Hypertrophy – a Myth or Reality? Can we even grow? The Fight for Hypertrophy – Reality Vs. Brainwashing

| by Truth Seeker |


Hypertrophy is the number one reason for sharing dirty gym air with other brahs fighting for thicker muscle fibers. If hypertrophy didn’t exist, all gyms will be empty, or at least not as crowded.

Nobody starts lifting because of performance. No one. Everybody is after the looks. If the official prize was not hypertrophy, most people would never lift a weight in their lives. You start doing pull-ups not because you want to do pull-ups. You do pull-ups because you think they will give you a bigger back and arms.

The makers of the muscle industry understand those basic principles. They know how you think and exploit your natural desires. The media has done its best to convince us that hypertrophy is a real phenomenon, and that’s why we keep on playing the game of human crane.

For a long time, I was one of those people, but lately, my mind has been tortured by an interesting question – is there any proof that the hypertrophy we are after even exists?

Are we fighting for something unreal?

Destroying the Dogmas

In this section, I will try to destroy the mainstream lies spread by fitness bros and experts. By the time I am finished exposing the nonsensical claims of the muscle guild, the gurus and their hordes of brainwashed sycophants will need advanced anger management classes.

Real Vs. Fake Hypertrophy

1. High reps build sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (bodybuilders).

2. Low reps with heavy weight build myofibrillar hypertrophy (powerlifters).

It’s more than obvious that this is pure nonsense. There’s no such thing as sarcoplasmic or myofibrillar only hypertrophy. You either have both or you have none. That’s it.

Of course, the 5×5/squat-till-you-die-gurus want you to believe in the false notion that bodybuilders have fake inflated muscles whereas powerlifters are thick mofos with extraterrestrial fiber structure. Baloney.

Here’s an interesting experiment: Take a powerlifter and a bodybuilder in the same weight class. Diet them down to equal levels of leanness. Show them to a crowd and ask who is who. Do you think the crowd will easily tell the difference? Maybe some individuals with eyes for the detail will see that one of the guys has a different muscle distribution. The powerlifter will most certainly be bottom heavy while the bodybuilder will be more balanced. Of course, that’s speculation. In reality, spotting the difference will be very difficult.

I was introduced to this hypertrophy theory by the book Power to The People by Pavel about 10 years ago. Since then many fitness media have been spreading the same idea. At the time, I subscribed to this principle and felt superior for doing low reps. Today, I feel like an idiot for falling into the trap, but honestly, how could I know?

The goal was to demonize bodybuilders and put 5×5/low rep training on a pedestal.

The strongest evidence that this fight is beyond pointless is the false belief that one would just balloon up if high reps are added.

Believe it or not, the majority of the functional crowd still believes in the statement above. As if getting big is that easy – you just get a pump and voila – you are now a bodybuilder with huge, unfunctional balloon-like muscles that can burst if you meet a guy carrying ”real”/myofibrillar musculature. It’s funny how the functional lifters turned out to be even dumber thank the curl monkeys.

A long time ago, I met a kettlebell instructor. He was outside doing kettlebell circuits with two other guys. This was the first time I saw people train with kettlebells in person. I got interested and went to watch them practice. The guy schooling the other two lifters had some golden quotes that stood with me. He said that he doesn’t want to get too big because the extra mass makes you slow. Haha. I am laughing so hard now that the neighbors probably think that the coke is kicking in. Are people really that naive? You just do a few more reps and become “too big”? This is the equivalent of saying that you don’t want to work too hard because being a multi-millionaire can result in depression. 

What’s the reality?

The reality is that both, low reps (1-5) and high reps (5-15), can build strength and muscle. Even some of the so-called hypertrophy experts admit it.  Anything under 15 reps increases both – strength and endurance. Furthermore, there’s a significant carryover from heavy low reps to high reps and vice versa. How would that be possible if high rep training results in fake hypertrophy while the other method is “real”? Hahaha. The gurus and their marketing…

5×5 programs will make you grow like a weed. Bodybuilding splits are for homoerotic MIT (Men in Thongs)

Many 5×5 marketers want you to believe that 5×5 routines are based on a deep mystery. Wrong!  The rep range of a routine does not make it special. The element that matters the most is the progression principle.

The reason why 5×5 routines work better is that they come with more sophisticated loading principles than the usual Jay Cutler routine. You can take the same principles and do 3×10. You will get equally as strong and big. That’s a fact of life that many 5×5 zealots will not admit even on their death beds, but I care not because deep down inside they all know that’s the truth. At the end of the day, it all comes down to principles. Never forget that.

You are not getting big because you are not lifting in the right rep range.

“Proper rep range” is a favorite topic of all hypertrophy philosophers. They have convinced the crowd that getting big is simply the result of doing the right amount of reps and sets.

Many believe that in order to grow, you have to enter a very specific code in the computer. Even if one digit is wrong, you cannot open the door leading to extreme growth. This has given birth to cult routines such as 5×5, German Volume, 10×10, 8×8..etc. When you fail to acquire results with one method, there are 10 more routines waiting to be tested. The truth, however, is that growth is not a safe that you open with a specific combination. All combinations work and don’t at the same time. Like I told you already, it’s not about reps but principles. The reps and set schemes are simply a way to shape a workout. What’s more anabolic 10×10 or 8×8? That’s a stupid question, my friend, and yet many muscle apprentices have a hard time figuring it out. That’s hardly a surprise because every week the muscular gurus come up with a different way to sell hypertrophy. Every week there’s a new workout that’s supposed to work better than the one before. Every week they tell you that you are doing it wrong. Every week they give you one more piece that will allegedly produce incredible growth.

The common denominator of all hypertrophy workouts is that they never work as advertised.

You are not growing because you are not spending enough time under tension.

That’s nonsense too. Time under tension is just another variable meant to explain why people aren’t getting as big as the guys in the muscle magazines. It’s a nice addition to the bag of magic tricks the gurus rely on. When you start to focus on time under tension, the burn gets real. You feel like you are finally doing something. “It hurts. I will grow this time.”

Hopefully, you will learn that this is a marketing tactic before turning into a madman calculating every single movement like a machine. Time under tension could be useful when you are learning the proper form of an exercise, but it sure as hell is not adding massive amounts of muscle mass to your frame. Play with the time under tension as much as you want, no extra growth is going to come regardless of what the bald hypertrophy experts say.

The Natural Limits Are Made-up? Perpetual natty growth?

The body does not tolerate perpetual growth and muscle thickening not because it doesn’t want to. It simply cannot. It’s just not built for it. It’s not a choice. It’s pre-programming. There’s a missing ingredient that stops the whole process.

Eventually, growth comes to an end because there are not enough male hormones to induce further synthesis of protein. One could argue that this lack of testosterone is there to stop you from becoming a slow nonathletic animal waiting to be eaten, but I think it’s one of our natural downfalls. Just like cats can’t transform into lions, we can’t transform into superhumans, and it’s not because we don’t want to. We just can’t.

I am not getting big because I am not doing the right exercises.

We are convinced that certain exercises unlock the door to growth while others close it. It’s almost irrelevant what exercises you are doing as long as you are progressing. For example, many people make fun of triceps kickbacks, and yet the exercise actually hits the triceps pretty hard. It may not be as convenient and beneficial as a close grip bench press or dips, but if you get really strong at it, your triceps will get mad strong too. It’s impossible for them not to.

Sadly, all hypertrophy comes to an end regardless of how “anabolic” your exercises may be.

You are not big because you are not training often.

Training frequency is another parameter that affects growth on paper. Frequent work should equal more stimulation and thus more growth. However, there’s a catch. In order for you to grow, certain bioprocesses have to happen. You can’t rush them because you don’t control them. Think of the times you’ve been sick. You want to get well in a day, but you just can’t. The body has to pass through the whole process to fix itself. You can’t convince it to do otherwise. It’s the same with growth. A certain amount of time has to pass for the body to recover.

Of course, more intense work would result in faster results, but I’ve been in this game long enough to know that eventually, all roads lead to the same town when it comes to long-term results.

