Is Athletic Performance Encoded in Your DNA?

Even if you are not big on tennis, you have probably heard of Andy Murray, the British tennis sensation. Born to Scottish parents, Murray is a 3-time Grand Slam champion and first British athlete to win multiple Wimbledon singles titles since 1936. A 2-time Olympic gold medalist in tennis, the only tennis player in the world to do so. Which brings us to the question is athletic performance encoded in your DNA? Let’s take a closer look at Andy.

What Makes Him So Good?

Clearly, Andy Murray is one of the best tennis players in the world at present. But what makes him so good at what he does? Murray comes from a family with a long line of athletic history. Murray’s grandfather was a professional footballer in the Scottish Football League, his mother was a tennis coach, and his brother Jamie had also been a Wimbledon champion.

andy murray in 2019 playing tennis

So Is athletic performance encoded in your DNA? It certainly looks that way with Andy Murray.

Although family history and support certainly seemed to play a part in his rise to success, his family also supported him in many other ways. Murray’s genetic dispositions make him excel at tennis, which he inherited biologically from his parents even before he was born!

Why Do Genes Matter And What Are They?

Genes are units of inheritance passed from generation to generation. Genes have encoded biological information that determines our physical traits and our bodily processes. They control various biological aspects of our lives, starting from eye color to earlobes to the ability to process lactose.

Genes are sections stored in our DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid), which in turn in stored in our body cells. A copy of DNA contains all the necessary genes, and they appear in the form of strands, hence gives us a double stranded DNA test just another term for DNA Helix.

your dna knows your performance

The DNA of two different people are never the same. Not even twins have the same exact DNA. Your DNA is what makes you different from everyone else and makes you – you!

The genes present in our DNA, and hence our cells, are essential because they provide information to make proteins in our body. However, often, genes can mutate and cause variations, which are called polymorphisms. These variations explain why some people are unable to digest gluten or are more susceptible to diabetes. These polymorphisms in genes can also explain why Andy Murray is so magnificent in tennis, or why some athletes can effortlessly run long distances.

Is Athletic Performance Encoded in Your DNA?

Yes, yes, it is! Scientific research has discovered several genes that can reflect your athletic prowess and skills.


DNA testing reveals that individuals either have a power or endurance bias, which determines if they are more-suited for high-intensity sports such as sprints or more endurance-dependent ones like marathons.

However, this bias does not suggest that you would be better in one form of sport than the other. Instead, it gives you information on the likelihood of your body to adapt and respond well to these forms of sports.

Many genes are directly associated with the skills of power athletes. One of the most common studies in genes for athletics is the ACE gene, which is responsible for the production of enzymes in cells that control our blood flow and blood pressure.

The conduction of numerous studies shows the presence of the D allele in the ACE gene is more common in sprinters and short-distance swimmers in Europe. The conclusion was that the presence of D allele strengthened the muscles of athletes, and enhanced their anaerobic performance.

The ACTN3 gene is a gene that is responsible for encoding a protein found in type 2 muscle fibers, and also has been closely linked with athletic performances. This gene is responsible for encoding proteins that allow for rapid, forceful muscle contractions – which can be important for power sports like sprinting and swimming. 

Studies have found an association of the absence of the XX genotype of the ACTN3 gene with better athletic performances in sports such as sprinting, track-and-field, and soccer.


Genes dominate the field of endurance sports as well. Much like how the D allele of the ACE gene can enhance power sports, the presence of the I allele, its counterpart, can play a vital role in endurance sports. The presence of I allele means a reduction in ACE activity, allowing for better respiration and oxygen levels.

Similarly, the PPARGC1A gene also plays a role in endurance training, being responsible for the production of mitochondria in muscle cells, which are the primary source of energy, and respiration in cells.

What This Means for You

Analyzing and understanding your DNA profile is essential, and it can help you reinforce your athletic abilities in several ways.

See  65 Super Interesting Facts About DNA to learn more.

scientist behind a bright double helix DNA

For example, DNA testing will reveal whether your DNA has a power or endurance bias, which can provide you valuable information on your adaptability to do different sports. 

The knowledge you obtain will also help you plan your fitness and exercise schedule, nutrition plan, and lifestyle – all of which are also crucial to perform at any sport.

Weight Lifting

If you’re DNA indicated that you lean strongly towards power sports, you can train yourself through high-intensity training programs such as substantial weight lifting programs such as deadlifts and bench presses, which help in rejuvenating your cardiovascular system.

