Beyond Bodybuilding: Other Sports That Rely On Genetics For Success

How much of an edge do genetics give you?

Any true bodybuilding aficionado will tell you that bodybuilding is as much about genetic gifts as it is about hard, hard work. Why do you think all the greats tell you that only a few people can actually do well in this sport. Does that mean work ethic? Of course. Does that mean your biological make up? You bet your ass it does. Supplementation is only going to get you so far before you reach a limit. The sad truth is, some people can get way farther with hard work based solely on their genetic make up. But do other sports’ athletes rely on good genetics as much as bodybuilding? We take a look.


Do you think Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James all made it to the NBA because of their talent? Hell yeah. But, that’s not the only thing that brought them to the top of the sport. Basketball is traditionally a sport filled with giants with the agility and dexterity to bounce and control a ball while also shooting it into a small hole. Half of that is skill for sure, but half is genetics. There are very few five feet ┬átall men that will be making waves in the NBA. As much as bodybuilding, basketball is a sport that talent isn’t enough to succeed at the highest level. Of course there will be the occasional Muggsy Bogues – but stars like him are exceptions to the rule. Odds are if you’re a short person, you’re not going to make it into the top tier of the NBA without ten times the amount of hard work that all the giants put in.


Here’s where the argument gets a bit interesting. If you take a Floyd Mayweather or a Manny Pacquiao you’ll see that both men possess genetic gifts that many other boxers don’t possess. But when it comes to the fight, game skill and talent can outweigh natural ability, particularly if natural talents don’t work hard. Mayweather isn’t unbeaten because he has inborn punching power. It’s his mastery of defense that makes things play in his favor.


Now many people may be surprised about this, but mixed martial arts more than boxing has a lot to do with a genetics. MMA has weight classes just like boxing as well, but the major difference is the amount. In boxing you’re always five pounds shy of competing in another weight division. MMA on the other hand has ten, fifteen, even twenty pound gaps between weights. If you’re too small for one division, but will have to cut off a leg to make a lower division, then chances are you were unlucky to be born in that weird dead zone. Success in MMA can be as simple as being physically capable of fighting in the proper weight class. But you won’t get anywhere without talent in the first place.


Another sport that requires some freaky genetics, most football players are physical monsters. When’s the last time you’ve seen a 140 pound defensive lineman take to the field? Maybe in the early days when men weren’t genetic freaks. Nowadays the defensive line is filled with 300 pound monsters that will shut your lights off with one good tackle. Part of it is bulking, but a vast majority has to do with the fact that your body has the ability to grow that large.

Bodybuilding isn’t the only sport that requires god given talent. Hard work and dedication is always a must, but that extra added push will always be a major deciding factor.


What other sports do you think require great genetics to be at the top? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.


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