If you were a lightie again, and had access to a DNA test that indicates what kind of physical exertion you’re more suited to, don’t you think it would be useful? You’d be able to determine whether you’re naturally physiologically suited to power/explosive type exercise/sport or endurance type exercise/sport. Whether, in mountain bike racing terms, you’re best suited to the intense, explosive nature of XCO or the steady, stamina-specific requirements of marathons. And whether you’re able to recover fast and therefore might be well suited to stage racing. – Sean Badenhorst
Well, there’s something like that available now. A company called DNAlysis, based in Joburg, but which operates nationally, makes public DNA testing possible (at a price of course). They approached me to see if I’d be interested in taking a DNA Fit (sports-specific) test, in exchange for some exposure in TREAD. I must admit, I was intrigued. Who wouldn’t be?
They sent me a testing kit, which required me to fill in some forms and do some swabbing of my inner cheek (facial cheek). I then had to post it all back to them. Pretty anti-climactic and non-invasive. I had pictured having blood drawn by a sports scientist in a special laboratory…
After a couple of weeks my results were ready. Here’s what the summary said:
“According to your genetic make-up, you may be more likely to excel at mixed power and endurance sports. Your training programme should be mostly focussed towards moderate and high intensity exercise. For optimal training results, you require a short recovery between exercise sessions. You may be at high risk of tendon injury, so consider including a large amount of prehabilitative conditioning in your training programme.”
This result summary intrigued me more. All I had told them was that I was a mountain biker. I’d not given the DNAlysis people any information about my athletic preferences, nor my strengths and weaknesses. But the summary was pretty damn spot-on.
At the age of 42 and having competed pretty damn seriously in bicycle-based sports for three decades, I’ve got to know myself pretty well. I’ve learned that I’m better at short steep climbs than long steady climbs; that my best performances have been in events lasting less than three hours; that I’m at my best when I’m training on the bike AND in the gym (but like significantly better than with no gym); and that I have a tendency to develop tendon injuries quite easily.
All of that confirms the DNAlysis summary. The report they sent me then went into a lot more detail to explain a whole bunch of things including:
- I’m likely to excel at mixed power/endurance sports – 44% power/56% endurance
- I’m at a high risk of picking up soft-tissue injury, particularly tendonitis
- Likely to recover fast from hard exercise
Then, based on my DNAlysis and in conjunction with a professional sports coach, they’ve given me recommendations for the following:
- A suggested training and recovery pattern/plan to follow that includes my main form of exercising (riding bikes) and also supplementary, or as they call it, prehabilitation, exercise.
- Suggested foods to eat/avoid
- Suggested mineral and vitamin supplements to consider adding to my diet
Would I recommend a DNAlysis to anyone? Yes, but only to people in their late teens/early 20s and also men and women that have only got into sport late in life. All of those people could save themselves a lot of time and effort by being informed in terms of where their strengths and weaknesses lie. It’s also useful for professional sports coaches for obvious reasons.
I asked a couple of people whose opinions on such matters I respect. One said he felt it might limit an athlete with a pre-conceived notion that he/she can’t do something better because his/her DNA says so. “It doesn’t measure passion and desire,” he said. “Two of the most important elements required for athletic success.”
The other said he felt that it might just be a more efficient way to achieve one’s goals assuming passion and desire are in no doubt. “Think how much time you’d save if your DNA result leaned heavily towards power-based sports,” he said. “It’s a bit like seeing into the future…”
The cost of the DNA Fit test is *R2 950. For more information, visit www.dnalysis.co.za
*Originally published in TREAD Issue 22, 2013 – All rights reserved