Power training can also include exercise circuits that include pushups, squats, lunges, and burpees, which work up various sectors of your muscular system, strengthens your balance and improves your physical coordination. You can do short laps of sprinting and swimming, which will help with fresher blood flow and better aerobic capacity.

Soccer And Basketball

On the other hand, a strong endurance bias in your DNA will mean that you would be much more suited to low-intensity related sports that take place over a more extended period. These can include time-oriented sports such as soccer or basketball, or endurance-oriented ones such as rowing and triathlons.

Training for endurance sports can include running, cycling, or even yoga! Running improves the cardiovascular system and strengthens your muscles, whereas cycling is vital to the development of stamina. To complement both, add in a little bit of yoga – that can bring in flexibility to your body and harmony to your mind.

Final Thoughts

So Is athletic performance encoded in your DNA? The answer is absolutely YES!

DNA does play a significant role in determining our athletic performance and abilities. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that DNA testing is only a tool to help you towards your glory, not a prophecy. 

Proper DNA testing can help you work smarter in choosing the right fitness plan that can help you improve your athletic abilities. With motivation, discipline, and persistence, you can overcome even the most important genetic limitations, and show off your athletic skills to the world.

After reading this article, do you think that your athletic ability encoded in your DNA? I would love to hear from you. Please leave your questions and comments in the comment section below.

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8 thoughts on “Is Athletic Performance Encoded in Your DNA?”

  1. Hi Laura
    I totally know 100% athletic ability is something we are born with.
    I am adopted and had a love of tennis and was very good at it naturally which I found out came from from my Mother’s side
    On a sie note music came from her as well.
    A fabulous article and I wish you all the best
    So glad I get notifications

    • Hi Vicki, Yes, isn’t it incredible how we inherit traits, but it is not always an environment that develops it. Now it does play a role, but our genes are huge in who we are.
      You must have hit allow on the top dropdown so you get a notification of new articles I post. Thank you so much for subscribing.

  2. Hi Laura,

    Well, this is an interesting topic. I see science has already answered this question according to what I read, and I believe it personally. What I do wonder is if one parent is very physical while the other is not. What part does the child get? It looks like I have to go to your other post to find out more. It is bookmarked for now. I do wonder though how environmental factors can add to, or subtract from the DNA received from the parents. My father was a very physically active man, and so was his side of the family. My mother and her ancestors seemed to be less physically active. I do believe DNA does play a massive role in the type of person you turn out to be. I have four sisters and one brother, and I do think the physical aspect of DNA was handed d to me through my dad. A very thought-provoking article, and I will be looking forward to reading about the 65 super interesting facts about DNA.

    Best wishes,


    • Hi Michael, Thanks for dropping by. I am going to address the effects of the environment on your DNA. You may have received the gene from your dad that gives you motivation and increased activity. Still, if your parents discouraged this type of behavior, that would be an environmental influence. You would not have the support of your parents, and because of this may not have the motivation to work hard. Also, 99.9% of your DNA is like everyone else’s, and only 0.1% is unique to only you. An interesting fact from the “65 facts about DNA,” which is #38. 

  3. Thanks for sharing this excellent post. A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity, so yes, athletics can be encoded in our DNA if and only if there is a trait in the family history. If your DNA indicated that you lean strongly towards power sports, you could train yourself through high-intensity training programs such as substantial weight lifting programs such as deadlifts and bench presses, which help in rejuvenating your cardiovascular system. Genes carry codes of information. I’d recommend this article for anyone who wants to be an athlete.

    • You are right; athletic performance is encoded in our DNA. If a person had the right DNA to be an endurance trainer, but they did not want to do it, then they would not be the right person for competition. At the same time, if someone is a keen athlete and their DNA says they are not, do they quit? No, because they have the desire and the integrity to keep going. 

  4. That’s a great article. I must say that Athletic performance is encoded in my DNA, but it is your article that has made me realize that Athletic performance is encoded in my DNA. I love weight lifting. I am going to do the DNA test. I want to have more knowledge about my DNA and the nutrition that suites me best. Thanks so much for this! I found your article so useful.

    • Thank you. I am so happy you found value here that will help. Once we get your DNA results back, I will go over the results with you. I am sure you are as excited as I was when I had my testing done. I will be in touch with you soon. 


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