Is Your Muscle Building Potential Limited by Your Genes?

[There are traits handed down to us by our parents and our ability to grow muscles beyond certain limits is no exception. That doesn’t mean to say hard work and carefully planned training won’t have a positive effect on your physique – it just means that some people will inherit a greater abundance of the favored physical characteristics than others.

How responsive you will be to physical stimulation can be predicted to a certain extent by examining your somatype or natural body shape. Basically, there are three recognized body types:

  1. Endomorphs – these individuals tend to be squat with a round torso, thick neck and short limbs.
  2. Mesomorphs – these individuals tend to be muscular with broad shoulders, powerful chest and limbs and little body fat.
  3. Ectomorphs – these individuals tend to be slim and are usually tall with little muscle and body fat.

The ideal bodybuilding physique tends more towards the mesomorph with broad shoulders, narrow hips with arms and legs of medium length.  While everyone has a natural somatype, some people have the ability to build more muscle due to other uncontrollable factors (hormones) and controllable factors (lifestyle).

Guidelines for muscle building potential have been developed by a few of the top coaches and experts in the field.  An authority on sports nutrition, Lyle McDonald, put together a model outlining muscle growth with proper training (the below model applies to men, women should expect half of these numbers):

1 20-25 pounds
2 10-12 pounds
3 5-6 pounds
4+ 2-3 pounds


Of course, there are many variables to this chart (age, hormones, lifestyle, nutrition, etc).  The term “proper training” takes into account frequency, form, using the right variables for gaining muscle mass, and nutrition. For example, someone only “training” 3 days per week for one year, performing high reps with low weight, is not using the appropriate variables for building muscle mass.  In contrast, someone using the right variables with improper form will also compromise their results for gaining muscle mass.

While we don’t all have the genetics to be top-tier bodybuilders, any of us can build a strong, muscular physique with proper training, nutrition and time.  In order to train smart, maximize your time at the gym, improve your gains, and build the body you want, seek the help of a professional!  We are certified trainers through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and know how to create workouts for every level of fitness.  Our programs are scientifically proven to deliver results.  Whether you are new to fitness or have been working out for years with little or no progress, we can help!

We specialize in creating innovative, effective workouts for individuals of all fitness levels – those new to the gym and advanced athletes.  If you aren’t seeing results in the gym, we can help!  Check out our online training programs for details.


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