People are like computers. Our senses are periphery [input channels] transferring data to the processor [the brain] which renders it and selects a reactionary output expressed through the musculoskeletal system.
The code that we process is a first-person adventure game known as Life.
The architects of this world are aware of this mechanism. They monitor, filter and corrupt the bytes reaching your computing organism as part of their goal to install the version of reality that benefits them the most. The method is super effective as revealed by our history.
The muscle industry has relied on the same technique since its inception. For a long time, the sellers of hope based on muscular ascension have been shaping the crowd’s idea of natural hypertrophy through the media.
Before the Internet era, the promoters of thicker muscle filaments were infesting many magazines with images of massive men presented as heroes harnessing qualities deeply admired by everyone. The subsequent social admiration was a sufficient incentive for people to bite. The same propaganda continues to this day, although the means of mass exposure are primarily digital – social media, websites, YouTube channels…etc.
On a global scale, there are many men with great physiques. It feels as if a new legend is born every month, but that’s a mind trick. Those mythical specimens are a very small minority in average gyms – a territory reserved for the plebs.
Unless you frequent a location with a high concentration of pros, the majority of lifters who will make you company in the weight room are fatsos running on various forms of hamster wheels, average dudes with some muscle here and there, and of course, skinny brahs breaking their backs in dusty squat racks in an attempt to achieve some of that vintage hypertrophy promoted by bearded “real men”.
How do the professors explain the discrepancies between ordinary muscle constructors and true muscle-knights?
The scholars love talking about sets, reps and protein. To appear smart, they quote studies and convince you that a few minor tweaks here and there will finally ignite the reactor of growth that you have been suppressing by doing 3 sets of 10 instead of 3 sets of 5 or vice versa.
I admit that some guys are lazy. I am too, especially now. But this hasn’t always been the case. I’ve emptied my gun honestly. I’ve tried both – hardcore powerlifting routines and bodybuilding versions. The results have been the same – some progress on the lifts unaccompanied by the anticipated muscular evolution.
What do they tell you when you fail?
1. You didn’t do the right routine and missed a protein shake one evening hence why your body is depriving you of swollen fibers.
2. Your genetics suck.
Option B is the last resort for a reason. It immobilizes you. The powers that be do not want you to think that you have inferior genes for hypertrophy until you have exhausted every option under the sun. If they had it in their power, they would keep you experimenting with new training programs, supplements and nutritional regimes throughout your entire life, maybe even longer.
Meanwhile, those who wake up receive the “genetic slap”.
“Our program is great, but your genetics suck, bro. Sorry!” say the megaphones.
I readily admit that there are men with better genetics for growth – usually, individuals with very large frames. A 6’3” guy with a thick skeleton will naturally carry more lean mass than a 5’5” tall man with slim bones.
But how many of the muscular dudes on Instagram have the high-end skeleton that I am talking about? A handful.
The vast majority of jacked guys reaching your senses are fairly average men injecting steroids in surprisingly large quantities. They aren’t training as hard as you think and certainly do not eat clean all the time.
They owe their “exceptional genetics” to the anabolic cocktails swimming in their blood.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. People didn’t start having great genetics for muscle construction until 1935 – the year when Adolf Butenandt and Leopold Ruzicka chemically engineered testosterone independently and gave birth to the anabolic industry. In a sense, they are the Godfathers of Bodybuilding.
2. The Golden Era of Bodybuilding (the 1970s) coincided with a massive steroid boom – pharmaceutical companies were pumping out potent drugs legal for personal use in the U.S.
3. The New Bodybuilding Standards that came during the mid-90s were an upgrade powered by growth hormone and insulin – anabolic ingredients absent from the previous stack. Those two added another 50-70lbs of extra mass to the frame of the pros.
4. To appeal to the masses, the muscle industry engineered a strategic regression by introducing the so-called “physique” divisions constituted of men in beach shorts allegedly carrying natural muscles. The objective of the mission was to re-drag the little guy into the vortex of hypertrophied illusions.
