Natural Vs Trained: Who Wins?

Natural Vs Trained: Who Wins? Our forum members share detailed information about the differences between naturally gifted and well-trained athletes. Learn what is better and what sport lends itself to one or the other. Read on ...

TOPIC: Natural Vs. Trained: Who Wins?

The Question:

Every athlete knows what the ideal qualities for their sport are, but not every athlete is born with those qualities. Some athletes are naturally gifted, while others have to work hard to stand up to the naturals.

Which is better: being naturally gifted, or being trained through determination? Why?

Which sport do you think natural ability plays the biggest role? Why?

Which sport do you think natural ability makes the least difference? Why?

Do you consider yourself naturally gifted, or well trained? Why?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

1st Place - BurningHeart
View This Author's BodySpace Here.


It's heard frequently in the athletic world, "Oh he's/she's just naturally gifted." That phrase seems to be an excuse by those with little determination to explain why they are not champions. Being naturally gifted at a sport is a great attribute to have, however it is often used to describe people that have devoted much work to their training.

So the question arises, out of two competitors, one naturally gifted and one well-trained, who would win? All other things equal, assuming a neutral sport (one that doesn't favor the other type of athlete), and assuming one athlete has the same amount of natural gift as the other has well-training, which would take precedence over the other?

These questions are what will be examined in this article. We will examine the factors that determine what makes an athlete win, and compare the two athletes. To help answer this question, we will consider two boxers (since boxing is a 1-on-1 sport). These boxers are named Bob and Tommy, which may sound familiar to consistent visitors. Let's get it on!

Part 1:
Which Is Better: Being Naturally Gifted, Or Being Trained Through Determination? Why?

One cannot simply say "skill" determines who will win in an event. There are many factors that can be accredited to winning a contest. Excluding unforeseeable and uncontrollable events, the factors that create a win include: conditioning, drive and coordination at the specific sport.

Some of these factors are achievable by only natural gifted athletes, some only by being well trained, or some by both. Let's examine a rundown on these. To show this classification, dark X's indicate this type of athlete typically has an advantage over the other in.

Breakdown Of Winning Skills
Skill Naturally Gifted Athletes Well-Trained Athletes Both Equally Attainable
Nutrition X
Recovery X
Training X
Motivation X
Energy X
Dexterity X
Totals 2 Advantages 3 Advantages 1 Equal skill

From this classification chart, it illustrates that well-trained athletes will win a competition more so than a naturally gifted athlete. And this hypothesis holds true if the matter is thought out well. Let's break this chart down.

We will use Boxer Bob, who is a naturally gifted athlete and Boxer Tommy, who is a well-trained athlete. Remember that each athlete is totally different. There are athletes that are both well-trained and naturally gifted. This article discusses two complete opposite people, one that is totally well-trained and one that is totally naturally gifted.

Bob Tommy
Click Image To Enlarge.
Boxer Bob & Boxer Tommy.
Natural & Trained.


Nutrition is a must have when entering a match. The proper nutrition could determine the outcome of a competition in itself.


For example, Boxer Bob is preparing for his boxing match against Boxer Tommy. What Boxer Bob eats is no different than what Boxer Tommy eats. They both have equal opportunity to ingest the same amount and quality of nutrition.

Thus This Skill Is Equal Between Both Athletes.

Bob Tommy
Nutrition: Equal.


Without the proper recovery, one will not compete at their highest level of performance. Recovery affects everything. Note that recovery is not rest. Recovery is the athlete's natural ability to recover after a period of sports practice and weightlifting/cardio. This is something naturally gifted athletes have; their body recovers quickly in comparison to the average person.


For example, Boxer Bob is a naturally-gifted athlete, thus his body recovers faster. All else equal, faster recovery means less time spent resting. Less time spent resting means more time can be devoted to the sport. Whether that time is spent practicing or weightlifting/cardio, it means that Boxer Bob's time is used more efficiently. On the other hand Boxer Tommy cannot train as long as Boxer Bob because overtraining sets in faster.

Thus This Skill Is An Advantage To Naturally Gifted Athletes.

