T Nation

How to Assess Muscle Building Potential

So I thought maybe this could be a fun thread discussing what you feel is a good indicator of muscle building potential for people you see, or have known. I am sure everyone knows people that respond really well to lifting weights, and obviously physiological factors (specifically hormones and such) probably make the biggest impact.

But I think it would be interesting to see what, if any, are some of the common physical traits that people can see in individuals who seem to respond very well or easily to lifting weights.

I have a few that I have noticed:

A few of the bigger guys I know have just mammoth joints, specifically wrist, and ankles. One is personally the biggest guy I know, about 6’2 300 pounds and built just like a strong man. I literally cant get my hands half ways around his wrists.

Another is gingers, I know a few pretty well and they all seem to be pretty decent sized without trying real hard in the weight room.

Last one that I haven’t necessarily witnessed, but would make sense in my mind, is people that are fast. Speed is pretty heavily genetically based, and it seems that those people probably have a higher amount of fast twitch muscle fibers compared to average. So, with that they may have more muscle building potential.

Obviously this isn’t meant to be taken to seriously, but I think it would be interesting to see if there are any common characteristics that emerge.

People with OCD personalities when it comes to dedication and consistency.

Big joints definitely equal a big frame, but small joints equal prettier muscle bellies and the illusion of bigger muscles on a developed individual. (Flex Wheeler)

I really don’t think there are defining characteristics in this way…because it is about how it all comes together. I have large joints but nothing about that was evident at the 85lbs I entered high school with. My wrists are larger now…so those signs would be less noticeable in people who are “late bloomers”.

Guys like Flex Wheeler looked completely average in high school. Tony Freeman was 150lbs in high school. Neither showed their potential until they started lifting.

I do agree that work ethic is the most valuable factor and tons of people who didn’t have the best genetics beat out others simply because they worked harder.

I’ve noticed that guys with relatively short legs always seem to have impressive calves. On the same page though, those people have longer torso’s, which can make traps/neck look weird

[quote]austin_bicep wrote:
People with OCD personalities when it comes to dedication and consistency.

Big joints definitely equal a big frame, but small joints equal prettier muscle bellies and the illusion of bigger muscles on a developed individual. (Flex Wheeler)[/quote]

THIS. i feel like personality has to deal with your physique’s potential a ton. OCD people(not clinically, but just personality wise) can be really good at something they pick up.

I feel like broad shoulders are also a good indicator.

[quote]mrgandhi90 wrote:

[quote]austin_bicep wrote:
People with OCD personalities when it comes to dedication and consistency.

Big joints definitely equal a big frame, but small joints equal prettier muscle bellies and the illusion of bigger muscles on a developed individual. (Flex Wheeler)[/quote]

THIS. i feel like personality has to deal with your physique’s potential a ton. OCD people(not clinically, but just personality wise) can be really good at something they pick up.

I feel like broad shoulders are also a good indicator.
[/quote]

You can often look at people and tell who has good genetics for bodybuilding. It is often a judgement based on shoulder width, overall shape, muscle balance and a purely “athletic” look.

Things like that tell you the guy who naturally has a body type that is going to see results even if they half ass it a little. They do ignore the guy who grows into it though.

I think most bodybuilders almost need to be “OCD” to some degree. No one else is going to be that extreme as far as meal timing and frequency every single day for several years on end.

[quote]austin_bicep wrote:
People with OCD personalities when it comes to dedication and consistency.

Big joints definitely equal a big frame, but small joints equal prettier muscle bellies and the illusion of bigger muscles on a developed individual. (Flex Wheeler)[/quote]

IMO people with big joints build muscle easier than people with small joints. Muscle might look more pronounced on a small jointed individual but would probably be harder to build to that level.

I have noticed the opposite, small joints make them look massive.

I would say their history might indicate their growth potential. Past athletes are known to grow quickly with training. Some people throw some theory about muscle memory, i read it has to do with reactivation of pushing their CNS again. Whatever the reason, they tend to explode quickly.

