Overcoming Genetics, Motivation with Sarah Sweeney

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Do genetics matter? Are we going to be forever defined by what genes we got from our parents and their parents? 

The reality is YES IT DOES MATTER. Genetics play a role and it affects muscle growth and success in the iron world. But it all boils down to you. Even if you’re a hardgainer, you can overcome this “plight of the gain less” and dominate it. You may not have the winning genetic lottery numbers, but that doesn’t mean you have to count yourself out.

Get a new pair of Genes

I wish it were that easy.  Go to your favorite shop and pick a pair of nice genes that fit you perfectly. Easy peasey, right?  Not so fast, Tonto! It doesn’t work that way. We get what we get from our folks.  We’re stuck with “them genes” till the day we head off into the sunset.  We can pin some of the blame on our parents and their ancestors for the state of our genes, but I suggest not bringing it up on the dinner table.

Studies have shown that genetics affect body fat and dictate where it’s stored. Some people are pre-disposed to store fat in their abdominal area, some in the face, while some store fat in their thighs. And, drum roll please…some people are genetically predisposed for fat storage in the buttocks. Holler if you like big butts, and please don’t lie! 

But don’t think of this as an advantage -yet. The fat storage in these regions can become a major issue. Ever meet a guy who was lean all over but had a spare tire hanging from his midsection? That’s the ugly and un-healthy “pear shape” a lot of the guys dread and if you’re one of them, I feel for you.

Spread the Fat

The ideal genetic scenario is far from the examples above, where fat storage is greater in one or more areas of the body. The genetically gifted will store fat, but the fat will be evenly distributed all over the body. So, let’s say two guys, identical twins, same height, weight, age and fitness level were to pig out for the next couple of weeks, eating 1,000 more calories and doing absolutely nothing (completely sedentary).

The genetically gifted freak still looked pretty lean, didn’t gain any abdominal fat and actually looked “bigger”, despite not working out at all, while gaining weight and a little bit of fat. The fat was evenly distributed across his entire body, so the changes weren’t as evident and negligible. These guys are the elite of the elite, and there just aren’t too many of them. If you think you belong to this group, congratulations! You just won the Arnold Schwarzenegger Genetic Lottery! Bah-humbug!

The not-so gifted guy not only gained more weight and more bodyfat, but he stored it in his abdominal region, chest and face! Talk about getting the short end of the stick! If you think you belong to this group, don’t fret, as these guys are a dime a dozen. The next time you’re in the gym, take a look around and you’re apt to see one struggling to gain muscle and lose fat.

The genetic lottery can be manipulated

Most of the successful athletes and champion bodybuilders are mesomorphs. It’s just easier for them to succeed because of the way their bodies are built. The blueprint is already there, and they just added the pieces through proper training and good, clean nutrition. Please note that the keyword here is most. Why? Because, my dear Watson, anyone can beat their poor or average genetic predispositions, and overcome the limits of their body type.

Take a look at Hugo Rivera. The guy stands 5’4” tall, but is built like a truck, is an all natural bodybuilder, and has won numerous awards. He overcame adversity growing up,(including childhood obesity, followed by anorexia in his early teens)  and became a beast in the world of bodybuilding and a well respected writer and speaker. There are a lot of people who fought tooth and nail to get to where they wanted to be physically, regardless of body type, genetics be damned. 

It didn’t matter to them if other people told them it can’t be done, that they couldn’t be strong enough, fast enough and big enough. It shouldn’t matter to you, too. Remember, genes play a role, nothing more, and nothing less. What role it’ll play in your bodybuilding journey is up to you. If you give genetics the leading role in your life movie, you’ll always take a back seat and be the supporting actor.


Don’t let it define you, and stop wasting time blaming your parents because your genes are affecting your muscle growth. Train hard. Give it your all every single time. Up the intensity and be consistent. Eat healthy, follow a program and stick with it till you see results. If a program isn’t working after hitting it hard for some time, explore other options and find the one that works for you. Were all built differently, so try and don’t be afraid to fail.

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