Is Muscle Building All In The Genes?
Is Muscle Building All In The Genes?
People often cite genetics as the reason for their progress – or lack thereof – in building muscle mass. Are they right to do so? Does building muscle really come down to having the right genes?
The short answer is no. Some of the biggest, strongest lifters have started out looking like skinny cross-country runners. Also, some of the leanest guys only got that way after spending years being frustrated with high body fat. Not everyone can be the next Mr. Olympia or World’s Strongest Man, but anyone can overcome their genetic limitations.
Many laypeople and medical professionals like to put people’s bodies into one of three categories. Ectomorphs are skinny and have trouble gaining weight. Endomorphs are fatter and have trouble staying lean. And mesomorphs have an ideal blend of leanness and muscularity, gaining and losing weight at will.
There is some truth to these categorizations, but they are largely irrelevant. Everyone has genetic weaknesses and strengths, and worrying about what “type” you are is pointless. Here are a few of the ways genes can actually affect your bodybuilding progress and the way you train.
Response to Training
Not everyone will get the same results from the same routine. You can put two people on identical lifting programs (and diets), but they may very well get totally different results. It’s important to find out what type of training really works for your own body.
For some people, pure strength training is the best way to build muscle. Sets, reps, intensity techniques, and other considerations don’t really matter – as long as the weight keeps getting heavier. For others, lots of volume is the key to growth. Strength still matters, but doing a certain number of sets and reps at a certain pace is the key to long-term gains. Most trainees will fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
Strong Body Parts
Almost everyone has certain muscle groups that grow much more quickly than others. It’s common to see guys with strong chests and shoulders, but weak triceps. You might also see lifters with huge lower bodies and average upper bodies. These disparities are sometimes due to inconsistent training, but they are usually the result of genetics.
Thankfully, you can improve even the weakest body parts with smart training. If you’re having trouble getting a muscle to grow, then you need to pick exercises which allow you to really feel it working. If your lats are small, for example, don’t just keep doing wide-grip pull-ups because that’s what everyone else does! Try using different grips, as well as cable exercises and machines which allow you to better feel your back doing the work.
You can also bring up weak body parts by focusing on your strength on certain movements. For instance, if you’re strong on squats and deadlifts but weak on presses, then it’s no wonder that your chest, shoulders, and triceps are lagging behind your back and legs! Getting strong on all of the basic movement patterns will go a long way in evening out your muscular development.
Body fat levels are one of the most genetically-influenced aspects of bodybuilding. Some guys can eat crap all day and not gain an ounce of fat, while others seem to blow up at the mere sight of food. Thankfully, proper nutrition can allow anyone to stay lean and mean – even when eating big to gain muscle mass.
The main thing for most people to consider is their carbohydrate intake. Lifters who are naturally lean can typically get away with eating lots of carbs – even the “bad” ones like breads, pastas, and sugary foods. Guys who easily gain fat need to restrict themselves to “clean” sources like rice and potatoes, and they also need to consume most of these carbs around workout times. Even healthy carbs can make you gain fat if you eat them all day long.
Another great method for staying lean is to GET lean in the first place! You’ve got to eat a surplus of calories to gain muscle, but those extra nutrients are more likely to be stored as body fat if you’re already fat. If you’re chubby, put the mass-gaining on hold and go on a cutting diet. You’ll look better and actually make faster progress in the long run.
Bones, Joints, and Leverages
The differences in people’s muscle insertions can drastically influence their appearances. Some guys are simply gifted with round, full muscle bellies that make them look huge even at low bodyweights. Others aren’t so lucky and have to gain much more size before they really start to get that “bodybuilder” look. Either way, this isn’t really something worth worrying about – you just have to work with what you’ve got.
However, your joints and bone structure should make a difference when it comes to your exercise selection. For example, tall guys with long torsos will probably not get much from doing traditional squats. They may want to focus on wide-stance squats or box squats, as well as leg presses and other machines. Likewise, guys with short arms will be great bench pressers but won’t fare so well with the deadlift. Overall, you need to adjust your routine and your form to avoid injury and properly stimulate your muscles.
Get the Complete Program Inside the Member’s Only Section of The Mind Muscle Academy: