Enjoy the process. So often in life, we are in a mad sprint to get to the finish line when really there is no finish line. Let me rephrase.

There shouldn’t be a finish line, especially in regards to fitness, bodybuilding, and nutrition.  It’s a process.

From my experiences, I have learned to enjoy the process of bodybuilding. Take a breath and relax.

We often speed through life striving for results and to get so many things done in so little time that we frequently forget to enjoy the moment. So you’re probably wondering what my point of writing this is.

Well my point is to enjoy bodybuilding. Learn to love it. And don’t look to the scale or in the mirror to see progress. If you work hard, you will get results.

But what many people fail to understand is that bodybuilding and getting results is a long, long process.

People don’t get fat in 2 weeks, and they also don’t get ripped in 2 weeks. People gain weight and become sedentary over time, and the same goes for bodybuilding.

Optimize your genetic potential

In this article, I want to talk about genetic potential. I found this to be one of the most interesting things I’ve learned about.

Every person has their specific genetic potential: a point where their bodies just can’t physically get faster or bigger or stronger.

Before I go into the details I want to talk about different body types and how it relates to genetic potential. Different body types are better at different things.

There are three generic body types that play big roles in genetic potential and bodybuilding. The three body types are ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph.

Ectomorphs: Ectomorphs are a predominantly skinny body type and typically have flat chests and small shoulders.

They have a very lean muscle mass and have no problem “cutting down” on body fat when bodybuilding.

An ectomorph will generally find it very hard to gain weight and have a relatively fast metabolism. The very extreme ectomorph may have pretty long fingers, toes, and neck.

A typical ectomorph has a face that is triangular with a slightly receding jaw. Famous ectomorph body types include Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Kate Moss. 

Ectomorph body types are not your prototypical bodybuilder and often have a limited genetic potential for bodybuilding.

Mesomorph: Mesomorph body types have naturally built physiques and have a great genetic potential for bodybuilding.

A mesomorph will generally have a large bone structure and is often naturally athletic. Mesomorph body types are naturally strong without doing anything and find it pretty easy to gain and lose weight.

The mesomorph body type is the best for bodybuilding as there ability to gain size and strength is great. The mesomorph is naturally strong and has the perfect genetic predisposition for building muscle, and often gains muscle very quickly.

Famous mesomorph body types include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone.

Endomorph: Endomorph body types are generally pretty soft and round. The endomorph gains muscle and fat very easily and is generally short and stocky.

They often have a relatively slow metabolism and find losing weight to be difficult. Endomorph body types are usually naturally pretty strong, especially in the upper legs, which is great for bodybuilding.

Endomorphs tend to have a relatively high genetic potential, although it is not as high as the bodybuilding potential of the mesomorph body type. Famous endomorph body types include Jack Black and Chris Farley.

Very few people are solely one of these three body types and most people are mixtures of them.

Every body type has its advantages and disadvantages but it’s up to you to get the most out of your genetic potential.

Okay, so that was the general aspect of genetics’ role in bodybuilding. The more specific aspect is determining your overall genetic bodybuilding potential.

And when I say genetic potential, it means natural as in no steroids, pro-hormones, and all the other muscle-enhancing supplements that people consume to get results quickly and unnaturally.

There is a reason that there is a limitation. There is a reason our bodies say “no more” once we hit a certain point.

It’s because our bodies weren’t met to hold that much weight or that much muscle.

Take away all the side effects that steroids and all these other supplements give, the stress put on the heart for a little extra muscle is the worst side effect of all the bodybuilding supplements.

The amount of stress put on the heart caused by steroids and the excess muscle mass that steroids produce, can often times cause heart failures and heart problems.

According to a study conducted by Thomas MacDonald of Scotland, Heart disease risk was more than 2.5 times higher in people taking high doses of steroids compared with bodybuilders not taking steroids.

In another study conducted at the Orange County Heart Institute, 14 bodybuilders known to be using steroids for at least 10 years were given tests. 

A majority of the study subjects had premature and severe coronary artery disease. Several of the bodybuilding subjects in their early 30’s had hardening of the arteries similar to a 75-year-old man.  

The earlier in life you develop coronary artery plaque, the more likely you will die of a heart attack at an early age.

Anyways, back to genetic potential. Knowing your predisposition to gain size and mass can really keep many people from getting so disappointed with results and making unrealistic goals when starting to work out.

Although genetic potential cannot be controlled naturally, it can be optimized.

So here’s what a good training/nutrition plan would do for an average bodybuilder who bodybuilds regularly and correctly.

After 4 or 5 years the genetic potential should be reached leaving the general possible weight gain of muscle to be 40-50 pounds over a lifetime (which is a lot of muscle weight).

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 a very general table and everyone’s different. The reason many people become discouraged after long periods of bodybuilding is that the results start to slow down the more and more the individual works out as shown by the chart above.

Many other factors play a role as well, such as age.

So the way your specific genetic potential is configured is based on your wrists, ankles, height, and body fat percentage goal.

So to do this:

  1. Measure the circumference of your ankle at the smallest point between the calf muscle and the ankle.
  2. Measure the circumference around your wrist just below the bony lump on the outside of your wrist.
  3. Measure your height without shoes on.
  4. Finally, decide what would be your ideal body fat

So here’s the formula for genetic potential.

The “W” stands for wrist circumference, the “A” for ankle circumference, the “%BF” for goal body fat, and the “H” for height without shoes..

Different body types may react slightly differently to this formula.

Extreme ectomorph body types may only get 95% of the formula’s predictions of genetic potential while endomorph and mesomorph body types may get 105% of the prediction of genetic potential.

I hope you found this information to be interesting and helpful rather than demotivating.

I personally found learning about my own genetic potential to be very informative and I’m hoping it did the same for you.

Daniel Maman

Daniel Maman's two biggest passions in life are health and fitness. He is a certified personal trainer, has a degree in exercise science, and spends his free time keeping up to date with the latest research. In his free time, you can find him playing basketball, bouldering, and spoiling his dog, Luna.

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  • Written by: Daniel Maman
  • ACE Personal Trainer
    BA Exercise Science
  • Last Updated on March 24, 2023

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