What Makes an Athlete Elite

The 3 Main Factors That Set An Elite Athlete Apart From The Mainstream.

30 Sep, 2021




We have all been wowed by the athletic ability of our elite athletes recently. Oozing passion and determination and showcasing a mind and body that’s capable of the seemingly impossible, it’s got us thinking about the characteristics that make an athlete elite? Is it down to genetics or is it a combination of mental and physical toughness?

The Essential Mix

There are three main components that set an elite athlete apart from the mainstream. The first is genetics – if you win the genetic lottery, you will automatically be propelled into a different class of sportsperson. The second element is environment – having the conditions, habits, and resources available to take your abilities to the next level. The final element is mental resilience – being mentally tough enough to get through the rigorous training, deal with setbacks, and, in the cases of the most gifted, to win gold.


Have you noticed that some people seem like they were born to run marathons and others to lift weights? Of course, proper nutrition and training can take you so far, but you cannot out-train your genetic make-up. Some people have genetic attributes that make them ideally suited for endurance sports, whereas it’s power exercises for others.

This genetic lottery will mean some automatically move into a higher class of ability, from a physiological point of view. Someone who possesses the genes to have a lean but muscular frame will naturally be better at sprinting than someone who is born heavier and with shorter limbs. Genetics have a part of play in stamina, the ability and speed of recovery, and also the risk of getting injured.

Mental Resilience

The ability to endure and tough it out is arguably one of the most valuable attributes a pro athlete can have. This ability to power through, to believe in oneself, and to overcome setbacks separates the winners from the losers. Some research has suggested that more than 50% of athletic success can be attributed to this mindset. An elite athlete shows determination despite challenges and possesses remarkable focus in high-stress environments. What we see onscreen or watching live is only the surface – what’s going on inside these pro athletes’ heads is the key to their success.

Discover Your Potential

Are you curious about whether you have a hidden predisposition for greatness at sport and fitness? At myDNA, we analyze your DNA to give you tailored, accurate data on how to work best with your biological make-up. This can inform your nutritional requirements in terms of fat burning, fat storage and weight, appetite, and body size, and give insights into your fitness such as whether you are more genetically predisposed to power or endurance sports. You will also receive detailed analysis on your risk of injury, your stamina profile and recovery.

You are unique and one size does not fit all, as you probably already know. Our bespoke insights will allow you to achieve the best results possible with what nature has given you. Excited to know more? Check out our myDNA memberships to find out what you were born to do.

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