PART THREE: Some Specifics on Genetic Factors
By Stuart McRobert
Reading time: ~ ten minutes.
To get the full benefit from this article, please read all nine parts in sequential order. The first is HERE.
Trainees vary in their muscle-building capability, in part because of their genetics for bodybuilding and in part because of how they train and recuperate.
On the one hand, genetic factors are hugely influential for bodybuilders, but on the other hand, they don’t matter. Let me explain.
A small number of trainees inherited outstanding genetics for bodybuilding. And some of them compound their genetic advantages with drug use, to become super-duper easy gainers provided they train and recuperate adequately. They have a potential for muscle and might that’s way beyond what’s possible for genetically normal, drug-free trainees.
But most trainees have normal or average genetics for bodybuilding, but some have disadvantaged genetics. For example, some trainees have short muscle bellies, low numbers of muscle fibers, hormonal shortcomings, and structural configuration disadvantages that make exercise selection tricky, which combine to make muscle-building especially challenging.
And that’s why genetic factors are hugely influential for bodybuilders.
That I didn’t have the genetics required for building huge muscles caused me great distress when I was a young man. I was in awe of men who had great potential for bodybuilding.
When genetics don’t matter
Whether you’re tall or short, lanky or stocky, have a predisposition for being fat or being skinny, have long muscle bellies or short ones, have a heavy bone structure or a spindly one, have fantastic leverages for squatting or mediocre ones, have tremendous potential for muscle growth or just normal potential, have high calves or full calves, or whatever other genetically determined aspect you mention, you can’t change your heredity. So, from that point of view, your genetics don’t matter.
The training method I promote works for all trainees, regardless of where on the spectrum of “gainingness” or “gainability” or “responsiveness” specific individuals are. But some trainees are much more responsive than others.
What I was driving at right from my early writing (even before I started HARDGAINER magazine) was differentiating between the training that works for modern-day bodybuilding “champions”—high volume, and four or more workouts per week—and the training that works for drug-free, “normal” trainees.
The mainstream (or conventional) training methods taught in most gyms, and by most training publications, are much closer to the methods used by the bodybuilding “champions” than the approach that’s appropriate for “normal gainers.” And that’s why mainstream training methods have such a poor record among most trainees.
Because you can’t change your genetics, don’t fixate on them. How you train and recuperate is what should really matter because that’s where you have total control.
It’s liberating to acknowledge your “hard-gainer” status when you follow conventional training methods, because it identifies methods that don’t work, and screams “Find a better way!“
There’s no benefit from complaining about your heredity. But there’s massive benefit from doing your best with whatever genetics you inherited.
And no matter what your age is, you’ll never be younger than you are now. Make the most of the present!
But be sure you apply training routines that are appropriate for you.
Some trainees with ordinary genetics for bodybuilding have performed miracles with their physiques, without drugs. But they were super-motivated, very savvy regarding how to train, and super-dedicated to applying that knowledge.
Do the same yourself!
Perhaps, though, you’ve been blessed with better-than-average genetics for bodybuilding and strength, and would make some progress from using conventional training methods. But you’ll make faster and better overall progress from using the method I promote. And you’ll spend much less time in the gym.
Most drug-free bodybuilders and strength trainees never discover what their genetic potential is for muscle and might because they never train effectively for long enough to find out.
The big reality check
The training method I teach can’t produce a physique of the size that wins today’s top titles unless those following it inherited super genetics for bodybuilding, “supplement” with copious quantities of muscle-building drugs, and are super dedicated to their training and recovery.
And no other training method can produce a physique of the size that wins top titles today unless those following it inherited super genetics for bodybuilding, and “supplement” with copious quantities of muscle-building drugs.
For the rest of us—with “ordinary” genetics for bodybuilding, and no drugs—what level of physique might we be able to build?
Forget the drug-assisted “champions” of today and the last 60 years or so. Instead, check out the leading physiques in the bodybuilding magazines during the first half of the 1950s. The champions then probably were drug free. They had amazing physiques for their time. (Performance-enhancing drugs were, however, used by some weightlifters in the 1950s, and then were soon used by some bodybuilders for their appearance-enhancing effects.)
The subsequent drug era of bodybuilding—and its synthetic “champions”—made the champions of the natural era look modest in comparison. And that’s been one of the worst effects of synthetic bodybuilding.
Nevertheless, even the “modest” physiques of the champions of the pre-synthetic era would make most people’s jaws drop today if they were to see that level of development in the flesh. (I’m discarding the views of those who prefer synthetic bodybuilding.)
Many of you have the potential to build physiques akin to those of some of the champions of the first half of the 1950s—provided you’re healthy, not limited by age, well-informed on what to do, highly motivated, and super dedicated to your training and recovery for at least three to five back-to-back years.
Today, there are many drug-free physiques of the standard of the champions of the early 1950s, and a great many more of them over recent decades. There are also some drug-free physiques today that are even more impressive than those of the champions of the 1950s. But identifying them with certainty is problematic, because of the ever-increasing presence of bodybuilding drugs in the training world since the 1960s. Just because some men with excellent physiques say they are drug-free, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Truth is one of the first casualties of the use of performance- and appearance-enhancing drugs. Many drug users lie that they are drug-free. And that’s why I referred to the champions of an era before drugs took off in the bodybuilding world.
Stay with me as I uncover how to train effectively.
Next time: Part Four—The Training Tools.