[quote]RePz wrote:
I have noticed the opposite, small joints make them look massive.
[/quote]
Yeah I agreed with this. 200lbs on a small jointed individual will look more “pleasing” than the same amount of mass on a thick jointed person. But the issue I believe is that the smaller jointed person likely doesnt have the genetics to carry as much mass as the thicker jointed person. Obviously PEDs can get around this to some extent.

I have seen plenty of skinny small jointed individuals but very few people with genuinely thick joints that dont naturally carry a significant amount of muscle.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I think most bodybuilders almost need to be “OCD” to some degree. No one else is going to be that extreme as far as meal timing and frequency every single day for several years on end.[/quote]

oh yeah I think you absolutely need to be a bit OCD for bodybuilding. All the meal planning, adjusting your macros, planning workouts, trying to bring up lagging bodyparts etc

all that shit needs a degree of obsession I think

yeah people with thicker bones will be able to carry more muscle. It’s how they know that neanderthals were on average much more muscular than humans today, they had thicker bones and the forearms were bowed suggesting very powerful forearms.

[quote]schanz_05 wrote:
So I thought maybe this could be a fun thread discussing what you feel is a good indicator of muscle building potential for people you see, or have known. I am sure everyone knows people that respond really well to lifting weights, and obviously physiological factors (specifically hormones and such) probably make the biggest impact.

But I think it would be interesting to see what, if any, are some of the common physical traits that people can see in individuals who seem to respond very well or easily to lifting weights.

I have a few that I have noticed:

A few of the bigger guys I know have just mammoth joints, specifically wrist, and ankles. One is personally the biggest guy I know, about 6’2 300 pounds and built just like a strong man. I literally cant get my hands half ways around his wrists.

Another is gingers, I know a few pretty well and they all seem to be pretty decent sized without trying real hard in the weight room.

Last one that I haven’t necessarily witnessed, but would make sense in my mind, is people that are fast. Speed is pretty heavily genetically based, and it seems that those people probably have a higher amount of fast twitch muscle fibers compared to average. So, with that they may have more muscle building potential.

Obviously this isn’t meant to be taken to seriously, but I think it would be interesting to see if there are any common characteristics that emerge.

[/quote]

What part of South Dakota are you from?

Persistence,perseverance and obsession are the key traits u need to achieve the ‘X’-frame. After @ least 10 years of training, then one can contemplate if they got the right genetics. Unless u push urself to the limit of ur genetical abilities to beef up , u will never know if u are gifted or u are man enough to beat those who are gifted or whatever…

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]mrgandhi90 wrote:

[quote]austin_bicep wrote:
People with OCD personalities when it comes to dedication and consistency.

Big joints definitely equal a big frame, but small joints equal prettier muscle bellies and the illusion of bigger muscles on a developed individual. (Flex Wheeler)[/quote]

THIS. i feel like personality has to deal with your physique’s potential a ton. OCD people(not clinically, but just personality wise) can be really good at something they pick up.

I feel like broad shoulders are also a good indicator.
[/quote]

You can often look at people and tell who has good genetics for bodybuilding. It is often a judgement based on shoulder width, overall shape, muscle balance and a purely “athletic” look.

Things like that tell you the guy who naturally has a body type that is going to see results even if they half ass it a little. They do ignore the guy who grows into it though.

I think most bodybuilders almost need to be “OCD” to some degree. No one else is going to be that extreme as far as meal timing and frequency every single day for several years on end.[/quote]

Pretty much this. I told my friend once that I could tell just by looking at someone and watching them walk how athletic they were. He looked at me like I was crazy, but people that are naturally explosive/quick generally have certain look to them and the way they move. Hard to explain but anyone who’s spent a lot of time with athletes learns to spot it.

If I ever had to bet money on who has the best genetics (not necessarily the drive), I would pick these guys.

Lots of interesting points.

Someone once said that being athletic is like being rich, some people are born into it and some people work their way up to it.

There are examples out there of people who are simply born to be muscular, or lean, or explosive (or all of the above). The most extreme examples would probably be people with dysfunctional myostatin function. It would be very interesting to do a genetic screen of bodybuilders and strength athletes and see if there are unusual numbers of naturally occurring myostatin mutants.

