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What Are 'Good Genetics'?

What exactly constitutes good genetics vs bad genetics?

I was talking about this topic with a buddy and thought it was interesting. I don’t like the terms “endo” and “ecto” but we all know people who have an easier time gaining muscle than others. Or guys who have an easier time getting/staying leaner than others. Both of which are equally important and opposing factors in “good genetics.”

We also discussed the possibility of people with “better genetics” naturally producing 3 to 4 times the amount of Testosterone as someone who may have “crappy genetics.” Since the normal range can vary anywhere from 300-1200 for naturally produced test it leaves a very large potential gap. Is that a major factor in determining good vs bad genetics?

Bone size, frame, insertions, muscle bellies and natural strength levels are obviously big time factors but I was interested in hopefully getting a good discussion going about what everyone thinks of when they hear “good genetics” and what criteria they when applying that term towards themselves and other lifters.

I also am really fascinated by the natural test production scenario. I was unable to locate information on the topic but honest didn’t search much.

Genetics… people always seem to get their panties in a bunch when this topic comes up. My short take on it is this: genetic potential is everything, but it’s the absolute worst concept to put in the head of someone new to lifting. Get a guy thinking he has “poor” genetics, and he’s handcuffed right out of the gate when it comes to fulfilling whatever potential is there. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very interesting topics to talk about under the genetics umbrella, but best left to (mostly idle) discussion between people who have put in some years under the iron.

Ok, so that out of the way… greg, if you’re going to discuss good genetics vs bad genetics you first have to define what the goal is. Genetics for being “big, strong, lean” in everyday life isn’t necessarily the same as looking good under the lights on a BB stage. So what are we talking about?

[quote]gregron wrote:
I also am really fascinated by the natural test production scenario. I was unable to locate information on the topic but honest didn’t search much. [/quote]
So am I, and I definitely think that’s one of the things that explains some people’s “good genetics” vs other people’s bad ones.

What mystifies me though is a scenario like Benni Magnusson. Even amongst people on roids, where the natural test production thing isn’t really a factor anymore, there are people who are just weirdly stronger than other people. There’s many guys as big and muscular as Benni. On top of that, he doesn’t even try very hard. How is he out deadlifting these other huge guys by 300lbs?

Rick Weil is another one. He benched 556 at 181. He was on gear, but how many guys on gear can bench that much at that bodyweight? The answer is only him. Not that he didn’t train hard, but he said it was easy. He was shocked that his record wasn’t broken. He said it wasn’t even difficult for him to do that, it just happened.

If you want a squat example, I’d use Ray Williams. Ray just kinda worked out like any other football dude; one of his friends finally suggested he pick up powerlifting around a year ago. Except Ray can squat 1000 raw. How did he get there so nonchalantly? Wtf is going on here?

I wonder what kind of magical force makes certain people that way. It’s something beyond test levels and biomechanics. There is some nebulous factor at play that I couldn’t even begin to pin down, but by definition, it must be in their genetics.

[quote]gregron wrote:
Bone size, frame, insertions, muscle bellies and natural strength levels are obviously big time factors but I was interested in hopefully getting a good discussion going about what everyone thinks of when they hear “good genetics”[/quote]
In the context of lifting, “good genetics” makes me think of favorable tendon lengths/limb leverages that encourage heavy weights to be lifted “easier” and longer muscle bellies/insertions/origins that make muscles look more full when developed. I don’t automatically associate “good genetics” with higher natural Test levels, but it’s an interesting point and would make sense.

None really. I’m not dismissing the role of genetics, but on some level, it’s just the hand you were dealt and there’s no changing it. It’s up to the individual to chase results, regardless of how easy or difficult it’s going to be.

When you sit down with a new personal training client, one of the first things you do is get their exercise history and their personal health history. If they’re an 55-hour a week desk jockey, It’s not very relevant if their father was an Olympic decathlete and their mother was a two-time Ms. Olympia.

Work ethic isn’t genetic. The ability to study training and determine, through trial and error, what methods do and don’t work for your body isn’t genetic. Deciding what and when to eat isn’t genetic. Over the long-term, those are going to be your best bets in seeing results whether you won the genetic lottery or were born with three fingers on each hand and two club feet.

Pretty good article from Contreras, citing a ton of studies that looked into different aspects of genetics and training. Doesn’t really mention Test specifically, but gets into some other hormonal/genetic markers:

[quote]gregron wrote:
What exactly constitutes good genetics vs bad genetics?

I was talking about this topic with a buddy and thought it was interesting. I don’t like the terms “endo” and “ecto” but we all know people who have an easier time gaining muscle than others. Or guys who have an easier time getting/staying leaner than others. Both of which are equally important and opposing factors in “good genetics.”

We also discussed the possibility of people with “better genetics” naturally producing 3 to 4 times the amount of Testosterone as someone who may have “crappy genetics.” Since the normal range can vary anywhere from 300-1200 for naturally produced test it leaves a very large potential gap. Is that a major factor in determining good vs bad genetics?

Bone size, frame, insertions, muscle bellies and natural strength levels are obviously big time factors but I was interested in hopefully getting a good discussion going about what everyone thinks of when they hear “good genetics” and what criteria they when applying that term towards themselves and other lifters.

I also am really fascinated by the natural test production scenario. I was unable to locate information on the topic but honest didn’t search much. [/quote]

From your picture, assuming you are natural, good genetics is what you have from the point of view of esthetics as a fitness magazine would define it, but it would be impossible to have genetics that is equally good for all possible sports, for example.

