Workout of the Day
Five sets of:
Back Squat x 4-6 reps @ 30X1
Rest 60 seconds
Single-Arm Trap 3 Raises x 10-12 reps each @ 2011
Rest 60 seconds;
and then,
Three rounds for time of:
Walking Lunges with 35/25 lb. DBs x 20 reps
35/25 lb. Dumbbell Push Press x 20 reps
Double-Unders x 40 reps

(Now might be a good time to remind you all that we are hosting a jump rope clinic on January 29 with superstar jump rope instructor Sara Lightall. If double-unders are a weakness, join us for just one hour and they will become a strength.)

The Dingo of Invictus Fitness San Diego
The Dingo should too. Don't forget the Friday evening mobility session at 6:30 p.m.!

The Warrior Gene
Written by Nichole DeHart

So, do you have it? You know what I am talking about, the Warrior Gene. That’s right, the gene that many say can be linked to aggressive behavior.  However, the effects this gene has on a person can vary. There is an enormous amount of controversy about this gene. Its effects on a person seem to vary with the person’s background and how much the person was provoked. Some scientists are even saying that people with the ‘warrior gene’ are better at making risky decisions and identifying what they really love. So what is this gene?

Monoamine oxidase A, also known as MAOA and dubbed the ‘warrior gene’, is an enzyme that breaks down several neurotransmitters, like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.  The enzyme is regulated by the monoamine oxidase A gene. Humans have various forms of this gene, which results in different levels of enzymatic activity. Those with MAOA-L produce less of the enzyme, while those with MAOA-H produce more of the enzyme. There have been correlations between the low activity form of MAOA and aggression in observational and survey-based studies. Interesting enough, the low activity form of MAOA is reported to be much more frequent in populations that had a history of warfare.

The research behind this gene suggests that the low activity form of MAOA can influence aggressive behavior when provoked. This may go beyond just violent behavior. Aggressive behavior can come in many forms, like when running a powerful company. A commanding CEO may display aggressive behavior in order to grow the company into a powerful corporation (think Microsoft) or a politician who has this gene may be influenced in their decision-making.

What about with training? Those who have the warrior gene may have a higher tolerance of a pain threshold. The aggression linked with the warrior gene may be the driving force behind some people in a workout. This could explain why some people are willing to push themselves harder then others. It could be that they have a predisposition to be more aggressive and they take it out in a workout (or whatever way they make manifest for their aggression.) How many athletes at the CrossFit Games, do you think, have the warrior gene?

The research behind the ‘warrior gene’ is still inconclusive but the topic is interesting and lends itself to more research. Check out the study that Rose McDermott, professor of political science at Brown University, conducted in 2008.

You can also learn more about this gene by checking out the new series on The National Geographic Channel called ‘Born to Rage?’ Henry Rollins, the founding member of Black Flag, hosts this series and introduces the audience to a handful of characters who may have this gene. NFL players, Buddhist monks, mixed martial arts fighters and many other characters, are tested to see if they have the gene.  If the topic interests you, or you are just a huge fan of Henry Rollins, then check out this episode to learn more about the ‘warrior gene.’

  • sage

    Great article, Nichole! Thank you!

  • Cynthia

    I have the wussy gene.

  • Wink

    I wear jeans…

    Great article!

    • That’s an understatement buddy! You have jeans that come with a user manual.

      • POS

        Are you allowed to wash those jeans yet?

  • areba

    Henry Rollins… cool! Warrior gene… even cooler!

  • Amanda

    I love your nerdy scientific side Nichole! Awesome post, I’m going to start channeling my inner warrior during workouts.

  • sam

    I’m sorry, I dont understand what the 30×1 and the 2011 mean in the workout. Can someone explain?

  • CJ Martin

    Sam, click on the “Tempo” tag on the right hand side of the blog. There are two posts that explain how and why we use tempo while lifting.

  • Kellie Coon

    Interesting read Nichole…

  • Tim

    Great read, I am definitely one that has found an outlet for my stress/agression in Crossfit. I am following the portion about agression but I can’t make the leap to “tolerance for pain threshold”, I think that is more of an adaptation than a genetic trait. Being in the business of training “warriors” I have seen many people continually push beyond their percieved threshold over time and training when at first they thought they weren’t able. Crossfit does a great job at training your brain to continually extend that threshold beyond the known or comfortable. The more you expand the margins of your experience the more your body and mind aren’t fearful of the unknown.

  • Calvin

    I have yet to read studies that suggest having the warrior gene or suppressed MAOA function is correlated with higher pain tolerance. I watched the National Geographic special with Rollins and MMA fighters were amongst the groups tested. Surprisingly enough, none of them had the gene. This makes sense for a lot of reasons as the study by McDermott was in done in context of aggressive behavior after being provoked. They hypothesized that MMA fighters, like CrossFitters, are voluntarily engaging in competition and need to remain focused in order to perform their best. My guess is that the best CrossFit athletes would not have the warrior gene.

    • Nica

      I very much enjoyed this post and your reply Calvin. Nature v. nurture is common fork in discussions about social policy and in the more personally relevant quest for understanding of ourselves. Genetic screening is becoming more and more popular and accessible and I think it is important to keep the morals of “Gattaca” like scenarios in mind in relinquishing individual responsibility and willpower to our pre-determined genetic coding.

      With that caveat, I find this study fascinating and do not discount the idea that some people’s innate aggression (including my own) serves as motivation to push through pain. Such aggression seems as valid and powerful a motivator as those who push through pain simply because they choose to.

  • Mark

    Cal, why such a Negative Nancy? 😉

  • CJ Martin

    Well said Cal! I definitely think there is a huge difference between provoked aggression and voluntary participation in aggressive sports. In my experience, the best fighters (think GSP) tend to be cerebral and calm outside of their competitive endeavors.

  • Mary D.

    OK enough of the smarty pants talk, lets talk about todays workout. Wow, I am feeling it already. Outstanding job today Shane, with the 9:30 group. Hope we didn’t give you too hard of a time. Apparently I was the ONLY one that did not hear to go in the opposite direction for the lap around the block. I kept wondering where everyone was or was I suddenly like lightening fast and so far ahead of everyone…..until I saw everyone heading straight for me. Ooooops.

  • Mary D.

    Oh I wish I was lightening, but what I meant was lightning fast.

  • Ray Jackson

    Frank Dux and I have the Warrior gene!

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