Kevin Levrone – The Best Genetics in The World of Bodybuilding? Discussion on bodybuilding genetics.

Digital motivation is everywhere in the online ocean – on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… Anywhere you surf, there’s a motivational video explaining that hard work is the key to success.

I can’t deny that this method produces results. When your work is appreciated, you get ahead of the drunks playing cards all day.

But things that were never meant to be will never be regardless of how many hours you spend training.


Destiny and genetics go hand in hand. Some say that humans build their own destiny, but I don’t buy this populism found in every political speech either. Most of the things that mark your life had been chosen for you by the machine. We have a slight percentage of power that may also be an illusion but exist in some form nevertheless.

Looking back, I can say that everything I got in terms of achievement and money required me to work, sometimes more than I had planned. Nevertheless, this was also destiny. There is a reason why I am not a Formula 1 driver. I was never meant to be one.

Bodybuilding works the same way. Many people do the work but only a few reach the top. There are many requirements to become a bodybuilder, and the most important one is to have the right genetics.

Levrone in his prime

Kevin Levrone in his prime; via YouTube

Bodybuilding Genetics Explained

1.You have to love it

Let’s begin with the basics. To become a bodybuilder, you have to love the lifestyle. Everyone loves big muscles, but picking things up and putting them down is not everyone’s dream. Some, however, see themselves saved in the gym and continue with the mission. They want it more than the rest.

”Wanting it” is genetics too. It’s part of your character.

2.You need the right environment

image source: https://pixabay.com/bg/users/bernswaelz-1728198/;

image source: https://pixabay.com/bg/users/bernswaelz-1728198/

We often say that we are self-made, but that’s rarely accurate. There are people or events that make it all possible. You may be doing most of the work, but you need a specific environment for that to happen in the first place.

A rich kid that studies to be an attorney is working hard, but that work would be impossible without the right conditions.

In other words, the environment you are born into has to allow you to become a bodybuilder.

There is a reason why Eskimos never go to the Olympia.

3.You need a favorable structure

Arnold, Serge and Sergio in Mr. Olympia 1972

Arnold, Serge and Sergio in Mr. Olympia 1972

Size does not make you a good bodybuilder. Muscle mass is just your passport to be on stage. Ultimately, you need more than that to make it happen.

Winning bodybuilders have a good structure and muscle bellies that make them stand out. Think of Arnold for example. Many are the same size or bigger, but his overall appearance is still unmatched.

For good or for bad, some people fail to see that their flaws are sort of unfixable. Those would be the Branch Warrens of the world. Regardless of how many times you scream ”motherfucker” during lat pulldowns, your structure will not change. This is genetics. This is destiny.

The best structure for bodybuilding is:

  • wide shoulders
  • narrow hips
  • not too tall, but not too short either – perfect height is 5’10” – 6’2”
  • not too blocky
  • long muscle bellies – especially important for the arms, lats, calves, chest and quads
  • thin skin
  • symmetrical abdominal muscles

4. You need resilient organs.

”Ah, what a biceps,” says the crowd while watching Mr. Olympia flex his arm.

That’s a nice statement, but exclamations such as: ”What a liver!”, ”Amazing kidneys!”, ”What a massive heart!”, ”Extraordinary glands!” would also be on point.

To be a pro bodybuilder, you need organs of steel that can resist a nuclear attack. The drugs taken by pro builders are enough to put a small horse to sleep. I kid you not, kid. Not everyone can sustain steroids, GH, insulin and diuretics for years. Those cocktails are hell on your organs. Many competitors die or suffer severe damage.

And yet there are also guys who compete in their late 40s.

How does that happen?

Genetics. Quality drugs. Smart dosing, Luck. Mostly genetics.

5.You gotta have an amazing response to drugs.

kevin-levrone-on-steroids-kevin-levrone-off-steroids

The final requirement for a complete bodybuilding ascension is an organism that responds well to steroids and other anabolic drugs. That’s genetic too. Some people blow up from small doses whereas others gain a little muscle and ten kilos of bitch tits from their first cycle. It’s unfair, but we all know what planet we are on.

That phenomenon coined the term ”gym rat response”. It describes the average kid from the block that spams its body with Chinese d-bol but never blows up like an Olympian. The response is average and does not allow the lifter to compete with the big boys whose bodies show greater love for synthetic hormones.

In the past, I read that the popular guru Vince Gironda had a gym rat response to drugs which resulted in extreme bitterness. While this was probably just his personality, I would still not be surprised if he wasn’t natty. After all, his pupils seem to love drugs.

Meanwhile, we have guys like Kevin Levrone that supposedly don’t take Vitamin S…unless there’s a competition coming up. A few months before an event, they pump up the volume and blow up.

The old photos of Levrone make this theory believable. He seems to be one of the guys who ”grow into a show” – a strategy that can’t work for a natural bodybuilder.

As the competition approaches, naturals get smaller and smaller because they lose fat and water.

In conclusion

Guys like Kevin Levrone and Dexter Jackson have the ultimate bodybuilding genetics. I would even say that they beat some of the old timers like Arnold and friends when it comes to longevity.

Let’s face it – modern pros use way more ”product” than the 70s crew, and yet some compete in their late 40s. This is destiny. This is genetics. This is unbeatable.

P.S. The guide revealing the natty limits has been updated.

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31 comments

  1. Oz

    I remember reading a book years ago called ‘Over The Edge’ that stated when professional bodybuilders say they have good genetics for the sport, what they really mean is their body responds very well to the drugs.

  2. Dejan

    BTW, there are drugs after which you don’t even have to work out and will grow. Let me explain. My friend came into contact with ex BB champion, who is now dealing with drugs and became expert in those drugs 🙂
    He said, you don’t have to work out to brake your muscles (so they grow bigger). You can use drugs which are used by people in wheelchairs to grow their legs since they can’t work out… Then you add steroids and GH and no wonder Kevin can grow 8 kilos of muscle per month…
    For loosing fat, you have peptides injections, which you inject into your fat directly and you will shrink those specific areas hard to loose including your skin…

    1. joe santus

      LOL…those “drugs” are none other than testosterone, which is the basis of all steroids.

      Here’s a 2001 study which evidences the substantial muscle-building effects of supraphysiological doses of testosterone when the recipients did ZERO resistance training in conjunction with the administration of testosterone:

      http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/281/6/E1172

      “…. 61 eugonadal men, 18–35 yr, were randomized to one of five groups to receive monthly injections of a long-acting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist, to suppress endogenous testosterone secretion, and weekly injections of 25, 50, 125, 300, or 600 mg of testosterone enanthate for 20 wk….Fat-free mass increased dose dependently in men receiving 125, 300, or 600 mg of testosterone weekly (change +3.4, 5.2, and 7.9 kg, respectively)….This was a double-blind, randomized study….The participants were healthy men, 18–35 yr of age, with prior weight-lifting experience and normal testosterone levels….Energy and protein intakes were standardized at 36 kcal · kg−1 · day−1 and 1.2 g · kg−1 · day−1, respectively….The participants were asked not to undertake strength training or moderate-to-heavy endurance exercise during the study. These instructions were reinforced every 4 wk.”

      3.4 kg = 7.5 lbs lean mass
      5.2 kg = 11.5 lbs
      7.9 kg = 17.4 lbs

      For general information…in prescription Testosterone Replacement Therapy, the standard dose is 100 mg of injectable testosterone per week; 100 mg per week has been found to keep serum T up near but not over the maximum of the range considered “normal/natural” for men. So, the 125, 300, and 600 mg doses administered weeky were higher than the standard TRT does.

      Meaning, a guy sitting on his ass for 20 weeks but taking a single weekly injection of 600 mg of testosterone could increase his lean mass by as much as 17 pounds. And, 600 mg total of testosterone per week is “small” compared to the commonly-used bodybuilder stacks that add to 1,000 mg or more per week.

      Also significant in this 2001 study is the ones who gained that average of 17 pounds of lean mass on 600 mg of T per week gained ZERO fat mass in those 20 weeks:

      “Fat mass, measured by underwater weighing, increased significantly in men receiving the 25- and 50-mg doses but did not change in men receiving the higher doses of testosterone.”

      And, a similar study done in 1996:

      http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199607043350101#t=articleResults

      “We randomly assigned 43 normal men to one of four groups: placebo with no exercise, testosterone with no exercise, placebo plus exercise, and testosterone plus exercise. The men received injections of 600 mg of testosterone enanthate or placebo weekly for 10 weeks…. The men treated with testosterone but no exercise had an increase of 3.2 kg in fat-free mass…”

      Meaning, after 10 weeks of sitting on their asses and doing nothing except receiving one weekly 600 mg dose of testosterone, they gained slightly over 7 lbs of lean mass; which extrapolates consistently with the 17 lbs gained in 20 weeks in the 2001 study.

      Lesson being, that even with zero resistance training, testosterone and steroids in supraphysiological doses will build substantial amounts of muscle.

  3. ja97

    it has been said that Kev benched 315 at 140 pounds in high school if you look at pics of him at the age of 13 you see that he already has this ”base” for bb

  4. pedro

    i used to have an aqcuaintance, very nice fellow he used to be, who made a cycle of probably HGH, cause he used to be tall and super skinny, he gained pounds of muscle mass very quickly it was very notorious and about a year later he passed away by cancer

  5. OMaR

    Hey i hav recently read a book ” The Complete Keys To Progress by John Mccallum” … this is a book from 60’s maybe and it sounded great to me … can we have a review of that ?

  6. TruthSpeaker

    It’s not genetics.

    It’s just consistent training, decent diet, and very smart roid formulas.

    I’ll agree the structure matters. But you make it sound like using roids is like playing Russian Roulette where everyone does the same shit and some walk out untouched and others in a coma.

    The ones in the hospitals either messed up, had bad product, or had a pre-existing condition.

    We all eat McDonalds, we all Drink Water, we all Drive cars… Not all of us get morbidly obese, choke, or die in car accidents.

    1. joe santus

      Nope, but Bic Macs, water, and driving are not hormones, so comparing them to supraphysiologic doses of testosterone is comparing apples to ant-lions. The analogy might be better if it was, “eating twelve big macs every day, drinking water while lying on one’s back, and driving everywhere all the time at 90 MPH — sure, not all of us get obese, choke, or die in accidents”.

      Kevin Levrone himself believes that some people have genetics which handle drugs better, as he says in this quote from a four-part 2015 interview series:

      “It’s the guys who don’t have the best genetics that go overboard and take the bigger risks in an attempt to compensate and catch up to the more gifted guys. It’s tough for some guys to accept that some of us have better genetics and just respond a lot better to gear than the average person.”

      http://musculardevelopment.com/articles/chemical-enhancement/14364-the-lowdown-on-drugs-part-4-kevin-levrone-shawn-ray-and-dorian-yates-speak-out.html#.WEWOxfkrKXo

      Sure, uninformed misuse of PEDs, blackmarket junk, and pre-existing medical conditions make risks even greater and make problems likelier, but, fact is, no one can know in advance how he’ll respond to supraphysiological amounts of testosterone. Most healthy guys, using reputable product, and using 600 to 1,000 mg total stack per week intelligent cycles will probably be fine, most of the time — but it’s still and always a gamble.

      For the record, I’m NOT anti-steroid at all. I’m a sixty-year-old lifelong-PED-free who’s been bodybuiIding non-steroids since age sixteen in 1972. However, I believe the anti-steroid laws in the US were reactionary political bullshit that infringe on citizens’ right to make informed choices as adults. I, same as most everyone, hate the dishonesty about steroid use, but I believe usage or not should be the choice of any adult over age 20 (which is the age by which most have totally finished physiological puberty).

      But, using steroids IS a significant risk, and genetics DO make a huge difference in how well someone responds to steroids and in how large of doses are required for a person to respond.

  7. genes(matter)-coolboy39939393939393

    Truth Speaker, well there are people who eat Mc Donalds and don’t get too fat and there are those who a weigh a buck fitty despite eating it on a daily. Genetics does play a huge role as it does in every other aspect of life.

  8. ho

    Also steroid user can’t just stop using the drugs and expect to maintain their muscle mass just from train as hard and maintaining the same calories they take, muscle need hormone and testosterone all the time just to maintain the mass not just when building them.
    That’s why body builder can lose their muscle fast once they stop using the drugs, they just don’t have good great natural muscle building genetics to begin with except good drugs receptor genetic maybe. while natural who can get big can maintain their muscle longer because their natural superior genetics.

  9. Lifterx

    Just wanted to mention it’s being said this years Mr Olympia is gonna be very interesting as bodybuilders are eliminating effectively the distended gut… Why? I’ve no idea, people speculate that they must be using a new kind of PED, maybe some type of hormone to go with their stacks to make the gut disappear. A very good example is Roelly Winklaar, he looks in incredible shape as well as Dexter Jackson.

  10. Pas

    If athletes do cycles with AAS, do you see the difference then between off / on a cycle? Or is there a muscle-size delay that makes that they keep their big looks even if they don’t use their drugs for a while?

    1. joe santus

      Yes, most if not all athletes experience a difference when off-cycle.

      How much of a difference depends upon the duration of and dosages taken on cycle and the duration off cycles. The longer off-cycle, the more muscle will be lost. Steroid expert Dan Duchaine once estimated, ““…when you stop steroids, it takes a year or more for all those gains to completely disappear….” ( https://thinksteroids.com/articles/dan-duchaine-hardcore-muscle-interview/ ) So, the erosion isn’t overnight and if an off-cycle isn’t too long, muscle-loss will be relatively small. But, yes, between AAS cycles, a bodybuilder can look smaller.

      Part of the reason is that, because of the natural “feedback” systems in the human body, when the level of testosterone in the body exceeds natural limits, then the body ceases producing its own testosterone, so that, when a cycle ends, not only does the artificially-high level of T from the AAS stop, but, it takes a while for the body to resume making its own testosterone, which can mean entering a condition of having lower T levels than a user had even before he ever took AAS. Once a AAS-user’s testosterone levels decline, he’ll begin losing muscle.

