Okay, I did an earlier blog for the ladies, now this one is for the guys. While the ladies sometimes worry that lifting heavy weights/strength training will make them look too muscular/manly, I’m betting most of you guys are instead wondering if it’s really possible to build a bunch of muscle and look like the Rock without using steroids? The bad news is that there does tend to be a genetic limit to how much muscle you can develop naturally, but the good news is that you probably have a lot more potential muscle to gain than you think.
Dr. Casey Butt developed a formula that estimates the maximum lean body mass based a bunch of data and studies on natural body builders. If you’re wondering, lean body mass is total body weight minus the amount of fat on the body. So lean body mass is essentially your bones, internal organs, muscle tissue, etc. less the fat on your body. You see, fat amounts can go up and down considerably, but lean body mass doesn’t change much unless you’re adding or loosing muscle (actually lean body mass will change slightly, ~1 pound for every 5 pounds of total body weight change), although some may argue that guys are adding bone mass by growing a thicker skull or increased brain size by how big their head gets when they are full of themselves, lol!!!
Even though Butt’s formula estimates the most lean muscle mass a man is likely to be able to gain (without steroid use), the formula isn’t perfect since it was developed as a predictor for men in the 8-12% body fat range. However, it will still give you a good approximation of your max potential, ie. probably within a few pounds. The formula is based off of bone structure, where typically larger boned people have a higher maximum lean mass that they can naturally attain.
I’m sure no one wants to try to figure out their maximum muscle gaining potential by solving equations, so there is a nice calculator about half way down the page here. You’ll need to simply measure your wrist and ankle circumference and plug them into the calculator. For example, I’m 5′ 10.5″ tall, have a wrist circumference of 6.5″, ankle circumference of 8″ (narrowest part between the ankle bone and calf), and have a target goal of 10% body fat. The calculator says that I have a maximum potential total body weight of 191 lbs and lean body mass of 172 lbs. Right now I’m sitting at 171 total body weight at 11% body fat, so it shows that I still have a lot of potential lean (muscle) mass I can put on. Unfortunately I’m past the newbie gains, so it will be a slow, hard process, but at least I know that there’s more potential gains out there to be made and that helps me stay motivated. As you can see here, I’ve made gains in the past year but still feel pretty scrawny. I’d be extremely happy with an extra 20 lbs of lean body mass. I just have to train hard and focus on the 20 seconds in front of me each time I start a set of lifts.
If you’ve made it this far through the article and haven’t given up on the idea of trying to reach your full potential, great!!! However, if you are still struggling to believe you can make a change, here’s something I hope will help you with that decision. I’m really not comfortable putting this out there for the world to see, but hopefully this picture of me from 2011 will help motivate you to believe in yourself and to pursue getting into shape and/or continue the journey to reaching your full potential. As you can see, I’m as imperfect as they come and not blessed with a naturally lean and muscular appearance… yet change was possible. The first step is to believe in yourself that you can do it, then surround yourself with people who will support you and also believe in you!
Till next week…. stay healthy, stay happy, and stay strong! ~Ryan