Determine Your Drug-Free Genetic Potential
Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you lift, you will never get the same results as your friend, who eats very poorly and barely works out. How does that work? How can someone gain muscle so easily, while another person struggles to gain even small amounts of size?
This all relates to genetic potential. We all have a certain limit in regards to how big and strong we can get. There is a point when the body says “no more.” This article will discuss what that point is, why some of us gain muscle more easily than others, and how to determine what your genetic potential is.
First, we will discuss different body types and builds. On a general basis, there are 3 basic body types. They are called mesomorph, ectomorph, and endomorph.
Before I begin, I would like to emphasize that most people are a combination of these 3 body types. If you do not fall specifically into any of these three different body types, it is okay. You are more likely just a combination of different body types.
Mesomorphs tend to be strong naturally, without having to do much. These are the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world. They have a great genetic potential, and tend to put on muscle very easily.
The bone structure of a mesomorph is large-boned. The mesomorphs have the ideal body type for bodybuilding, as they gain size and strength very efficiently.
Ectomorphs tend to be very skinny and find it very difficult to put on weight. They generally have flat chests and meager shoulders. Ectomorphs are very lean and find it very easy to “cut down.”
However, because they struggle to put on weight, they never really need to cut down. Extreme ectomorphs tend to have long, narrow fingers and necks, and have faces that are triangular with a receding jaw.
Ectomorphs are not ideal for bodybuilding because of the struggle to put on mass. Famous ectomorphs include Brad Pitt and Kobe Bryant.
The endomorph is likely to have a rounder build, with a higher fat percentage. They will usually be larger in appearance, and have a low amount of muscle definition. Endomorphs find it very difficult to lose weight, but gain muscle very easily. They are naturally pretty strong and have a fairly high genetic potential. Although, it is still not as high as the mesomorph. Famous endomorphs include Oprah Winfrey and Luther Vandross.
Next, we will discuss the more specific aspects of genetic potential. When I discuss the calculations for how to achieve your genetic potential, it is assumingthat you are not taking any steroids, pro-hormones, or other muscle-enhancing supplements that are not protein. These will increase your genetic potential, and thus, skew the results.
There is a reason why your body has a genetic limit that prevents it from getting too large of a muscle mass. Regardless of the numerous side effects of most bodybuilding supplements, the amount of added stress on the heart is in direct correlation to the excess pounds of muscle. Our bodies were simply not meant to carry so much weight.
A study conducted in Scotland by Thomas MacDonald showed that bodybuilders consuming high amounts of steroids had a 250% higher chance of acquiring heart disease.
Another study performed by the Orange County Heart Institute consisted of 14 bodybuilders who had been bodybuilding while taking steroids for a minimum of 10 years. Most of the subjects had severe coronary heart disease, and many of the subjects in their early 30’s experienced hardening of the arteries, equivalent to that of an 80 year-old man.
This development of coronary artery plaque can lead to a much higher risk of developing a heart attack at a young age.
On a general basis, if one is eating sufficient amounts of calories and protein, bodybuilding potential will most likely be reached in 4-6 years of proper, consistent training. There will still be some minor changes as you continue to lift, but it will probably not be very drastic.
This is a good chart that gives a general guide to muscle growth over time and what can be expected:
|Year of Proper Training||Potential Rate of Muscle Gain per Year|
|1||20-25 pounds (2 pounds per month)|
|2||10-12 pounds (1 pound per month)|
|3||5-6 pounds (0.5 pound per month)|
|4+||2-3 pounds (not worth calculating)|
This is based on the circumference of your wrist and of your ankles, your height, and what your ideal body fat percentage is. Make sure you measure everything in inches. The formula will calculate your body weight at the specific body fat percentage that you choose.
Measure your ankle- Take the measurement at the smallest point between your calf muscle and your ankle.
Measure your wrist – Measure your wrist at the styloid process, or in simpler terms, the bony part of the outside of your wrist.
Figure out your height without shoes on.
Choose what your ideal body fat percentage will be (ex: 8%). Make sure that when you insert your body fat percentage, that you do not use a decimal. For example, for 10%, you would insert “10” into the formula, and not “.10.”
Different body types tend to react differently to the formula. Mesomorphs tend to be 105% of the genetic potential given, and ectomorphs tend to be about 95% of the formula’s prediction. Take the prediction with a grain of salt, but it gives a good estimate of your genetic potential.
The number you receive after inputting the data into the formula, will be your maximum weight with whatever percent body fat you chose.
H = height in inches
W = Wrist
A = Ankle
bf = body fat
If the formula above is too complicated, and you stopped performing equations back in 10th grade, the formula below is more simple, and still fairly accurate.
Your height (in cm) – 100 = your weight (in kg)
This will give you your genetic potential when you are absolutely cut with veins popping out, or about 5-6% body fat.
With all this being said, you do not need to spend too much time worrying about your genetic potential. As long as you eat well (more calories than you burn), work out hard, and sleep well, everything will fall into place. The results will come.
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About Danny Maman My name is Danny Maman. I have a real passion for health and fitness and enjoy having a life that revolves around this. I have my bachelor's degree in exercise science with a minor in allied health. I am also a certified personal trainer with ACE and am a former college basketball player.