast ball, or that Michael Phelp's body proportions couldn't have been hand sculpted better for swimming, well — it gets the wheels turning in your head.
but here's the deal:
none of these genetic advantages matter.
because everyone — no matter background, genetics, steroids, other drugs, macaroni and cheese, senzu beans, no matter WHAT — uses the same single simple recipe to hijack their body (and mind) in order to get leaner, build muscle, jump higher, do backflips, et cetera.
we're a product of three things: nature, nurture, and randomness. and the only thing in that triforce you can change is nurture. that's the triforce you have on the back of your hand.
the only thing you can do is adjust your lifestyle to nudge your body in the direction you want it to be nudged.
“adjusting lifestyle” sounds cryptic, and it is, right now, because I don't want to go on a lengthy detour explaining the ins and outs of adaptation.
suffice to say, a lot of what your body doesn't isn't haphazard. there's a reason most people are fat. there's a reason most people aren't very muscular. there's a reason most people have poor posture.
if you imagine Noob Saibot, this totally empty shadow shell of a human and all you did was watch how (s)he went about his/her day, you'd be able to make some conclusions about the abilities and appearance (s)he would have.
I SAW WHAT HE ATE. I SAW WHAT HE DID WITH HIS BODY. I SAW HOW HE LIVED. I SAW HIS FRIENDS. I SAW THE INFORMATION HE CONSUMED.
and that's the only thing you can control: how you live. all you can do is live a life that's conducive to the change/results you want.
if you really want to become a better swimmer, you get into the pool and do the work. DOESN'T matter if you're built like Phelps or pancakes.
your genetics will do whatever they can do. you just have to stack the physiological deck in your favor by using solid strategies and systems.
meaning don't complain about muscle building if you haven't touched a barbell. don't complain about fat loss if you haven't eaten anything green in a month.
again, i'm sort of teetering around the specific “best practice” strategies to use for specific goals, which makes this super pretentious and hollow. just like my life.
the difference, where genes are important, is here:
expectations and mindset.
this is where, I think, where the genetics conversation starts. when people worry about genes, they're really saying, “I'm comparing myself to someone else and things aren't adding up.”
and that's always a bad idea.