Yes, some people are non responders to exercise while some are “super” responders. A recent study looked at 1000 people put on the same exercise program. The results, which I discuss in this vid, may shock you!
This is a very interesting area of research. We all know people who do the same exercise as we do, yet either don’t seem to benefit much, or benefit far more than we might expect. Having trained hundreds at this point and or communicated with many thousands more, I have seen that first hand.
Studies for decades have found most people being studied respond in a similar manner to various forms of exercise, yet there’s always been outliers who didn’t respond well (or at all) or respond well beyond average or expected.
But why that was the case was never clear. Well, that’s been looked at more closely, and what’s been found, is there’s a small % of people who are indeed “non responders” to exercise and a small % of people who are “super responders” to exercise, with most (approx 80-90%) being “normal” type responders depending on which studies you look at.
Of particular importance to the issue is modern genetic testing has actually narrowed down small group of genes “non responders” carry.
Seems pretty common sense really, but up until recently, why some respond very little to the exact same protocol others will respond well to (as measured by improvements in VO2max, strength, and other metrics) has not been well understood and put down to flaws in the study, to voodoo.
But, the effect was simply too consistent to be explained by any reasons given and something of a mystery. We now have those answers.
One study worth looking at is the The HERITAGE Family Study, specifically, as it relates to this topic, the Genetics, Response to Exercise, Risk Factors segment of this huge data set.
An interesting write up for non science types was in the NY Times Health Science section called The Workout Enigma.
There’s more Qs than answers to all this to be sure*, but, a clear picture is emerging as to the essential role of genetics in how people respond to exercise that will yield very useful info in the future such as specific tests** to tell you where people fall on the spectrum as well as which sports/activities they may be best suited for (genetically speaking) and given time and tech improvements, even actual changes to those genes.
* = Yes, some supp company will come out with ultra-gene-fixing-non responder-juice at some point, but don’t fall for that
** = several companies have emerged offering tests now but their accuracy is questionable and seems to range considerably in price and quality, so do your homework before proceeding.