As a young man of 15, I was hell bent on building muscle. As such, I devoured whatever information I could get on the topic and I was a voracious reader. I read everything, not just muscle magazines. One day I opened the newspaper which had a “Dear Dr.” type column. A man had written and asked how much muscle he could build by training hard and eating right. What followed was some of the most damaging “advice” I’ve ever heard.
The good Dr. went on to explain that if your tricep muscle isn’t attached closer to your elbow vs. your shoulder, you couldn’t build any appreciable amount of muscle – no matter how hard you trained. He further stated that individuals displaying a lot of muscle without these favorable muscle attachments almost certainly were using steroids, and finished by saying that if you had such “unfavorable genetics” – I still remember those words – it would be best to take up another hobby, such as soccer or basketball.
Believe it or not, I almost threw the towel in after reading this. You see my parents always told me Dr’s were just slightly less knowledgeable than God, and you don’t question their advice because they’re a LOT smarter than you. Fortunately I closed the paper and never considered that advice again. Turns out that Dr. didn’t understand what “bad genetics” really are.
A Little Perspective
I mentioned my “bad genetics” once to my mentor Eddie Azzaro. He said you want to see bad genetics? Look at Keith Erickson. Keith was a student in one of our classes, can’t remember which. But he was born without arms and legs, literally used a prosthetic leg and a wheelchair to get around. “He’d kill to have your “bad genetics”, Eddie said. That was the last time I ever mentioned it…
You may have stubborn calves, a bird like bone structure and carry what little fat you have around the waist – like me. But that didn’t stop me from getting up to 252lbs of mostly muscle a decade after starting to train. I got there in large part because nobody ever told me I couldn’t, and the few people that did I simply ignored.
It may take 6,000 calories a day. Or it may take decades of very expensive trial and error on the training front. Or battling through injuries, plateaus and personal issues. But don’t you believe for one second that the vast, vast majority of people can build substantial amounts of muscle – regardless of their genetics.
I still think back to what that Dr. said, and silently wonder how many other kids reading that column believed him. Kids who like me, wanted more than anything in the world to build muscle. Yet they had those hopes dashed by some guy who’s probably never seen the inside of a gym in his life. I really, really wish I kept it so I could write him back with a nice picture showing him just how wrong he really was.
Moral of the Story
If you have both arms and legs, a properly functioning stomach, a brain and a goal – you have GREAT genetics. Do them justice by maximizing all of them, and leave the negativity to those who don’t know any better…