Analysis of your genes can provide a shortcut to finding your ideal training programme.
Access to state of the art science is helping everyday athletes answer intriguing questions about training and performance. DNA testing is providing a deeper level of understanding about the types of workouts and events for which cyclists are best suited.
So if you’ve ever wondered whether you’re predisposed physiologically and psychologically to sprint or endurance challenges, or to one type of training or another, the answer may lie in your genes.
A DNA test identifies those training methods to which you will best respond naturally, how much recovery time you will need to get the best out of yourself, whether you are prone to soft tissue injuries and the volume of work required to develop a high endurance capacity.
By combining this information with an analysis of the type of athlete you are today, you can start to unravel the classic nature vs nurture argument, says cycling coach and trainer Dan Small from Mountain Goat Coaching.
“Take, for example, a cyclist who has an extremely powerful acceleration (an impressive sprint in cycling terms) but in contrast lacks endurance,” he says. “Does this mean the rider was genetically born to be a sprinter and has no hope of high endurance performance?
Using traditional coaching methods, it would be all too easy to assume that this rider is genetically predisposed to become a sprinter. But could the opposite be true? The answer is that it’s actually more likely than you might think.”
DNA analysis pinpoints the sort of workouts, recovery and nutrition to which a cyclist is genetically predisposed to respond.
“In the past, it took years of trial and error to map a rider’s responsiveness to different training methods and patterns,” says Small.
“But by harnessing the information revealed by DNA and combining physiological and psychological analysis it is now possible to accelerate the process and produce individually tailored training programmes with a completely new level of accuracy and within a startlingly short timescale.”
With everyone’s DNA unique, there’s no single training plan to suit every rider.
“There are many ways to train for a specific cycling event but only some will be effective for each individual,” explains Small.
“We use a combination of the physiological adaptations required for the chosen event and a map of the individual’s training responsiveness. To fully map someone’s training responsiveness we analyse lots of pieces of information that are like jigsaw pieces, and each piece is unique to the rider.”
These other pieces include a rider’s physiological performance, based on power and heart rate testing, a psychometric assessment and lifestyle analysis.
“A training programme developed without all the pieces of the jigsaw may still provide good results, possibly great results if by chance you are one of the lucky ones who happens to respond well to the methods used in the given programme. However, using a complete jigsaw will create a picture of how to reach your individual potential without leaving it to chance,” says Small.
* A rider profile, including DNA anaylsis, costs £375 from biometric.bike