Do genetics play a role in how big, how strong, or how fast you can build lean muscle? Undoubtedly. There are people who probably come out the womb ripped. There are people who have naturally broad shoulders and frames that muscle seems to cling to like a magnet. There are professional bodybuilders who were already beasts when they were teenagers and become super beasts when they get older! There are others who can eat burgers, fries, ice cream, and whatever the hell they want…even as adults…and not gain a single, solitary pound. Aarrggh! I hate…er…envy those people. Everyone was dealt a different genetic hand, but how you play it determines your overall fitness level.
Often, the average person who is struggling to lose weight or get bigger may attribute their struggles to their genetic makeup and leave it at that. With the exception of maybe genetic disorders, true genetic disorders, I think many use poor genetics as a crutch that keeps them from reaching their fitness goals. Sure, your genetics could possibly make things more challenging, but there are things you can do work around, or even bypass in some cases, your genetic shortcomings. Have you ever seen pictures of Lou Ferrigno before he became a bodybuilder? Or did you see pictures of Jean Claude Van Damme before he started doing karate and making movies? These guys were both extremely thin. I don’t think anyone would have guessed what kind of bodies these two would end up having. Lou Ferrigno became the Hulk…literally and Van Damme had one of the best bodies in Hollywood during his prime movie-making era. I think these are two wonderful cases where hard work, dietary discipline, and the right mindset allowed two people to triumph over their own genetics.
Maybe you’re thinking “Well, that’s great for them, but what about me?” My response to that is what makes these guys any different from you? The biggest thing was their mindsets. They believed in themselves and in their goals so strongly, that even their genetics had to give in. How To Overcome your Genetic Caste and Reach Fitness Nirvana? I’d like to offer four solutions that help me:
1. SOMETHING HAS TO DRIVE YOU OVER THE EDGE For me, I was very thin, very lanky, and went through a gynecomastia (male breasts) phase in my teenage years that made me EXTREMELY self-conscious. I hated being teased by girls for being so thin and tired of being teased and pinched by boys at school. I got sick and tired of being the thin, lanky boy with small, male breasts. I couldn’t control the gynecomastia side of things so I trained my ass off one summer and gain so much muscle in my chest and shoulders that I still have small stretch marks to this very day. That was my “drive me over the edge” moment which moved me out of my genetic “caste.
2. BELIEVE IT AND YOU CAN DO IT! If you’re frustrated, if you’re about where your body is, you have to find a way to convert that energy (anger and frustration) into form that keeps you positive and keeps you training…moving forward…always.
3. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF If you know you have a propensity for love handles, a spare tire, and belly fat, adjust your diet accordingly. The Snickers a day diet probably isn’t going to work for you. Keep your protein intake high, the carbs you eat meaningful, and your fats and sugars low.
4. TRAIN, TRAIN, and TRAIN SOME MORE! If you don’t train and do so effectively, odds are it will be MUCH harder to change your body. Experiment for as long as you need to to get the results you want. For example, if you come from a family of chicken legs, like I do, your thighs and calves may not grow the way you want them to. You could just sigh and give up saying “Ahh, my calves are never going to grow.” Or you could dig in. Test every exercise you can think of, every angle of that calf raise, and test as much weight as your calves can safely bear. I do whatever it takes to get my calves screaming. In the end, you don’t have to be stuck where you are.
There are no Couch Potato Pariahs, Superset Sudras, Kettle bell Kshatriyas, or Bodybuilder Brahmins, DON’T FALL VICTIM TO THE IDEA OF A GENETIC CASTE SYSTEM!! You can control your fitness, just get out there and give it your all. To your fitness success…