Bob Tommy
Recovery: Boxer Bob.


Training is obviously needed to win a competition. Rarely will two athletes of equal traits, with one being trained and one being untrained go into a match and the untrained takes the win. More training equals more experience. Experience is the ability to use past occurrences to make a future decision.

Well-trained athletes are just that, trained exceptionally well in their sport. While naturally-gifted athletes could be well trained, remember that this article is discussing two equal but opposite fighters.


For example, Boxer Bob is naturally gifted and trains less because of this. Boxer Tommy on the other hand does not have this natural ability, and because for that reason he trains harder for his match.

Fight night comes and both step into the ring. Boxer Bob's fight plan is to go to the body for half of the rounds in order to wear Tommy out, and then win on points in the later half of the fight. This is not the case though; Boxer Tommy is not worn out after half the rounds and is still landing more punches than Boxer Bob is. Boxer Bob does not have much experience with his fight plan going wrong and having to improvise, as a result he loses the fight.

Thus This Skill Is An Advantage To Well-Trained Athletes.

Bob Tommy
Training: Boxer Tommy.


When two athletes of equal conditioning and coordination compete in an event, the one who wants it badly enough will be the one to win. Motivation drives athletes to practice for hours on end, work on cardio and weightlifting for hours on end, all to be the best they can be.

A naturally gifted athlete would not have as much motivation as a well-trained athlete. How many people have you known that were good at something, yet lacked any drive to progress that ability? There are many people like that in the world. However a well-trained athlete has no choice to be highly motivated. Without motivation one could not be well-trained in the first place.


For example, it's the 12th round in the fight. The judges have the scores tied dead even so far. Both fighters are worn out and can hardly lift their arms. Boxer Bob has thoughts flying around in his head, "Is this pain worth it?" ... "This guy is too tough; there is no way I can win."

At the same time Boxer Tommy, with his high motivation, has thoughts such as, "I've fought a war and I will not turn back now." ... "I won't let pain stand in the way of the championship." As a result, Boxer Tommy's motivation gives him that slight edge that wins the fight.

Thus This Skill Is An Advantage To Well-Trained Athletes.

Bob Tommy
Motivation: Boxer Tommy.


Most competitions are not won instantly. It is rare when a competitor such as a boxer, can step into the ring and win a fight in minutes. Even fighters that are known for doing this, such as Mike Tyson in his prime, fall victim to the lack of energy.

Tyson went undefeated 37-0 until he fought James "Buster" Douglas. Tyson was KO'ed in the 10th round, which was his first loss, his first time being knocked down, and his first time ever being knocked out. There were many speculations on why Tyson wore out in the match.

The bottom line is he didn't have enough energy to last that many rounds in the ring with Douglas. Well-trained athletes will always have enough energy before going into a competition. Whether it means getting enough rest the night before, consuming the right pre-contest food or just conditioning themselves better.


For example, Boxer Bob is naturally gifted at boxing. Being naturally gifted he does not feel the need to push his lifestyle in a hardcore training manner. He stays up late drinking the night before and only eats a steak before the match.

By round 5 the effects are obvious. Bob is slowing down drastically from the lack of carbohydrates in his system along with the lack of sleep the night before. Boxer Tommy notices his opponent is weakening and goes in for the knockout before the round ends.

Thus This Skill Is An Advantage To Well-Trained Athletes.

Bob Tommy
Energy: Boxer Tommy.


A match would not be complete without mentioning dexterity. Dexterity is basically how good you are at the sport. Your speed, agility and intensiveness while competing. This is usually what people refer to when speaking of being "naturally gifted."

Some people are born quick and alert while others are born slower and calm. It all depends on genetics and environmental variables that the athlete was exposed to as a child. These quicker or more dexterous athletes often have Type II muscle fibers. Type II muscle fibers are seen more so in sprinters and other sports that requires explosiveness for a short duration of time.


For example, Boxer Tommy is working his butt off in the gym trying to quicken his hand speed. Even though it has gotten better from training, it nowhere near matches the hand speed of Boxer Bob. Ever since Boxer Bob was born he was always a naturally quick person.

