How Do Genetics Play A Role In Muscle Building?

Posted on July 27th, 2020 by Caitlyn Miller

Many people focus on their nutrition and fitness, but still struggle with meeting their goals. This could be due to them not specifically training and eating in line with their genetics. Our genetics predetermine numerous factors about us, why not our muscle growth/loss and metabolism? 

Table of Contents 

  1. Muscle Growth
  2. Muscle Decline 
  3. Are genes completely dependent on growth/loss?
  4. Gene testing 
  5. Training Based On Genotype 

Muscle Growth

There are currently 47 known genes that cause easier muscle growth for the individuals that carry these 47 genes. To name a few are, Fst, Gnas, and Mmp9 (1). When someone who carriers these genes and adds resistance training into the equation, this causes significant results to their physique and strength. This is not to say that someone who does not have these genes are not able to grow muscle. This person will just have to train harder and eat more to make the same gains as someone who has the specific “muscle growing” genes.

Muscle Decline 

Genes can also cause decline of muscle tissue and strength. The Mstn gene is one of these genes. Mstn is known to restrain the growth of muscle. There is a Mstn mutation that can occur that does cause an increase in muscle size, however DOES NOT cause an increase in muscle strength. Someone who has these muscle declining genes will have to work 10x harder than someone who has the muscle growing genes. This person will have to eat more and probably take supplements to increase their chance of increasing muscle mass and strength. 

Are genes completely dependent on muscle growth?

You can still make gains even if you do not have the exact genes for it. You will just have to train harder and watch your diet a little closer than others to see results. Unless someone has a serious genetic disorder, they will be able to out train and out eat their genes. A person that is lacking the muscle growth genes, they will need to train AT LEAST twice as much as someone with the growth genes. They will also need to eat way more than someone who is also lacking the growth genes. When I say eat more, I mean more healthy whole foods, not junk. One should make sure they are eating a decent amount of protein, carbs, and fat each meal. 

Gene Testing 

Genetic testing can help individuals use their results to their advantage. They can utilize different training methods and modify their eating habits. Gene testing can reveal if one has the enhanced weight loss genotype, their body composition genes, and testosterone levels.

Training Based On Genotype 

If you take the genotype test and get your results back, you will be one more step closer to narrowing down your specific training type. Depending on your genotype, there will be a specific training and nutrition method that your body will respond more effectively to. Some may respond better to higher-intensity workouts than lower-intensity. Some may respond better to resistance training, while others may respond better to a mixture of resistance and cardio training. I will say this, no matter what your genotype, you should be strength training at least twice as week. 

What are your thoughts about genetics and muscle growth?


  1. Verbrugge, S. A., Schönfelder, M., Becker, L., Yaghoob Nezhad, F., Hrabě de Angelis, M., & Wackerhage, H. (2018, May 22). Genes Whose Gain or Loss-Of-Function Increases Skeletal Muscle Mass in Mice: A Systematic Literature Review. Retrieved July 11, 2020, from

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