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Assessing Your Potential

Your Potential Assessing

Assessing Your Potential
Assessing Your Potential:

Do you have the basic genetic potential necessary to become a great bodybuilder?
You will be able to find out whether you do by following the instructions in this section.

If you don’t seem to have great genetics for the sport, however, you shouldn’t mourn. Many of the very best bodybuilders over the years have had less than an optimum genetic potential for the sport yet have succeeded in becoming Mr. America, Mr. Universe, and Mr. Olympia winners. Let me give you a few examples.

Larry Scott, who won the first two Mr. Olympia titles in 1965-66, has often been pointed to as a man who had an inferior genetic potential for bodybuilding but overcame these insufficiencies to become one of the brightest stars in the history of bodybuilding. Scott was of only about average height, and his shoulder structure, when compared to the width of his waist-hip structure, was relatively narrow. And Larry was further handicapped by being a slow gainer, a bodybuilder who always had to scratch and claw his way upward.

Through dogged persistence, Larry Scott gradually improved his physique, capitalizing on his fast metabolism by always appearing terrifically muscular at each competition while he gradually improved his overall muscle mass and brought up weak points. Ultimately, Scott was able to muscle up to 210 rock-hard pounds at 5’8” in height. He won the Mr. California, Mr. America, Mr. Universe, and Mr. Olympia titles and set a new standard of excellence for shoulder and arm development.

I’ve seen many young men with physical potential much greater than Larry Scott’s grow frustrated when they don’t seem to be making gains and drop out of the sport. Larry never did. He just kept pounding away, and he succeeded admirably.

Frank Zane, who won three Mr. Olympia titles in 1977, and 1979, is a perfect example of a bodybuilder with a small frame who ultimately succeeded in developing a widely admired physique.  Frank’s secrets were a superb depth of knowledge of training, diet, and psychological approach is to bodybuilding, plus the same type of dogged determination displayed by Larry Scott.

Through hard, consistent, scientific training and maintenance of a near-perfect nutritional program, Zane gradually built himself up. Ultimately, Frank never displayed the gargantuan muscle mass of a Lee Haney or Sergio Oliva, but his perfect symmetry, ideally balanced proportions, and incredibly detailed musculature allowed him to routinely defeat men 50 pounds heavier to take the Mr. America, Mr. Universe, and Mr. World titles before going on to four Mr. Olympia titles.

I’ve also seen many small-boned bodybuilders—most of them with better overall potential than Frank Zane – give up their training because they couldn’t achieve the huge muscle mass of some of their competitors. But Frank never gave up, and he is famed as one of the top four or five bodybuilders of all time.

Danny Padilla is a short individual who has muscled up to the point where he won Mr. America, Mr. USA, and Mr. Universe titles, placing in the top five in the Olympia Danny’s only 5’2” tall, but he became a giant killer by developing on of the most massive and perfectly balanced physiques in history.

While a superbly developed big man does have a small advantage over a shorter contestant, height really isn’t a big issue in bodybuilding. The only things that really count are muscle mass, proportional balance, muscularity, symmetry, and posing ability. Danny kept these facts firmly in mind as he pumped iron year after year to build his great physique. He never let short stature get in his way.

I could point out hundreds of more bodybuilders who have had less than ideal genetic potential and yet succeeded. The object lesson here is that genetic potential is more of an enabling factor than limiting factor.

Superior genetic potential will allow you to develop a great physique more quickly, and at the upper reaches of the sport, it s a bit of an advantage. But virtually all points of poor genetic potential can be overcome if you are persistent enough and both train and eat as scientifically as possible. A small minority of bodybuilders may, indeed, not have the genetic potential to become superstars, but everyone has potential enough to develop a superb physique.

The first point of genetic potential involves your skeletal structure. When you are in an untrained state, your shoulders should be a bit wider than your waist-hip structure. And it is advantageous to have small wrists, knees, and ankles since large muscles on either side of small joints create the illusion of tremendous body symmetry.

It is advantageous to have a basal metabolic rate that allows you to maintain a relatively low body fat percentage. However, you can overcome a sluggish metabolism through stringent dieting. A good example of this is Dave Draper, who was a fairly pudgy young man. Through strict dieting, Dave was able to lean out his physique and won the Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe titles during a long and distinguished career.

I personally believe that it is also an advantage to be able to build muscle mass relatively quickly. Many bodybuilders, such as Scott and Zane, are slow gainers, but it’s better to be able to increase muscle mass quickly enough to keep your level of enthusiasm for training relatively high.

While it is not a genetically determined trait, intelligence is also a point of potential for bodybuilders of the future. The sport is rapidly becoming more scientific, and future great bodybuilders must have enough intelligence to be able to read texts on anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, biochemistry, psychology, and other diverse scientific disciplines.

Self-discipline, an acquired trait, can be improved gradually through consistent training. But it’s advantageous to come into the sport with good self-discipline and consistent work habits. These qualities are developed in general sports participation, which is probably the main reason so many athletes from other sports are nearly immediate successes as bodybuilders.

After a year or so of steady training, you will be able to assess the final genetically determined trait of a top bodybuilder. It’s an advantage to have long muscle bellies—a quality dictated by your unique muscle insertions—but you won’t be able to tell whether or not you have such advantageous muscle confirmation until after you have achieved at least a moderate amount of muscle mass.
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