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Bodybuilding Genetics Truth vs Myth

Most people will tell you that they can see when a bodybuilder has taken drugs to help gain muscle but there are also people who will tell you that anyone with more than ten extra pounds of muscle is taking steroids. This can leads to a second question about the pictures we see in our favorite muscle mag just being pics of genetically gifted bodybuilders who take lots of drugs to boot?

The truth is very non-specific as two people adding ten pounds of muscle can both look very different depending on a number of factors including how well they selected their parents. Genetics can and does play a role in bodybuilding without a doubt but how important is this genetic link?

When we pass adulthood our bone size and structure of our muscles has been set and many years of hard training will only change your bone size by 2% maximum. The shape, symmetry and where the insertions start in your muscles are something that was selected before you were born, something you inherited from your parents called genetics.

However the hormones that float around your blood, the type of muscle fiber, the amount of capillaries or micro-fibers you have and the neural drive you have nothing to do with genetics, it is because of the choices you make. Anyone can add muscle by the choices they make, the training they do and the food they eat.

There is little doubt that certain body-types will be able to add muscle easier than others. For example a Mesomorph will be able to increase lean body mass a lot faster than an ectomorph or an endomorph would. However as mentioned above the choices you make on your training, eating and supplementation will still add muscle.

If we look at typical mesomorph bodybuilders like Chris Dickerson, Mohamed Makkerwy and Danny Padilla we see typical mesomorphs who all managed to put on muscle a lot easier than tall skinny ectomorphs like Frank Zane and Arnold. The genetic disadvantages of gaining muscle that you may be born with can all be overcome without taking steroids to gain muscle.

Obviously any muscle gain you achieve needs to exclude the first year of training as all three somatotypes will increase muscle size the first year of training, it is called progressive resistance. A stronger muscle is a bigger muscle but the law of diminishing returns kicks in after the first year of training depending on your somatotype.

There are countless strategies available online for you to choose from to scientifically approach your training routine so that you are able to activate the maximum amount of muscle growth from each workout. When talking about somatotype it needs to be stressed that nobody is a pure mesomorph or ectomorph we are all a very complex mix of all three.

The mention of Mr. Olympia Chris Dickerson as a perfect mesomorph simply means that his genetic makeup was predominantly mesomorph. No one is only ectomorphic or endomorphic and will never gain muscle; the body does not work like that as we are all a very complex mix of somatotypes.


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