Great first part to a blog series by Scott Abel: This is part one, in a three part Blog series I am doing on examining genetics and what it really means. This part is an outline for thinking in more clear terms. Part two and three will use real world examples to make my points as well. There are many “dirty little secrets” in this industry. I try to politely expose them here and there whenever I can. But like the old saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished.” There are also many realities in terms of human physiology that no one wants to address. The so-called “experts” and “coaches” who make their money training people for competition certainly don’t want to spell out the truth in many cases. It would cost them money, they think. But I think and I know the truth is a very freeing concept. So I would like to address the concept of “genetics” in a different plane that very few people address. Some of you will get it; many of you will not. There is an old saying in athletics, it goes, “great athletes are born, not made.” Now in to my fourth decade training people from all walks of life I can tell you this is certainly true. But it’s true for “great athletes.” It certainly doesn’t mean the rest of the world can’t make huge strides if the proper principles are applied to their physiques or sports-focus over time. But let’s look at this more generally, using “Figure Competition” as an example. Because the truth is I get tired of picking up the pieces of other people’s terrible mistakes year after year, chasing a dream that is, in reality, unreasonable. Everyone talks about classic genetics in the physique game. And yes this is indeed true. For Figure and for most aesthetic looking physiques we talk about the classic X-frame. I’ve never liked that term. Regardless, here is the truth. Physically speaking, being suited for Figure means having fairly wide clavicles and a very narrow pelvis. Let’s stop there for just a moment shall we. Never mind that nature prefers women to have wider pelvic girth as an evolutionary “tweak” in order to better ensure the propagation of the species. So this is step one, which already leaves most people out in real terms. No training is going to counter act clavicle width or pelvic girth. Then, there is the matter of having specific anatomical leverage in order to “cap” those delts on the wide clavicles. Next, in terms of physique is high glutes. This usually goes hand in hand with a narrow pelvis but not always. To be any good in Figure competition means not having “bucket butt” or “gravity butt.” And yet for most women, most of the time a wider pelvis will usually mean a derriere or booty that will spread out and drop, more so than round out, but not widen. You can read all the “Glutes” articles you want in Oxygen magazine and it doesn’t change this genetic proclivity. Over decades this natural tendency is even harder to avoid. This is the reality in terms of the genetics of being physique-ally blessed to compete at figure. And I haven’t even addressed thigh to hip ratio, calves etc. Of course, I could easily go on in more depth about this but the physical genetics is not so much what concerns me. Suffice it to say, just because someone may not have a genetic proclivity to compete in Figure, does not mean they cannot sculpt a great physique worthy of envy in pretty much any other setting. I’ve helped many beautiful women sculpt their bodies and use this to be successful in other realms. Had these same ladies competed in Figure they would have probably had average or acceptable results. But not competing in Figure, allowed them to pursue other avenues, as well as having a great body by EVERY other acceptable world standard. The Genetics No One Wants to Talk About But here below is what I really want to address, mostly because the nonsense surrounding it is getting crazier and crazier each and every year. See, the above is the “genetics” factor everyone can see. But what about the genetics that matter even more, that people can’t see. There is such a thing as “metabolic genetics” as well. Does anyone even address the metabolic genetics of a wannabe competitor? Do coaches/trainers/competitors assess whether the people’s metabolisms are resilient enough to handle to the rigors of contest dieting; especially over and over again? And what about handling the rigors of improper contest dieting; is anyone addressing if they have the metabolic “stuff” for that? Do they even know how? Metabolic resilience is a real term. It refers to the human physiology’s capacity to bounce back from a diet dilemma of a specific sort: in this case competition preparation. But I don’t like so much coining terms like this. When I coined the term “metabolic damage” some years ago, wannabe experts, and worse, internet marketers, pounced on it as a way to make money. Most of them to this day have no concept of the phenomenon, or how to treat it. But that doesn’t seem to matter these days. Just use fancy words and make promises on the internet and you will scoop some people for sure. But I digress. See, most people do not have resilient enough metabolism for Figure competition. The truth is when many ladies take their bodies too far below their own set points for comfortable weight loss, the body will rebel over the longer term. Thus, the “competitor” gets fatter because of the competition experience, and can no longer maintain even their “balanced” weight before they ever even thought of competing. And I’ve written enough about this in the past that people can go to previous articles to look at the scary details of this process. Metabolic resilience is reflected in the genetics of lasting champions, the ones held out for all of you to emulate. You see, their metabolisms are unique. Their metabolisms are resilient. That doesn’t mean if you train and diet like they do, you will achieve similar or lasting results. It could in fact be a recipe for long term disaster. But on the “rah, rah, rah,” nonsense of the cheerleading competitor boards, no one wants to talk about this reality. So, post contest, and past competitors suffer in silence. And often the person to truly blame is the “guru” who puts people under unreasonable training and diet regimens, without assessing if they even have the genetics to endure it. It is after all, all about “representing” in this era. What a joke! (Allow me to rant on this for a minute or two) See, Gurus these days look to success by quantity not quality. Known Gurus with established reputations, (another complete joke to me) can enter 15 or more girls in one show and hope for the best. The ones that do well will be held out to “represent” those methods. Those that don’t do as well, we just don’t talk about them. So maybe Guru Gus puts 15 competitors in a contest. Five do really well and represent. One or two don’t even make it to the show, because the one size fits all regimen, nearly destroyed them. But they don’t win or represent, so we don’t talk about them. The others that place in the middle, well the Guru has at least got their money and overall, through everyone at the show, the Guru’s name gets bounced around and he/she wins all around. Great gig if you can get it. You never have to be responsible for the physiques and metabolisms you ruin, and you get to be known as an expert, without anyone every being smart enough to mention this stuff. Well, I mention it. I’ve had enough of it. And just by comparison, this past year I had only one girl in Nationals. She won two classes and the overall and the pro card. The next week, I had one girl in the world qualifier and she won her class there. Two years ago, I had one girl in Junior Nationals in the US, Desiree Walker and she walked away with a class win and a pro card: The year before she was 10th out of 15. (More on this next Blog) So, I like my percentages of quality over quantity. And I don’t care about who “represents.” Grow up for crying out loud! What my clients know to be true is what separates me from other coaches/trainers. You see I don’t care about your goals to drop 10 lbs or to win such and such a contest. I don’t care about THAT, at all. But the difference is, I care that you care. It is not about the result; it is about the person. So many people write me after their show; because their trainers have left them twisting in the wind now that the contest is over and they are gaining weight. Say what? This is expertise? This is responsibility. No. This is nonsense. Ok, that was a long rant, but it’s a blog, so I’m allowed to go off on a tangent here and there. The point is who is assessing the unseen genetics? Who is assessing a reasonable goal from an unreasonable one? Who is assessing what is best for long term metabolic cooperation; which is way more important than short term weight loss or a trophy. Here are a few clues to look for: 1) If you have to go weeks without carbs, and without energy for life, you should not be competing. 2) If you have to do hours of cardio, even in the off-season you are being mis-guided by people who clearly do not understand the basics of energy systems and exercise physiology. 3) If your “before” contest pictures, and “in-contest” pictures look like two different people, you are surely damaging your metabolism. This isn’t an achievement to be applauded, it’s a warning sign. If your post-contest pictures, say 4 months post contest, looks like a different person, this is also a bad sign.