DNA testing and endurance training

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  • #4118
    Mariner_9
    Participant

    I’m interested in whether people think this is worth paying for: https://www.dnafit.com/. I have no affiliation with the company, I’m just curious.

    My suspicion is that, while some of the info might be useful, it’s probably not going to be very helpful for training (e.g. V02Max not being indicative of performance in endurance events).

    That, and the results might be depressing!

  • Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #4123

    You can’t go back and get different parents, so whats the point? It is certainly not going to make a difference in your training. Maybe if one was running a youth talent selection program as was done in eastern block countries for years it would help you steer kids to where they had the most potential. Your bed, so to speak, is already made and you just have to lie in it no matter what.

    Scott

    Participant
    Mariner_9 on #4124

    Thanks, Scott. Reminds me of what Ed Visteurs was told when a test showed he had a high V02Max reading – “You chose your parents well”.

    Participant
    Mariner_9 on #4185

    After some back and forth with the company, what they told me was that the results of the testing can be used to alter the emphasis in your training rather than change the ‘sport’ for which you’re training. The example they gave was changing the number of reps and sets in a strength training period depending on your genetic predisposition toward power or endurance. When I countered that doing so might change the quality being trained (e.g. from maximum recruitment to hypertrophy), they responded that rep ranges for training a given quality are averages and are not necessarily applicable to an individual (which seems plausible, but I lack the knowledge to comment definitively).

    That was as much as I got. I remain somewhat skeptical, especially as the paper they produced in support of the product uses a small sample (N=28), has very few uphill athletes (N=4), is based on a short training program (8 weeks vs. 32 in TFNA) and has what to me seems like a very odd endurance test (3-minutes of exercise on a stationary bike).

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #4284

    I think that these types of services prey upon the natural human hope that we’ll “win the lottery” when in fact, the verdict they provide is not that relevant. There are way too many variables (including mental and practical ones) involved in long-term athletic development for gene testing to be anything other than good cocktail party conversation.

    I think the reality is that none of us will really know what our “potential” is until we’ve realized it. And that probably takes 10+ years of smart, focused effort to achieve. Even better if that can be done under the watchful eye of someone with world-class coaching experience.

    In 1967, Derek Clayton broke the 2:10 “barrier” by running a marathon in 2:09:36. Two years later, he bested his time, running 2:08:34. His record stood for 12 years.

    The unusual part? Clayton had a relatively low VO2 max. While many world-class endurance athletes have VO2s in the 80s and 90s, Clayton’s was “only” 69.7.

    It shows that just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean that it’s key enough to predict the outcome.

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #4285

    Correlation is NOT Causation is a good thing to keep in mind in discussions of this sort. As is the Nature and Nurture argument.

    For example: We see that that many endurance champions have a high maxVO2. The popular press and the uninitiated grab on to this correlation as proof of causation. We are incredibly complex organisms and singling out what traits make champions is not so easy. Scott S’s Derek Clayton example above is a great illustration.

    In my own rather un-illustrious athletic career I was tested numerous times for maxVO2. My results placed me in the upper 1% of humans in terms of maximal aerobic power. True enough I did compete at an elite level but I was never among the top despite what should have been my genetic advantage. As a curious 20 year old this caused me to begin asking my first probing questions of the exercise scientists and started me down this path I am still on.

    A few years ago I coached one Olympic XC skier who has one of the highest recored maxVO2 scores for any human, yet he is/was not competitive at the World Cup level. At the opposite end of the aerobic power spectrum I have also coached two other World Cup skiers with rather pedestrian aerobic power. One of them is a World Championship medal winner and the other a World Cup medal winner. Even in XC skiing which is considered to be the most demanding sport for aerobic power and makes he highest utilization of it, the correlation between maxVO2 and performance is poor.

    I mention these examples as an illustration that endurance performance is the result of an incredibly complex interaction of many systems some that are genetic gifts and some that are the product of much hard work and many in between. While we can and do measure (in isolation) many things that we think relate to endurance performance; We really do not understand the full picture of endurance performance.

    I suspect this test could very well tell you if you have certain genes that have some relation to certain physical traits. Measuring in isolation is something science is very good at. This might inform some training decisions or at least get you to try certain training interventions.

    I’d save your money and get a Metabolic Efficiency test to determine you personal metabolic response to exercise intensity. Now, that is something you can do something with and that info will very powerfully inform you training training decisions.

    I have a 4 part series of testing articles come to the website soon.

    Scott

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