I’m writing this article on a bit of a sore note. Sat here, still stuck at stuck at 83kg, shovelling brown rice and chicken in my mouth which I’ve prepared the night before, thinking about this evening training session – yet I know there are guys down my gym who spend their day eating McDonalds and dairy milk bars, drinking endless cups of coffee, and still see way more gains than me from their half heated work outs, texting in-between every rep.

You can say I’m hating, but I’m telling you now the results aren’t coming from that whey (and no carbs) shake they’re drinking. I have no problem with people who choose to use anabolics, but don’t say to my face you’re natural with your swollen jawline, watery muscles, baggy heart and shrunken testicles.

Anabolics don’t just cause hypertrophy of your skeletal muscles – they cause the walls of the heart to grow and thicken. This is a form of heart disease with no symptoms but causes arrhythmia, obstructed blood flow and eventually heart failure

For anyone who is interested in the cardiac effects of anabolic steroids, here is a link to a great study. 

As a side note – if you do any sort of endurance sport or exercise, anabolic steroids will not make you faster or fitter; they will actually make you slower. Since they cause thickening of the heart walls, they decrease the cardiac output (the volume of blood that the heart can pump per minute) which is one of the limiting factors of an individual’s level of fitness.

Keeping it Natty

For those of us who have been keeping it natural, we know that results come slowly. Even more slowly for those of us who have been training for a few years! Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to change this slowing of gains, there is only so big you can be. Once you start to approach your maximum size, the rate at which you build new muscle slows down towards the rate at which your body catabolises existing muscle. When these rates become even you have reached your natural peak.

 Tell me how big I can be already!

It is a sore point for almost everyone who lifts, but it is genetics that limit how much muscle you can build. An individual’s height, bone structure, muscle type and to an extent muscle facia, hormone levels and metabolism all affect the maximum amount of muscle that can be built (and how fast it can be built). Despite our best efforts, we cannot significantly change any of these factors – you have to work with what you are given!

BUT this doesn’t give you an excuse to say ‘I can’t build muscle; it’s not in my genetics’.’ Almost anyone can build some muscle; it just requires you to put in the effort in the gym, and more importantly in the kitchen.

 The formula below (calculated by Casey Butt Ph.D.) has been proven to predict lean body mass for a natural individual to a high degree of accuracy.

H = Height (inches)
A = Ankle circumference at the smallest point (inches)
W = Wrist circumference measured on the hand side of the styloid process
(the bony lump on the outside of the wrist) (inches)
%bf = body fat percentage at which maximum lean body mass is to be predicted

It looks like a complex equation, but don’t worry – I’m not trying to make you retake your GCSE maths exam again!

Grab a tape measure and plug the measurements into this great online calculator.

As you can see, chances of you or any of your gym buddies having a maximum lean body mass (at low body fat %) of 110kg+ are slim to none. And this really is your maximum potential – we’re talking years of proper training and more importantly, proper nutrition. Not how big you’ll be after a few years or two of working out chest and biceps and eating chicken pesto pasta.

That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule, but they are few and far between. Not as common place as you see in the gym these days.

This site is a great read if you want to read more about maximum natural potential.

Remember our infamous LDNM Guides have been Tried, Tested and Proven by our very own Team LDNM to maximise your gains/ shred.