How Big Can You Get Naturally Without Steroids?

| February 25, 2014 by Truth Seeker |

One of the eternal bodybuilding questions is:

How big can you get naturally?

Pro bodybuilders and their pimps say that the sky is the limit if you have the right genetics and work like a mad monkey in the gym.

And since the professional constructors of muscle have impressive physiques inducing rapture, the gullible souls listen to the fairy tales infested with lies and deception.

This kind of behavior keeps you in the labyrinth carefully designed by the industry.

What determines muscle growth?

As I tell you in the new book Potential, muscle hypertrophy (increase in the volume of muscle tissues) is dependent on many growth factors.

The two major ones are your frame (bone thickness) and testosterone levels.

By default, people who have naturally high testosterone levels and thick frames are bigger and more muscular than emo boys with a girly bone structure.

On average, men produce between 30mg and 70mg of testosterone per week and have 20 times higher testosterone levels than females.

The muscular development and physical strength of men are highly superior because of that. We may live in the era of the sensitive brah wearing skinny jeans, and yet the average man is still significantly stronger than the average female.

A 165lbs/75kg bench press is considered an elite lift for a woman weighing 147lbs/67kg. A man of the same weight could bench that weight in less than a year and will be barely considered an intermediate.

Why? Testosterone and structure.

There isn’t an exercise program or a nutritional plan that could change this fact.

Even if a woman trains for 100 years without getting old in the process, she won’t be able to match the levels of strength and size presented by males who lift.

This also explains why female bodybuilders are bigger than many natural males. Women who bodybuild are often on gear (hormones) that helps them transform into a monstrosity.

The same principle holds true when comparing natural bodybuilders and male bodybuilders on steroids.

The roid users will always be more muscular thanks to their artificially boosted testosterone levels.

What are the rest of the growth factors?

The growth factors that determine how big you can get naturally are:

  1. Body chemistry
  2. Frame
  3. Muscle insertions
  4. Response to training
  5. Age
  6. Stress
  7. Muscle fiber distribution
  8. Training
  9. Nutrition
  10. Sleep
  11. Overall health

People always underestimate their body fat levels

Many natural lifters who are 25% body fat classify themselves as 17% or even 10% because they can see their first two abs under the moonlight.

After a cut, they are surprised that they have to lose three times more weight to see all their abs than originally planned.

This phenomenon is very common in the Internet realm where everyone is a superman.

Whenever a natural says ”I gained 20 pounds with very little fat.”, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to translate the claim to – ”I gained 20 pounds with more fat than I am willing to admit.”

Can you give me a table with weights?

In 2014, when came to life, I prepared the following table based on my observations in the gym as well as the teachings of popular muscle scholars.



6′ 2″ (188cm)

197lbs (89kg)

6′ 1″ (185cm)

190lbs (86kg)

6′ (183cm)

184lbs (83.5kg)

5′ 11″ (180cm)

177lbs (80kg)

5′ 10″ (178cm)

170lbs (77kg)

5′ 9″ (175cm)

163lbs (74kg)

5′ 8″ (173cm)

156lbs (71kg)

5′ 7″ (170cm)

149lbs (68kg)

5′ 6″ (168cm)

142lbs (65kg)

5′ 5″ (165cm)

135lbs (62kg)

Note: This chart is based on the following principle: you start at 5′ 5″ (165cm) and 135lbs (62kg) and for every inch (2.5cm) you either add or take away 7 lbs (3kg). Keep in mind that the numbers are just a guideline and are for people who are in contest shape and have favorable bodybuilding genetics.

Shortly after publishing the numbers, I started to receive angry messages from people who were allegedly born bigger than what the table suggests.

I knew this wasn’t the case due to a very simple fact – if you can truly match the numbers from above while being between 5 and 8% body fat, you wouldn’t care about natural limits, for you will look amazing.

The numbers seem shocking not because they are low. They are shocking for two reasons:

  1. People have been brainwashed by the mainstream muscle media (magazines, YouTube, books, movies…etc.) that anyone can be 200lbs shredded.
  2. Natural lifters and bodybuilders are fatter than they think.

The New Numbers

I no longer believe in the numbers presented above. I think they are too high for individuals who don’t have an ultra-big frame, high testosterone levels, long muscle bellies and an amazing response to training. For most lifters, the numbers will be 20 pounds less.

P.S. If you want to learn more about the human potential for growth, check out the book Potential: How Big Can You Get Naturally as well as the rest of the articles on the site.

