The latest trait to be added to the FitnessGenes collection, mitochondrial biogenesis, will be a particular focus for our coaches when constructing your truly specific training plan.

Mitochondrial biogenesis is the enlargement and growth of new mitochondrial components or the division of existing mitochondria to generate more mitochondria. 

Mitochondria is crucial to endurance athletes as it’s the part of the cell which is responsible for producing energy through the generation of ATP. 

Our ability to increase our mitochondrial content and create more energy therefore allows us to sustain repeated muscle contraction over a longer period of time – which is clearly a very useful adaptation when looking to build cycling endurance. 

The trait looks specifically at the production of PGC-1α. When released, this protein activates genes that in turn produce various proteins to stimulate the growth and production of mitochondria.

Your individual production of PGC-1α is influenced by which variation of the PGC1A gene you carry. Those with the GG genotype have been found to produce high levels of PGC-1α, whilst the AA genotype is associated with low PGC-1α production. 

The process of increasing the number and size of Mitochondria is normally achieved through prolonged periods of exercise in what is known as the ‘endurance zone’ (AKA Zone 2). 

By understanding your personal PGC-1α activity, this allows our coaches to gather an understanding of your endurance ability as an athlete. This will then be combined with the demands of the event or goal that is being targeted to decide the optimal training focus and volume.

Your coach will use this information to target changes in diet and recovery techniques to optimise the production of PGC-1α. For example, introducing morning training sessions which are completed with low muscle glycogen levels. These conditions have been found to enhance the expression of the genes that regulate mitochondrial biogenesis and improve overall endurance performance. 

As predominantly endurance-based athletes, cyclists and triathletes would see a huge benefit from the changes a Spokes performance coach could make to help stimulate this process as part of your training.

You could optimise your endurance performance with a free consultation to make sure that you have your PGC-1α proteins levels optimised to meet your cycling and triathlon goals!