This is a topic that was discussed at length on this forum years ago. However, it seems in the past five years or so, there has been an explosion in social media use, which has given rise to many so-called “evidenced-based” bodybuilding coaches and a new crop of bodybuilding noobz that don’t have a frame of reference for what’s possible physically in natural bodybuilding, and therefore, can be lied to because of this lack of frame of reference and knowledge of bodybuilding generally.
I was initially not going to mention this topic, but for some unexplainable reason, felt the urge to mention it again after reading the posts of a few current gurus. For example, in an IG post from a few months ago, Mike Israetel said that people should withhold from using roids until they reach their natural size limit. He said that he waited until he reached 275 pounds with 25% body fat. I’ve been told he is 5’4" or 5’5". So with those stats he would have a lean body mass of 206 pounds and if he were to step onstage at 5% body fat, he would compete at 217 pounds! By comparison, Flex Lewis, 5’5" himself, and plenty geared up, has won the 212 Olympia seven times!
Aside from that example, the first short bodybuilder that came to mind, likely because he was one of my favorites, was Momo Benaziza, who competed at 187 pounds at 5’3", roided up, and shredded. If he competed at 5% body fat, he had 178 pounds of lean body mass. So to compare with Israetel’s claim, he would have 28 more pounds of LBM while being only one or two inches taller!
But how many young men today would first think of someone like Momo? Likely not many, considering at my 40 years of age, when I first heard of him in my teens, he had already and unfortunately passed away from use of a diuretic. How many will think of other comparisons as well?
To mention again, I was surprised when Paul Carter said he was once 195 pounds at sub-ten percent body fat at 5’11", natty, not exactly huge. As I said twice on this board before, with those stats, someone will be the scariest looking person in the gym, and even geared up pros would be highly impressed! It’s not even possible for nearly all natural bodybuilders, even genetically blessed ones.
Just as an aside, a sort of peripheral topic related to this one: there’s also a popular story of outrageous results from weight training in one’s teen years amongst gurus for quite some time. The story goes likes this. They started out in their high school years at bodyweights that would likely have people wondering if there were something seriously wrong with them and they had unique metabolisms that warranted force feeding. And with that and training, they gained some outrageous amount of weight-training induced muscle mass, never mentioning that perhaps adequate nutrition–which would have had them at normal body weights in the first place–and puberty are two factors that lead to their increase in body weights, not just weight training. Several gurus come to mind for these stories.
So we have here two topics that can be discussed, if you wish: natty body building potential and natty rate of gains.