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  1. LeaguePlayer:D

    Eugene Sandow was 90 kilos for 1m75 . He died 92 years ago. He didn’t train chest.
    Peter Krylov was 88 kilos for 1m70. 72 cm waist. He was born in 1871.
    George Hackenschmidt was 99 kilos for 1m75, shredded. He was born in 1877.
    Hermann Görner was 120+ kilos for 1m85, shredded. April 13, 1891 – June 29, 1956.
    Arthur Saxon was 90 kilos for 1m78. 1878-1921.

    According to these guidelines all these guys are roided freaks 😀

    Come on people can get much better results that what’s mentionned here!

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Those stats are fake. The “retro” lifters were much smaller and fatter than you think. They boosted their numbers just like Arnold said he had 22-inch arms, but later they were measured at a little over 19 inches. Moreover, those men obviously had decent genetics.

      Get to 200lbs/91 kg shredded to the bone at any height below 6’4″ naturally and call me.

      I will change the numbers right away.

          1. I Art Laughing

            Yeah, because they clearly blow up your “Tren” arguments. Your level of shitposting is epic.

            So can you show me the computer they shopped Sandow’s “impossible” physique with or show me the 19th century steroid regime he was on?

            Either that or start dispensing tin foil because you are on a new level of conspiracy theorizing that I cannot attain to.

          2. none

            @Truth Seeker hey man… I’ve read your books, thought you made great points. But this right here does not make sense and possibly undermines the rest of your demonstration. How can you say “Photos from the 19 century do not count.”? What is the reasoning behind such dismissal? I hope you will adress this.

    2. Gaperda

      The author is spot on with these numbers. I checked the video multiple times and there is no way Sandow ways more than 75-78 kilograms at what seems to be 8-10% body fat. And since he was also considered one of the strongest men of his time, he had most probably elite genetics. Cruel, isn’t it? And to the ones rebuking the author’s claim, I suggest you read Sandow’s book. He presents some lifting numbers which are preposterous but it makes sense, since marketing goes further back than the early 20th century.

  2. Dean

    I like how if anything doesn’t suit your perspective it’s automatically ‘fake’. I’m not even going to bother with reasoning with you, you’ll just think up another BS story to justify your beliefs.
    Your probably one of those guys that have spent years doing ‘bro splits’ with little to no results and have come to the conclusion that ‘if I can’t do it, it’s not possible’.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      In the video, I don’t see a man weighing 90kg/198lbs at 175cm/5’9”, which is massive.

      I have a hard time believing he is over 165lbs/75 kg in that video.

      Also, those arms in the video are definitely not anywhere near 18 inches – 15, 16 inches at best.

  3. Visto

    I don’t completely disagree with the article. but you greatly undermine naturals abilities. Sure those numbers are for freaks. But I think most people especially the 6’1 plus will reach 180lbs+ at 10%bf which is respectable by normal standards and its light years behind with what’s steroids users look like even at same weight. As for getting to 200lbs be happy to have it in your dreams unless you willing to be fat.

  4. Robert Smith

    I’m 6ft 230lbs and natural. I carry some bodyfat, last measured at 25%. I train primarily for powerlifting and focus almost exclusively on the main compound movements and have been lifting for 9 years.
    I have seen lifters larger and stronger than I am who I believe to natural.

    The figures listed here seem to be what is achievable in a short space of time naturally, most should be able to exceed them given enough time and devotion.

    1. Visto

      there is nothing special about being 25% bf it’s counterproductive at best unless looking good naked is not your thing.

    2. Hancock

      Those stats in the table are for contest ready physiques if I understood correctly. So if you subtract 20% of your weight of fat, you get withing the limits of the table. So much so, that it’s almost like you reverse engineered those stats of yours 😀

      1. Robert Smith

        You make a good point Hanock, the table does’t really stipulate that you’d go down to 5%.

        As somebody more focused in the actual lifts it would be interesting to know what people think is possible naturally there.
        My best lifts to date are (kg): 280kg deadlift; 210kg squat (paused); 150kg bench press (paused); 97.5kg strict overhead.

        I really think it’s possible to get well into the 300’s naturally on deadlift but it would require years of dedication and great genetics.

        1. joe santus

          The stats in the table are for total
          bodyweight , for a PED-free genetic elite guy at the 5% to 6% bodyfat (BF) standard today in contests.

          For example, a 5′ 10″ lifelong-drug-free guy with above-average genetics who’s 170 lbs at 6% BF would carry about 160 lbs lean. body mass (LBM).

          Again, those represent what’s possible for the genetic elite. Most of us don’t have top-shelf genetics for building muscle mass, though, so those stats aren’t a pursuable goal for the majority of us average- and below-average-gened guys. But they do reveal that the maximums attainable naturally even by the most-gifted human males are far below what’s attainable with drugs.

