Genetics and Muscle Building: How Muscular Can You Get Naturally?
So in this video, I’m talking about genetics again because I get so many people asking me, “Kevin, do I have the genetics to build a fantastic physique? Is it such that because of where I am and how I look and how my body is that I can never really achieve a fantastic physique?”
“So should I continue training and watching what I eat? Or should I just give up?” And to answer that question I want to tell a very short story which I think will put things in perspective and make you understand why I believe so much in the fact that you can do it.
So in this video, I’m talking about why it is that I do not believe that genetics is that much of a factor when it comes to being able to create a great physique.
A Story About “Bad Genetics” For Building Muscle
And as I said before, I’m going to explain this in the way of a story. And I want you to imagine someone who is six feet tall and that person is 125 pounds. So, 6ft tall, 125 pounds, you have a pretty good idea visually as to what that particular person would look like.
That person walks into a gym and says that they would like to be a competitive natural bodybuilder. They don’t want to use drugs, they want to train naturally and they would like to be a top natural bodybuilder.
Now, conventional wisdom would have you look at someone with those particular genetics. That person is obviously ectomorphic. Naturally lean, has long limbs and the amount of muscle mass required for someone who is so skinny to be able to have an impressive physique would be such that it would be unlikely for most people to think that that individual would be able to be successfully a competitive natural bodybuilder.
That’s the logic that most would work with. But that’s my story. I was 125 pounds when I started training. I was six feet tall when I started training. When I first walked into a gym, it was a bittersweet moment because when I was asked what it is that I wanted to do I said, “I wanted to look like a competitive bodybuilder.”
Now, the gym instructor who was also a competitive bodybuilder, took one look at me and said that would be impossible, that I did not have good genetics. And as a result it would be impossible for me to put on the amount of muscle mass required to ever be an impressive looking natural bodybuilder.
So that first workout of mine, was a bittersweet moment because it was a moment when I discovered how much I loved and pretty much fell in love right there with lifting weights and training hard. But at the same time, there was this sense in the back of my mind and this sinking feeling in my heart that didn’t have the genetics to ever realize my goal of looking just like the men I so looked up to in the comic books.
I wanted to look a superhero. Not just for cosmetic reasons, but because also I was in a difficult situation. I was a target of so much bullying growing up that it was very important for me to be bigger, stronger, and look bigger and look stronger in order to be able to survive in a hostile environment. I went at it with everything that I had. I knew that I had some genetic obstacles to overcome and as a result, I trained even harder. The high intensity style that I would later develop was very much because I always had this nagging sense in the back of my head that I didn’t have good genetics and such I would have to work twice as hard, three times as hard, 10 times harder than anyone else to look the way they did.
And I was training really, really hard and not making that much in terms of relative progress. Yes, I was building muscle but because I was so painfully skinny and painfully thin, you couldn’t see much in the way of results compared to someone who was of average size who started training.
And so I started feeling this sense, not so much of despair, but determination. Even if I didn’t make it, even if I was not going to be able to look like a comic book superhero, and be bigger and be stronger significantly from where I was starting off, I was going to die trying. I was going to work as hard as is humanly possible, so if there was any slight possibility that I could be successful, I was going to be there. Three years later in the gym, someone came up to me and said, “Kevin, I think you should compete in a body building competition because I think you have excellent genetics.”
And the rest, as we could probably say, is history.
Hard Work And Time Can Create The Illusion of “Good Genetics”
To look at my physique and say that I am genetically blessed, is to not know the whole story. Because without the years and years of work to develop the muscle mass that I was able to put on and without training as hard as I did I would never have been able to realize that I had the potential to be a successful natural bodybuilder. And that’s important.
And to be honest, and to be fair, looking back at someone so skinny it would be very difficult to be able to discern the fact that I would have the ability to be where I am now. And I think that’s the problem. The problem is when we start talking about genetics we’re missing the most important part of the conversation.
It’s not about the cards you have it’s how well are you willing to play those cards.
Why Body Type Doesn’t Matter
And having the genetics has nothing to do with body type. The genetics are completely a matter of mindset. I have seen in 33 years of training, every single person whether they were endomorphs, whether they were mesomorphs, whether they were ectomorphs, whether there were combinations of all of those, it didn’t matter what their body types were whether they naturally were on the heavy pudgy side, skinny side, muscular side, whether they were overweight, whether they were underweight, or of average build, every single one of them who committed to their training and committed to eating a diet of non-processed foods and really sticking to it, giving it a 100% even on their worst days, every single one of them was able to create a tremendous physique.
Now, genetics does play a part in terms of it determines how far they can go.
Many Top Natural Bodybuilders Didn’t Start Off Being Told They Had Good Genetics
Everyone can’t be a top level physique competitor.
Everyone doesn’t want to be a top level physique competitor.
But many top level natural competitors didn’t know they had what it takes either until after years of training.
So be patient, excellence often takes time.
The Idea Not Having Good Genetics Can Be A Distraction
Now, there’s probably going to be a voice in the back of your head saying,
“Kevin doesn’t understand.”
“Kevin doesn’t understand how I look.”
“Kevin doesn’t understand where I am.”
“Kevin doesn’t see that where he is and where his clients have been, is completely different from where I am right now.”
I do understand because I’ve been there.
And that voice telling you, you don’t have what it takes is a voice that you have to stop feeding. We have these voices inside of us. Some of these voices are good ones
some of them are bad ones. But we have to acknowledge that these voices are there. And these voices tend to tell us we can’t do what in our hearts, we really want to achieve.
If you want to build a life of achieving excellence you have to focus on only feeding that voice that tells you, “You can do it.”
They are like wolves. You have two wolves inside of yourself. One wolf is telling you that you can do it and the other wolf is telling you, you can’t do it. Now if you feed that wolf that says you can’t do it and keep on feeding it by saying, “Yes, I don’t have good genetics.” “Yes, I don’t have what it takes.” “Yes, no matter how hard I work, I’m not going to achieve much of anything.” That wolf will be stronger. And that wolf’s voice will be the dominant one and the one you hear the most.
The other wolf’s voice, the one saying that you can do it, will be almost inaudible because it’s weak, it’s not fed. You need to nurture that part of yourself that believes in yourself. Excellence is about doing the work no matter what. Yes, but it’s also about acknowledging that negativity in the back of your head while it’ll never go away, you can’t indulge it.
So, my response is, forget genetics, work really hard, believe in yourself
and also know that someone with over 30 years of experience has never seen anyone fail and I believe in you. I believe in your ability to do it. I believe that no matter what you think, even though you may not have been athletic when you were younger, even though you may have been overweight your whole life, even though you never had that body that really looked the way you wanted to look, I believe if you put the time in, do the work, focus uncompromisingly with your diet, that you can do it.
I believe in you, get to the gym, do the work, believe in yourself as well, and Excelsior.