A simple cheek swab can help you find a more effective workout for your body.
The ability to build muscle lies in your genes. Specifically, people with the R version of the ACTN3 gene are more likely to develop fast-twitch muscle fibres with the right training, making them better at generating short bursts of strength or speed, such as in sprints. Studies have also shown that the R version of the gene leads to increased growth of muscle mass when strength training. Those without the R version of the gene would need to tweak their workouts in order to build muscle. For example, lifting moderately heavy weights for longer sets, and increasing their protein intake.
Sophisticated lab tests that were once reserved for professional athletes have now gone mainstream, with new companies offering fuss-free DNA test kits that can essentially tell you if your body is built for endurance sports or heavy lifting, and give you instructions on changing your lifestyle habits for better health – all with a simple cheek swab.
How DNA test kits work
The process is simple. It begins by picking up a test kit in-store or ordering it online and have it sent to your home. For saliva tests, take a saliva sample using the swab provided, and mail it back to the company for testing. The advice you get back is what differs between companies, as each has its own method for translating your results into a plan of action.
Are they legit?
According to Dr Rehal Bhojani, a family and sports medicine specialist at the Memorial Herman Medical Group in Sugar Land, Texas, it is worth having testing done to unearth any obstacles to your training and make appropriate adjustments to your workout regimen. Always read the small print and check the testing companies’ websites for the qualifications of their experts. Ask for studies that support the recommendations you receive, and don’t hesitate to get a second opinion from your doctor on any results that concern you.
Dive deep into your body’s blueprint and find out how you can boost your athletic performance and more by taking one of these DNA tests:
Best for: Everyday exercisers who want tips on leading a healthier lifestyle, be it fitness or nutrition
Price: From $135
Where to buy: Guardian
Available exclusively at Guardian, DNAcode offers a standard test kit that provides a detailed report on your weight loss ability, how well your body responds to strength training, and which vitamins you are lacking. You can then take these results to a Guardian pharmacist, who will be able to recommend supplements that will work best for your genetic makeup.
Best for: People with specific weight loss or fitness goals
Price: $89 to $399
Where to buy: GeneLife
GeneLife offers packages that focus on various health aspects, including analysis on your metabolism, skin traits, risk of heart conditions, and muscle type, by targeting three genes. For a more comprehensive look at your health, but with a bigger price tag, GeneLife Genesis 2.0 ($399) tests more than 360 traits, including acne, Vitamin D insufficiency and bone mineral density from 1,400 DNA-sequences to give you an in-depth report comprising all of the above.
Best for: Those looking for recommended plans to reach their fitness, nutrition or skin goals
Where to buy: GNC
The 32 insights from ONI Global’s DNA-me sheds light on your potential for lean body mass, stress fracture risk, the effectiveness of a low-carb diet, and whether your skin has an antioxidant deficiency. A personalised list of recommendations and products aimed at boosting health, well-being, athletic performance and skin health are also provided in the report.
Best for: The fitness junkie looking to train smart with a personalised workout regime
Price: From $99
Where to buy: Fitlion
ELXR Sports analyses your ACTN3 gene to uncover if your muscle fibres are best suited for power-based sports, endurance activities, or a hybrid. The kit is part of mobile app ELXR’s subscription-based training programme, where your genetic makeup, together with sports assessments, are used to design a workout regime that’s optimised for you.