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Can a DNA Test Tell You Your Athletic Inclinations?

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has developed a few and has been testing whether or not they can be used to help train their athletes. The AIS use DNA profiling through 12 gene tests to determine what type of athletic endeavors an individual is best suited for. Is this type of profiling actually beneficial?

Author: Blaine Moore
Date: Mar 27, 2011 - 3:35:42 PM

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If there was a DNA test that determined what kind of sports you could excel at, would you take it?

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has developed a few and has been testing whether or not they can be used to help train their athletes. The AIS use DNA profiling through 12 gene tests to determine what type of athletic endeavors an individual is best suited for.

For example, if they are better suited to power activities then they would lift more weights, but if they were better suited to endurance activities than they would run more. They hope that by custom tailoring their training programs for their athletes, they can attain better performances that work with the athlete's body instead of against it.

In fact, the largest benefit from such a course of action could be to reduce the frequency and seriousness of injuries.

Not everybody believe that this is a good idea, however. Some scientists and sports experts have advised against the process, especially as there is no "mongrel" gene to account for people that have mixed strengths that can be specifically tested for.

I have to agree if you are going to use the DNA profiling to select or exclude your athletes. It does a disservice not only to the athletes, but also to the organizations that employ the tests. Knowing what tasks an athlete's body is more likely to respond favorably to will not really tell you which athletes are likely to be successful or that are going to have the right mindset and focus during competition.

I think that the organizations that might do better would be the ones who allow their trainers and coaches to be guided by the data to help keep their athletes healthy. The largest problem with professional sports is subjecting our bodies to the demands of training to perform at such a high level while avoiding injuries.

As time goes on and research improves, this process is sure to become more popular. Given the expense of conducting all 12 tests on an athlete it's very unlikely that individual athletes will go to the bother unless they are facing chronic problems that they have been unable to solve themselves.

The most interesting information that I would like to glean from the information has nothing to do with the future performance of an athlete, though.

The most interesting piece of these tests would be to analyze the data past performance data of the athletes that have been tested. Were those athletes leading a lifestyle and making training decisions that played to the strengths of what the tests tell them their body's are best suited for?

Or did those athletes succeed in spite of where their supposed strengths and weaknesses lie?

Blaine Moore is a running coach in Southern Maine with 20 years of training and racing experience. Download his free report, The 3 Components of an Effective Workout, to learn why the work you put in during your training is only the third most important factor that determines how well you improve as a runner and an athlete

View all articles by Blaine Moore

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