Here’s how it all works: You want to get from A to B. The distance is the same regardless of the path you choose. It never changes. If you decide to speed things up, you have to do what? Run. Therefore, you run as fast as you can for as long as you can. Sooner or later, you will get tired, and the person following you with a more steady tempo will catch up. Both of you will cross the finish line at approximately the same time.

Genetics are just something the losers use to rationalize their failures.

That’s partially true. Many people explain every failure with poor genetics and lack of time. Nevertheless, this type of weakness is not our concern right now.

When it comes to muscle growth genetics hold an incredible importance. There are people who don’t lift and are way bigger than me. In fact, those people form a very large percentage of the population.

One time, after an epic leg day, I saw a woman in her 60s with huge motherfucking calves. For a second I thought that she had stolen the calves of Rich Piano. They were made out of genuine muscle, though. They weren’t kankles or anything like that. My guess is that she had legit 19-inch calves. They were almost as big as my upper legs. Ironically, I was the one doing multiple sets on the calf machine as instructed by the gurus. And yet my calves looked like ice-cream sticks.

Then, I turned around and saw a fatso with a pony tale. An annoying sight in my opinion. He looked dirty, but guess what? Huge motherfucking calves. I can’t know for certain, but I really doubt this lazy potato has ever done a dedicated calf raise of any kind in his entire life.

I have more examples. A long time ago, I saw an old man with developed biceps and forearms. They looked bigger than the ones of Jason Blaha.

Another example would be my father. He never workouts. He only does a little manual labor here and there. He has enormous legs and calves.

That’s why I get mad when people tell me that genetics don’t matter. Genetics matter a lot in this muscle game. They are everything when it comes to growing as a natural.

People with a large bone structure, long muscle bellies and higher testosterone levels are big by default. That’s a fact of life that the magazines ignore. They fill your head will all kinds of baloney such as: “Small bones create the illusion of bigger muscles.” I guess that’s true when you are injecting yourself with 5 different steroids, but when you are natural, thin bones limit your growth because they also come with small muscles. When your bones are small, everything else is proportionally small.

Try to fix all of this with will power and the right program. Good luck.

You are not big because you are not eating correctly.

This is also partially true. Most people eat garbage 24/7 and look like walking lard storages. 30% BF is the new 15% BF. Anyone who is 20% body fat (I am talking about males) is considered a shredded motherfucker in this society. Having a nice Buddha belly is the norm among the majority of the population.

Fatness is almost entirely due to eating too many carbohydrates – the tongue seducers. Almost everything that tastes good is filled with carbs. And carbs, my friends, make you fat faster than anything. The vegans usually disagree and post pictures of shredded guys who only eat fair trade bananas and magic beans, but guess what – those cruel plant killers keep their calories low, eat non-processed carbs and the big guys even pin.

When you fix your diet and watch out for the amount of food you consume, your body composition will undoubtedly improve. That’s nice, but the magic ends here. You can fine-tune your diet as much as you want. You are still not going to gain insane amounts of muscle. I don’t care how anabolic your diet is. I don’t care that you are eating fertilized eggs. I don’t care that you pray while cooking your chicken breasts. I don’t care that you are eating the way Ronnie Coleman does. I don’t care that you are eating 70s big style. I don’t care that you are drinking a gallon of milk. I don’t care that you are taking BCAA. I don’t care that you are never missing anabolic windows. I don’t care that you are doing carb backloading. I don’t care that you are eating 400  grams of protein. I don’t care that keto diets raise your testosterone. I don’t care that you are buying high-quality test boosters. I don’t care that you are eating bull testicles. I don’t care about any of that. You are not going to break out of your natural shell by eating the right foods. End of story. {I just stabbed a fork in the table.}

You are not big because you are not sleeping enough.

A long time ago, I’ve read in an article that if you add a few hours of extra sleep to your regimen, you will grow like a steroid user. That’s a lie too, obviously. Sleeping helps a lot with recovery, but regardless of how many hours you sleep, you are not going to grow beyond what’s written in your birth chart.

Hormones – The “Secret” Weapon

9.5 out of 10 big guys in the gym are on steroids, or at least have used in the past. That’s a fact of life. Your muscular heroes do no make an exception. They inject like there is no tomorrow. That’s their hypertrophy secret. It’s not some high volume or low volume anabolic routine. It’s not the way they do biceps curls. It’s not the way they eat. It’s not the grams of protein they take. It’s the drugs.

All YouTubers with a popular muscle channel are on steroids or at least TRT. That’s why they have that “wow” size that naturals will never have. That’s why they get away with telling other people what to do. They make up silly routines for the naive kids out there. The little muscle apprentices hope to get as big as their idols, but the magic never ever happens. Some are obsessed beyond sanity. There are individuals who prepare every single meal for the upcoming week during the weekend and record every trace of food. That’s what the bodybuilding magazines have told them. Talk about stimulating OCD in people. In the meantime, the popular “natural bodybuilders” are eating at McDonald’s and taking pictures of their shredded abdominal muscles in the bathroom.

What if I told you that there are guys on TRT who have more muscle than you and me without knowing what a dumbbell is?

At the end of the day, there are three things that matter the most when it comes to hypertrophy – genetics, drugs and food. Training comes last. Bodybuilders know this. They know that the muscle game is a chemical experiment.

How much muscle can you really gain as a natty?

If you ask someone on T-Nation, you will receive the following answer: “As much as you want.”

If you ask Mark Rippetoe or other powerlifting Santas, they will tell you to just eat big, squat, and get ready to become as massive as a heavyweight powerlifter.

If you ask a science guy, he will tell you that you can expect between 20 and 30 lbs of muscle growth throughout your natural existence.

I am here to tell you that those guys are wrong.

The first group (T-Nation/Instagram horde of believers in baloney) have been brainwashed by the sorcery of the steroids users. People believe that one can be 180lbs at 6’1” and shredded super easily, even though that’s not the case at all. In fact, many would say that if you are under 200lbs and 6’1”, you are doing it wrong while completely ignoring the fact that 200lbs at 6’1” @ 5-8% body fat constitute an amazing physique. Those are the idiots who forget that in the past most bodybuilders were between 5’10” and 6’2″ and always in the 190-220lbs range. Naturally, all of them were juicing their brains out. And yet somehow we are supposed to believe that this barrier has been broken thanks to eggs and milk in powder form taken after your workout. Try harder, system.

The next group (powerlifting addicts) is wrong because most of the weight you gain from bulking is fat and water, but since it fills your shirt, you start to think that it’s all muscle. Look at your gut, bulking soldier, it’s fat as hell.

The third group (scientists/bookworms/armchair experts/PhDs) are the closest to the truth but they are wrong too because their theories are built on data coming from guys with good genetics. Usually, the studies involve individuals who are naturally big. Why? Because gifted men are more likely to do well in true true natural bodybuilding. Therefore, sometimes the studies and the nonsense online calculators are a little too optimistic. According to the calculator of Casey Butt, I should have something like 18-inch arms in a shredded condition. Why? Because the calculator is based on data coming from professional bodybuilders with good genetics and a questionable natural status like Reg Park. That’s why I think muscle calculators are a total joke in reality.

The prognosis is not optimistic my friends. The numbers in this life are always wrong. You are never the right age – either too young or too old. The things that are supposed to take you six months, take you 26 months. Your salary increase is never high enough and always comes too late. Your holiday is always too short. You always have to lose more weight than planned to be shredded. The numbers are always wrong, and the muscle mass you can gain as a natty is not an exception.

My experience says that an individual who is not anorexic and has reached maturity can probably add no more than 20lbs of muscle to his frame throughout his life. Individuals with low test, small bones and a large percentage of short muscle bellies, are looking at 15lbs, which amount to very little once you spread them over your entire body.

How does that make you feel? It made me mad and sad when I learned it from my first-hand experience.