In high school he was a sprinter and a good basketball player. Fancy footwork and fast hands has been his trademark since entering professional boxing. When matched up, Boxer Bob lands hundreds of more punches than Boxer Tommy because of his quickness.

Thus This Skill Is An Advantage for Naturally Gifted Athletes.

Bob Tommy
Dexterity: Boxer Bob.


Now we can see why a well-trained athlete will win over a naturally gifted athlete. While a natural athlete has recovery and dexterity to their advantage, the skills of a well-trained athlete: training, motivation and energy will slightly overcome their opponent for the win.

Well-Trained Wins
Click Image To Enlarge.
Boxer Bob Is KO'ed.
Training Wins Over Natural Ability!

Part 2:
Which Sport Do You Think Natural Ability Plays The Biggest Role? Why?

Since natural ability's strong points are recovery and dexterity, the sport that natural ability plays the biggest part in would be one that relies on these skills. While all sports use those skills, the most prominent one is sprinting. No other sport requires the natural ability of quickness and good recovery as sprinting.

Sprinting Articles:

Such requirements to be a successful sprinter are the body's capability to quickly dispose of lactic acid, strong Type II muscle fibers and the recovery capacity required to be able to train everyday.

Lactic acid quickly builds up in the muscles when sprinting, which causes that burning, fatigued feeling. The muscular strength required in the legs (Type II fibers) for anaerobic activity is a must to be able to quickly explode from a starting position.

Muscle Fibers. Muscle Fibers.
Our body is composed of many different groups of muscles and each person has a unique composition of muscle tissue in their body. Read on here to learn about the 3 different muscle fibers.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
    "Our body is composed of many different groups of muscles and each person has a unique composition of muscle tissue in their body. Different types of athletes usually have one predominant type of muscle fiber, that being the kind that suits their sport the best."
[ Click here for more by this author. ]

Finally without the recovery capacity, one would overtrain quickly thus delaying any further training and affecting mental performance. These are the reasons why sprinting is the sport that makes most use of naturally trained athletes.

Part 3:
Which Sport Do You Think Natural Ability Makes The Least Difference? Why?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the sport that requires the least natural ability would be MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). The reason is because MMA requires many months of training to even become good at the sport. Then to master the sport it takes years. The two advantages that naturally gifted athletes possess (recovery, dexterity) do not come into effect as much as the skills of well-trained athletes (training, motivation, energy) in Mixed Martial Arts.

MMA Articles:

No one is born an MMA fighter. In fact, we are naturally born as the complete opposite of a MMA fighter. What this means is no one automatically defends themselves on the ground by trying to lock in an arm-bar on their opponent. When someone is sitting on top of you relentlessly punching away at your head, our natural reaction is to use our arms to cover our head and roll our body to the side. In MMA this is a crucial mistake, as it gives the opponent your back, which leaves you open to be choked out.

Flex Wheeler - Richard Everage
Fight @ The 2005 Arnold Classic:

Flex Getting His Gear On
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Flex Ready To Fight
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The whole concept behind MMA training is to rid someone of their natural instincts on how to fight and instead teach them a more refined and efficient fighting style. The complexity of a MMA match (standup fighting, ground fighting, submissions and takedowns) makes MMA a sport that must be trained for. A general rule of thumb is the more complex the sport, the more it leans to the well-trained athletes.

Part 4:
Do You Consider Yourself Naturally Gifted, Or Well Trained? Why?

I am proud to consider myself well trained. Nothing against naturally gifted people, but I had to work hard to get where I am at now. Growing up as a child I was tall and lanky. I didn't care for sports much because I simply was not that good at them.

Up until age 14 I would shy away from sports and would prefer more indoor fun such as video games. It wasn't until right before high school where I decided I needed some muscle to be able to climb those ropes in high school gym class that you always see on TV. That was my first introduction to weightlifting. With the weightlifting came casually playing baseball and basketball.

Over the next 6 years I would workout and play sports on and off. Even though I wasn't totally consistent, I improved my strength, muscular size and coordination with these activities. I was no longer the kid that would act like a dork when trying to catch something thrown to him.

