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The genetic limit on ultimate size and strength

hawkmoon

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We all know genetics is key in bodybuilding.

Often when we speak of genetic limitations, it is in the context of muscle bellies, insertions, limb and torso length, etc.
While all this is true, I believe the real hard ceiling of genetics is the upper limit of size and strength.

Hormones factored in, is seems to me that the great majority will hit a limit of quality muscle far below a national competitor or pro.
Of course this is often down to consistency of effort, but my personal observations of myself as well as people around me and internet associates, is that most people will hit a wall.

People can mix up training, drugs, food - any factor they like, but they will not progress beyond this point.

On the other side, we have gifted athletes who continue to progress.
Phil Health is the most extreme example I can think of. We have Levrone blowing up while dieting, Luke Sandoe said growth and strength came easy for him, and many others.
That said there are plenty of pros we know too who will never improve beyond their current state, and will never win a significant show because of their limitations (keep aside the aspects of shape or structure, etc here, just speaking of raw muscle quality).

Most people I see on the local and regional level, on the internet, etc are bodybuilders who are working hard, eating well, and often using a lot of gear.
Yet they are stuck...it seems like the proportionate quality muscle limit is somewhere in the range of 5'8" 200lbs to 6'0" 240 in good - not contest - shape (8-12% BF).

People don't like being confronted by limits out of their control as we like to forge our own path, but as it's often said, reality doesn't care about our feelings.

Myself, I have been the same size and strength for almost 30 years despite trying many options. I know my limit was reached long ago, and I'm OK with that.
I don't regret my experience at all and I'm grateful to have gone as far as I have, which is further than some.

So, I'm curious what our community thinks.
There will never be research on this so the best we can hope for is anecdotal experience and opinion.
 

Fit2Serve

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but size and strength is determined by the muscle bellies, muscle insertions, limb length, muscle fiber type... all genetically given.
so imo that's what creates the upper ceiling. not size and strength. that is secondary. I simply don't have as much fast twitch fibers as some dudes I know. so I will likely never be strong as them. BUT, given the right genetics I think a guy can def be bigger than someone and not be as strong. I think I was an example. i was NEVER a "strong guy" but my trainers actually said that was a good thing. didn't take CRAZY heavy weight to make me grow. so was less likely to get injured.
-F2S
 

hawkmoon

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but size and strength is determined by the muscle bellies, muscle insertions, limb length, muscle fiber type... all genetically given.
so imo that's what creates the upper ceiling. not size and strength. that is secondary. I simply don't have as much fast twitch fibers as some dudes I know. so I will likely never be strong as them. BUT, given the right genetics I think a guy can def be bigger than someone and not be as strong. I think I was an example. i was NEVER a "strong guy" but my trainers actually said that was a good thing. didn't take CRAZY heavy weight to make me grow. so was less likely to get injured.
-F2S


Good point, and I apologize if I was unclear.
I was not attempting to link size and strength per se, more interested in the fact that they both have a genetic upper limit.

Phil Heath, Flex Wheeler, And Paul Dillet are a few good examples of bodybuilders rumored to not be so strong.
Some others are also very strong, but don't have the thick, full muscle mass we praise.
 

sazo75

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What exactly are you trying to figure out here? Basically, what's the question or point you're trying to make/examine?
 

thethinker48

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Scott Stevenson had a series on genetic inter-individuality when it came to bodybuilding on JM's website.

Something we've all known for years; but recently they found satellite cells playing a far bigger role than protein synthesis elevation when it came to muscle growth. And given that our ability to replicate them is based upon the number/density which is genetic (a very elementary understanding on my part) It's no surprise why guys like Jay Cutler grew so big so fast.

While the rest of us trudge along for years gaining slowly, steadily, until we top out/refuse to push more.

A very basic example I like personally: I was born at a level 2, naturally I got to a level 4, with PEDs and GH I might get to a 7. Paul Dillet was born at a level 8, his peak will be a level 20 which I can never reach.
 

hawkmoon

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What exactly are you trying to figure out here? Basically, what's the question or point you're trying to make/examine?


Is there a predetermined ceiling to muscle mass and strength ( not necessarily correlative) regardless of diet, training, and drugs. E.g. will some hit a limit at say 5'9" at 250 and never be able to hit 280.
 

alfresco

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Is there a predetermined ceiling to muscle mass and strength ( not necessarily correlative) regardless of diet, training, and drugs. E.g. will some hit a limit at say 5'9" at 250 and never be able to hit 280.

Really good questions. I would like to see more thought provoking topics like this.

My short answer is yes.

