CT's Frank Opinion on Using Hormones?

I wonder if those guys are lazy Because it comes so easy to them. I mean if you can be the strongest guy in the gym by far without training, that’s just a state I can’t comprehend.

Meanwhile There are those of us who have to work so hard and long just to reach relatively average level and of strength.

IMHO that is a wrong assumption. Back in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s bodybuilding was a fringe activity, even in the early 80s training with weights to get more muscular was often seen as odd. This means that few people lifted weights to get more muscular, at least a very small number compared to today. And those who trained hard often did so to compensate for being scrawny…the typical example is Larry Scott who started training because he was small… ended up being the first Mr.Olympia.

I would go as far as say that most of the best muscle building genetics didn’t even train in the 40s up to the 70s. It’s only when being muscular was sought after than more and more people started training hard, leading to more of the good genetics being involved.

Now the argument could be made that the modern day natural bodybuilders represent the genetic elite since being muscular is popular now. But I stand by my original point that BY FAR the best muscle and strength genetics IN THE WORLD play high level football (top colleges and pro). In fact a chinese national weightlifting coach was once asked why the US is struggling in olympic lifting. His answer was “thank God for American football”.

I have worked with athletes in 28 different sports and with pro bodybuilders and I will tell you that what I’m saying is totally true: the best muscle building genetics are in football.

An a lot of the top genetics get into enhanced bodybuilding. Of course since these top guys are “enhanced” they can’t be used to design the formula. But the fact is that quite a few of the IFBB pros you see on stage would still exceed the natural “limit” if they stayed natural. YES some of them are there because of the drugs, but you do have plenty with genetic gifts on top of the drugs and it is my belief that many of them would exceed the formula.

That’s what I’m saying, if you want to design a formula that establish THE LIMIT (as in going above that is impossible) you must factor in the upper echelon too. It would be like saying that it is impossible for an athlete to be taller than 6’7" without including basketball players in the equation.

I understand that the formula is designed for bodybuilders. But bodybuilding is just a “sport”. What the formula is really measuring is the limit of how much muscle someone can have naturally. What does it matter if the person built the muscle by being a bodybuilder or training for football? I’m telling you, some top football players look more like bodybuilders than natural bodybuilders do themselves.

Normally I wouldn’t mind the formula. In fact for what it’s worth I think it gives a decent idea of what is achievable for most. But making it the ultimate guide to know if someone is using is dumb. Accusing someone of being a drug user can destroy one’s reputation. So you can’t so that lightly. And if outliers and genetically gifted individuals are not included in the creation of the formula then these freaks who can be above the “normal level” while still being natural will automatically be labelled as juicers just because they are lucky.

I’ll give you a analogy and I’ll stay on the drug topic. Testosterone drug tests… Testosterone is not detected the same way as other steroids because it is bioidentical to your own hormone. To test for testosterone doping they use the testosterone to epitestosterone ratio…epi test normally mirrors test. So in a “normal/average” body testo and epitesto should be 1:1 … BUT THERE ARE OUTLIERS; so the test actually allows for a 4:1 testosterone to epitestosterone ratio before suspecting doping… in fact it used to be 6:1.

I have nothing against a fomula to calculate the limit of what is achievable naturally, but only if it accounts for the genetically gifted… they are human beings too after all.

I think that the formula if used properly can be very useful: it can manage expectations… if someone thinks he can get to 240 lean on 5’9" naturally then that is what he will expect and when he doesn’t progress toward that he could get discouraged, lose focus with his training or start using drugs.

But the perverse side of the formula, and the reason why it is popular IMHO is that people DO NOT WANT TO BELIEVE THAT SOMEONE IS BETTER THAN THEM. If he is a lot more muscular than me, then he is un drugs. That saves your ego. The formula gives these insecure people a way to boost their own self-esteem, but at the possible expense of someone else’s reputation.

To recap:

I think that the formula is likely accurate for 90-95% of the population. And can thus be a good way to establish realistic expectations. But since it doesn’t account for the outliers I have a problem with using it to “prove” that someone is using drugs.


It’s kinda like the guy who gets top grades in school without studying. These people are at the top of their class without effort so they don’t feel the need to work. Even if studying would mean slightly better results, since they are already at the top going from 90% to 92% might not be worth the hassle.

The elite strength athletes are those who are born with a gift and the desire to work really hard.