But at the end of the day, if you are lucky enough to not have cancer genes or mental illness genes, you have good genetics.

When I think of good genetics, I think of weight to strength ratio being higher than normal, lean body mass for men(lower bodyfat levels), able to build muscle mass relatively well, fast, smart, tall, mass being placed around ass and tits and ass for women I don’t know if I am doing this right?

My point of wiew: High Natural testosteron Production = Good Genetics for Bodybuilding, Powerlifting and other sports where muscle, Power, strenght and speed are important factors.

I don’t know how to describe it, but ability to tap deeply into their CNS for those last reps. I think there are people who can consistently do that which allows them to get that eighth, ninth, tenth rep that others can’t get. Or can’t get without crancking the music to 10 and having their buddy punch them in the face. Which isn’t really sustainable long term.

When I think good genetics in the general populous, I think of some of my good friends which I know don’t take nutrition serious, and although they lift consistently, have never followed any programming, party 2-3 times a week and stay fairly lean with no calorie counting… And have grown and grown and grown over the years.

Good genetics on an elite level? Who else but NFL players. Talk about dealt a great hand. These players could do well in just about any athletic endeavor, including BB’ing.

In going along with the context of what defines one’s genetics as ‘good’: As a bodybuilder, I’ve always used the term to refer to the natural ‘look’ that someone is capable of achieving, assuming of course training and diet are on track. A good example that gets bandied about quite a bit is Jim Cordova. Yes, he trains damn hard, yes he pays insane attention to his diet and recovery, but the combination of small joints, a narrow waist, wide clavicles, and full, round muscle bellies, isn’t something you can train for.

While it should in no way diminish his achievements, it’s foolish for every gym rat who stumbles upon the weights to honestly believe that one day they will look EXACTLY like Jim, if they simply train hard enough.

Of course there’s the old point Mike Mentzer used to make about never knowing how good your genetics truly are until you’ve done everything correctly for a sufficient period of time.

S

Cool comments so far everyone! Thanks for sharing.

I’ll get some more in depth responses to some of your posts tomorrow hopefully.

QUICKBEN, I am just asking in general. As some of the more strength oriented guys have said, natural abity to lift heavy factors more into their “good genetics” categories. I am just looking for an open conversation and to see where this goes.

To me it means, big boned, long muscle bellies, fast-twitch dominant and good recovery due to hormones. Even though he’s not technically a bodybuilder, I always think of Mike Tyson when I try to define good genetics.

Great posts so far and good topic.

what exactly is long muscle belly? i always get confused.

From a bodybuilding and aesthetics standpoint a small skull/head size is a significant, and often overlooked, genetic asset. Look at Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman and pretty much 90%+ of all black bodybuilders and you’ll notice cranial size on par with that of a grapefruit. A small head size will give the illusion of wider shoulders and an overall larger frame. This is even more dramatic when there is significant muscular development to begin with.

  • This post is a legitimate observation and is not intended to insinuate any negative racial undertones or correlate a small head with “small intelligence.”

[quote]kaisermetal wrote:
what exactly is long muscle belly? i always get confused.[/quote]

See Sergio Oliva for the ultimate answer to this.

[quote]Egg Head wrote:

[quote]kaisermetal wrote:
what exactly is long muscle belly? i always get confused.[/quote]

See Sergio Oliva for the ultimate answer to this.[/quote]

And Paul Dillett as well…

[quote]kaisermetal wrote:
what exactly is long muscle belly? i always get confused.[/quote]

If you flex your bicep, you’ll see a space between the muscle(s) and the elbow joint. That’s tendon. In some people, the origin or insertion point of the muscle is closer to the joint, and in some people it’s farther away. The closer the origin of the muscle, the “fuller” or longer a muscle belly is considered to be. Olympic lifters also often have round (another synonym in this case) muscle bellies. It’s not a make-or-break sort of thing, but most people consider fuller muscle bellies more pleasing to the eye.

[quote]MytchBucanan wrote:

[quote]Egg Head wrote:

[quote]kaisermetal wrote:
what exactly is long muscle belly? i always get confused.[/quote]

See Sergio Oliva for the ultimate answer to this.[/quote]

And Paul Dillett as well…[/quote]

True, but Oliva’s calves and forearm flexors/extensors were even longer.

The phrases good, poor, and average, genetics get tossed around all the time. People say it and don’t even stop to think about the specifics. Like you said, what is it exactly that defines “good” vs “poor”? How do we determine this?

I would simply say, “the less work you have to do to get the same result, the more genetically gifted you are. The more work you have to do to get the same result, the less genetically gifted you are”. It’s not the most precise method, but it’s simple AND generally what people mean when they toss the term around.

If we’re speaking in the context of specific sports, its necessary to get precise and I like the wording “optimal genetics”. Characteristics you either have or you don’t, and no amount of hard work will overcome lacking them.

[quote]Egg Head wrote:

[quote]MytchBucanan wrote:

[quote]Egg Head wrote:

[quote]kaisermetal wrote:
what exactly is long muscle belly? i always get confused.[/quote]

See Sergio Oliva for the ultimate answer to this.[/quote]

And Paul Dillett as well…[/quote]

True, but Oliva’s calves and forearm flexors/extensors were even longer.[/quote]

Yeah that’s true.