Within the last few years, talk about genetics seems to interject just about every bodybuilding discussion. Some use it as an excuse or mentally beat them down because it is something that we cannot control, but many times people don’t know their genetic potential and how far you can go even with their genetic potential possibly not being as good as others.
Most of the time I found it to not be as apparent as people make it seem, until I saw a chest workout with Mr. Olympia Phil Heath, where he bench pressed 225 lbs for 10 reps as his working sets. For those that don’t know, that is extremely weak and that’s not to say he couldn’t do more. Many pro’s his size are able to easily do 405 lbs for the same rep range, as he could most likely also do, but 225 was all he needed. Genetics, in his case, take the lead.
But that’s not to say you can’t maximize what you have or that your genetics aren’t advantageous in other departments. Some of the ways your genetics influence bodybuilding can include:
Genetic Response to Training
As with the case of Kevin Levrone or Dorian Yates, what you look like before you start training may not be indicative of what you can achieve. Various pros didn’t have an ounce of muscle until they started actually training. What you look like as a base, untrained person vs. once you begin to undertake a weight training routine can vary drastically. Furthermore, your genetics may determine the type of training you respond best to. Whether you’re prone to overtraining, need high volume vs. low volume, or certain exercises based on your structure.
Genetic Response to Diet and Supplements
Not everybody responds to the same amount of protein, carbs, fats, or food types in general. We all digest and process food differently so understanding your body first and foremost comes above all dieting fads. A good way to know for sure is to have a food tolerance test done, where you swab the inside of your mouth and modern science allows you to find the foods that your body digests most efficiently and what foods work for you.
Genetic Response to Steroids, Growth Hormones, and Other Drugs
This is why many times, a top natural bodybuilder may not always be guaranteed to do well in untested divisions with the usage of steroids, growth hormones, etc. Some people may have a better response, be it from the way their receptors process these drugs and gain more muscle with less enhancement. It’s not a guaranteed road to success, so it’s recommended to maximize your genetic potential and develop a base before thinking that these substances are the only thing you need.
Some of the best bodybuilders in the world have sub par genetics but have maximized their potential with hard work, consistency, etc. Some bodybuilders that come to mind are Branch Warren and Dorian Yates. Your genetic structure is something that may also effect the way you look. Having smaller joints, round muscle bellies, etc are something that don’t have a lot of leeway in changing. But, creating the illusion of say, having a small waist is possible by broadening your shoulders, getting thick and dense lats, and great conditioning.