If you go to a training forum and write that you are 6′ and 160lbs, you will be advised to eat more to avoid evaporation from the planet and get to the magic 200-220 pounds. Cool, except that it‘s not nearly that easy. Most people have extremely delusional ideas how much one could weigh without drugs.
Past a certain threshold, which is not as high as many believe, all of your bodyweight gains will simply make you fat, not more muscular.
The popular rule “eat big to get big” only applies to enhanced steroid users. For naturals “eat big to get big” works only if by big you mean fat. Therefore, in the world of natty bodybuilding, the rule “eat big to get big” could be translated as “eat big to get fat”. This is the way things work. I don’t care what kind of routines you are following. 20 rep squats, 5×5, 3×10, Ronnie Coleman’s split, Eugen Sandow’s functional training, kettlebell humping, calisthenics nonsense, sandbag throwing…etc. Your training and nutrition are irrelevant simply because they do not have the capacity to overcome the natural limits. I am sorry but the extra calories will just make you fatter.
The stories about lifters who have gained 50 pounds of muscle in three months naturally are simply nonsense. Here’s the actual breakdown – 30 pounds of fat, 15 pounds water and glycogen, 5 pounds of muscle thanks to the so-called noob gains. Of course, they don’t write this in the magazines. You will never hear about it in the politically correct interviews either, but it’s the truth nevertheless.
You can’t be 6′ and 220lbs as a natural without being fat. I know that some people know other people who have friends who are 275lbs at 5’11” and “no more than 10-15% body fat”, but that’s as real as saying that you know people who know people who have friends who have seen a flying elephant. Either the elephant is not natural (flying on airplanes) or it’s all an illusion.
Strength development depends primarily on two factors:
2.Structural improvements (thicker joints and bigger muscles)
Once the ability of your central nervous system to produce force at your current bodyweight has been maxed out, it’s game over. The last level has been reached. At that point, the only way to get stronger is to get bigger. You see it all the time. People stall, get big/fat and unstuck themselves only to stall a few pounds later.
Let’s say that you are 6’@170lbs and trying to improve your squat. In my experience, average people such as me will start having issues with squats around 1.2 BW. From there it takes a lot more time and dedicated effort to reach the next level, but it is certainly possible to hit 2BW naturally even if you are not a genetic wonder. Once you reach 2 BW, the game gets even tougher and more ungrateful than before.
When you are 170lbs, 2BW is 340lbs – a weight that’s not considered particularly heavy by the online lifting community. Somewhat ironically, squatting 405lbs when you weigh 200lbs yourself is more likely to gain you respect, although in both cases the relative strength is the same – two times your bodyweight.
The sad part is that the heavier bodyweights can only be reached if you are willing to welcome a lot of lard in your life. This is why many naturals are so fat. Eventually, however, you have to ask yourself the question – am I stronger because I am stronger or am I stronger because I am fat and water bloated? The answer is personal. I am not telling you what’s the right choice for you, although I know what mine is. I simply don’t like being fat.
By the way, this is another reason why some training programs are way overrated. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the weight on the bar starts climbing when you are gaining 2lbs of bodyweight a week. Simply put, you will always move bigger barbells as a fatso. Fat and water bloat could be very beneficial in your fight against gravity. They make you more stable, lubricate the joints, and you no longer feel naked in front of the iron. You have a layer of protection behind which you can hide. Many people are afraid to get naked in front of the barbell because of the fairy tales, which to be honest are kinda true. It’s harder to lift when you are lean.
The way I see it, you should be getting as strong as possible while gaining as little weight as possible. As you can guess, I am talking about fat here. Gaining muscle is awesome, but it is a mirage when you are a natty. If you limit the fat gains, you will know that all strength improvement is the result of neurological and structural adaptation rather than lard accumulation.
There are many clips of light weightlifters lifting insane weights. One time I saw the video of a 60-65kilo female lifter squatting 220kg. Of course, she wasn’t natural, but her effort still shows how strong you can get without getting fat. Naturals can do the same, although to a smaller degree. Good luck squatting even 140kg as a 60-kilo natural female lifter.
It’s way harder to stick to a program for 3 months only to add 10 pounds to your squat than to fall for the eat big to get big scam and gain 50 pounds to add 35 pounds to your squat. Honestly, anybody can get “strong” that way. What’s more impressive – benching 250lbs with good form as a lean/skinny guy or benching 375lbs as a fat bloated mess? The choice is yours once again.
I have been fat but not McDonald’s “loving it” kinda fat. I liked neither the feeling nor the eating. But before all, I didn’t like the fact that all that bulking was not giving me the muscles I thought I had earned – only fat. I felt cheated after my bulk. I stole so much food from the planet for narcissistic reasons only to become a weak permabulker.
The funniest moment of them all is when you try to make your fat cells appear to be muscle. I remember sticking my chest out as much as I can in order to show my sister how much I’d upgraded. What happened? She just looked at my fat gut sticking out in front of my chest and said that I look like garbage thanks to my freshly added double chin and Jurassic park butt.
At the time, I was one of the guys who think that their fat glutes are what uneducated people call “squat/deadlifts butts”. As expected, most of the gains were once again just fat because guess, what? The rear is a great place to store lard.
I remember barely fitting in most of my jeans. They were going to explode, and please, bear in mind that I used to wear a lot of baggy clothes from my rap clothing era. Truth be told, I’d become a delusional centaur.
The fact that most people were seeing that the emperor has no muscle crushed me hard, but I needed the wake-up call. Only after a hardcore tackle, you can truly realize how hard you suck. It hurts. I understand. This is why resistance is to be expected. Admitting your mistakes is one of the most painful things emotionally. Even to this day, I can’t do it painlessly and probably never will.
P.S. The post revealing the natty potential has been updated.
Lots of pithy truth in this post, love it.
I also noticed that 1.2BW is a sticking point for squats. Why is that?
Is it ‘genetics’ in general, or is one of those plateaus that naturally occur and we blast through with hard work? Does it just keep getting harder and harder or is 1.3BW or 1.4BW a tad less ball busting?
It’s always hard.