      However, “Post-cycle Therapy”, which consists of using anti-estrogenics (which keep what’s left of the T in the body from converting to estrogen and/or being blocked out by estrogen in body cells) and a hormone called hCG (which helps stimulate the body to produce its own testosterone), can minimize muscle loss between cycles. Also, AAS have what are called “half-lifes”, which roughly means that, even after stopping AAS, it takes a while for all the testosterone from the AAS to metabolize away. How long depends in largely on the dosages of AAS used during the cycle.

    1. joe santus

      Well, the phrase “having good genetics” doesn’t necessarily mean, “having good genetics for NATURALLY building above-average amounts of proportionate muscle.” The phrase can also mean, “having good genetics for responding to and tolerating large doses of muscle-building drugs.”

      There are genetic variations among people in how people respond and tolerate PEDs. For example, a guy born with an above-average number of testosterone receptors in his muscles and with an above-average number of Type II muscle fibers, as well as with a liver which has an above-average capacity to endure stress, will probably respond to, say, a couple years of cycles of 1,000 mg-per-week stacks by building far more muscle than a guy with average quantities of receptors and fibers; and, will probably suffer less if any long-term side-effects than a guy with an average-capacity liver might.

      But, yeah, I do agree that when a guy claims “he has good genetics”, he ought to specify exactly WHAT he means by “good genetics”, and not let people assume he means “good genetics for NATURALLY building muscle” if he doesn’t mean that.

  11. MB

    What if they added a lying test to the regular drug tests before pro-contests? And ask competitors about their drug use. On their responds you can see if they are lying and then they can be disqualified.
    There are lying detectors but also people who are specialized in recognize lies.
    Wouldn’t that be a solution? And it’s affordable for the organizers or the people who have to pay these tests.

    1. joe santus

      Lie detector (polygraph) testing along with drug-testing was tried by contest organizer Mike BonDurant for the natural/drug-free contests he ran in Florida, first in 1987 at the “IntraCoastal Bodybuilding Championship” and then until 1994 (when the name of that contest was changed to “The IntraCoastal Bodybuilding Championship For The Lifetime Drug-Free”).

      But…it is possible to beat a polygraph test (for reasons Dr. David R. Hawkins explains in his mapping of human consciousness work, “Muscle, Pride, and Desires”, Volume 1, Chapter 16).

      And, as subsequent bodybuilding history shows, the idea of using lie detection never spread nor took hold.

    2. joe santus

      Lie detector (polygraph) testing along with drug-testing was introduced by contest organizer Mike BonDurant in Florida for the 1987 “IntraCoastal Bodybuilding Championship”, and used for that contest until 1994 (when the addition words “…For The Lifetime Drug-Free Bodybuilder” were suffixed to the name of the contest).

      However…polygraph testing can be beaten by certain kinds of motivated people.

      And, as subsequent bodybuilding history shows, polygraph testing was never further adopted and disappeared.

      1. MB

        That’s unfortunate.
        Another question: These days you see more and more people of a new generation of bodybuilding on social media with great bodybuilding looks, but different than previous generations. Mostly bigger and lower fat percentage. And they don’t look like they suffer from the AAS. They write all kinds of positive comments about the bodybuilding lifestyle and how great it is.
        Is it possible that the quality of PED just became better and thereby less dangerous or with less side effects and more the wanted effects (muscle growth) ?

        1. joe santus

          If anything, PEDs are poorer quality and potentially more dangerous currently. That’s due to so much of today’s AAS being illegally manufactured in “underground” laboratories, which have no need to comply with laws requiring the ingredients they use and the facilities they utilize to meet the pharmaceutical purity standards which legitimate manufacturers must meet. Underground PEDs are therefore potentially contaminated with bacteria and toxic additives, plus there’s no way except assaying each and every vial, ampule, and tablet to know for sure what it’s actually composed of. Underground AAS labeled as a certain steroid at a certain concentration may not even be that steroid and/or may be significantly diluted; meaning, they potentially won’t be as efficient at building muscle.
          Not all underground manufacturers are irresponsible and unscrupulous, but, since none are regulated, it’s never possible to know for sure if their PEDs are safe and/or effective. So, overall, the quality and safety of PEDs has diminished since anti-steroid legislation was implemented and legitimate manufacturers became scarce.

          1. MB

            Thank you for the explanation.
            But there’s still a difference in the looks between current generation bodybuilders and lets say 2 generations ago. The new generation is leaner and bigger. Then perhaps it’s because the introduction of new things like GH and insuline?

          2. joe santus

            Yes, because of HGH, insulin, better anti-estrogenics (which allow even higher dosages of AAS by minimizing the side-effects of testosterone aromatization) cutting drugs, diuretics, and probably other newer PEDs.

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