      2. Engineer guy

        I agree… at 200 pounds I was 18% body fat using the navy method… so 0.5% per pound so theoretically I should have been 7.5% at 175 pounds… in reality I was 9.5%… 9.5% looks awesome by the way!! But still the math is not that easy

  5. cliff

    Having high testosterone levels comes with health risks. Statistics show mwn with high levels of this hormone are at increased risk of developing enlarged prostrates. Big muscles and big prostrates I guess

  6. natty

    This isn’t bad. Maybe it’s just because I never planned on becoming huge, but I found these guidelines encouraging. I started at 5’9 and skinny 140 lbs. After six months of calisthenics, I am around 155 lbs and lean. This has made a big difference in my appearance, even though it is spread over my whole body. Much of my old clothing doesn’t fit any more. I am getting favourable comments both from people who know me and those who didn’t know me before. I feel better, have more confidence, sleep like a baby, and have more success with women.

    Natural exercise has a lot going for it, even if you don’t become “big” like a bodybuilder.

    I chose calisthenics because I am lazy and don’t want to go to the gym. I also travel a lot and can’t count on having a particular set of equipment. As for nutrition, I am a vegetarian, so I take one scoop (30g) of whey protein concentrate per day to supplement my protein intake, which might not be necessary.

    I am hoping that I can reach 160 lbs, 20 lbs over my natural skinny weight. What I like about my calisthenics routine is that I can continue doing this forever, anywhere, and be fitter than the vast majority of men. I understand that in old age, my testosterone will decline and I will get a bit smaller, but I see guys in their 60s and 70s exercising in the park and still looking great.

    So I don’t think your numbers, or your message, need to cause despair. The only problem is unreasonable expectations, which I believe you are doing good work in tackling. Thanks!

  7. Stan Rogers

    Alright, I’ve only been lifting for like 2.5 years. I’m 5’8″, 185 lbs, 18% body fat. 185/1.18*1.05 is 164.6 lbs if I had 5%, which exceeds your chart by 5.6 lbs. I’ve never used anything stronger than creatine.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      “If” doesn’t work. Get lean and tell me how it goes for you. Also, I bet that 18% is more like 24%. Also, those formulas NEVER work in practice, especially if you are natural. You will always lose more weight. You have no idea what a real 5-8% actually is.

    2. Jimmy Pach

      Dude, you can’t apply a cross multiplication to that, as you get below 14% BF, you’ll start to lose mass of both muscle and fat. Is not as simple as you’re portraying it.

    3. Jeffrey Gordon

      Your math is wrong. If you are 185 lbs, 18% body fat, that means you have 185 * . 82 = 151.7 pounds of lean body weight. This would be 95% of your body weight at 5% body fat, so at 5% body fat, your total body weight would be 151.7 / .95 = 159.7 lbs, which is darn close to the 156 lbs given in the chart. At 3% body fat, you’d weight 151.7 / .97 = 156.4 lbs. Given that the chart is for contest ready physiques (i.e. 3 to 5% body fat), I’d say it’s right on target.

  8. Troy

    NattyorNot pic

    Hello Truth Seeker, you may remember me regarding your post on Symbolism in the IFBB. I bought your books and I am really enjoying The Haters Synthesis at the moment. You have helped spur on something within me to spread the facts and truth regarding the fitness and health industry and all other bull crap exploitation industries. Thank you for that.

    It’s kinda weird I know, but I am sending pictures of myself to your address as an example hopefully to others of the potential, at least with my situation/genetics that is.

    I was going to post them here but I don’t know how so I’ll leave it to you if you decide.

    I realize that I cannot prove, nor will everyone believe, that I am a natural and not a drug-induced idiot. I am doing this only to give someone a perspective. The pictures were taken from my wife and believe it or not I am not the type of person that likes to take pictures let alone the bodybuilding type.

    My stats at the time of the pics are as follows:
    Well over 40 years old. But have done some sort of strength training since I was 15 years old.
    Height – 5’9.5″
    Weight – 184 lbs
    Tanita body fat scale % – 10.2 %
    Note: scale was set to “Athlete” mode. Not sure how accurate that really is but I am nowhere near 5 to 8%. I’m probably at 12% or more.
    Chest – 45 1/5″ around and 47+” when flexed.
    Waist – about 34 1/2″ – 35″ maybe even a little bigger.
    Arms – between 15 1/2″ – 15 3/4″ inches flexed while cold. But about 16 1/4″ flexed while pumped.

