The genetic bell curve

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Dr. Michael Colgan, author of "Optimum Sports Nutrition" said, "As a part of biochemical individuality, people differ widely in their inherited tendencies to accumulate body fat." So true! In the world of bodybuilding and fitness, there are genetically gifted people who seem to just "touch" the weights and their muscles grow. (These are usually the same people who eat McDonalds every day and have ripped abs!)

When I was just a beginner in bodybuilding, seeing other people get results more easily than I did was always very frustrating. I was eating perfectly; pushing, working, struggling and straining with every bit of energy I could muster for every ounce of muscle I could get. Then one of these "genetic freaks" would come along and pass right by me, without even breaking a sweat. To add insult to injury, they were often training completely wrong and breaking every so-called "rule" in the book. When some of them took steroids on top of their hereditary gifts, their muscles literally exploded overnight! This goes to show just how widely people can differ in their ability to gain muscle and lose fat.

The law of averages dictates that the distribution of body types will always be statistically predictable. This phenomenon, called "the genetic bell curve," is very similar to the distribution of grades among students. 60% of students will receive passing grades (B's, C's and D's), 20% will fail, and 20% will get A's.

With body types, most people (about 60 % of the population by my estimate) are "genetically average." If you fall into this middle category, you will respond well and predictably to a properly constructed nutrition and exercise regimen. All it takes is starting and sticking to an exercise program and mastering the fundamental laws of nutrition. This includes all basic principles such as proper caloric intake, high meal frequency, balanced nutrient ratios, and smart food choices.

The 20% of the population on the right side of the curve represents the genetically above average. This lucky group will lose fat very quickly and easily, even if their nutrition and training isn't quite perfect. They seem to have more "leeway" (they can "get away with" fewer workouts and more cheat days). On the extreme right edge of the curve, you have the people who can eat chocolate and donuts all day long, they don't work out at all and they have "six-pack abs" These are the "genetically gifted," or as I affectionately call them, "the genetic freaks."

The final 20%, located on the left side of the curve, are the genetically below average. These people have a more difficult time losing fat and will need to work much harder and be more patient than others. The further to the left side of the genetic bell curve you are, the more difficult it will be to lose body fat. At the farthest edge, you will find a tiny handful of people who have an immensely difficult time getting lean. This tiny group is the "genetically disadvantaged."

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