A formula such as this sets expectations for me and me only. I’ve mentioned I’m 6’5". I’m also mostly legs. 36-38" inseam on my pants. The reality is I’ve spent much of my lifting life seeing people on sites like this and fitness ads and wondering why the hell I can’t look like them. At the Olympic Training Center I ate as much as I could and reached 247 lbs. I’ve never topped that but I’ve never had the conditions to do it without just getting fat. I think I’m more on the side of a hard gainer.

I see these physiques and keep working harder in the gym. More volume, heavier weights. The end result is very little change and a lot of joint aches.

The Bigger Stronger Faster film helped my perspective. It showed that some of those fitness models on the covers of magazines are on PEDs–not a lot but just enough to make it easy to be a little bigger and leaner than me. The physique I’ve been chasing is only about 10-15% better than where I’m at. I wonder if I can actually get there though. Maybe my expectations have been unrealistic.

CT, you look phenomenal in your photo shoot. Do you think you could achieve the same body fat at 220 lbs naturally?

I’m just a guy looking for the truth about expectations. If I’m close to my genetic ceiling then I can live with that. It would tell me I’ve done a good job to this point. If not then I need to make some changes.

I appreciate everything you do for guys like me. You’re my favorite writer/coach and it’s pretty awesome that you take time out of your busy day to help strangers on the Internet.

As I mentioned in a previous answer to Sigil I was 202 in those pics and at my have an with my medical condition I think that I can get up to 207 in that same condition. I think I can get up to 220 leanish. In true contest shape I can likely be 188-192.

From my own experience my top “looking good and sustainable weight” is about 222. Not as lean as in the pics, but lean enough to look defined. Since 2008 I would say that my weight has always been around 215 except for some short stints where I would really go high on PLAZMA and calories. I would go up to 225 and still look good (mostly water weight in the muscles) but past that I looked sloppy.

To answer your question, in the same condition (around 7-8% body fat) as in the pics I believe I can go up to 207 and leanish (10%) I can likely eventually reach 220. I was 220 (in fact I went above 220) earlier this year but it was a bit sloppy (closer to 14-15%).

I noticed a weird thing, And I can’t prove it and don’t even know if it makes scientific sense. But I noticed a phenomenon that I would almost call muscle migration. I think it applies mostly to those close to their genetic limit for muscle mass.

I’ll use a real life example to illustrate the theory:

For most of 2008-2016 (except for when I got out of the hospital 3 years or so ago) my weight as around 215 at 10% body fat (roughly).

My training often changed… at one point I got back to the olympic lifts and did mostly olympic lifting training, at another time I spent 5 months only doing gymnastics ring work (no weight lifting), then I’d do bodybuilding “bro training” for 4-5 months, then I’d train powerlifting-style, etc.

What I noticed is that my weight would always stay right around 215 and my degree of leanness would not change BUT my body would look completely different.

When I did bodybuilding training my delts, arms and chest would get larger and my legs and glutes seems to go down… when I switched to olympic lifting my legs would grow and my traps would get thicker but my arms and chest got smaller, when I did gymnastic ring work my biceps, lats and delts really improved but my legs and chest went down.

Always being right around 215.

I just concluded 6 months of bodybuilding training and switched to my current style which is basically:


  1. One olympic lift trained mostly for skill and speed
  2. One strength lift (bench, squat, sumo dead, military press)
  3. 2-3 bodybuilding exercises using 1 all-out set to failure (best damn training…)

And my traps, back and legs have already improved but my arms feel smaller (I’m still training them) and my chest seems a bit flatter.

So my theory is that when you are close to your genetic limit it might be possible to continue growing some muscles as long as your total lean body mass doesn’t change… which means losing some muscle elsewhere (maybe through a combination of protein degradation and protein synthesis, I don’t know).

It’s like when I change my training focus the body feels the need to add muscle in certain places to adapt to the stress BUT since it’s close to its limit it can’t just pile on muscle so it breaks down other muscle to be able to add muscle where it is needed.

It sounds out there and might totally foolish but it does seem to work like that for me.

Maybe your body really does have a set-point in muscle mass that it cannot exceed naturally, but you can still make visual changes while staying within that set-point.

I appreciate your response. I didn’t mean that you actually would beef up to that weight. I was just curious from a theoretical perspective. Max potential and reality don’t line up very often because if real life. Ya know, jobs, wives, kids, alcohol, etc.

I know I could improve with a diet coach and even strength coach but I’d have to treat it like a full time job with 100% commitment…like a competitive bodybuilder. But I like having a job and family so there’s no point in obsessing that way.

I said I was happy with where I’m at considering my circumstances and I meant it. I still want to improve but it doesn’t define me. Husband, father, son, brother, friend, weightlifter in that order.