I now could easily intercept a key ring thrown to me with one hand, as opposed to before where I'd run forward trying to catch it with both hands only to have the key ring fly over my head.

Something like that may seem irrelevant to those who are naturally coordinated, but to someone who grew up weak and uncoordinated it was a major accomplishment. These days, one year later at 21 years of age, I have been consistent for the longest time with my activities. I made a commitment to myself to never give up in life, whether it is from exercising to school. I plan to stick to that commitment.

That is what being well-trained is about. To overcome the odds and surpass those who have a natural gift for certain things. I hope this article has been informative and fun to read for everyone. While someone may be naturally gifted, they cannot be the best without being well-trained. Strive for your best.

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From BurningHeart's BodySpace.
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2nd Place - Ho_124
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Every athlete knows what the ideal qualities for their sport are, but not every athlete is born with those qualities. Some athletes are naturally gifted, while others have to work hard to stand up to the naturals.

Which Is Better: Being Naturally Gifted, Or Being Trained Through Determination? Why?

There are different situations where being naturally gifted and being trained through determination is better. Here I will talk about which it is better to be (Gifted or trained) in the different situations and circumstances.

When It Is Better To Be Naturally Gifted:

One situation where it is better to be naturally gifted is when you're first starting a sport. This is the most obvious and best situation a naturally gifted athlete can be in. If you've ever coached beginners you can always tell who is more gifted and who needs to work harder to become better.

The naturally gifted people just shine and even make the other athletes look terrible. This is also a warning to all those naturally-gifted athletes out there. Just because you're outshining someone when you first start off, doesn't mean it will be like that forever. When I played badminton, I saw the gifted kids wasting their talent, while others actually worked hard. Eventually the gifted kids became the ones who fell behind.

The second situation where it is better to be naturally gifted is when you're training as hard as you possibly can and have the best diet possible. In this case you're as determined as possible and you cannot possibly be progressing faster.

Let me tell you, if you have two people working just as hard and one's more gifted than the other, then sorry to break it to you, the gifted athlete has the advantage. Just look at professional sports. I bet a lot of the athlete's train just as hard as one another in an attempt to get to the top.

Even so there are still some that excel ahead of the pack, and a lot of the time, these are the naturally talented ones. However this isn't to say someone can't get the top with hard work, the thing is it's just harder to do so.

When It Is Better To Be Trained Through Determination:

Just because you're not entirely gifted doesn't mean you can never excel in you're sport. I've seen it and I'm sure a lot of you have, the guys/girls who just have to work their @ss off to get good or to where they are. As a matter of fact most people who compete in some form of sport aren't too naturally gifted.

One reason why it is better to be trained through determination is that you can be sure you're always training hard. In your mind you know that if you don't put the time into your sport that your performance will suffer. This really motivates you to train.

How Do Competitive Athletes Stay Motivated? How Do Competitive Athletes Stay Motivated?
Many athletes compete because they love their sport, but is that all that keeps them motivated? The promise of large sums of money must have it's influence, right? What do forum members PolPow53, Aussie LTD and frobro think?
[ Click here to learn more. ]

For example, a person who is born into a poorer family is more likely to be motivated to get a job to make some money is he/she not? Yes, in most cases. Same thing, since you know your limitations, you have to work hard to overcome them and become better or else you will just stay within your limitations.

This isn't true with a lot of gifted people, in my opinion the majority of them don't train hard enough. They are like the rich people, as you can imagine if you were "Born" rich, you won't be as motivated to get a job when you're young, to make money? Not a whole lot.

Same thing goes with sports, a lot of them feel they can just wing it all the time and rely on their naturally ability. I won't lie, it works but eventually it catches up to them.

I'll give you an example. I knew a gifted badminton player who was preparing for a national tournament. His shots, court movement, endurance, power, etc. were amazing. However this person started to get sidetracked by stupid things. For example instead of training with his partner he would play ping pong, or watch T.V. or just fool around in the gym.


Eventually his training partner got a lot better than him and people started to catch up. To make things worse he didn't prepare much for the tournament and was out in two or three games. This happens to many gifted athletes, so for those who are trained through determination, you can still make it just as long as you keep focus and train hard.