Looking back, I’ve done a ton of work in the gym if I can say so myself. I’ve certainly trained hard at many points of my life. I’ve done a lot of routines, and to be honest – I haven’t experienced much hypertrophy. Others with better muscle building genes can do better, but how much better…not much. 😉 Even the guys who have good genes and are big by default won’t gain many pounds on top of their base.

Muscle Hypertrophy is a slow gruesome process that rarely takes places.

After 2-3 years of progressive training, not to be confused with going to the gym for three years and switching routines every month, hypertrophy stops. It supposed to be there, but it isn’t. Even a deep scan can’t find it. For some reason, the body just doesn’t want to grow at all. You can do all kinds of reps and schemes – it doesn’t matter one bit. You can also get fatter and bullshit yourself that you are actually bigger, but the voice in your head will tell you the truth. “You’re just fat, brah.”

This is when most natties experience their hypertrophy life crisis. Some don’t care much but most do. As you already know, we crave hypertrophy like money. We want it. It’s in our blood. We start to behave like sick men desperate to find a cure. As a result, we go to charlatans who simply take our energy and money while showing us a fake path to hypertrophy.

Adaptation to exercises without hypertrophy

Obviously, if you are getting stronger, your body is adapting to the stress somehow. The fact that there is no visible growth of any kind does not mean that there are not structural changes within the muscles and joints. There are many small and fragile looking people who possess extraterrestrial strength. Their joints and muscle tissues have adapted to training without hypertrophy. What’s the reason for that? Some say that skinny dudes don’t eat, but I think it’s deeper than that. I think it’s genetic too. The body does not care about hypertrophy. It only cares about one thing – surviving in this physical domain here and now. Therefore, it finds a way to adapt and live another day. Adaptation without hypertrophy is very common for naturally skinny dudes.

In conclusion

Everyone knows how hypertrophy happens in theory. Training + eating + sleeping + stress free life = massive growth. In reality, however, that magic trick stops working quickly past a threshold slightly above your untrained state. The difference between your untrained natural version and your trained self is not that big.

Regardless of what the masters blasters say, hypertrophy is largely a pre-determined phenomenon. It depends mostly on your body chemistry as proven by steroid users.

People with naturally low testosterone and small bone structure are at a disadvantage. They can get still get insanely strong but will never have big muscles because they don’t have the genetics for it. On the other hand, there is a group of naturals with better genetics who are bigger without even training. They usually look impressive in lean condition, but the muscle gains they acquire on top of their base are still surprisingly low.

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  1. Νick

    Excellent article as usual exposing the bro science out there . Btw I want to buy a Hater’s Synthesis but I have neither paypal nor credit cards and I was wondering if you support paysafe cards ? Also do you think a caloric deficit can stunt growth at the age of 15 ?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I don’t think a deficit will stunt your growth. I was at a constant caloric deficit for most of my teens and grew pretty tall. I don’t know what a paysafe card is. If gumroad (the service I use to sell stuff online) accepts is, I accept it. Thank you for the support.

  2. Alexander

    As usual, author, thank you for speaking truth. As a natty reaching probably the end of his muscle mass gains (3 years in), it’s crazy making to be faced with the pinning and bro army of “train harder” folks.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the support.

      1. antonio

        Hello. I wanted to ask, isn’t a 15lb of muscle to a frame a little if you look 2-3 years of training? You said that in article? Im 183cm and was really skin before training and im hard gainer. Was 58kgs now Im at 72kgs after maybe 2,5 years on/off training. Do you think that I can reach 78kg with 10-11% bf as my goal?
        Thank you and btw I just found this site and its amazing

  3. Glen

    Personally I started at 115 lbs and had abs once at 165 lbs, so that’s a 50 lb gain. I might have been underweight when I started.

    I think your estimation is rather low. The range more so depends on where the person is when they started. I’ve seen guys gain fast from 6 months of construction work alone and probably reach near their genetic potential. Those are the same guys who might only gain 10 lbs from the weights if they tried it later, because they had already gained more.

    I think you’re right that a few of those calculators might be a bit high. I’ve found BMI to be the most accurate. In a lean state, you probably won’t make it out of the normal healthy range, but you will probably make it more towards the top if you’re fully grown. Also realize that people are often low on glycogen when they have cut.

  4. Mad Pelox

    Once again,an extremely educational and valuable article.

    I can totally relate to what you say. As a natty I experienced the frustration and helplessness that derives from not adding any muscle once you reach your genetic potential. At the end of the day, you get used to it and still appreciate being in better shape than 99% of people. That’s what really matters

  5. Glen

    Knowing the truth about this stuff can be very discouraging. And that sucks!!! But I realize that the only good it does is keep one from being fooled and wasting money or becoming a fat slob. And that’s great!!! That’s the only way I ever would have gotten abs.

    But it shouldn’t be an excuse not to work hard and be the best you can. Why not shoot for a 500# deadlift? I was 45 lbs off before. Why not give it another try?

    I want to have inspiration. I hate getting lied to. But I also hate seeing kids take steroids because they think they need to in order to get big and strong. You don’t.

    Have you ever met a guy on steroids who couldn’t even bench 300? Who said deadlifting 315 is hard? Pumping out reps on a compound exercise with only 50 lbs on the bar? How about seeing a guy blow up quick and get scary big, only to see him a few months later and he’s back to 150 lbs again? Yup, I’ve seen it all. And it’s disgusting!!!

    Fuck that man. You can have a descent body and be strong without drugs. Nothing freaky. But good. Abs. And impressive strength. A deadlift in the mid-400’s is pretty damn good. Most average Joes or gym rats will never even dream of it.

  6. Emir

    Thank you for the truth brah, i am a 3 years lifter with nice chest back abs development but small arms. In early stages of my training career, i tried funny things like adding 2 dedicated arm day in my weekly routine and it only gives me a little arm gains (may be because of bulking) and tendon pain which i feel even now when i put my hand under some weight and push upwards (i felt it today a little while i was holding a baby).
    Your articles help me to get out of the matrix and appreciate the gains i make even if it is little when compared to the delusional people expectations.

  7. No One New

    Lots of people who appear “big” are actually just very very fat, and have a nice & even distribution of bodyfat where their stomach does not take the brunt of it. You mention seeing people who are “big” without working out, but you vastly underestimate just how fat these people actually are. Fat + water weight = illusion of size when wearing clothes. If you diet these “big guys” down until they are in shape with a ~30″ waist, they will look tiny & emaciated. Many people are 30-40 lbs away from even BEGINNING to see their full abs. Even once you can begin seeing your full abs, you still need to drop another 30-40 lbs to be truly in shape with ripped glutes, veins etc. Some guy who looks “big” at 200+ lbs is only going to weigh 120 if he ever actually leaned down into shape.

    I had a similar experience myself. I was around 190 lbs with some abs, but it wasn’t until I had gotten down to 160 lbs (actually slightly less) that I was actually in shape with glute veins, ab veins, etc. My arms went down maybe only 0.5″-1″ (I don’t store a ton of arm fat), but my waist, butt, legs, chest, neck, etc. all lost tons of “size” (fat + water). Never confuse “size” with actual muscle & quality

    1. Mark Thompson

      Im natty, 210lbs @6ft been lifing for three years, probably at my limit, but although my size isn’t really increasing, my proportions and shape keeps improving ie more detail here and there and improved form while doing exercises. Sure diminishing returns are creeping in but isn’t it true that no two people are the same and progress doesn’t just have to mean mere size?

  8. Ismy

    Dear Truthseeker,

    I’ve been a massive fan of your site for many years. This article is another amazing example of a difficult pill to swallow. The bit that got me was the fat powerlifter comments – that was me 2 years ago. Once I actually dieted down, I realised how much “muscle” I had. In fact, after slimming down, I calculated I was around 33% body fat – and I actually thought I was hench!

    My question is: Based on this article, do the natural limits you published many moons ago still apply to many of us? If not, could you publish new natural limits you feel apply to the majority of the population?



    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      They apply but only for genetic monsters. Thank you for the support.

