Phenotypic Design: A Different View on Training

phe·no·type
ˈfēnəˌtīp/

noun

BIOLOGY
  1. the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

As most of you know, I just finished a master’s in biomedical diagnostics.  The degree program has a weighted emphasis on molecular diagnostics or genetic testing.  When we are thinking about our physical performance and health conditioning, we would likely first, think of more ‘state’ diagnostics.  These tell us our body’s current ‘state’ or condition prior to the genetic dispositions we hold.  After all,we can’t change our genetics.

Well, I agree that state diagnostics are of paramount importance.  We should be able to know how our body’s cardio-respiratory, balance, mobility, metabolic, hormonal, and a host of other human systems and processes are working.   This is primary to our cause for bettering our health and physical performance. However, with the definition above, isn’t our state just our phenotype….how our body is responding to the environmental stimuli versus the blueprint God or nature gave us?

With that in mind, shouldn’t we know the blueprint as well.  After all, if we can’t lose weight, shouldn’t we know whether we have genes that determine whether we metabolize certain foods in a certain way.   Maybe a vegan, or paleo diet would work for us.  Maybe, we haven’t tried it because we don’t know.

Or, maybe I am an athlete competing in triathlons.  But, I have a gene that sets limits on cardiovascular performance but have another that says my strength potential is AMAZING!!!  For an example, look at the guy who plays the Mountain from game of thrones.  He was a skinny basketball player until he tried heavy lifting.  Now, he’s a house and competes in strong men competitions.

We are tempted to think we would all know this via life’s trial and error.  But, is this true?  The Mountain may not have ever tried lifting unless encouraged for some reason.  You may not have either.  In order to find our human potential for development, it is very advantageous to know what we are made of.  We can shoot for our limits of potential more easily if we know what our predestined potential is without the trial and error.  We can, possibly, keep from running ourselves in circles with fad diets and exercise programs.  We may be able to really identify how we metabolize meat or carbs or gluten.  We may be able to find that we have a great potential for performance in one aspect or a poor one in another that we need  to address because it will effect our health in the long run.

Just food for thought today,

Jason Root, MS, CSCS

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