Gaspari Nutrition

Ron Harris


How big can you eventually get?
12/08/2012

Q.

Without using performance enhancing drugs, and assuming I have pretty good genetics, how big should I be able to get my arms and legs up to? Also, I am 5-11 and 168 pounds right now and have just started lifting a few months ago (I was 155 when I started). How much should I be able to weigh someday?

A.

First of all, congratulations on embarking on the bodybuilding journey and on the gains you have made so far. Your questions are impossible to answer in terms of specific weights and measurements. I am well aware that there are ‘experts’ out there who will try and tell you they can predict how big your arms are capable of becoming based on the circumference of your wrists, and also will attempt to predict your ultimate lean bodyweight. Simply put, those guys are full of shit. Using the example of your arms, other factors are more important than the relative structure and thickness of your bones. More critical is the length of your biceps and triceps. If each inserts very close to the elbow joint, you simply have more initial muscle cells to work with. When muscles insert further from the joint, there is not as much to work with and increase the size of. It’s something that’s usually much more obvious with the calf muscles. If you are lucky enough to have ‘low’ calves that insert near the ankle, like Mike Matarazzo, Flex Lewis, Dorian Yates, or Erik Fankhouser, you may have tremendous calf development without even having to train them. Matarazzo in particular was known to have done virtually nothing for his 23-inch cows. In contrast, if you were unlucky and born with high calves, no amount of training is going to have them looking like those of the other guys (just ask Dennis Wolf). Whatever muscle group we are talking about and also when attempting to predict the ultimate size and weight that a beginning bodybuilder will eventually be able to reach, it has to be said that steroids will indeed help to take a person substantially beyond what they could attain naturally. But when you start out in bodybuilding with this enormous limiting factor of believing that you will only be able to do so much without drugs, you set yourself up for underachievement. Mentally and spiritually, you are already defeated because you constantly have it in the back of your mind that you are probably not going to be able to get any bigger or stronger without using drugs. You have thus sabotaged yourself from ever actually reaching your full natural potential, as you will subconsciously be ‘holding back’ when it comes to training, and even your nutrition. After all, why bother trying so hard if you can’t ever succeed anyway? This type of negative attitudes keeps countless millions of people from ever trying to make their dreams come true. So it’s a good thing you are reading this now before you waste many years never really putting out the effort it takes to really grow because you don’t think you can. Genetics are definitely important in bodybuilding as we all know, but equally important is your mindset. Those that strongly want to improve and believe that they can will inevitably push harder to make it happen than others that are full of doubt and cynicism. I was fortunate in my early years of bodybuilding in that I really had only a vague idea of what steroids were, and I certainly never thought I would need them to keep getting bigger and stronger. Therefore, I never had any preconceived limitations as to what I could accomplish. And I went on to add 100 pounds of muscle to my frame and become extremely strong long before I ever even saw a steroid. In a sense, I feel sorry for the current generation of young guys that have grown up with the Internet and with so much open discussion about steroids in the magazines and online. Many start off in bodybuilding already convinced that virtually any amount of size and strength is impossible to obtain without using performance-enhancing drugs. The real shame is that these days there is so much more useful information about training and nutrition easily available thanks to the Internet, and we now have plenty of effective supplements that actually work and can greatly assist bodybuilders in their efforts. Guys today should be making far better gains naturally than the bodybuilders of the past did. Some certainly are, but too many others have become brainwashed into thinking that steroids are the only way anybody can improve, and that’s sad. This has been a longwinded explanation I know, but the real answer to how big you can get without drugs is – I don’t know. And you will never know either until you try; and try your best, for several years. You may be able to build 20-inch arms and weigh a very powerful 250 pounds, drug-free one day. But I can guarantee you that if you think it can’t be done or that you in particular can’t do it, you will never get anywhere near those dimensions. Never underestimate the power of your own mind to create your own reality.

Last night, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of seeing author Stephen King and hearing him speak. Well, the actual dream was and still is to do this one on one, but this was pretty darn cool regardless. Mr. King spoke at UMASS Lowell, read the audience a new short story, and answered questions from the audience.

This was a very big deal for me. I read my first Stephen King book at the age of 9 when my older sister Robin gave me her paperback copy of 'The Stand' after she finished it. Within a year, I had read everything else he had already written up to that point, and have continued to be a loyal fan and reader to this day.

I may be primarily known as a bodybuilding writer, but my first love was horror fiction; and I've written some myself. I have a collection of stories available for free on www.ronharrismuscle.com, and more recently I've published two in anthologies specializing in zombies, "Eyewitness Zombie" and "First Time Dead."

But I always felt a certain connection to Stephen King and his work. We share the same birthday, September 21, and we are both native New Englanders (Maine for him, Massachusetts for me). New England definitely has its own unique character and sensibilities that make it very different from the rest of the USA.

Anyway, I'm sure many of you are also fans of Stephen King and his body of work, so you can understand why this was such a cool experience for me. The only complaint is that it was so brief, 90 minutes. I honestly could have listened to his anecdotes and responses to questions for several hours.

Talk to you next time!

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