I reached close to, and I say close to because my best training was interrupted
by events not under my control, my genetic best in what I believe to be a very
short amount of time, could see myself growing daily. Who knows where I would
have ended up but I was never able to duplicate the training environment or the
will necessary to find out so I will never know. But I will say, given my genetics
I was close to it and no amount of training would change it.

Peds clearly would have taken me to another level but luckily they were not easily
available and knowing me, I surely would have abused them and been unable
or unwilling to continue their usage due to outright addiction and self image issues.
It would not have ended well.
 

Tomgrass

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The same applies to 99% society. Being natural you can weight in 6%bf amount of kg minus 100 cm of your height for example I am 187cm. Being total shredded I never was heavier then 87kg stage ready. With gear it is very similar, there are limits.
 

nihilixm

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The limit increases with your dose. If you have bad genetics you up the dose if you're already doing everything right. How big would McCarver be if he only did 500 test 1 dbol? Ultimately the price is just higher if you don't have the genes.
 

L2o9

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There will never be research on this so the best we can hope for is anecdotal experience and opinion.

There is a lot of research going on this, and likely it will explode in the future. The thing is, there will be no single factor that determines the genetic response to muscle growth, but a combination of. There are currently no SNPs that can explain the large variability seen in training studies. We'll never get an exact answer, but I expect epigenetics to play a major role.

But in the end, yes there is a limit but you can modify it with drugs. Then you'll reach another limit.
 

concreter

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I Know after 10 yrs of Trying just about everything besides 5 Grms and 8000 calories….I'm Stuck.
Put your heart, Soul and pocket book In and gain 10 pounds just to loose it on a One Day Slip.
10 yrs of Fighting to be 260+, when 250 is Easy!
 

gungalunga

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I hit my genetic limits on strength and size with the dosages I was willing to take (nothing crazy) back in my 30's. At age 50, my goal is to take the lowest effective dosages in order to stay healthy, and not let myself turn into a fat old man.
 

maldorf

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10 yrs of Fighting to be 260+, when 250 is Easy!
Great way to put it! Sacrifice so much for just 10 lbs. As an outsider looking in, its not logical what we do. In cases like mine it seems insane.
 

concreter

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But at are Height...That 10 pounds Fills in the Difference!
Between Lean and Mean and Full and Round!!!
 

maldorf

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But at are Height...That 10 pounds Fills in the Difference!
Between Lean and Mean and Full and Round!!!
Then the next year its just an extra 5 lbs. It never ends.
 

TheOtherOne55

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Love the topic as this is something MOST of us are interested to....AND an equation all of us are trying to solve.

I think I can lump myself in with Hawk and concreter (both of u guys) as decent genetic limit white guys. If a lifter can get to a above 220+ lbs lean muscle mass, REGARDLESS of muscular distribution, you have pushed it pretty hard. SOME of guys can get close to that natural. Some can't. That next step is usually 240-255lbs. Thats when you start to see a big drop off. I think a good handful of guys who post on here can walk into ANY corporate gym in America and be THAT DUDE. Noticeably bigger, stronger, a freak. And then WE walk into gold's in Venice and the genetic alarm goes off. We WERE the 1% at other gyms, we quickly become the 10% there. There we can all see the proportions of someone who was just GIFTED and born with it. And i enjoy seeing that. THAT motivates me and pushes me to attempt to reach it.

Event this past 18 months was a wake up call to me. I am friends with a decent amount of SHW guys at local southern CA gyms, high level amateurs and pros. And i had told myself that for the next 18 months i was going to do it and do it with a purpose. But no matter how hard i decide to push a dosage, or how many sets or what my eating it....that shit cant change the way my upper body wants to grow and distribute muscle mass. And now that im cutting, i can see it up close. "Oh, nice. I put on about 11-15lbs in this time. But damn, i still dont have THAT look." A good look none the less, but not that genetic 1%.

Just something i've really thought about this year.
 

Kaladryn

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I think people can always continue to grow if they apply the correct protocols, I don't think there is a 'genetic limit' I think most of these limitations are knowledge and technique based. With all the tools available today, there is no limit on growth. The real genetic limit is stubbornness, ego, and impatience that prevents individuals from learning and adapting.

There is however a limit on how much muscle you can hold on your frame without it looking like "crap" (for lack of a much more elaborate term)
 

buck

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I think one, if not the biggest limiting factor is the ability to eat and actually digest and absorb the food and nutrition that one takes in. I have added calories in the past to where I quit growing then cut back and started growing again which lets me know there is more involved then just chewing and swallowing.
 

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