genetics + epigenetics

This is part 6 of a 6-part series by Palmer Shape and discusses the genetics + epigenetics aspect of periodization.

If you’ve been following along on our Periodization Series… you probably thought this topic could not possibly become any nerdier. Wrong! Alas, we present the final segment of the series: Genetics + Epigenetics = Secret Code!

Say what? A secret code? Yes– this is like taking the red pill. Understanding genetics + epigenetics is like truly diving deep into one’s own self to manipulate outcomes, if you will.

Genetics is a branch of biology that deals with the heredity and variation of organisms. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in the gene function that do NOT involve changes in the DNA sequence.

So, what exactly does all of this mumbo jumbo mean and what about this “secret code?”



To borrow a well-known marketing phrase…”Maybe she’s born with it, Maybe it’s Maybelline.”

Genetics = Born with it

Epigenetics = Maybelline (aka factors influencing outcome)

So, there are genetics, basically what you are born with and then you have epigenetics. With epigenetics, you can wake up certain components within a period of training and put to sleep certain components at any given time.

Understanding epigenetics through periodization is the ultimate key to peaking and not peaking, and having certain areas of the body fire on all cylinders while the ones you worked out the other day take a rest.

As we discussed previously in this series, an actual adaptation to periodization takes 6-8 weeks with the proper training program, involving specific super sets and reps to allow your genetic component to adjust to proper adaptations.

Truly taking a long-term approach to the planning of one’s season and providing the greater adaptation windows can only benefit an athlete. However, taking the added bonus of potential epigenetic influences into account gives you all the tools to elevate your performances. These can consist of such things like nutrition, hydration, quality and habits of sleep, stress, mental health, recovery (massage, foam rolling, cryotherapy, etc…).



Once all of this is put together, an athlete should see a relation to proper planning, or planning by the seat of your pants.  Some fitness professionals will do this for you, some may not. It’s absolutely always something I consider in establishing programming for athletes.



There is a reason some of your top-tier athletes could be looked at as having extremely rigid plans. Where the way to look at it is this: structure in your life is necessary to compete at the highest level you desire. Once an athlete makes this kind of commitment, everything matters!! Hence the true benefit of epigenetics: the added bonus in your genetic code. Your third eye…. Knowing your body. This ultimately is the secret code.

Knowing proper nutrition that works for you, your personal necessary amount of sleep, how to deal with stress, work, providing for your loved ones. Everything, I mean everything, plays a role in you being able to display your best performance.



Take notes, hire professionals, talk with other athletes and their experiences, do research. Do what you have time for, but lean on professionals for the rest. We are professionals in this arena for a reason! We want to help, we want you to improve and not break the bank doing so. In my heart, this is what I am meant to do: share my passion and knowledge with you and help you become the best version of your fit self.








Prior articles in this series:

About the Author:

Palmer Shape holds a B.S. in Physiology and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist designation (CSCS). Palmer Shape is equipped with over a decade of competition experience, having coached and trained hundreds of high school, college, and professional athletes, including obstacle course racers. A hurdler by nature, he is no stranger to overcoming obstacles quickly and efficiently. His passion, combined with scientific knowledge and data, have helped hundreds of athletes take their training to the next level, often reaching podium spots or winning coveted titles. You can follow him on Instagram at @Palmer_Shape

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