Jumping Muscles and Genetics: Do You Have to Be MJ’s Son to Dunk?
If I had a nickel for every time after watching a dunk, someone remarked, “It’s his genetics, man,” I would have a dollar. But seriously, how many times have you heard someone boil down an athletic achievement to genetics? Not only is it annoying, but it’s not true, as well as disrespectful to the athlete who put in hours and hours of work in the gym. Genetics (height, body build, etc.) of course can provide someone with an advantage over others. However, it is not the primary factor for achieving an athletic feat. This is especially true when it comes to jumping high and dunking!
So let’s talk about the genetic factors that can give someone a natural advantage for dunking.
- Height – If you are 10 feet tall, you should be able to dunk without jumping. Height is an obvious factor that can make dunking a lot easier. The closer you are vertically to the rim, the easier it should be to dunk. Even so, many tall people can’t dunk.
- Body Build – If you are naturally lean, you have less weight to carry in the air, so the easier dunking should be. In addition to weight, the length of your arms is a big booster. Some short people have longer arms than taller people, which actually makes them “taller” in terms of being able to dunk.
- Muscles – There are 2 categories of muscle fibers: Fast twitch and Slowtwitch. Fast twitch fibers are helpful for explosive movements such as sprinting, and our favorite, jumping. Slow twitch fibers are used for endurance activities, such as long-distance running. We all have both, but some individuals are predisposed to having more of one type of fiber. This is why some people may train for jumping at a faster rate than others; they naturally have a higher ratio of fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fibers. However, unlike height and body build, the type of muscle fibers you possess is not strictly genetic. You can alter the ratio of fibers simply by training in specific ways in the gym.
So now that we’ve discussed the genetic factors that can give you an advantage for dunking, here’s the truth behind dunking. Of the 3 factors listed, muscle fiber ratio is the most important one for dunking. And, as stated, this is the aspect that you can alter! How? By following a jump program that specifically trains and stresses your body to develop more fast twitch fibers, and less slow twitch ones. This process increases your vertical leap, which is the single greatest factor in determining if someone can dunk or not.
The next time someone says, “It’s their genetics, man,” ask that person if they can dunk. I guarantee they can’t. People who use ignorant statements like that are using such cliché phrases as excuses for not putting in the work to actually be able to dunk themselves. When it comes to jumping high, genetics may be the difference between a world class jumper and a normal high flyer, but the point is that anyone can dunk. Regardless of your “genetics,” if you train your body consistently to jump high, you can achieve your goal.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our FREE Jump Booster Guide here to start increasing your vertical leap TODAY.