T Nation

Genetics Do Make a Difference w/ Strength Potential


Hello fellow lifters,

I’ve been lurking around t-nation and other various sites for fitness enthusiasts for awhile. I’ve been lifting for awhile about 6 years now. The first 3 were to compliment basketball and the last three have been geared towards building muscle and powerlifting. Anyways I reviewed a thread on T-nation about genetics and many were marginalizing its role. On one side I agree with those that say genetics don’t matter because most people will not train hard enough to even get close to that limit. On the other hand, there is what I’m about to post.

When we think about genetics, we often forget about things that really help or hinder a persons growth. For instance tendon and ligament durability. There are those people such as myself that can and have gained a significant amount of muscle and strength but run into issues that limit progress. My tendons and ligaments hate heavy lifting and super explosive movements. (Complete tear of Achilles going to dunk, patella tear squatting, pec major tendon strains x3 benching). I’ve worked really hard on flexibility and mobility and have spent the money on coaches but my progression has been limited. For example, ive reset my bench progression 3 times. Each time getting up to 295 for 3-5 reps. My chest and triceps are ready for more but my pec tendon becomes inflamed once I start going heavier. Heavier I go, the more it hurts. Same for squats. My deadlift has been virtually unaffected. I was able to increase that 365lb to 525 in 1 year. Hope for 600 in another 18 months.

Genetics matter when it comes to VO2 max, lung capacity (why males are better distance runners than females)

The combination of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers matter as well. I was dunking a basketball at 5’9 in the ninth grade. (6’2 now)
That was not due to vertical jump training. No matter how hard someone trains, most 5’9 guys are not dunking a basketball. Most guys will never come close to running as fast as usain bolt. Most guys will not swim as fast as micheal phelps. Most guys will not have the reflexes of Floyd mayweather. Nowhere close!

So why would it be different in powerlifting? Most guys simply will not total a 1600+ no matter the training and nutrition. To say so is disrespect to those that have that.

I’m not making excuses and I will continue as hard as I can for my lifetime but achieving some of the numbers we seen in international meets takes a touch from Zeus himself.


1600lbs? Are you kidding? GTFOH with that bullshit. Most people don’t care about their total that much, that’s why they don’t hit it. The majority of men could likely achieve that within 5-10 years of training, at least if bodyweight didn’t have to be kept too low. Give up, you know you want to… :grin:

Seriously, what are these people bringing up genetics trying to prove? Yeah it might make some difference, but debating it on the internet isn’t going to help anything - do you want a hug or something? Smh…


We’ve been over this basic concept before…


I am definitely not a genetic-gifted guy.Maybe not even at normal level.
I’m short, 161 cm. 134 lbs now.Before my glute injury my total is 410 kg (90 bench, 160 squat and 160 DL)
Now I can only pull 150 kg so it’s 400kg now.
I’m very easy to get injured.
I can’t count how many time I got myself injured by god knows how.I remember one time I was just walking then I pulled my hamstring( of course that’s many years ago before i start lifting but still not normal for a teenager…)
I start lifting in 2014 and started powerlifting since last summer.
Both of my shoulder got kinda severe injured.
Both of my knee’s meniscus and my low back got injured When I was in junior high school (Running too much that cost my minisucs and imitating John cena hurt my low back…should have listen to their warning…)
And many small injury like muscle strain and wrist issue.(Most of them are not form issues except my left shoulder.)
But I just like it and now I find powerlifting is what really fascinate me.
I don’t care about my gene.I can’t change it.I may never hit 1600lbs total but who cares.Not everyone lift for big total.I just like this sports.
Now I’m preparing for my postgraduate entrance test for sports nutrition just because I love powerlifting.
Genetics do set a limit for us but as long as you love the sports. Its really isn’t a big deal.
That’s just something I want to say although it may be off topic


Some people are predisposed to certain injuries, so for sure they won’t make it far. Others get injured due to bad technique, and some injuries can become chronic problems. Limb proportions also affect leverages, and there is nothing you can do to change it. But aside from that, most people should be able to reach a decent level of strength with consistent, proper training. To put 1600 out there as an arbitrary number doesn’t make sense because the most of top lifters in lower weight classes don’t have 1600 totals, and female lifters obviously can’t lift as much as men at the same weight. Testosterone makes a big difference, whether you produce your own or inject it. If anything, you could say that a 400 wilks is achievable for anyone without chronic injuries or health problems that has the time and motivation to train.


A question for evereyone.

If you don’t train correctly and consistently, manage recovery correctly, follow proper nutrition, how would you know if it was genetics that was limiting you?

I can tell you all from personal experience that EVERY tweak or injury I have ever incurred has been due to factors I controlled: dropping the bar too fast in a bench, going heavier than the program dictated, dropping too fast in a leg press, not backing off when I felt like shit.

Stop using genetics as an EXCUSE and put the big man pants on. This sport is tough on the body. Do things right and stop complaining.


Of course genetics has huge influence on strength development. Saying otherwise is just ignorant. But it is also true that not many people really take everything out of their potential and thus should not really blame it on the genes.

And a bit besides the topic: have you considered that the pec major tendon tear is not actually a pec major tendon tear? I had a shoulder problem that was influencing mostly my bench press but also my squatting. Blamed it on the rotator cuff but treating it as such did not really help the issue. After starting to treat it as a bicep tendonitis I’ve seen improvements.