    A few KEY notes to explain what’s in the pics.
    1. I had Dieted down slowly over the course of a couple months (basically watching my total caloric intake) trying to remain in a slight deficit over the course of time) from over 200 pounds. I was thick at that weight of 200 lbs. but my waist measurements proved I was just a fat boy. I have done this type of cutting and bulking experiment many times over the last 25+ years and generally speaking the outcome is always the same.
    2. Very important – Those pictures and measurements are not what I look like cold. I did sets of push-ups, curls, overhead presses and other “fluff” type movements to get pumped. I also drank a glass of wine in the thought that I would look more vascular.
    3. My abs are not as prominent as they could be because quite frankly (who is frank anyway?) I am not at a low enough body fat percentage for them to be noticeable.
    4. At a higher body weight I most likely had more muscle mass but a key note is that as I lost overall body fat I did lose fat free mass this is honestly inevitable. A person just can’t keep the same amount of muscle mass on their body as they cut a lot of fat weight, period. I Unless of course a person is on some kind of growth drug, which I was not, am not, and will not partake of. I have tried and tried over and over again throughout the years and I ALWAYS lose some muscle mass during the slimming down process.
    5. Whenever I try to slim down the first thing that goes as far as size is my shoulders, arms, calves and neck measurements. This happens when I am focusing on achieving a smaller waistline. I simply can only hold so much muscle mass on my body at a lean weight, and at the same time, I can only add so much muscle mass while trying to bulk up without becoming a dough boy. There comes a point of diminishing returns. For me it’s at about the 185 pound mark. Above that weight I look bigger in clothes but my belly is fat with no visible abs, and I feel like crap, not as athletic, etc. When I am close to the 175 pound mark I am really defined with visible abs but do not look as big in my clothes. My wife likes me a little bulkier so I stay 185+ pounds most of the time. I got to keep her happy right? Haha.

    Anyway, I posted this because it seems most guys give all this information about themselves but don’t prove it through pics. Obviously the pics and measurements are a bit tainted because of the fluff exercises I did but vanity took over and I wanted to look bigger.

    I am drug-free and will remain so for the rest of my life because I want to be a walking, talking, person of real integrity and character and DO NOT want to put that into my system just to be bigger and more shredded. Also, I want to remain a positive influence to my two sons and their friends as best as I can. I don’t want to be the type of dad that says, “do as I say, not as I do.”
    Ya know what I mean?

  9. Dmitry

    Only naive and gullible teens think they can get big and ripped without substances.
    I’m 188cm, 98.2kg (shit, i’m not sure, some day i’m 97, some day 98.8), probably 17-21% fat

  10. Big Papa Pump

    I agree with a few people who say that you should have specified that those stats are at competition level.

    As to the body fat measurements, it’s really difficult, even when using the bodybuilding calipers to get a correct number.

    I am trying to get ready for a competition and i am starting to realize that even 10% is hell to achieve.

    I guess that the ultimate achievable naturally would be someone like Steve Reeves?

    So if your numbers are for 6-8% of body fat, I guess that very few people would get to that number, regardless of weight. And the other way round too, if you are skinny within that body fat range, you’ll never get up to that weight lifting weights.

    So on those facts, yes I believe your article.

  11. Shanghai_Bobby

    Heya Seeker,

    What % body fat is your natural physique scale considering? The reason I ask is because I’m 5’9 and I weighed in today at 80kgs. Based on my most recent photo, I believe I’m like 12 – 13% bf (hope I’m not underestimating) – can see all 6 abs under reasonable lighting, and look quite ripped under good lighting.


  12. Bob

    1m79, 76kg. Been training for a year, hopefully I can loose a couple % of body fat while retaining that weight. My guess is I’m at around 15-16% body fat.

  13. TommyLeeJonesMIB_Big

    Brah, that new book is like the ULTIMATE GUIDE for newbies. I give it 4/5. I would have loved a few more pictures and graphics to be honest. Maybe you can make a second edition and put them in. Anyway I consider it money well spent.

    I share your views on many topics, albeit we have some differences. Thanks, brah. I hope you come up with more material soon. Been following you since iron gangsta by the way.

  14. Anonymouslifter1234

    People grossly overestimate how much pure lean muscle mass they can put on naturally.

    I’m 6’3″ and I’ve been weight training for a number of years. During gaining phases, I get up to a body weight of about 200-210, decidedly NOT lean. Then when I cut down to a body weight of 180 lbs, I still can’t even see my abs! If I actually wanted to be in condition for a contest, I would look absolutely emaciated.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      This is the case for many naturals. But on the Internet everyone is 5’8″ and 200lbs with abs “almost showing”.

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