How much does genetics influence body shape?

It can be fairly easy to blame your genetics for not giving you the head start that many of the most successful fitness Instagrammers have when it comes to getting all muscley and fit. And while there’s no denying that good genes have a significant effect on the shape of your body, they are by no means an excuse to give up and let yourself go entirely.

Maybe that guy over there is born with more muscle fibres in his calves, or that guy has wider shoulders, and that guy is six foot three with arms the size of your thighs; none of that means that you can’t achieve results.

In terms of biomechanics, the amount of muscle fibres and their attachment to your bones will determine how strong and efficient they are. Combine that with the length of your limbs, and suddenly every movement you make is quite different from the guy next to you.

How much leverage you have for each movement and how far the weight has to travel can make some moves infinitely easier than others, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that bigger is always better. How many 6’3” guys do you see weight-lifting in the Olympics?

So while there’s not much you can do about this, at least you know why that smaller guy can lift twice as much as you can.

3 tips to hack your genetics

You need to work with your own genetic strengths and weaknesses. Work hard, learn as much as you can, and you’ll be looking sex AF in no time.

1. Maintain balance

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An important part of any kind of weight training is maintaining balance. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and certain aspects will be easier to train than others. Maintaining a balance will help to make you look more aesthetically pleasing, seem fitter and in better shape overall.

A typical example of this is training legs. Those guys that find it difficult to build their leg muscles often pay less attention to them, choosing instead to build their upper bodies for bigger gains in a shorter time. A huge upper body and bambi legs is not a sexy look. Moreover, this unevenness will likely cause problems in other areas (think bad posture and back problems).

2. Focus on the problem areas

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Who wouldn’t prefer to avoid a problem rather than deal with it head on? Well that won’t work in the gym I’m afraid. The temptation may be to blast out a load of bicep curls because you feel cool and manly, leaving your poor little triceps to suffer, but that’s not gonna help your arms look as big as they could if you dealt with your genetically smaller triceps.

When planning your gym routine, work your weaker muscles first, then do maintenance training for your already-developed muscles. That way you can hit the weaker muscles when you have the most energy and won’t skip them off the end of your workout when you run out of time.

3. Create contrast

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For whichever part of your body you feel is your genetic weak spot, there will be a contrasting body part that can help to highlight it. A classic example of this is narrow shoulders. You can create the illusion of broad shoulders by trimming down your waist. Likewise, if you have a less-than-tiny waist, beefing up your shoulders and deltoids will create a bigger contrast and make you seem skinnier by comparison.

Create illusions and work with what you’ve got. It may be more of a struggle to get stronger or skinnier in certain areas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.

Personalised genetics mapping

If you’re curious to find out more about your own genetics and what makes you you, iDDNA offer individual genetic mapping to tell you all about your inner workings. You’ll never get a more personalised nutrition and skincare plan, planned right down to your DNA.