This was a great move that supplied the industry with extra breathable air. But the dreamers got scammed again. Blinded by their desire to believe in the existence of natural growth, they bought the web of lies behind the muscular development of fitness models.
Many beginners showcase toggle mode thinking. In their naïve minds, people are either “on” or “off”. And while that’s technically correct (someone is either natural or not), many ignore the fact that there are low, medium, high and ultra-high doses.
An average dude on TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) may add 8-10lbs of muscle to his frame by injecting 100mg a week all while looking more natural than a dog.
A bodybuilder could easily gain 20lbs of muscle by upping the dose to 250mg or more.
In the meantime, dedicated gym rats inject dosages that could create severe turbulence within the hearts of the unaware. The enlightened experts classify cycles such as 900mg of total steroids per week as fairly low-end stuff. To put things into perspective, a healthy man produces around 40-50mg of test a week.
900/50 = 18.
In other words, the dedicated bros have roughly 18 times more testosterone than a natty brah. Not to mention that drugs like trenbolone are more androgenic than “classic” test. Once you’re familiar with those technicalities, you can understand why their “training” programs work so well.
But this isn’t the end of it. The truly freaky bodybuilding physiques are the result of severe drug abuse over many years. It’s not uncommon for an elite dude to take 4000mg of testosterone a week along with 1-2 grams of various injectables and orals. All of that combined with growth hormone and insulin.
Genetics or Trenetics?
Even men with elite DNA cannot match the anabolic madness displayed by professional sultans of muscle.
The vast majority of gigantic dudes that you contemplate are not natural and do not have access to a mythical training regime. However, I wouldn’t call them indolent.
Some of them have sick work habits that would surprise most naturals. But a large part of that drive is derived from the manifestation of continuous, unnatural results that the rest of the world applauds.
When you are the biggest among other lifters, and everybody is eyeballing you out of lust and/or pure jealousy, you develop a serious incentive to train as often as possible. Conversely, when you are receiving small or invisible gains, and everybody is questioning your effort due to the lack of visual proof, you become demotivated to fight gravity.
Does this mean that enhanced bodybuilders do not deserve credit? Of course, not. Taking drugs and surviving for as long as most do reveal great effort, amazing organ resilience, dedication and incredible persistence. But proclaiming them kings for their “training intelligence” or supreme genetics (apart from drug toleration) would be wrong since the source of their anabolic faculties is external.
Humans Are Not Designed for Mass
People were never destined to have big muscles. We didn’t dominate the planet by being the strongest or fastest species. Our intelligence and exceptional endurance gave us the real advantage.
Humans can outrun many mammals in a long-distance competition thanks to complex slow-twitch fibers and a very efficient system of sweat glands which cool off faster due to the lack of fur. But when it comes to muscular growth and speed, we cannot compete.
Lions spend most of the day lying under a tree and never “lift”. Yet a lion weighs around 400lbs. Most of it is lean tissue. Good luck finding a fat lion in a natural habitat. Ditto for gorillas, tigers…etc.
Meanwhile, even the most drugged up bodybuilders with the greatest genetics rarely reach more than 300-350lbs in the off-season. Usually, that weight comes with a lot of fat, water and, of course, health problems. Sure, humans can get exceptionally fat, but lard is not as valuable as muscle.
In the end, our DNA is not hypertrophy friendly.
Going Back To the 1920s
Traveling back in time to an era when steroids were not present is one of the safest ways to dig for natural physiques. This method, however, faces another challenge – “Ancient Photoshop”. Many of the images that you see are enhanced through “analog manipulations” such as lighting, angles, clothing…etc. Moreover, black and white photos make you look bigger. Hence why some old-timers showcase physiques that may be far less impressive in person than one may think.
One of the most popular tricks to make yourself larger in a shot is to keep the camera close. A reader of the site demonstrated it to me. He sent me photos in which he was exceptional. Yet he was barely 130lbs/59kg according to his e-mail.