      1. Glen

        If that’s true, it only supports what I’ve researched in studies and found to be true in real life. Girls like thin guys. They might like the muscular guy better than the guy who’s the size of a broom stick. But they are absolutely repulsed by fat slobs and muscle freaks.

        In reality, the most attractive you is what can be achieved naturally. Notice how male models for chick books and movies, the guys chicks drool over, are quite thin compared to the male models they use for men’s magazines and websites. Compare guys like Brad Pitt and Jason Statham to guys like The Rock and Terry Crews.

        I believe (maybe) the issue with men comes from man’s natural instinct to want to compete with one another and be more alpha. Marketers play on that. And when they take things to the extreme in the direction of getting bigger and bigger, the results are disastrous.

        Just think on the positive side. Any time it bothers you that juicers get better results than you, realize that those “results” are only steering him away from the world of male attractiveness. Yup, he’ll be the one jealous of you when you get the girls and he doesn’t. What’s he going to do? Get pissed off, take more steroids, and get even bigger in order to solve the “problem”? Probably, but it’s only going to make his problem worse. Any different than anorexia? It’s just another mental disorder.

        It’s all in our heads. What you can achieve naturally is going to truly be the most attractive you. The diet part, while simple, can be the hardest.

  9. Glen

    So what can you do man? Just lift to keep your lifts up. And diet when needed to cut the fat off. Once you’ve done it once, you know what’s a good weight for you. You try to keep it, but if you slip, you still know what to do to pick up the pieces. Cut calories again. Simple.

  10. Glen

    So, if everyone does it ONLY for the muscle growth, does that mean that all the fat bellied powerlifters are only lying to themselves?

    I think guys just often end up leaning towards powerlifting when they realize that bodybuilding is too damn demanding. You can be a fat slob and still win at powerlifting. But that isn’t going to treat you so well if you want to catch eyes from girls. They don’t care at all about how much you bench, they want a normal sized lean guy.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Many people say that girls are more into bodyweight and crossfit type of guys.

      1. palmac

        Sorry guys, females are not as interested in a man’s esthetics as we may think. Females are resource driven and so are looking for a mate who can bring stuff to the table, money. A poor guy with no money and no job but has great abs is useless to a women.

        1. two cents

          As far as I can tell, height seems to be the #1 physical attribute girls care about. That and maybe face/hair/fashion sense. At 5’7″, I just assume my intellect will be the draw.

        2. Agreed

          `A poor guy with no money an no job but has great abs is useless to a woman.`

          This x 1000

  11. Vinner

    Well what can I say!
    After all that has been said and done, People still want to be huge.
    I have been thin as a stick all my life, came across Sylvester Stallone and other’s and hypertrophy mania gripped me. After 2 years in gym I realized I am missing something and researched and came across magic juice for growth.
    Lack of money saved my balls.

    Then I saw bar brother’s and thought that I had again got a real chance at big muscles. But again they lied.

    Met a few guys of same size as me going muscle up after muscle up. Told me that many are strong enough for iron cross and yet don’t look anywhere near Lazar Novovic.

    After so many disappointments I stopped looking for size and focused on increasing my pullups dips squats and thanks to your site I don’t even crave for hypertrophy anymore.
    You should have included something about these bodyweight warriors too.
    They are currently the biggest liars around in Fitness Industry.

  12. Al

    An interesting article like many of yours. I think the problem i have with it though, is much like the bro science you tear down, you haven’t presented any actual science, just assumptions and anecdotes.

    Not that i’m saying i DISAGREE or have some evidence to the contrary, just that your writing style is so naturally pessimistic, that I’d expect the actual truth to be somewhere between what you mention “science” says, and what you say. Probably being closer to what you say though. Though my current understanding on the science behind muscle growth was more like 5-10lbs in the first year or two then 1-2lbs a year max, with even that rapidly diminishing after a few years, which doesn’t seem far from what you said, taking into account an averaging over those capable of slightly more/less.

    1. palmac

      Not “some where in between” its generally EXACTLY as truth seeker describes. There may be exceptions but that’s all they are.
      Science? Don’t make me laugh! Despite me being an engineer an atheists a realist, I well know that most science is funded and this alone must cast huge doubt. Coke have science to prove sugar is ok. And Phillip Morris have theirs showing no ill affects from the use of their products either. Science is man made. Develop your own BS filters, apply logic and reason, delve into history, the answers are all there.

  13. Roman

    Mass Media, Juicing, Internet, Magazines, etc.

    All of these things have completely destroyed the perceptions of what can be achieved naturally and set the expectations of people to ridiculous levels

  14. Esteban Malsana

    Internet and especially YouTube is full of fitness/bodybuilding sites and videos. One could be seriously dazed and confused by all these. In my opinion, one should train in order to protect and improve his health, feel better in terms of psychology, get more self-confident and strengthen his body. Muscle hypertrophy is rather a “side-effect”, as the author of nattyornot.com wrote once, and it’s not (or should not be) a purpose in itself. Too much obsession for nothing. As Socrates (?) said: “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is CAPABLE”. Capable naturally…

  15. Esteban Malsana

    …”Besides, it is a disgrace to grow old through sheer carelessness before seeing what manner of man you may become by developing your bodily strength and beauty to their highest limit.”

  16. DoIEvenLiftBrah

    Nice article mate, you do seem a tad bit ill-informed about testosterone though. Fact is, the free testosterone level of individuals with decent sized gonads are in the 100-200 range and this is the testosterone that is actually being utilized in the body. I found this out when I concerned a senior endocrinologist at one of the best hospitals in the coutnry after finding out that my total testosterone was only 240 (units of measurement). Before seeing him, my GP had prescribed me 250mg of test and to be honest, the results when I used this dose even with caloric surplus and smart training protocol were literally nill- I did become more aggressive and virile than usual though and my erections were rock hard. However, after going off of it- my total test level declined furthermore to 200.

    My own personal experience along with anecdotes of others who’ve been prescribed TRT prompts me to believe that low dose test is more of a long term advantage than one which will blow the user up. As can be understood, 250mg of test per week is double the production of even the highest genetic producers of testosterone- so naturally, natural testosterone differences barely matter in building muscle. Now, the presence or lack of myostatin on the other hand is a much more plausible underlying genetic chemical difference as to why some don’t gain as fast as others. Frame structure as you mentioned probably plays the largest role though along with the degree of health and fitness with which an individual is brought up.

    1. DoIEvenLiftBrah

      Oh and total testosterone is merely a reservoir of test in the body which is genetically determined by the amount of SGBH present in your body. All that matters then is the free testosterone since the reservoir can be filled at will when it is low and the supply of free testosterone actually coursing through the body are pretty similar among non-enhanced individuals.

      1. DoIEvenLiftBrah

        PS. Felt like adding that estrogen is also an anabolic hormone to a lesser degree than testosterone of course but has a great deal of joint, bone, beauty, vitality benefits. There’s no point in being scared of it but it is best to not depend on foods like soy as means to fulfill protein requirement as they are extremely estrogen heavy.

    2. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the comment and information. 🙂

  17. pedro311

    I get what you mean, ive seen famishing homeless ppl with much better trapezius development than i do. Great as usual.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Ironically, today I saw a poor (not exactly homeless) guy with super shredded and yet decent arms. I seriously doubt he trains.

  18. Hugo

    My favorite part. Hilarious and so true!

    “One time, after an epic leg day, I saw a woman in her 60s with huge motherfucking calves. For a second I thought that she had stolen the calves of Rich Piano. They were made out of genuine muscle, though. They weren’t kankles or anything like that. My guess is that she had legit 19 inches calves. They were almost as big as my upper legs. Ironically, I was the one doing multiple sets on the calf machine as instructed by the gurus. And yet my calves looked like ice cream sticks.
    Then, I turned around and saw a fatso with a pony tale. An annoying sight in my opinion. He looked dirty, but guess what? Huge motherfucking calves. I can’t know for certain, but I really doubt this lazy potato has ever done a dedicated calf raise of any kind in his entire life.”

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      🙂 Yeah. She had calves Dennis Wolf would kill for.

