Natural limits of bodybuilding

This week’s article aims to address the increasing expectations of young people commencing their fitness journey. Immersed in a world of ever growing, leaner athletes, natural limits to the body must be understood and realised in order to manage expectations. Over the past three years I have been weight training; the most recent of which has been taken very seriously. Through tracking macro nutrients and progressive overload training, vast developments in both strength and conditioning have been attained, however, through extensive research, I have come to realise that genetic potential can lead you only so far.

Recently numerous studies have been conducted into the physiological limits of the natural body builder. Let’s begin by looking at the most important study ever performed on the subject of natural bodybuilding.

Dr. Casey Butt analysed the numbers of 300 natural bodybuilding champions who competed between the years of 1947 and 2010. It should be emphasized that this data pool is comprised of champions; what would logically be considered the elite in the genetics pool.  Numerous factors were analysed: weight, body fat percentage, lean body mass, height, bone structure, wrist size, ankle size, etc. After compiling the data, Dr. Butt was able to develop a formula capable of predicting the natural bodybuilding limits.

Here is the formula:

Dr. Casey Butt's formula

The variables in the formula are as follows:

H = Height in inches
A = Ankle circumference at the smallest point
W = Wrist circumference measured on the hand side of the styloid process.
(The styloid process is the bony lump on the outside of your wrist.)
%bf = The body fat percentage at which you want to predict your maximum lean body mass

In order to provide some perspective to the formula above, let’s look at a typical scenario…a 19 year old male, 5’10” in height, 68kg body weight, 15% body fat, and perhaps naturally small boned with wrists approximately 6.5″ and ankles at 9″. Lean body mass will be provided, along with a look at scale weight while at 12% body fat. Using Dr. Casey Butt’s Formula the male described could attain a 81.9kg lean body mass potential, 93kg scale weight at 12% body fat.

The result of this formula realises the extreme steroid use of Mr. Olympia competitors today, with contest weights of around 127kg!



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