There are a lot of factors that impact on athletic performance, some of which are changeable, and others that are not.
There’s a misconception that we’re not all that much different from each other. While that may be true of the big picture—we all have arms, legs, hearts, etc.—there are enough minor differences in each of us to make significant changes on what we can and can’t be as well as accomplish.
It’s a fact that we’re all different. We hear it all the time from those in the know. We all react differently to various foods and nutritional supplements, we all metabolize differently and we all have different genetic make-ups that make us unique. These variations have a major impact on an organism’s function, including how we respond to almost everything, including macro and micronutrients, drugs and chemicals.
For example it’s been shown that insulin sensitivity is affected by many variables, including lifestyle, body weight, exercise, diet, certain nutritional ingredients and supplements, inflammation, and certain diseases. But just because you have a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance, perhaps even to diabetes, doesn’t mean this has to happen.
That’s because the body has a certain redundancy built into it so that many genetic roadblocks can be opened up or circumvented under specific environmental conditions. In other words a single altered gene or even several of them, although affecting some function or functions in the body, may make only little, even zero, difference depending on the circumstances.
For example, this redundancy, which plays a part in our reaction to specific nutritional and other environments, means that broad principles will in fact apply to the majority of people, with perhaps some minor variations.
However, we can’t deny that some people have it a lot easier than others. It’s obvious that in order to excel in any sport or to develop extensive muscularity you have to be born with the potential to do so. This potential, which all of us have to one degree or another, involves the mental as well as the physical aspects of sports. It’s what you do with whatever potential you have that will ultimately decide how well you reach your performance goals.
While those with the highest genetic potential for any one or more sports have a genetic head start, what they accomplished depends on many other factors. In the extreme, even if you had the ultimate potential for a sport but suffered a lack of food or were unable to ever train, you would never achieve in that sport.
It’s the environmental factors that shape the flow of genotype to phenotype. In other words even the truly gifted have to have their potential molded and developed by the right factors. On the other hand those not as genetically gifted can accomplish elite status by maximizing all the environmental factors that they can.
All four environmental factors, lifestyle, training (and this means more than just exercise training but also ways to get the most out of the training that works best for you), diet and nutritional supplements must be in synch before you can reach those upper limits of performance that are in line with your natural genetic potential.
Athletic Performance Pipeline
While the issues in each section of the pipeline are complex, my rather simple body composition pipeline will help you visualize what factors are important in maximizing performance.
If everything is in synch then we'll achieve our goals, as long as they are realistic.
A weak section in the pipeline will decrease the end results.
Thus reaching your performance goals takes a structured approach that looks at lifestyle, exercise, diet and nutritional supplements – factors that we’ll cover in detail on this site.
And keep in mind that while we may suspect that we have a natural predisposition for a specific sport, none of us really knows what that potential is until we use everything we can to unmask it.