Ask: What is genetic, what is not?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 15, 2013 at 4:12 AM

We are our genes, but our genes are not our fate. As a paleo community we tend to concern ourselves greatly with our natural heritage, our predispositions and our gene expressions. We are very interested in bringing out the best of what we are and minimizing the worst of what we can be. Some things we can change, some things we can effect and some things we are just left holding the bag with and must work our hardest to live with.

As such, I think it would be useful to start an ongoing discussion for demystifying what is and is not genetic. Examples of topics are physique, strength, disease, diet tolerance, diet preference and so on. When looking to improve oneself it is helpful to know what, if any, of your handicaps, or strengths, are. Is it really genetic? Is that just a bunk excuse from people who don't want to deal with it? Somewhere in-between? It can be an extremely useful thing to have this knowledge, either as a motivator to get going on your goals or to save you the agony and disappointment of experimenting with what your body is not meant to become or do.

My Question - Male Physique:

The Adonis belt. Apollo's belt. Sex lines. Whatever you've heard them called we've all seen them. That aesthetically desired ridge of musculature that loops around the waist and curves down towards the pubic region. It is hugely common, I would almost say mandatory, in many of the male sex appeal models that we see. I believe women can get it too, although it doesn't seem to be as much of a goal for them as men. I have heard so much postulation about genetics role in its appearance in men but no real conclusion or actual reasoning/proof. People either say:


It's all on you. Keep working, get a low enough body fat percentage and some muscle and it will come.


It's genetic. While you still need a low enough body fat percentage for it to appear, if you are not genetically predisposed for that shape of musculature then it will just never show up.


A mixture. Any male can get it BUT some can get the belt at higher body fat percentages while others need to work to get lower. The lucky bastards.

Do any of you folks any particular insight on the matter? Personal experiences or anecdotes?

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2 Answers


on March 15, 2013
at 06:05 AM

Most things about the way any modern human looks are a mixture of genetics, epigenetics, and environment/nurture/'the kitchen'.

This is certainly true of that particular anatomical feature. I'm not muscular (thin), don't have crazy low body fat, and am female - and mine are pretty defined.



on March 16, 2013
at 11:35 PM

My best guess is that you can make them more prominent by working those particular muscles and having a relatively low body fat. Unless you have a birth defect or other muscular disorder that would cause these particular muscles to be absent, I don't think that it is genetic that you cannot see them. You most likely have them, but they are not visible right now. I am female and am currently probably between 20 and 22 percent body fat. I'm not extremely lean, but you can see these muscles on me. They are not as prominent and cut as on male models, but they definitely there, much moreso than on most females. The only "abs" that I do are sidebends (with a 45 pound weight). However, I do a lot of olympic lifting as well as front squats, which seem like they cause these to pop out. These exercises really work the core, and I have never had the Apollo's belt from doing your standard abs. It only emerged when I started olympic lifting. Hope this helps!

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