CT's Frank Opinion on Using Hormones?

What an unexpected gem of a thread. I actually contemplated using them many years ago but decided against it for the reasons mentioned already… extreme personality prone to abuse, probably would never be satisfied with the results, which would lead to never coming off, which would lead to health issues

Aside from aesthetics and strength, intelligent weight training provides many health benefits, so there is plenty of reasons to continue training even if you truly are at your genetic limit.

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Just because I like this one


wow ct thougth you were an olympic lifter not physique model (:

congrats jmaier, yeah you’re a foot taller than me so no prob with your physique “ceiling” lol

CT do you think the cycle you did help establish a “base”, or added mass that would have been very difficult to achieve natural but has since stuck with you (even after going off and all the health issues)?

Would you say your current physique could have been achieved naturally and faster (earlier on in life) if you adopted proper nutrition protocols (like the one in the get lean thread vs. your hamburger binging days)?

That was 12 years ago I’ve lost and gained a lot of muscle since then. Who knows what would have happened. I also did a lot of training and even more nutrition mistakes in my life … I might actually have reached a higher peak had I not made these mistakes.

I would say so, at least for me. Let’s look at it this way; on these pics I was 202 at what I would estimate to be 8% body fat. Back around 2001 I was 195 at about 9-10% after I dieted down when I stopped olympic lifting. The first time I dieted down to a 9-10% was when I still competed in weightlifting and wanted to drop a weight class… I ended up being 186… that was in 1999.

So we could say that I gained a grand total of around 20lbs of muscle tissue in 17 years!!! GOD I hope it would have been faster had I done everything correctly!!!

My own personal mistake has always been undereating and overtraining. As a former fat guy I value leanness more than mass. For a long time I lived low carbs… from 2001 to 2009 I avoided carbs like the plague and likely did not gain any significant muscle in those years because it is really hard to build muscle naturally without carbs.

Then for a few years, from around 2009 up to 2013 my normal weight was in the 215-220 range, fairly lean. Sometimes I would “bulk up” to 225 sometimes I would drop down to 210. My body is like a sponge, I retain a lot of water, but I retain it mostly in the muscles, which gives a rounder appearance. In reality, in a t-shirt I don’t look that big because I have a small structure. But when I take in a lot of PLAZMA for example I retain tons of water inside my muscles and I instantly look like I gained 5lbs of muscle.

When I got out of the hospital and stopped training for several months I got down to about 185-190 it took me about 2 years to build back up to 218 and then I dieted down for 9 weeks to get down to 202.

Structurally speaking I believe that my “lean” ceiling is about 220 and my “super lean” (condition in the pics) is likely 205-207. If I wanted to be in true contest shape I would be around 188-190.

I can get bigger but I’ll look sloppy, especially with my condition. I am stil focusing on improving; getting leaner, trying to regain deltoid mass, trying to make my waist smaller, improving my glutes, getting my snatch, clean & jerk and squat back up to about 90% of my all-time best lifts (back when I focused only on olympic lifting), getting healthier. But I don’t think I’ve been designed to be more than 220 leanish or 205 very lean. Right now I’m back up to 215, still very lean, which seems to be close to my ceiling.

Oh very cool and meticulous tracking…
so your advice to 20-something CT would have been: eat more healthy foods, use periworkout, don’t do insane training/overtraining and leangain all the way to natural lean/super lean ceiling? (vs. bulk/cut)?

Well to be honest I’ve always been obsessive about my weight. I can likely tell you my exact morning and evening weight for pretty much every day in the past 2 months, from memory!

  1. I would have started by having more carbs and focusing on a healthier diet, with enough of a surplus to gain without becoming sloppy… I would have accepted some fat gain while trying to add muscle but not “bulking”.

  2. I would have avoided Frankenstein foods… I used to rely a lot on protein bars, shakes, fake fat free-cheese, etc.

  3. I would NOT use leangain to get lean, I have no idea where you got that. I would eat like I ate for the photoshoot… mostly fish, green veggies, small amount of rice, some pineapple and berries.

  4. I would have avoided overtraining and being a stimulus addict.

  5. I would have use pre-workout nutrition (I did use post-workout at the time but it was often only protein)


I would have stuck to one goal long enough to see more gains. In the past when I decided to gain muscle I would eat more and have carbs, but as soon as I started to look a bit softer I would panic and go back to strict dieting, which likely killed any chance of adding muscle.