  19. dutchdude

    Testosterone dose-response relationships in healthy young men
    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). The changes in fat-free mass were highly dependent on testosterone dose

  20. John

    I have worked in the gym (PT job) for 4 years and I have noticed this.

    -Most people will make very decent gains for the first year or two. Then they just look the same afterwards regardless how much they train (and some do 6 days a week!)

    -Even the ones who told me they went on gear got all their gains while on gear, and they looked exactly the same for years afterwards they went off.

    -The very few that made explosive gains year after year are usually short stocky dudes in the late teens.

    -Some old fellas (50+) from physical superior genetic backgrounds still look thick and strong even with minimal training (Islanders and Africans)

    -Some people, mainly really skinny young dudes, may gain about 10lbs, then they kinda just stay there. Some gain barely anything, and its not for a lack of trying because I see them in the gym 3-5 days a week.

    -Women who look like instagram models mostly have always looked like that since they were little because of 1) meso/ecto body-type, 2) played athletic sports since they were 2, 3) Their leanness is not natural**. Its funny when you see them do their boot-camps and bodypump classes and they look amazing while the other 99% of the participants look nothing worthy of writing home about.

    I simply hate it when people just say “Oh train harder, train more, get better nutrition” when they don’t realize 2 people with 2 sets of very different genetics will adapt completely differently even if doing the exact same routine and diet.

    Thank you for this post!

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for this comment. I would rather listen to people like you that have seen the game from a closer perspective than experts gathering their knowledge from questionable sources.

  21. buffguy

    instead of crying about it, DECIDE to do something about it. In that case, either jump to steroids or keep lifting for health reasons.

    Believe it or not, every movie guy we have seen is on the juice, even brad pitt in the movie “troy” was on very small amounts of anabolics (prop test,winstrol,anavar and clen) so you can guess that in his movie “fighter-something” he was on those too, thats why he had big bulging shoulders.

    You can “mire” a natural body, but there is something that anabolics give (in moderate doses) that the natural body cant have – that 3D look, that dry shrilled look – i have seen in my own eyes, people drool over that look – especially women. Wanna know something funny? all people actually think that if you work out, you should be looking like that – i guess they know half the truth right?

    Me personally, i tried both anavar and winstrol for a powerlifting competition – placed 2nd in my whole country. People close to me cheered and were happy for me, but i, was not entirely happy. Wanna know why? Because i knew the “secret”.

    Last but not least, i wanna say that there comes a certain point that gains stop – or become so small that you feel like you waste your time. Thats the moment were you need to ask yourself, what do you wanna do and who do you want to be (as arnold once said) If you dedicate so much time into lifting, i see no point in not going to anabolics (after you have educated yourself and have a professional monitoring your health). I would much rather see people spend their hard earned money on anabolics than bullshit supplements that give like 1% edge. Believe it or not,i have heard people spend like 100-150euros per fucking month on SUPPLEMENTS. Talk about insanity here.

    If you decide to simply lift for health reasons, then so be it. But remember, the time were you will have to assess what you wanna do will come

    1. rottenapple

      Quite good information
      Thanks for the info 🙂

      1. Truth Seeker Post author

        You are welcome.

  22. buffguy

    even brad pit was on steroids in the movie fight club. Seach it up on google. He took a mix of test prop/clen/anavar and winstrol.

  23. palmac

    Great article, I concur whole heatedly! I’ve been training for years and being a logical and reasonable person I soon realized that the longer one trains the muscular returns diminish dramatically to the point of being non existent, training from this point would only be required to hold onto what ever precious muscle one has gained and to stave off de-adaptation. Despite what the morons at BB.com will try and tell you, I know that most folks will reach the bulk of their natural muscularity in the first 1-3 years of consistent training.
    I’m happy with my gains, no matter how small they are in reality.

  24. palmac

    It should also be noted that the bulk of ones musculature occurs with absolutely no training at all, this like all genetic expression is a continuum among us. The same as height or having dark hair or blue eyes is, so to is muscularity.
    Weight training only “augments” ones potential and in a relatively short time with appropriate stimulation can easily be maxed out.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      That’s what I wanted to say too. If you are a grown individual (24+) who eats sufficient amount of food, you will be carrying most of your natty muscle mass without training. You may be as weak as a kitten because you don’t train, but the muscle mass itself is mostly there.

      1. two cents

        I’d argue that basic everyday standing, walking around, carrying stuff, etc. is responsible for a lot. I injured my knee very very badly about 9 months ago. I was on crutches a long time, bed ridden for a while. My thighs got ridiculously small, about as small as my arms (which actually got some work from using crutches, etc.) Then when I was cleared to start rehabbing with no risk of further damage, they exploded back to sedentary size in a week or two. Getting my squat from <0 to 135 didn't even add as much muscle.

        Of course, height, bone size, and caloric intake will affect what the sedentary contribution is.

      2. Max

        Don’t “fat people with huge calves” disprove this?

        1. Truth Seeker Post author

          No. Most fat people with calves have good insertions too.

  25. Gregory

    Hey, dude. I am one of your followers and I think I’ve read all, or at least most of your articles so I’d like to ask you a question.

    What do you think about Mike Matthews from the website called muscle for life? He has gained over 30 pounds of muscle and I think he is natural.

  26. Ratiocination

    Nice article. Except the whole carb thing is just wrong. This is just bullshit promoted through the meat and dairy industry. I’m currently the leanest I’ve ever been. I eat mostly carbs (tons of pasta and bread), and very low fat. The notion that a plain baked potato is more likely to put fat on you than a fat laden dead animal carcass like steak is just dumb. In fact a study just came out yesterday confirming how much bullshit the whole anti-carb thing is:


    I have no idea how any sane human being can conclude that eating whole grain breads, brown rice, baked potatoes or oatmeal will make you fat, but eating red meat, and fat filled dead animal products won’t. If you eat a lot of fat, you tend to get fat. It’s not very complicated.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I was mainly talking about the worst sources of carbs. You can’t deny that the fatness in this world is caused by sweets and all kinds of junk food. Some people don’t tolerate carbs at all. Fats, on the other hand, keep your blood levels more stable. Moreover, carbs feed cancer (according to some) and destroy your teeth. There is a reason why there are ESSENTIAL fats but no essential carbs. The high carb thing is actually the new craze started by the industry – not the other way around. This does not mean carbs should not be consumed. It depends on the person.

    2. a

      Tried all sorts of different diets. The only one that puts fat on you is the one that you overeat .Calories in calories out is very real, in fact it’s an irrefutable scientific principle.

      1. Mike

        True that calories are the most important thing on weight management but there are many factors that you have to take into account establish what is your maintenance level. Also it is not the same, at all, how what you eat impacts your morphology. As a natural there are many things you can do with your diet to improve your gains and body composition. Many people tend to talk about how you can win tons of muscle reality is that if you look at the numbers “tons of muscle” is a lot less than someone would think. Anyway I still think you can do a lot to improve your physique and look good. Not as good as “natty youtubers” of course but good enough.

      2. Hams

        Calorie in calorie out is true. low carb just make it hard to overeat. Also people’s response to fat gain is also genetic.

  27. Prakhar Verma

    A very informative post once again(including the comments)!

  28. Jordan C.

    Nah. You’re just a bitch trying to justify to yourself why you can’t gain anymore muscle. lol

  29. Hams

    I don’t understand people obsess over size. I care about strength most so i can show of my strength or my impressive calisthenic if training can make body looks more proportional it’s just a bonus. Weak big guy is the lamest IMO.

  30. just

    Great conversation here in comments .I can consider myself as a some sort of lucky guy in terms of genetics (good bone structure etc.) train for almost decade, i am in my early 20s and intrestingly i made almost all of my gains in so called not optimal training, not perfect diet just normal mom”s cooked food and playing ridiculous amount of soccer .When i learn more about training and nutrition i start to correct my diet and training but actually almost nothing happen ,which is another example,that you reach your limits pretty much of any training style and then whatever you do doesn`t have big matter .Just evolution we are not program to be very muscular liked or not.

