The majority of your successes and failures are the result of factors that you don’t control, namely genetics and natural laws. Yet they shape your entire destiny.
We are all fighting for better physiques, but only a handful of us have been born to excel at this bodybuilding game.
The selection process is brutal and reminds me of earning money. Some people generate millions by being born at the right time and place whereas others who put in just as much, or sometimes, even more, effort, spend their entire lives counting pennies.
Successful people often attribute their successes to hard work and perseverance.
It’s true that to build something in your life, you have to work hard and consistently. You are not going to receive a reward without covering the requirements. Money and connections can be helpful, but they are certainly not a fix that works all the time. For example, if you aspire to become a good doctor, you have to study extremely hard. No one can do the work for you. Even if your father is the ultimate doctor, he cannot give you his skill. You have to earn it.
Hard Work Does Not Always Work
Unfortunately, or not, hard work does not always lead to success in life. If you are not in a position to collect the profits of your labor, you don’t benefit much from working hard. A good example would be the daily existences of most people. We trade our time for money. In order for someone to end up on the front page of a financial magazine, the little people have to work until their bones hurt. All rich CEOs are getting wealthy the exact same way – through exploitation.
Most companies hire people from Third World Countries to do the manufacturing process and pay them just enough not to die too quickly. The men and women in a similar position do not benefit greatly from working hard. The only ones that are truly getting richer are the shareholders and the management.
The same applies to the world of bodybuilding. Your genetic potential predetermines absolutely everything in terms of natural growth. Some are born with narrow shoulders and tiny bones while others have “pterodactyl” clavicles, thick wrists and a powerful response to training.
By default, a bigger bone comes with a bigger muscle. You will rarely see a man with tiny wrists and huge arms. The guys with the big bones are always more muscular. A good example would be Steve Reeves who had an insane bone thickness and was considered a very gifted bodybuilder competing in times when steroids were limited to early versions of testosterone.
The slim boned bodybuilders can look very aesthetic at a low body fat, but as far as size is concerned, they will have a hard time reaching the standards of the big boned fellas.
In general, there are two main types of insertions – long and short. Those who have short tendons can consider themselves lucky because they have a higher potential for muscular growth.
The longer the muscle is, the more fibers there are, and the more growth can occur. Conversely, people with long insertions have short muscle bellies limiting growth.
A common example would be the calf muscles – all people with really big calves have short Achilles tendons and long bellies whereas those with long Achilles tendons and short muscle bellies have small, puny calves. Training rarely results in measurable results for the second group.
In the image above, you can see Sergio Oliva who was known for his phenomenal insertions. He had incredibly short biceps tendons, which made his arms appear super full and allowed him to carry a ton of mass there.
In the next image, you see the back of Serge Nubret. Notice how his lats insert super low into his lower back. That’s considered a favorable muscle insertion, which allows the bodybuilder to build an extremely wide and complete back. However, not everybody has been blessed with similar insertions. Many have higher lats. As a result, their lower back area looks empty and soft.
In the image below, you see Albert Beckles. He has super long arm and forearm tendons. He had a very good physique because his overall genetics are great but didn’t carry as much mass in the arm department as other great bodybuilders with fuller insertions (e.g., Arnold, Sergio, Nubret…etc.)
Of course, one could argue that a bodybuilder can develop his muscles regardless of their insertions points, but at the end of the day, the guys with longer muscle bellies are much more likely to look like they lift.
Another tool that you need to be successful in the world of bodybuilding is a fast metabolism. The faster your metabolism is, the easier it is to remain lean.
Naturally, only a few are blessed with a similar extra. There are people who consume very little food and still gain fat. Most of the time, it’s because they have extremely slow metabolisms.
There are also those who inject ice cream three times a day on top of a regular diet and remain lean. That’s because their bodies are more efficient at using the macronutrients and energy received from the food. If you have a hard time gaining fat regardless of your poor nutritional habits, consider yourself very lucky.
Small Hips, Wide Shoulders
To pull off the bodybuilding illusion, you need wide shoulders and small hips. This combination makes your back appear wider and bigger to the naked eye. All bodybuilders that are considered aesthetically pleasing have broad shoulders and small waists.
In the image above, you see Lee Haney. He had a really wide back and small hips. His favorable shoulder to hip ratio helped him win Mr. Olympia 8 times.
Unfortunately, not everybody enjoys a similar structure. Some men have shoulders just a little bit wider than their hips. (Jason Blaha comes to mind.) This can make or break a bodybuilder. Having child bearing hips may be great for powerlifting, but in bodybuilding, it’s considered a flaw.
Great Response to Drugs and Gorilla Organs
The body’s response to drugs is another very important growth factor. There are people who get really big from small doses while others need more. Obviously, the less you need to look good, the better.
Organs of Steel
All successful bodybuilders share one thing in common – tough internal organs. You may be extremely gifted when it comes to structure, but to compete in professional and high-level amateur shows, you will have to take steroids. It’s impossible to keep up with the competition if you don’t. They are all druggies. You can’t naturally beat enhanced guys unless they are super lazy and/or have a bad dealer.
All of the guys on the Olympia stage have been pinning their glutes for years. To sustain such an abuse, you need organs of steel. There are many unknown bodybuilders with deteriorated health due to drug abuse. If you don’t have a body that can tolerate steroids for years, you will never be a professional bodybuilder regardless of how hard you work.
A Working Brain
One of the best things you can ask for is a working brain. It helps with every mission, and building muscle does not make an exception. Having good decision-making skills can save your life and take you to the top.
You have to be smart in order to push forward while protecting yourself.
The better learner you are, the less struggle and frustration you will meet on your way to the plastic trophy.
Bodybuilders need a steady source of income to buy drugs and food. Obviously, not everybody has that luxury.
The same applies to natural bodybuilding, although to a smaller degree. Having the resources to buy good food will help you a lot. Also, financial stability reduces your stress levels. Poverty is simply not anabolic.
So, how can you know if you have good genetics for bodybuilding?
It’s really simple. If you have a decent structure and respond well to training and basic nutritional plans, you have good genetics for natural bodybuilding.
However, if you aspire to be a full-blown professional bodybuilder, you will have to be almost immune to the negative effects of the drugs.
For many, staying natural is the best strategy. Trading your testicles and kidneys for biceps and a plastic trophy is not worth it.