In regards to your body set point I’ve experienced similar results. It’s like I have a factory default weight. I train hard and gain or get sick and lose but I always end up between 220-230 depending on body fat. It may not be proven yet but I believe it.


all i do now is rings and some explsoive bodyweight as warmup
then a bastardized layers on 2 lifts (SGHP, bp press from pins), front squat as auxiliary
with lots of ring rows and pullups

and my body has morphed to be very lat heavy but smaller evyerhwere else.

i even find i walk differently, my gait now is like a gymnast, motor patterns ingrained to walk around with wide lats but seemingly nothing else (this is just internal feeling, exteranlly everyone remarks i’m too muscular…esp. in japan now)

my body looked and felt very different when i did built for bad or focused heavily on barbell lifts (vs. rings)

I’ve actually noticed that too… my gait is different when I train for bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, crossfit of gymnastics… I think the muscles worked and type of muscle action plays a role, but also the psychological mindset… it’s almost like my psychological mindset changes depending on the type of training I’m doing.

this is hilaroius and very true

i prance around a lot now, i mean i guess you can call it graceful (hopefully not effiminate). my workouts feel much more like skill practice (rather than poudning the weights), less violent

when i did the layers and heavy barbell i had much more of a gorilla swag and my workouts felt much more aggressive, violent

when i used ot do lots of DB work (especailly for chest) and didn’t have full body balance/ideal posture, i had puffy pecs and nothing else, looked very silly

have you seen the studies on how POWER POSING/your posture effects your hormonal output?
basically the more expansive your body position throughout the day (i.e. lat spread) the more testosterone you produce and less cortisol

i find that it impacts my gym performance and even apperance

1 Like

Tangentially on the genetic elite primarily being involved in football (and other well-paid sports) - I think the reasons we’re seeing powerlifting records being shattered all the time in frequent years, and you just see much better and higher lifts overall all over the gyms/internet is because of the increased popularity, thus just a lot more people with better genetics competing. Powerlifitng, especially raw, really has exploded in popularity over the last years. There is also something to be said about the plethora of really really good information and resources that is now freely available. It’s probably a mix of both.

That’s so interesting you say that. I was curious about it and asked years ago but I couldn’t phrase it right.

Basically my thought was that you have a total amount of muscle to distribute, and you can either have a total body distribution that is “even” or you can sacrifice certain areas to enhance others (both within limits, you can’t whittle your legs to 10" to have 30" arms)

I’ve recently been slightly deemphasizing my legs to spec my shoulders/chest area. Only like 6 weeks in so no major shifts yet but after 6 months I should be able to tell.

Sorry to continue the thread hijack, but I also totally feel as though I have a different gait after switching to olympic lifting last year, especially recently when I cleaned up the form and began focusing on rhomboid activation/high pulls. I feel much more upright (I’m a desk jockey) and even find myself walking more quickly around the office. Very intriguing thread.

Thought I would chime in. I have had verbatim, the exact same experience.

I noted that you mentioned that you knew someone who was 5’6" at 170 and about his genetic limit. I’m at the same height but with a very below average skeletal frame (currently ~160 at 8% with 27" waist). For past few years I figured I was simply doing things wrong that I couldn’t get much further muscle wise. Any time I would do a spec it would “eat” muscle else where in favor of the focused group.
I’ve made some progress recently but too much an emphasis on anything and it costs me.

There is definitely truth to the hypothesis!!!

I thought it would be also important to note that poliquin had mentioned something along the lines of the space of your bicep tendon at the elbow when flexed 90° and the relation to one’s genetics.
If you could fit two fingers in then that would be considered average. One finger or less and you are genetically gifted. Three fingers or more and your on the less fortunate. (Don’t remember if its supinates or neutral as I get 3 and 2 respectively). But this may have relative value to the “guideline” of realistic expectations.
[Same as those with high gastrocnemises have poor calves vs low ones]

In the long run be the best version of “you” you can be and find happiness with that :smiley:

Great statement. Hard to accept sometimes. For example, why the hell can’t I look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?! We’re the same height. It’s probably because he was already a beast as an adolescent. He’s gifted. I’m average. Some might say he’s paid to look awesome so it’s easier for him but he busts his ass to work out while filming movies.

I wrote a blog on that exact topic:

ouch! belle shape quand même , coach :slight_smile:

Hi coach, will the new book have a lot of new programs and is the release date soon?

Just got the first copies. It should be out in a week or two.


What a tease :slight_smile: available on Amazon?