  31. kunal

    i hope your books are selling well and you are swimming in your money like scrooge mcduck.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I don’t make many sales to be honest.

  32. Andre

    great bro, whish everyone would understand this, but seems likely impossible. Ok, good for us, they live in their naive world, constantly hoping for a wonder. I have that long bone, small frame structure, with no muscle, and since I’m on roids, I changed completely, the funny thing is that I look very aesthetic and natural, besides the megadose.
    And I always have to hear: with your dose, you should look far bigger. and I answer: I have the most aesthetic look in the whole fuckin gym, compared to other big roid-heads, so who cares??? what matters is the result!!

    1. Krispy

      And health. Late reply, and I’m sure you’re sexy as fuck, but be safe 😉

  33. Jim

    Love your work sir. I’m 27 been hitting the gym for a few years and I’ve found my limit. Haven’t seen a change in ages.

    I’m a thin frame and on the lower test side. I’ve always considered trying trt for health reasons and to improve my depression.

    Still considering it

    1. Cccksucker

      Depression, low test? Why don’t you stop whining and looking for the magic solution (TRT), look at cause instead.. You! Late nights, too much fats (estrogen loves fats), stress (i.e. kids, wife, dead end job) and bad posture kill test. Tough if you’re looking for a fucked hair line, small balls and bitch tits and a heart attack before 40, go ahead. Dont belive me, look it up! Depression? Over what? I bet you’re the stereo white male with a functioning body, living in his moms basement!

  34. Truth seer

    When I found your articles I didn’t believe most of the things you wrote. I was a part of the rippetoe crowd and was obsessed about my bench press and squat numbers and revolved my whole life around it. These lies perpetuated by the strength community dictated my life for years. I was “bulking” and overweight, and thought I’d be a shredded mass monster under all that fat. The reality struck me after I cut from 20%+ to somewhere around 10-12% bodyfat.

    The pathetic thing is my lifts were nowhere near what is “supposed” to be the norm for people on internet forums. My best squat ever was 125kg x 5 (high bar) and my best bench press ever was 100kg x 4. I was fat when I did all those lifts, and those weren’t obtained with no fucking 6 months of stronglifts 5×5 or whatever the fuck the deluded people on forums will tell you. I tried EVERYTHING out there. And you know what? The end result was pretty much the same no matter what I tried. The bench press was obtained after I ran 3 cycles of smolov jr in a row because I was so depressed over not gaining anything at all for months. It brought my bench from 80 x 4 to 100 x 4 in 12 weeks. But you know what? Before I even knew it I was back doing the same good ol’ weight I always did. It was all temporary, I revolved my life around the bench press for 12 weeks and everything I gained was gone immediately.

    If you read interviews with bench press world record holders like Eric Spoto and Jeremy Hoornstra they state that they always trained with traditional brosplits (and still do I believe). Yet they both bench press around 700lbs raw. Programs are irrelevant.

    I agree with almost everything you say except for the “focus on progession” part in training. Yes you will have to gain mass to bring your bench from 60kg to 100kg. But say you are very good at pushups and can bench 80kg at your first attempt. Will you gain mass from brining your bench to 100kg? Not necessarily.
    I believe strength is a skill and specific to the exercise you do. When I repped 100kg on bench I could literally only do 8 push ups, at a bodyweight of 90kg. I could only overhead press 40kg for a few reps. These were movement I never trained obviously. But years ago I was able to do 60kg on overhead press and only bench press around 70kg, because I trained the overhead press much more than the bench. These movements involve the exact same muscles yet I never saw much carrover (which people always talk about). When repped 125kg atg on squat I could only deadlift 100kg for a few reps (I obviously never deadlifted) yet I had horrible levers for squatting (long limbs) and much better built for deadlifting.
    When you are obsessed with progression and you never see progress it can really break you mentally. I would say just train regularly with the frequency and volume you feel is appropriate (which for me would be 3 sets 2 times a week) and dont even think about progression. There are plenty of people working manual labour out there who are at their genetic potential. Your body was designed to be so useless that you need to go to the gym with modern equipment in order to reach your mass potential.

    I also believe that the gym is a scam in itself and people only believe that lifting weights is more effective than bodyweight training due to roid users like Arnold. It wasn’t the weights that gave him the muscles; it was the roids. The weights were just an over complicated tool to give him resistance, he could just have used his own bodyweight as resistance and ended up with the exact same result. And that’s how the scam industry that is gyms was born.
    I don’t believe you need heavy weights for legs because legs are built for endurance. When in hell in a real life scenario have you ever excerted the same amount of force with your legs as you have with your arms when you for instance lift up something heavy? Not to mention you will need a huge amount of weight to fully use the strength of the legs, which will tear up your knees and hip joints. I have pain in the knees now from doing regular squats for a few years in the gym, and I haven’t trained for 6 months. As a matter of fact, I have pain everywhere in the body after being brainwashed into doing low rep training and I was never reckless in the gym. If I ever start training again I’ll just do stuff like chin ups and boyweight squats.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      That has to be one of the most epic comments I’ve read on the subject. Thank you for taking the time to write it. As you probably already know, my ideas are very similar.

      But I don’t think you should regret what you have done one bit. You did it because you thought it was the right thing to do. Period.

      Also, I know that right now you don’t want to lift, but one day you will. There is no going back. I was the same way. One time I left the gym for a year and a half. I wasn’t injured. I had all the time in the world to train. I just didn’t want to. I thought it was over, but eventually, I got back into it. You may start with chin-ups as you suggest. Just for fun.

      Thanks for the comment.

      1. Truth seer

        Thank you.

        And yes maybe I will be going back. Maybe I’ll focus my energy on deadlift this time and become one of those skinny guys who deadlifts a lot 🙂

  35. Derek Dunstable

    Love the writing, love the style, and mostly the content; this stuff NEEDS to be spelled out, so please keep up the good work!

    My question: What is your opinion on the phenomenon known as “muscle maturity”? One older gentlemen at my gym, who worked out for ages and looks remarkably good for 53, said he had been a gym rat for 37+ years and topped off (muscle gain wise) with around 20 lbs of muscle on his lean frame, all of which in his first 5-7 years of training, which seems to coincide with the content of this article and discussion. However, he also told me once that as you continue to train for years, for the love of lifting, your acquired muscle mass develops a grainy and grissly type of look to it, almost as if it were more weathered, refined and fibrous, which he refers to as “muscle maturity”. I’m inclined to believe it, because this guy looks fab for his age, isn’t even taking AndroGel much, less injectable testosterone cypionate, and can out train most young twenty year old spring chickens at my gym. Your thought and observations on this?

  36. miguel

    pylometrics are good? for hypertrofy

  37. Boxer

    Hi there
    Please make an article about alpha destiny channel on YouTube

    He is 5″5 180 pounds
    He claims natty

  38. Alex

    Loved the article and the comments as well. After training hard and frequently for the last 1.5 years and also forced eating for almost 1 year(been training far longer that that) I saw gains and thought that I could go further. Looking in the mirror after taking a bath/shower I didn’t really notice how my body was changing until I saw an older picture of me on the beach. I was stunned, much of what I added was fat and water. After I stopped eating like a maniac, I dropped down to almost my usual weight and although the scale doesn’t raise eyebrows anymore I feel and look so much better now.

  39. Mike

    Can’t beat genetics I’m afraid. There are two young guys in my office. One dedicates his life to the gym, eats the right food blah blah and, to be fair, has put on some muscle – probably about 10 lbs. The other guy plays a bit of soccer, does the 10000 steps a day routine when he feels like and has been to a gym about twice in his life went his friend convinced him to. He is over 225lbs of solid muscle, is extremely strong and he struggles to find shirts he can fit his arms into. He carries a bit of extra weight as you might expect a non exercising dude to have but there ain’t no fat on his arms that’s for sure. He could be a champion body builder or strongman but he has no interest in it at all. That’s genetics right there.

