DNA analysis could help improve your workout: study

By Edward Baran LONDON (Reuters) - A new study suggests that athletes using DNA-matched training improved their performance almost three times more than those on mismatched programs. The study, published in Biology of Sport and conducted at the University of Central Lancashire, reviewed the performance of 28 young sportsmen and 39 young male soccer players over eight weeks. Reigning British Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford has also used the genetically guided information from the training test used in the study, DNAFit, as he prepares to go for gold in Rio. DNAFit screens gene variants linked to a body's response to training and nutrition and presents users with a detailed report based on their swab test results, which come back from the lab within ten days. The technology uses computer algorithms to decipher how to best train the body based on an individual's genetics. A panel of gene variants gauges an athlete's potential for development of power or endurance qualities, based on existing scientific literature. The results are used to show the user whether he would respond better to high or low intensity resistance training and how sensitive he is to carbohydrates, alcohol, salt and saturated fats. The company says it is already being used by several elite athletes and English Premier League football clubs. Rutherford said recent doping scandals to have hit athletics mean it's vital to use all the science available to help boost performance naturally. "The sport is facing a lot of challenges at the moment with doping scandals and revelations coming out but ultimately my belief system is that everyone can be great and what you need to do is go in depth to find out how you train best, how you recover best and how you do everything to the best of your ability and DNA testing I think is the future of that," he said. Half the participants in the study were given training programs matched to their personal genetic analysis -- high intensity for those with a power bias, low intensity for those with an endurance bias. The remaining subjects were mismatched -- those with more power were given low intensity training and those with more endurance, high intensity. None of the subjects or trainers knew whether their program was matched or not. After eight weeks, those whose training had been matched to their genetic analysis improved their counter movement jump test results by 7.4 per cent, compared to 2.6 per cent in the mismatched group. Similarly, in a three-minute aerobic cycle test, those who trained to their genetic analysis saw a 6.2 per cent improvement, compared to 2.3 per cent for the others. Since taking the DNAFit test in May, Rutherford has used his results to inform his training regime. The company behind the test says it's not yet possible to quantify how much using their test has improved Rutherford's performance as compared to before, but it has made a real difference to his training. "It isn't particularly quantifiable, however what is quantifiable is that we now know that Greg is doing the best lifts he has done in the gym in terms of the work he's doing, there's an extra level of confidence which an athlete, in this case Greg will have, because he knows that certain genetic components are linked to things that he's suspected in the past and therefore you get an additional level of confidence by doing genetic based training," said CEO of DNAFit Avi Lasarow. The company says it's not just elite athletes who can benefit from DNA-matched training -- they say the average gym goer can also use it to help improve their performance and it's now available to buy at a major UK chain of fitness centers. "I think it just gives you that kind of edge in terms of your training progressing forward. As we know many people hit plateaus in training so just to give you that head start, kick start I have found it worked well with my clients and they have definitely added a bit more impetus into their training," said personal trainer David Castro-Pearson, who has been using the tests on some of his clients in London for six months. The DNAFit test is available to buy from £99 (140 USD).