Genes and Bodybuilding

Your own DNA is a big factor when it comes to determining your natural performance and the results that you can expect to receive with specific exercises. Of course, we can’t do anything about your own genes. Genes and bodybuilding go together like so many pebbles in a tide.

What we can do is work with your genes and bodybuilding to maximize your potential.

Personally, I have seen budding bodybuilders who simply have to “smell” a few dumbbells to enhance the shape and mass of their biceps and triceps. Although, their bodies would only allow their chest muscles to develop to a certain degree.

If they wanted more mass and more distinct striations on their chests, they needed to exert two or three times more effort. On the flip side, there are bodybuilders who barely exert effort to make their chests bigger but no matter how hard they worked, they can only manage small gains to make their hips flare out properly.

What can you do about natural weaknesses?

Muscle Evolution | Genes and Bodybuilding
Arnold training his weakest point (calves).

Every bodybuilder has his own distinct weaknesses. Once you’ve identified your current limitations, it’s up to you to train hard so you can forge and hammer these weaknesses into strengths.

It’s always possible to enhance your performance regardless of your natural weaknesses.

You can be certain that even 7-time Mr.Olympia Arnold Schwarzengger has his own weaknesses. But he has been able to overcome weakness through many years of rigorous training and targeted nutrition.

Does ethnicity/race play a role in determining a bodybuilder’s success?

The plain answer to this question is “no.” Race or ethnicity doesn’t really have an impact on a bodybuilder. Or his/her ability to reach milestones and accomplish specific goals.

It appears that in the end, hard work will always be superior to genetics. That’s why Mr. Olympia would always include a variety of professional bodybuilders with different ethnicities.


There are reigning superstars in every industry and it’s understandable why many Mr. Olympias tend to win the same competitions again and again. DNA can provide people with natural enchantments but that only pays off with determination and working hard.

Think of your DNA as a secret box of bodybuilding riches. 

At every point in your evolution as a bodybuilder, your DNA will provide you with a different “natural boost” that gives you an edge over other athletes. Of course, this natural boost can only take you so far. You still need to take this boost and develop it scientifically and rigorously over a period of years.

Muscle Evolution | Genes and Bodybuilding

Who/what is a “natural boy?”

Lee Priest is a prime example of a “natural boy”. Natural boy’s are able to gain massive guns and impressive physiques even before they rolled into their twenties.

Lee Priest is not very active nowadays in the Mr. Olympia scene and he has fewer professional endorsements because of his unorthodox ways. Nevertheless, muscle magazines still consider him a highly respectable bodybuilder because of his commitment to training and the raw results he achieves.

What does bone size have to do with muscle mass?

Technically speaking, our muscles can only grow to a certain size, even with the use of supplements and hormones. After a certain point you have to be realistic about developing certain muscle groups once they stop gaining mass. Even if you’re still working out like crazy and you’re spending more cash and time on your bodybuilding efforts.

To keep things realistic and to keep your expectations reasonable. Note, that if you’re a big boned individual you will most likely gain more muscle mass. For example, a person who is five inches shorter or has a smaller wrist size will be at more of a disadvantage.

How much influence does your DNA have over muscle growth?

In our previous article, we explored the role of genetics in determining the performance of a bodybuilder.

We learned that while genes can sometimes make it easier for a bodybuilder to make specific gains (e.g. bigger biceps even with less training than one’s peers), we also discovered that genes are not “muscle traps” and they don’t determine your path in bodybuilding.

An interesting point is raised from bone size and muscle size. According to scientific studies, taller individuals with bigger bones tend to develop a higher volume of muscle than shorter people with smaller bone structure.

Again, this apparent physiological limitation shouldn’t discourage anyone.

If you happen to have average genes when it comes to developing your muscles, you just need better nutrition and an even fiercer training program to pound those muscle fibers into submission.

What other DNA-related factor affects muscle gains?

Our DNA influences every aspect of our existence, from the color of our hair, color of our skin to the number of muscle cells we have. Experts have confirmed that actual muscle cell count varies from person to person. This means that genetically-gifted individuals have much larger muscles because they have more muscle cells to develop in the first place!

If Bodybuilder A has 150 million cells forming his back muscles, he will most likely enjoy faster muscle gains than Bodybuilder B, who happens to have 100 million cells forming his back muscle tissues. Of course, it would be impractical to have your muscle cell count determined – no one does this and the information would be irrelevant to your progress anyway.

What we’re merely pointing out is that you can literally “have it” because their genes are formed in a particular manner.

Muscle Evolution | Genes and Bodybuilding


But wait…  There is hope, yet. Around the same time that this information was published, it was also discovered that while we do start off with an average muscle cell count. Muscle cells can actually divide and multiply depending on a person’s regular physical requirements.

So if you’re working out daily and you’re providing your body with the protein, amino acids and other nutrients it needs to build more muscle tissue, the DNA factor becomes a minor problem. It may take longer for you to achieve the symmetry and size of genetically-gifted peers but you will get there.

What role does the male hormone play in the scheme of things?

The male hormone testosterone also plays a crucial role in determining the success of bodybuilders. Testosterone influences the physiological growth of the body. Some male bodybuilders have been known to naturally produce high levels of testosterone. These guys don’t just develop quickly with rigorous training – they are also naturally more driven and aggressive also!

Testosterone doesn’t just help you develop mean muscles, it also affects your personality and attitude.

Generally speaking, a person with more testosterone has a much higher tendency to be aggressive when he undertakes different activities, including exercises.

Females also produce testosterone but on a much lower scale compared to males. If a female produces more testosterone than what her body naturally needs, it’s possible for a woman to develop male features. For example: body hair, increased axillary hair, and even a deeper voice.

Female athletes need to be wearer of androgenic substances and synthetic male hormones. Experimenting with these substances tend to develop severe health issues later in life. Given, their bodies can react negatively to the presence of excess male hormone.

Should you use synthetic male hormones?

A widely debated topic across the world is the safety of self-administering synthetic male hormone. It’s no secret that professional bodybuilders use testosterone and human growth hormones to enhance their body’s natural ability to grow.

Our recommendation would be to consult with your physician before even thinking about using anabolic steroids and hormones. This is your body and life on the line. It’s never a good idea to base your decisions on “hearsay” and what other people are doing.

Be cautious that there is a chance you won’t be able to pursue your bodybuilding dreams. If your organs become damaged as a result of your “chemical experiments”. So stay safe and try to keep your system clean of strange supplements and unregulated chemicals.

Height and bone size are important determinants of future muscle growth.

many of these lists are actually for adult bodybuilders, if you come across references about bone size and muscle growth. So if you’re younger than 20 years old, these lists don’t apply to you because you’re still growing up.

Young bodybuilders (some as young as 15 years old) are becoming more and more common these days. As long as these youngsters stay safe while working out, there shouldn’t be any problems. Nevertheless, teenagers are still not physically mature to start lifting weights.

The King of All Exercises

The bench press is a core fundamental exercise for developing upper body strength. You’re not only working your chest, you are also working your anterior deltoids, triceps, and lats. It also improves strength, increases muscle size, improves athletic function, and improved general fitness.

It is an essential part of any routine and if you can increase your bench it will command the rest of your body to grow. I promise you. In fact, if you increase your bench press by 20 or 30 pounds in the next month or so… you’ll pack on at least 10 pounds of muscle. Maybe more.

If you are interested in building superior strength and in muscle in your upper body… then check out our good friends over at Critical Bench!


We hope you enjoyed the post on “Genes and Bodybuilding”. If you have any questions or feedback please write a comment below. We will continue with “Bodybuilding and Body Types” on our next post, coming soon!

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