  40. Joe

    Talking bout genetics:
    I know 3 Brothers, all of them quite muscular. In fact the oldest and the youngest work out a lot and quite hard. The middle on not at all, but guess what, he is by far the most muscular. The other two never catched up to him. Thats just what it is, you can only compare yourself with the former you and try to improve. For myself, I run a cycle of squats over 8-10 weeks and was able to improve +7,5 kg for five reps. How much muscle will this add to my structure after working out for many years? Honestly I think maybe 50 g somewhere on my lower body, or probably less. As for the upper body it’s even worse. After 8-10 weeks cycle you can maybe add 2,5 kg to the bench or chin-up – if no injury comes inbetween.

  41. Topple the false prophet

    Science has concluded the existence of sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy. Science has also concluded that there are multiple mechanisms to making gains. Low rep/high weight reverse pyramid training is a completely researched and scientifically proven way to make gains, just like HIT is and other techniques. Your claim that this is false is not backed up by anything, and equivalent to a church elder shouting “evolution is wrong, burn the gays or you’ll go to hell”. Your genetics are one thing which may pre-dispose you to grow easier or look a certain way, but muscle cells also behave in a pre-programmed way which we can use to be the best versions of ourselves. We have exploited this through experimentation, not writing unsubstantiated bullshit from behind a screen.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I guess some people just don’t get me.

      1. Topple the false prophet

        It’s not that, your remark about science being for people with “perfect” genetics could be considered fair if the studies were looking macroscopically, as in “let’s see if lat pulldowns vs weighted chin ups build a bigger back”. That’s genetics, and a lot of external genetically determined variables like metabolism, fat mobility, circulation, and whatever else. but these studies look microscopically, at how exercise affects your very cells and what triggers cell growth. Because, at this fundamental cellular level, humans generally behave very similarly. This is why you can conclude that hypertrophy exists, that heavy weights damaging muscle triggers growth, that lactic acid buildup in muscle triggers cell growth as well, or what have you. Do a search on pubmed before you post next time

        1. Shut the fuck up you cunt

          No, sarcoplasmic only growth is not true, like also myofibrillar only. Your muscle tissue as a whole gets bigger. Though some people have more muscle fiber growth and some people have more sarcoplasmic growth. THAT’S genetics. That’s what distinguishes Hoornstra from Phil Heath. That’s what distinguishes powerlifters from bodybuilders.

  42. Mike

    I don’t agree to a full extent with the content of the article, I even think that the author doesn’t agree a 100% with what he is claiming here. I am not going to argue with his claims because it would be pointless and is not like I don’t support some of them. Nevertheless, I think that genetically, like 80% of the people should be able to obtain a bmi between 22 and 23 with decent work. That is, hard training and proper diet, that should be enough to make you look good. Forget about youtube stars who are close to a bmi which is 25. You should consider them elite (rather they took steroids or not). From what I see there are two problems with that. One is being able to stick with the diet and training. Dealing with the pain of the training and forgetting about all the foods you are used to is quite difficult. It also diminish your social life, nobody enjoys eating green leafy vegetables in a party…. also no alcohol and no cakes, for most people, makes life distasteful to say the least. The second one is the final result they will get. Most of the people can’t genetically pass the 23 bmi barrier and that frustrates them quite a lot. But let’s face it, elite level means that, only a few can get there. So be happy with what you can achieve a 22-23* bmi will still make you look better than 95% of the people out there and to be honest you should be proud achieving that is fucking hard. (Of course I am talking 22-23 bmi with decent body fat percentages)

  43. Viktor

    Great article! I enjoyed most of it.

    But I think your predictions of gaining no more than 15lbs of muscle as natural is bit pessimistic … I’m training for almost three years and was able to gain more than 30lbs of muscle thus far. My original stats were 5,11 (1.8m) 140lbs (6%bf) and now I weight 180lbs (8%bf)

    Also my frame is pretty small … My wrists are just 7 inches…

    1. Truth seer

      You sound like just another deluded gomadder. Document your claims or no one will believe you.

      1. Truth seer

        I also bench press 500lbs natty btw, because I said so.

          1. Biatchplease

            Nice! Can i get me some ‘eat clen tren hard’?

          2. Truth seer

            You didn’t gain 30lbs of pure muscle, that was my main issue with your comment. While I think you can pass for a natty you clearly have good genetics and most people won’t get your results.

  44. Alim

    No doubt, this is by far the best writing about the real truth of body building world. and I think you are deserved Nobel prize for your killer writing skills. I have been reading tons of body building pages, still I can’t turn around from this website.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thanks for the support, but I don’t deserve a prize. I am not that good and many articles contain grammar mistakes. I am trying to do better though.

  45. Vlad

    At 5’11”, I started at 130 lb when I was 16.
    I got to 150 during the first year, still with veins popping on my abs. Stagnated till 24. Now, at 28, I’m 210 lb (did gain a bit of fat, but if I flex I still have a visible six pack and separation between my rectus abd. and my obliques).
    This, considering I just deadlifted, did military presses, and chin-ups.

    My current (lame-ish) maxes are 500 DL, 190 strict standing Military, 300 lb chin-up (BW+90 lb added).

    And 240 lb front squat.
    Does anyone actually believe that if I now start squatting seriously, and adding rows and a horizontal press I can’t add 15-20 more lb of muscle?

    By the way, except for MyProtein Whey Protein and Creapure Creatine, I don’t use any other supplements.

    1. Shut the fuck up you cunt

      No, you can’t add 15-20 lbs more muscle. It’s just off your limits (Though I don’t know on what %bf you are when you are 210 lbs, I still don’t think you can add 15-20 lbs more)

  46. Codak

    I can agree with some of the points you make, but I think what you’re doing is taking your natural bodybuilding experience and conveying to others that their experience should be exactly the same. Everyone is different, and everyone grows different natural or not. There are many lifetime natural bodybuilders that display impressive physiques, granted they’ve been training for 10-15+ years, however there is still growth and they look great. You make it seem that after a short span of natural bodybuilding you will just go completely catabolic and make no more gains, which with scientific research is absolutely not true. Maybe you have the poorest of poor genetics, but to say most people will follow in the footsteps of your experience is not right, and is truly misleading. Maybe I’m digging to deep into this, but I’ve seen natural growth in people and it is nothing like most of these articles suggest. If you train smart your arms will grow larger than 14 inches, I guarantee it 😉

  47. Rob

    Great article!
    Back in the 90s, I recall Mike Mentzer making a controversial statement that “an individual can reach his or her genetic potential in one year or less, as long as there using a properly conducted strength training program”, I remember thinking there’s no way thats possible, 20+ years on, I think he was not too far wrong.

    Zone training / j-reps, max contraction training, power factor training, max pyramid protocol, rest pause, high rep piston reps, negative only, cluster sets, pre exhaustion, superslow, negative accentuated, tri sets, giant sets, high frequency, low frequency…..the list goes on, nothing has resulted in any major additional growth, now 39, im lucky if I can add few pounds of lean to my frame in a year.

  48. Finfrosk


  49. Cornelius

    Genetics matter in other fields too. Check out the studies performed by Robert Plomin on genetics, school performance and intelligence. Pretty terrifying shit, brah.

  50. Vance

    Amen brother. Muscle size is primarily controlled by genetic factors and even the best of us are limited which is why all the pros and up-and-coming pros are on the gear. The “Belgian Blue” cow is a perfect example of genetic engineering requirement for large muscle mass “The double-muscling phenotype is a heritable condition resulting in an increased number of muscle fibers (hyperplasia), instead of the (normal) enlargement of individual muscle fibers (hypertrophy).” The myostatin gene is turned off in these animals and if they were turned off in any of us we would soon be a Mr Olympia contender without ever touching a weight or steroid. The muscle dream merchants do not want you to fully grasp the nature of hypertrophy limitations because they would lose their guillable customers.

  51. nattyornotisanidiot

    you’re such a fool!
    You have no formal training in the biological sciences so much of what you say is bunk!

  52. Kris

    Sorry but not sorry. What a load of bullshit this site is.
    Most people would call me a “hardgainer” and I gained 25lbs of muscle in 3,5 years of training. Also most of it is on my back and legs, because I don’t train my arms, chest and shoulders directly, so I have “easy” potential growth there.
    And I think that I could have achieved that in less than 2 years, because I have never trained for hypertrophy and I have never eaten a lot.
    And even now, most people wouldn’t think that I lift if they see me in clothes.
    People, your potential is much bigger than what this sad schmuck is telling you. If you want sensible advice about hypertrophy, read Mike Israetel, Eric Helms and Brad Schoenfeld.

    1. Emyx

      Have you got your body composition checked by a professional? You could discover that a good percentage of that “muscle” you have gained is actually water and fat.

      1. Kris

        I’m just gonna quote sir Finfrosk from above.

        1. Kris

          And no, I have not been “checked by a professional”.
          BUT, when I started training I could see my abs and I had some veins here and there, pretty skinny overall – almost no muscle and little fat. Now I still have abs and I have veins on places where I didn’t when I started. So, little to none fat gained in the process. Must be the water then.

  53. Inder

    A very good article, has made me change the focus of why I am exercising from hypertrophy to just being healthy. I went from 10.5 stones to a 13.5 stone fatso & I looked terrible following the diet advice of those muscle charlatan’s & I never really felt good in general following their exercise plans either as it was too much to recover from & I was not making the hypertrophy gains I was supposed to according to them which made me doubt myself. I am glad a found this website.

  54. Rafael

    Thanks dude, you really opened my eyes with this, now I’ll definitely use steroids to get some gains, even with low doses of test.

  55. Alex

    “…with a popular channel around building muscle are on steroids or at least TRT.”

    Interesting article. I bet that there is a lot of truth to it. However, the quoted bit sounds like BS. This quoted part implies that TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) allows people (who are on TRT) to have some kind of edge over natural bodybuilders. TRT simply allows people to have test levels that are EQUAL to that of people who possess normal test levels; it is meant for people who have lower test than normal (typically which resulted from steroids).

  56. Rasmus

    Interesting… I don’t know what to think. You see, I have been working out for the past 5 months now. First 2 months I gained a bit over 2 lbs (did’t eat enough). Then I started counting my calories and that gave me a 13 lbs weight gain over the past 3 months. My body fat % went from 11.7 to 13.5. And I still gain weight without putting on much body fat. And the fact that there are millions of people who are walking around with an amazing physique gets me wondering… Are they are stereoid users then? I think not.

  57. Vance

    Rasmus you are still experiencing what’s called the “novice effect” as described by Mark Rippetoe. Rapid advances in strength and size can occur during this time when a newbie begins a serious weight training/diet routine or someone who has detrained over several years. How long this lasts depends on the individual but those heroic gains do in fact end rather abruptly. It is an upward battle after this and you’re mostly rewarded with very limited muscular gains afterward even through years of training (strength is a different animal). And amazing physiques are exceedingly rare but made more amazing due to steroid use and hyper medial blitzing.

  58. Visto

    no studies to support the claims in the article. a bunch of bioscience which funny enough dissaproves science with no concrete evidence but rather poor returns from a genetically bankrupt individual who uses his shortcomings as what any individual should achieve naturally. In case you ain’t aware the owner of this site 70kg at height of 6’1 after training. So any of you with a rational thinking knows very well that’s the weight for must untrained individuals. Another thing he says you can’t be 180lbs shredded because 70s bodybuilders were around 190 to 220 lbs…fine but you miss the point most didn’t want to be any bigger as size wasn’t a judgemental to win and still being 180 natty and the other being is different quality mass just compare Cristiano Ronaldo to Jeff Rodriguez despite being almost same weight Jeff easily blows Ronaldo so weight alone is a matter to conclude that you on steroids because you can be same weight, body fat, everything and still be bigger than the natty guy because of roids alone. just in case you asking why I am still here… honesty your site is full of comedy gold really …I enjoy reading your writing. you certainly have talent and I won’t stop visiting your site.

  59. Visto

    no studies to support the claims in the article. a bunch of broscience which funny enough dissaproves science with no concrete evidence but rather poor returns from a genetically bankrupt individual who uses his shortcomings as what any individual should achieve naturally. In case you ain’t aware the owner of this site 70kg at height of 6’1 after training. So any of you with a rational thinking knows very well that’s the weight for must untrained individuals. Another thing he says you can’t be 180lbs shredded because 70s bodybuilders were around 190 to 220 lbs…fine but you miss the point most didn’t want to be any bigger as size wasn’t a judgemental to win and still being 180 natty and the other being is different quality mass just compare Cristiano Ronaldo to Jeff Rodriguez despite being almost same weight Jeff easily blows Ronaldo so weight alone is a matter to conclude that you on steroids because you can be same weight, body fat, everything and still be bigger than the natty guy because of roids alone. just in case you asking why I am still here… honesty your site is full of comedy gold really …I enjoy reading your writing. you certainly have talent and I won’t stop visiting your site.

  60. john

    so much bullshit in this industry its mind numbing

    im 43 now working my way back to fit from super fat and i gained all my mucle as a late teen when i used to do a lot of shot putt training eating the families meals and training hard with basic olympic lifts and stupid heavy squats ….amazingly ive always had smallish legs and i was one bad ass squatter seriously yet even in the 20 years i never worked out and got super fat i had really good calves and solid 17-18″ arms that never change whether i train or not ,no matter how i train or diet im always left with the same shape and size that never left me from the training years ago,regardless of what workouts i do i look the same and bodyfat changes according to diet …….im lucky in one sense that im naturally wide and even with a really fat waist and lower back i still have a very good v taper

    so even when im obese like 350lbs and 40-50% bodyfat i still look like someone who used to lift weights .

  61. Peter

    Weight training never worked for my calves, skipping rope and martial arts (BJJ and Kickboxing) has. I realized that due to the way I walk, my calves were getting no stimulation in my daily life.

    The way most people train calves in a weight lifting gym is simply not enough. I realize this after experiencing “enough”.

    I have flat feet so when I take a step I barely use my calves, my heel strikes first and there is very little calf involvement. There was also overall weakness in the foot itself.

    I immediately noticed that bouncing around on my toes for any length of time really sucked and my calves grew about an inch over a couple years without lifting.

    It hurts like a bastard though. Try rope skipping, if you are not heavy, try adding weight progressively while increasing the time. When you can skip for 30 minutes straight with a weight vest that makes your total weight over 200lbs, tell me you have small calves.

    At least skipping rope is a great activity for your overall fitness and you may see some growth.

  62. Rick

    Great article! Pretty much my own experience.

  63. AnonymousLifter4231

    It’s ironic that 5×5 zealots sneer at bodybuilding. 5×5 training came from a bodybuilder, Reg Park! And it is most definitely compatible with bodybuilding today, too. There’s a lot of overlap among various weight training modalities. People need to acknowledge this and stop being so cliquish and self-righteous about their precious little training methods.

  64. Angel

    This article is just outstanding!

  65. Edo

    I was never a bulking rippertoe follower but a brainwashed hit jedi,the problem is that without the right genes growth simply cannot happen, but the gurus don’t want you to know that. I n my opinion truth seeker is wrong, there are individuals out there that can get amazing results without steroids, there are others in the middle and the crowd of hardgainers and no gainers, it’s genetic. So fuckk the gym, yes I finally say that

  66. Edo

    So what’s the point of lifting at all? I’m serious, what’s the point? I’m too lazy to follow a diet, to count macros and shit, i trained hard though but for little to show for it. So yeah, why bother? I couldn’t care less about strenght, 400 deadlift or 300 bench, Who cares? Who cares if you can lift that much but without showing a good phisique with big muscles? I wanted 16 inch arms, I tried, failed badly the task, so I’m considering quitting altogheter, it isn’t worth it. That’s how things works, you start lifting with bro split usually, if you grow fast than that’s good you have the genetics, if you don’t grow much or at all, don’t bother with other methods, they can be more effective and give you more but not by much.

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