Another problem would be the reported stats. Sometimes the numbers just don’t live up to the available visual data.
A good way to acquire a more accurate perspective is to analyze videos since a motion picture is a lot harder to manipulate, especially without the digital editors that we can deploy today.
In the video below, you see Eugen Sandow – one of the original bodybuilders. Some claim that he had 18 or even 19-inch arms, but honestly, I don’t see it in the clip.
An 18-inch biceps is huge. Frank Zane had a set of those in his prime; his guns are on another level compared to Sandow’s.
Ernest Cadine, a French weightlifter, is another man who illustrates what is possible to achieve naturally if you are built for the sport. His stats in Wikipedia are amazing in terms of height to bodyweight ratio – 167cm (5’5”) @ 82.5kg (181.5lbs). His body fat looks sufficiently low even by today’s standards. His FFMI is around 27 at 10% BF.
That’s massive. Men of his height who have inferior genetics for growth would have a hard time weighing that much without turning into fatso swines. I would even go as far as saying that most bros can forget about it.
What could be the possible explanation behind Cadine’s insane stats?
1. Superior genes (a thick frame, high testosterone, full muscle bellies)
2. False stats.
Unlikely, since he competed in the Olympics. Nonetheless, it’s possible that he wasn’t 82.5kg. After all, this was the category’s actual cut-off point. What are the chances that he weighed exactly 82.5kg? Maybe he was lighter…or heavier and fitted into the category by losing water. I have no idea.
3. Men had higher testosterone in the past.
While that may be true due to cultural and environmental factors, the effect of natty test levels is a little overrated and somewhat inferior to the power of frame.
A male can elevate his muscle-building hormones through nutrition and lifestyle redesign, but legit hypertrophy demands supraphysiological testosterone which cannot be obtained by eating meat, eggs and going to bed early.
Meanwhile, thicker bones and longer bellies result in bigger muscles even if you are a natural woman a.k.a. a human with low testosterone by default. Go to a female volleyball or basketball game, and you’ll know what I mean. The females there could dwarf many natural men and have no direct incentive to take steroids, unlike bodybuilders.
Did men in the past really have “ludicrous” testosterone?
Here’s an interesting question – how can you know what the test levels of the old-timers were when it was impossible to measure them back then?
If you look at photos of athletes competing in the 1920s, you’ll realize that they came in all sizes.
Men may have had higher testosterone in the past, but don’t worry – they didn’t look like your average shadow pinner injecting 200mg of propionate a week.
Fun thought: Modern gymnasts seem to carry a lot more muscle mass than their predecessors. Why aren’t they smaller if natty test levels are dropping so hard?
Back to Video Analysis
In the video below, Ernest Cadine doesn’t look nearly as massive as the photos suggest. His physique is great, but not even close to shocking by modern standards because it wasn’t the product of supreme pharmaceutical achievements.
The Never-ending Search for Naturals
If we go back far enough, we can dig out some pretty muscular men who existed in the pre-steroidal epoch. We like to engage in similar research because we need confirmation that natural madness is a real phenomenon. And it is… if you have the right frame, muscle bellies, favorable bodily chemistry and dedicate a large portion of your life to moving iron. But there’s a problem. Men like Cadine were 1-percenters before steroids even existed as we know them today. How many of us are members of that club?
Many would like to think that there’s an archaic program out there that can give you the physique of a world champion, but that’s simply not true. Today, we have a lot more training research and yet most men would still need enhancement to weigh as much as Cadine did at his height unless the sport is called sumo and lard is of the essence.
Moreover, steroids produce muscle mass of higher visual quality. For example, Frank Zane weighed around 185lbs/84kg in contest condition and stood 5’9”/175cm tall. If you go strictly by the numbers, a guy like Cadine would look more than adequate next to him, but even in photos, Zane carries significantly more “muscle majesty”.
P.S. If you want to know more about the natty limits, consult the book Potential: How Big Can You Get Naturally.