So to sum it up, a lot of the times it is better to be an athlete trained through determination since you have the motivation to become better. You will never have to play the catch-up game since you've already put in the hard work and this will ensure you will be up to par with other athletes. This is your best weapon since a lot of gifted athletes waste time and their talent, and this is the time for you to pull ahead.

Which Sport Do You Think Natural Ability Plays The Biggest Role? Why?

There isn't just one sport but a couple. Usually the sports that have a lot of aspects to it (i.e. balance, technique, finesse, power, etc), are the ones for whom being gifted plays the biggest role. I mean it's extremely difficult to have fine technique while being powerful and balanced at the same time. The more things you require your body to perform the harder it will be.

In my opinion one of the sports where being gifted plays a big role is martial arts fighting. First of all it takes years to master all the techniques since there is plenty of material. One martial artist I know who has been studying for 35-plus years says he still learns more about his style from other practitioners. It also requires strength, speed, power, balance, fine technique and good body movement.

An Interview With Martial Arts Expert Julien Greaux. An Interview With Martial Arts Expert Julien Greaux.
Julien would like to discredit the perception that the martial arts serve as a breeding ground for violent thugs. Learn more about Julien in this great interview and how he is promoting MMA training.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
    "Martial arts and fitness training expert, Julien Greaux, has more than 20-years experience practicing, and competing in the fighting arts. He now offers his considerable talents to the wider health and fitness community, through his partnership with fellow fitness professional Jamo Nezzar, on the cutting-edge training site,"
[ Click here for more by this author. ]

Even more you need endurance if you're going into MMA fighting and probably the biggest factors is mental focus and strength. For martial arts you have to be mentally tough if you want to be good. For example going back to the martial artist who has been studying for 35-plus years, he told me so many stories about how tough he had to be.

For example he would slam his forearms against metal poles until he literally had bloody cuts on his forearms just to get stronger bones. Or his classes with his old master who would literally kick the crap out of you just to see if you were tough enough to suck it up.

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Roundhouse Kick.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG

Another sport in which natural ability plays a huge role is gymnastics. You need crazy balance, strength, speed, power and you have to prepare for different kinds of events that tests different parts of your skill. They also have to make sure to watch their diet and training so they don't gain to much muscle or else it will affect their performance. In this case it will help a whole deal to be naturally gifted.

Which Sport Do You Think Natural Ability Makes The Least Difference? Why?

There are a couple of these sports. However the main reason why natural ability doesn't play as much of a factor is because the sport doesn't require many aspects. For example sports that just require that you do one thing for the whole time.

One such sport is endurance running. I mean all you need to do is run and work on your endurance, that's basically it. Even if someone is naturally gifted in endurance running, it's not like they will have a huge advantage over someone who trains just as hard or even harder. You don't really need to work on strength, technique, not a whole lot of power, agility etc.

Another such sport is race biking. By this I mean the biking competitions that happen in the flat areas for example on a track or in the city. All you really do is sit on a bike and pedal.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Just Sit & Pedal.

And like running you basically just have to work your endurance with a little bit of power and strength to get up hills. Other than that there are not fine techniques that you have to master, and the one who trains the hardest usually comes out on top.

Do You Consider Yourself Naturally Gifted, Or Well Trained? Why?

I consider myself in between. The sports I like come natural for me but that doesn't mean I can slack. I mean I'm not so natural I can sit back, eat fries and train half assed all day. I have personally seen people like that but rarely, and eventually it catches up to them.

Unlike those people I still need to perfect techniques, work on my strength, power, speed, and endurance for the sports I'm in. If I don't put the hard work in it shows. For example some people can compete in a tournament without preparing for it, or with only a day's notice and still win. I'm not like that, if I have a competition to prepare for, I'm doing a few months in advanced just to make sure everything is perfect.

In terms of weight lifting (Since this is a bodybuilding site) I'm not the most natural at it but if I work hard it shows. I can't gain 50 pounds of muscle in a year, but then again I'm not striving and dying to gain a pound.

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