Genetics and Bodybuilding
The Truth About Bodybuilding Genetics
They say the number one rule in bodybuilding is to choose your parents wisely. It seems that Sergio Oliva Jr did just that. His Father Sergio Oliva Sr, known as "The Myth", was a three time Mr. Olympia and his mother Arleen Garrett was also a bodybuilding champion.
So, what's the truth? Is genetics the biggest factor in being a success in bodybuilding, or are other factors like hard work or steroids more important?
How Important is Genetics?
When I first started working out I had a friend who already looked like a muscle man at only 14 years old and this was before he ever touched a weight or even did any calisthenics. Not only did he have muscles, but he was ripped, he had 6 pack abs, veins across his biceps, etc.
Once he started working out with me he got bigger and even more ripped he even had striations on his back when he flexed. The truth is he never even trained that consistently and his diet was terrible, he would actually eat candy bars for breakfast sometimes. Despite all this, he still looked great.
I also knew a guy is high school who was huge and ripped at only 17 years old, he was competing and winning local bodybuilding contests. But when I saw him train it really seemed like he had no idea what he was doing, I later found out that he was also inconsistent with his training, sometimes going months without working out.
Since then I've seen countless examples of genetic superiors who are in amazing shape even though they seem to be doing almost everything wrong.
Can Hard Work Beat Genetics?
What about hard work, correct training, proper diet and consistency can they win out over superior genetics?
My teenage friend quit training after only about a year of off and on working out. But he still looked good for many years after, even though he was not exercising, was still eating crap and was now smoking up to a pack a day.
In the meantime, I am training hard, learning all I can about the right and wrong ways to do things and eating a healthy diet. And for a long time this guy still looks better than I do.
But, finally after many years of my consistent hard work and his lack of any effort at all, I am finally in better shape, am much healthier and even look at least ten years younger than he does despite the fact that I'm actually two years older than him.
So, consistent hard work can possibility beat genetics, if the person with great genetics doesn't constantly put in hard work.
Can Supplements or Anabolic Steroids Beat Genetics and Hard Work?
What about supplements or steroids will make up for not having great genetics?
We all see the advertisements that show before and after pictures of professional bodybuilders saying they took "Supplement X", and while this might fool a lot of people who just started working out - anyone who's been around for a while knows that many times the bodybuilder in the ad never even used the supplement he's telling everyone is the secret to his success.
I've tried a lot of supplements over the years some were very good and some were a total waste of my money. But I know for sure that no amount of supplements are going to make an average person look like a professional bodybuilder.
Ok, so it's got to be steroids right?
So many people want to say it's all steroids when they compare themselves to the top bodybuilders.
But can steroids make a person with bad or average genetics into a huge and ripped freak?
I was talking to one of these people that thinks it's all about taking steroids and he was trying to tell me that Dorian Yates had bad genetics because he found a picture of him before he ever worked out online and wasn't impressed by what he saw.
I know of many people with amazing genetics that were actually skinny before they started lifting weights, but once they started training, they gained size so fast it was scary.
So, sorry you can't say someone has bad genetics just because they used to be a skinny teenager.
The truth is Dorian had amazing genetics for bodybuilding, it's not just steroids that made him a six time Mr. Olympia.
I am not saying he would have been a top bodybuilder without steroids.
I'm sure you know that all top bodybuilders take steroids, HGH, insulin, etc. But, this doesn't mean that if the average person took the all same drugs in the same dosages he/she would look the same as a professional male or female bodybuilder.
A great example of this is Dan Duchaine the infamous "Steroid Guru", many don't know that Dan wanted to be a professional bodybuilder, but despite all his hard work and his vast knowledge of anabolics, training, diet, etc. He never really looked like much and had to admit to himself that he didn't have the genetics to make it as a bodybuilder so instead became a bodybuilding writer, coach and adviser.
The truth is if you took away all the drugs (and I wish they would) the top bodybuilders would still be the top bodybuilders. No, they wouldn't be as big, but they'd still be a lot bigger than the average gym rat due to their superior genetics.
So, it comes down to this - the top bodybuilding athletes have superior genetics, are consistent with their hard training, are eating right and taking steroids.
But, without first having great genetics, all the hard work and drugs in the world are not going to make anyone a bodybuilding champion.
Bodybuilding for The Average Joe or Jane
Now where does that leave most of us reading this article? We can never hope to be one of the select few to be at the top of the sport of bodybuilding.
Well so what? I personally don't care. I am not going to be a top bodybuilder, but I'm not going to be a professional basketball player either.
I still love bodybuilding as an activity and have been working out for decades and still look great now that I am in my 40's. I get comments on my build all the time, I was walking down the street recently and this woman said, "Wow, you are super buff!".
Of course standing next to some Mr. Olympia competitor I look like nothing, but hey, compared to a billionaire I seem like a pauper, even though I make a very good living.
So it's best to not compare yourself to someone else, but if you are making progress compared to yourself, if you're bigger and stronger than you were a year ago, that's great, keep up the good work.
You or I may not ever look like Arnold did at his peak, but we can still be the very best version of ourselves!
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