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The Powerlifting Gene

Find Out What It Means to Be Genetically Gifted!

Posted by HMTraining - May 5th, 2015

Genetics Simplified

Within our DNA, we have specific genes that code for specific traits. A good way to imagine this relationship is to think of it as a chain, where DNA is the entire chain and a gene is one tiny link. After extensive research, scientists have identified certain genes that affect muscle fiber composition. In humans, there are 3 main types of muscle fiber types. Every muscle in the body is composed of slow twitch (type 1), intermediate twitch (type IIA), or fast twitch (type IIx). If you have a large proportion of fast twitch fibers in your muscles, in theory you will be better at explosive, power based performance. Therefore, it is accurate to say that some people are more geared for power performance sports, such as power lifting, Olympic lifting, or sprinting.


ACTN3 is one of the most popular genes that affects muscle fiber composition. Every human has the ACTN3 gene, but there are 3 types that we as humans can have. We can fall into an XX, RR, or RX group. The ACTN3 gene is responsible for producing alpha actinin-3, a molecular protein that is only found in type IIA or IIx fibers. Researchers have found that if you fall within the XX group, you will have a deficiency in the alpha actinin-3 protein. The exact mechanism of how this gene affects performance is not entirely known, however it is believed to play a role in muscular contraction and force production.

ACTN3 & Muscle Fiber Composition

In the study discussed in the video, the researchers wanted to identify the muscle fiber composition of healthy males with the RR and XX groups. After blood testing, the scientists were able to separate the XX subjects from the RR subjects. The scientists also collected a biopsy or tiny piece of muscle tissue from the subjects’ quadriceps muscle. Using complex techniques, they were able to microscopically separate fast and slow twitch fibers and determine the percentage of each fiber type.

ACTN3 & Performance

The scientists had the subjects perform an exercise using an isokinetic dynamometer, (basically a hi-tech knee/leg extension machine that is able to measure force output). If the subjects within the RR group could generate more force than the XX group, then that would mean there is a genetic reason as to why some individuals can generate more power.


The researchers concluded that the subjects in the RR group generated more force and had a slightly higher proportion of fast twitch fibers than the XX group. This means that if you have the RR type of the ACTN3 gene, then you are genetically more inclined to power performance sports! However, genetics is not the only factor to consider, as motivation, training, nutrition, and level of training, etc. need to be considered. ACTN3 and other genes can be a good explanation as to why some people are insanely good lifters, or power athletes.

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I love seeing more and more info about GENES!  It's a big deal!

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

yeah man, we need to get you one for sure!

HMTraining  Edit  Delete  Close

thanks Scott! I'd love to get the muscle genes test kit in the near future


Nice work Mr.Haaris :D