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Is genetics really that important in a gymnasts power?

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Gymnast C's mom

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I found this quite interesting and thought I would share given the recent thread regarding muscle composition. Some of you may recall a thread I posted back in December after my 6 year old was told that she "had no power in her run". This was cited as one of the key reasons she would likely not make team at her previous gym.

My dh and I recently had our DNA tested (for reasons unrelated to this post) and incidentally we found out that we both carry two "sprinter" genes. It is my understanding that all individuals carry two genes which determine muscle composition/capability, one inherited from our mother and one from our father.

This is what the report said that I think other will find interesting: Genetics isn't everything! Differences in the genetic marker used in this report may only explain about 2-3% of the difference in muscle performance between different people. In elite athletes who work intensely to reach the upper limits of their potential, that 2-3% may mean the difference between qualifying for the Olympics and missing the cut. But for the rest of us, the choices we make about how to train will far outweigh the contribution of our genetic result at this marker. Like anything, clearly there is a continuum.

I just found it interesting because this means my dd must also carry two "sprinter" genes and is thus predisposed to be "fast twitch". It is the only possibility for her given our genetics. Yet dd was identified as a "slow twitch" kid and written off. So I guess you never really know 100% just by watching a kid. The report did say that although we are genetically predisposed, actual muscle performance may be influenced by training decisions.

The report was definitely dumbed down for lay people so I am sure those of you who are scientist types will find this to be pretty simplified.

Muscle Composition: Sprinters and endurance athletes differ in the composition and the capabilities of their muscles. These differences may be influenced by both training decisions and genetic factors.

Your Wellness Result: Your genetic muscle composition is common in elite power athletes.
Studies have found that almost all elite power athletes (including sprinters, throwers, and jumpers) have a specific genetic variant in a gene related to muscle composition. You have the same genetic variant as these elite athletes.

What this means for you: For most people, lifestyle and training factors drive athletic performance. At the national and international levels of competition, the genetic variant in this report seems to make a difference in athletic success, but its role for non-elite athletes isn't completely understood.

Then it goes on to talk about Genetics and Muscle Composition regarding the 2 main types of fibers, slow and fast twitch which I won't bore you with as this has been discussed in other threads a lot.

Muscles and genetics: This report is based on a genetic marker in the ACTN3 gene. This marker controls whether muscle cells produce a protein (called alpha-actinin-3) that's found in fast-twitch muscle fibers. While some people don't produce this protein at all, almost all of the elite power athletes who have been studied have a genetic variant that allows them to produce the protein. This suggests that the protein may be beneficial at least at the highest levels of power-based athletic competition.


Genetic result: What it means
You: CC
Common result for elite power athletes

Other possibilities not identified in your DNA

CT: Common result for elite power athletes

TT: Uncommon result for elite power athletes
See the percentage of customers with these results

Sorry this is so long but I found it interesting!
 

tpMom

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I would love to hear how you got this test done, it is extremely interesting!
 

SHELOVESGYM

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Yes very curious to hear where you did this test. Is this like 23 and me or another that you can purchase at Target? Or something else?
 

Gymnast C's mom

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@SHELOVESGYM and @tpMom my doctor suggested I have my DNA tested for medical reasons. It was done through a company called Myriad and then the raw data was sent to a private lab (Promethease). They are the ones who also analyzed my raw data upon request. This is when I incidentally learned of my carrier status at the ACTN3 gene. I then realized this is related to some previous threads so I thought I would share what I learned. My husband had his tested years ago for fun but I am not promoting that by any means, only sharing information.
 

Flyaway

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Fascinating! When your dd was labeled as "slow twitch" by her old gym, was that based solely on her vault runs? I'm curious how they came to such a definite analysis when they were at least genetically wrong!
 
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Sk8ermaiden

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I have been kind of curious about this too. DD was labeled slow twitch at her old gym and even almost dropped from the team stream because of it. But I wondered how they could tell that so young since her body awareness was always a problem. We are seeing as she matures (still only 7) that she CAN put on that burst of power, she just doesn't most of the time. I find the more her body awareness develops, the more she's able to pull things like a great vault out of the hat when asked. She's fantastic at bars and beam though, so I never understood passing her over for girls who are great tumblers but scared out of their minds to let a foot come off the beam or cast really high. Seems like both have strengths and weaknesses? Oh well.
 

Flyaway

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I have been kind of curious about this too. DD was labeled slow twitch at her old gym and even almost dropped from the team stream because of it. But I wondered how they could tell that so young since her body awareness was always a problem. We are seeing as she matures (still only 7) that she CAN put on that burst of power, she just doesn't most of the time. I find the more her body awareness develops, the more she's able to pull things like a great vault out of the hat when asked. She's fantastic at bars and beam though, so I never understood passing her over for girls who are great tumblers but scared out of their minds to let a foot come off the beam or cast really high. Seems like both have strengths and weaknesses? Oh well.
I know this isn't directly the point of OP's post, but I wanted to comment to commiserate. Dd is a strong bar and beam worker but has to work very hard at vault and floor, presumably due to slow twitch muscles. and it frustrates me to no end that the stuff like you mentioned above happens. They ALL have strengths and weaknesses.
 

Seeker

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My dd's run up to the vault was horrible in L4. Then we realized she needed glasses...like night and day after she could actually see (she wears contacts).
 

Gymnast C's mom

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Fascinating! When your dd was labeled as "slow twitch" by her old gym, was that based solely on her vault runs? I'm curious how they came to such a definite analysis when they were at least genetically wrong!
Yes it was based on her vault runs only. At the time she wasn't really doing any tumbling other than round offs. I just found it interesting that she was labeled slow twitch and not allowed to try out for team. Does it really matter? I don't think so. She just needs a coach who will teach and train her so that she can develop enough power to be a happy and successful gymnast. She isn't going to the Olympics or even college gym.
 
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Gymnast C's mom

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Dec 24, 2016
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I have been kind of curious about this too. DD was labeled slow twitch at her old gym and even almost dropped from the team stream because of it. But I wondered how they could tell that so young since her body awareness was always a problem. We are seeing as she matures (still only 7) that she CAN put on that burst of power, she just doesn't most of the time. I find the more her body awareness develops, the more she's able to pull things like a great vault out of the hat when asked. She's fantastic at bars and beam though, so I never understood passing her over for girls who are great tumblers but scared out of their minds to let a foot come off the beam or cast really high. Seems like both have strengths and weaknesses? Oh well.
Exactly @Sk8ermaiden ! My dd is exactly the same way. She is 7 and still developing body awareness! She also CAN show bursts of power in her run, she just doesn't always do it. Funny because my dd is also very strong on bars and beam.
 
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LJL07

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Yes it was based on her vault runs only. At the time she wasn't really doing any tumbling other than round offs. I just found it interesting that she was labeled slow twitch and not allowed to try out for team. Does it really matter? I don't think so. She just needs a coach who will teach and train her so that she can develop enough power to be a happy and successful gymnast. She isn't going to the Olympics or even college gym.
I'm sorry, but that's the silliest thing ever! Your daughter was 6 and new to gymnastics? Both of my daughters are extremely fast twitch but you should have seen their vault runs when they were brand new compulsories. I think one judge described my little one's run as "a turkey trot." My theory is that they had a lot of power and they deliberately ran slower for better control. They sure haven't had any problems once they began vaulting over the table. How short sighted and silly to write off a kid based on a lower level vault run!! I'm sorry you had that experience.
 
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