CT, I hate to bring up something I read elsewhere but I can give you the idea behind it without citing it. Do you think there is an accurate way to predict one’s genetic potential?

I found an equation from Dr. Casey Butt that uses the circumference of your ankle and wrist. In the equation you enter your goal body fat and it spits out your max lean body mass and total weight at that BF %. He applied the equation to 300 natural bodybuilders and it checks out. This includes the Champs of today, the 40’s, even Steve Reeves.

Do you think using bone structure in this manner is accurate or are there other factors?

WHen you say preworkout nutrition is that solid food - like a banana & chicken breast? Or some fruit & fish? Or just sipping some plazma/mag 10 before starting workout

On the subject of fruit actually, do you find it an optimal carb source? I’ve had good results with doing meat & fish, fruit/veggies during the early part of day and then night time hititng starchy carbs (white rice/sweet potato). Felt healthy and performed well (mentally/physically) all day

Would you ever consider getting all your carbs from fruits/veggies vs. grains/starches ?

Good stuff Lonnie, that is you in the pic right? It looks almost like an enhanced physique to me so you dont need drugs !! lol

Well first I’d like to know where he got the wrist and ankle measurements for these guys. It’s possible to find arm, calves and forearm measures but wrist and ankle is a bit harder to find, especially on the deceased ones. Try to find the ankle and wrist measurements of bodybuilders for the 40s just for fun!

In general I would tend to agree that there is a limit that applies to about 90-95% of the population(not sure if the formula you talk about is correct though). But there will always be outliers.

I had a friend in high school (black guy), played a lot of sports but never trained with weights. He was 5’6" and 170 and was super lean, like a true 7-8%. If I’m not mistaken he would be close to the theoretical natural limit if not at the natural limit… yet he was a 18 years old kid who never trained a day in his life.

And we all have exemples of that…

Another example, I trained a guy who bench pressed 500lbs naturally (without even protein or creatine)… but the guy benched 315 when he was 15 and 365 x 6 and did 315 on the seated shoulder press when he was 16 or 17. I’ve seen him recently and he has not trained for about 6 years but benched “for fun” with the high school football team he coaches and he did 405 for reps.

There was also a big guy that used to come to the gym I trained at from time to time. Farmer big… was the laziest trainer ever. Came maybe twice per week, did more talking than lifting. Didn’t look like much but he bench pressed 405 for 12 reps (I spotted him).

Some people are just outliers, and as long as you have these guys around I am willing to give people the benefit of the doubt unless their use is too obvious.

He also mentions having taken measures among natural bodybuilders, past or present. Well, did he also take the measures of college running backs, linebackers, defensive backs and receivers? Because that’s where the REAL genetic phenoms are. You have tons of RBs coming out of high school who are 200-205 lean on 5’9"- 5’10", which would be at the limit or close to it (if not over it).

Even though they have great physiques, natural bodybuilders are rarely among the genetic elite when it comes to building muscle. They are good, and have good muscle bellies which looks great, but they are nowhere near the true genetic elite. And if you want to build a formula finding the LIMIT of what is possible you should include the very best in your formula too.

The people referenced are all competitive bodybuilders. I think the research was done assuming the Champs were the best of the best and achieved close to their potential when they competed.

I would guess he got the measurements from photos. Find an object with known measurements and use it as the reference (maybe their trophy).

All of this refers to size alone. It was written for the bodybuilding community. If I use 12% BF then I can supposedly get to about 245 lbs naturally. So far I haven’t beat that.

Another equation in the article said to measure your wrist below the styloid process and add 10 to figure your max biceps size.

My wrist is 7.5". 17.5" biceps don’t sound too far fetched.

This info has me looking at bone structure when I see people bigger than me. So far it seems to be somewhat true.

As far as strength I don’t think there are any easy formulas without dissecting the people to evaluate their muscle fibers, tendon insertion points, etc.

Yeah that’s me, I’m only half joking when I say the light that I took that under added 10lbs of mass and subtracted 10lbs of fat

It was the official selfie spot in the gym I used to train at, something about it just made everything POP

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.