On the other hand, there are people who don’t show those signs when they are young, but they get older, and start training with weights and respond very well.

I agree that someone with a thicker bone structure would most likely be born with more muscle fibers and allow him to carry more muscle, but why would a thicker bone structure enable someone to build NEW muscle at a faster rate than someone with a thinner structure?

[quote]gangstpmp3 wrote:
yeah people with thicker bones will be able to carry more muscle. It’s how they know that neanderthals were on average much more muscular than humans today, they had thicker bones and the forearms were bowed suggesting very powerful forearms.[/quote]
My forearm bones must be bowed :slight_smile:

[quote]fisch wrote:
Pretty much this. I told my friend once that I could tell just by looking at someone and watching them walk how athletic they were. He looked at me like I was crazy, but people that are naturally explosive/quick generally have certain look to them and the way they move. Hard to explain but anyone who’s spent a lot of time with athletes learns to spot it.

If I ever had to bet money on who has the best genetics (not necessarily the drive), I would pick these guys.[/quote]
When is comes to posture, gate and how someone carries themselves I think you can tell a fighter or a person with experience in contact sports. Growing up a wrestler and club boxing I can always tell just by watching how someone stands and holds their arms if they got-fight. It is something that never goes away, IMO.

[quote]howie424 wrote:

[quote]schanz_05 wrote:
So I thought maybe this could be a fun thread discussing what you feel is a good indicator of muscle building potential for people you see, or have known. I am sure everyone knows people that respond really well to lifting weights, and obviously physiological factors (specifically hormones and such) probably make the biggest impact.

But I think it would be interesting to see what, if any, are some of the common physical traits that people can see in individuals who seem to respond very well or easily to lifting weights.

I have a few that I have noticed:

A few of the bigger guys I know have just mammoth joints, specifically wrist, and ankles. One is personally the biggest guy I know, about 6’2 300 pounds and built just like a strong man. I literally cant get my hands half ways around his wrists.

Another is gingers, I know a few pretty well and they all seem to be pretty decent sized without trying real hard in the weight room.

Last one that I haven’t necessarily witnessed, but would make sense in my mind, is people that are fast. Speed is pretty heavily genetically based, and it seems that those people probably have a higher amount of fast twitch muscle fibers compared to average. So, with that they may have more muscle building potential.

Obviously this isn’t meant to be taken to seriously, but I think it would be interesting to see if there are any common characteristics that emerge.

[/quote]

What part of South Dakota are you from?
[/quote]

Around the Aberdeen area.

I would agree that bodybuilding potential is in part having medium sized wrists knees and ankles (not small but small enough to accentuate muscle bellies are preferred). Good natural posture is a advantage but I wouldn’t call it a factor that determines you ability to build muscle. I think straight limbs are desirable as knock-knees or bow legs in combination with muscular legs look weird. How about a natural health and vitality along with the ability to recuperate from vigorous exercise? I would say the most important factors would be the muscle cell counts of the individual muscles and the amount of male hormone you naturally possess.

Taking this into account you also have to look at how some people inherit the potential to build a lot of muscle in one part of their body and not another. Many men and women, especially blacks, have the ability to build super impressive arms and shoulders while building calves seems almost impossible. Because of some genetic factor(s) the upper body has a huge count of muscle cells while the calves are little more then a knot of muscle that no training could significantly alter. Others have huge legs and calves from puberty and beyond without even training them.

Because of this, inheriting long muscle bellies with an abundance of cells would be incredibly desirable. You really can’t build much on that knot of a high inserted calf muscle if you’ve got them or perhaps abruptly cut off biceps that leave a large gap between the biceps and the elbow. You could have all the other factors that make you a genetic superior as far as muscle building potential but there is really not much you can change about those features you were given.

The great news as you guys said is that no person has ever utilized her or her raw potential to the fullest of its genetic limit. That’s where being OCD can help. The bad news is that your genetics are the limiting facotr in your training.