How big can you get without steroids

How much muscle can you build naturally?

“Mark, I want to build muscle. What can I achieve naturally? "

I hear this question quite a lot.

You probably don't care about a natural bodybuilding competition, you just want to look good naked. Onhealthy Ways.

Unfortunately, looking at your fellow human beings in the gym only helps to a limited extent.

According to studies, every seventh amateur athlete takes drugs that are on the doping list.

The rate is probably much higher among fitness models and in competitive sports (to put it cautiously). Now you might also be asking yourself:

Which body type can be achieved in a healthy way? Reality paints a distorted picture.

The answers should surprise you ...

Why you should know your natural bodybuilding potential (even if you are not a bodybuilder)

Let's leave all clichés out of the way.

If there are people who have learned to shape their bodies to their own liking through fat loss and muscle building, then it is natural bodybuilders.

Many of the strategies they use can be harnessed to look good naked.

However, doping is not as obvious in any other sport as in classic bodybuilding. It is an open secret that most professional bodybuilders use anabolic steroids.

One or the other might think: “Okay, these are professionals who make money with their bodies. And competitive sport is not necessarily healthy anyway. "

Obviously, even in hobby sport, more and more people are risking their health by helping with prohibited substances:

  • 13% of all gym members have taken anabolic steroids at some point. At least that is the result of an anonymous survey in 113 German fitness studios from 2006.1
  • Over 15% of students use prohibited performance enhancers. In 2004 scientists surveyed over 2,300 German schoolchildren. Result: Over 15% have taken substances that are on the international doping list in the last 12 months

The assumption that many of the fitness models you see on websites and in magazines did not create their bodies solely through a healthy diet and hard training is therefore obvious.

Many people get a distorted picture of what is “natural” - that is, without doping - possible at all.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So it doesn't matter what "looks good naked" to you means: muscular like a sprinter? Wiry like a triathlete? Or bulky like a natural bodybuilder?

If your goal You enthusiastic, then you should stick with him - no matter what others think of it.

But you should also have an idea of ​​whether you can even achieve this goal.

Therefore, this article is important for you:

  • You can assess your personal muscle building potential and set realistic goals.
  • You lose the fear of suddenly mutating into a muscle monster just because you lift heavy weights (often an issue, especially for women).
  • You stop comparing yourself to others in your gym who may train under “different” conditions.

Let's clarify the definition first before we go straight into the nitty-gritty.

What is a natural physique?

Ronny Coleman is one of the most successful classic bodybuilders. The multiple Mr. Olympia has a competition weight of approx. 135 kg - with a height of 1.80 m

My friend Sven Westermann is one of Germany's best natural bodybuilders. He is 1.75 cm tall and weighs about 73 kg.

Both are respected athletes, but they compete in different classes.

If you see a classic six-foot bodybuilder with a competitive weight of 115+ kilograms, then you can assume that a cocktail of steroids, growth hormones and other controversial drugs is at play.

It is also likely that a high percentage of international fitness models take substances that are on the doping list.

I wish it were different, but unfortunately steroids are a part of the fitness industry.

Natural bodybuilders like Sven Westermann, who stand for doping-free sport, make up a rather small part of strength athletes.

However, the interest in healthy sport is growing steadily, as shown by the increasing number of members in the natural bodybuilding associations.

With my blog MarathonFitness I help you look good naked. In a natural and healthy way. Without doping and (supposed) abbreviations.

We don't dope.

Also because we want to be good role models for our children.

What is your genetic muscle building potential?

The first two formulas are based on statistical studies of physique more masculine Natural bodybuilders, while the third formula is based on surveys of menand Women feet.

Do you know the model of Gaussian normal distribution? 4 This model also applies to all of the formulas presented here.

It says that ...

  • 68% of all people are average,
  • 16% of all people below average and
  • 16% of all people have an above-average disposition.

Those of the average can achieve roughly what the following natural bodybuilding formulas predict through proper training and good nutrition.

Before you get to know the individual calculation models, you should know a few things:

  1. Building muscle takes time: The athletes examined to determine the genetic maximum often have 10 or more years of training experience.
  2. Every beginning is quick: However, beginners enjoy a bonus that experienced strength athletes will envy them. In this article you will find out how much muscle you can build up per month or per year under good conditions.
  3. Hard gainers can also become very strong: Even with “below par” genetics, you can get very muscular. More on this in this article.

Ok are you ready Then let's determine your muscle building potential.

Natural Bodybuilding Formula # 1 - Martin Berkhan’s LeanGains Method (♂)

The first formula comes from the pen of the Scandinavian fitness coach Martin Berkan from

It is based on his experience in coaching numerous natural bodybuilding athletes.

I like this method because it's so simple. In practice it works amazingly well: 5

Maximum weight in kg with 5-6% body fat = height in cm - 100

If this formula has one disadvantage, it is that it gives you your maximum weight in “competitive form”, i.e. in a state with no visible body fat (corresponds to about 5-6% body fat percentage).

So that you save yourself the conversion, you can use the following natural bodybuilding calculator to determine your expected maximum weight for a given body fat percentage.

Note: If you state a higher percentage of body fat, you should keep in mind that you can lose some muscle mass in fat loss even with a good diet.

Natural Bodybuilding Formula # 2 - Casey Butt’s Skeleton Sizing Method (♂)

In my opinion, this formula overestimates the muscle building potential for most people.

I suspect that the underlying statistics are based primarily on natural bodybuilders with above-average disposition. In fact, Casey Butt has incorporated the physique of many former champions.

But the method is based on extensive research and is therefore often cited. Therefore it belongs in this article.

Casey Butt, himself a natural bodybuilder, developed this procedure on the basis of an obvious idea that he has proven with studies: 6

The taller you are and the thicker your wrists and ankles, the more muscle you can build.

The formula is based on the Anglo-American system of measurement:

where, 78

  • H = height (in inches)
  • A = ankle circumference, narrowest point (in inches)
  • W = wrist circumference, narrowest point towards the hand (in inches)
  • % bf = body fat percentage for which you want to determine your maximum lean weight (in percent)

To save you the arithmetic work, I have adapted Casey Butt’s formula to the metric system:

The difference between LeanGains and this method is usually around 4-7 kg. You can find a very detailed description of this method on the Casey Butt website.

Natural Bodybuilding Formula # 3 - The Lean Mass Index FFMI (♂ / ♀)

The third method is based on scientific research on the so-called lean mass index (FFMI).

To determine a person's muscle growth potential, the physique of a total of 157 male bodybuilders was studied, half of whom had used anabolic steroids and half of whom had not

How the FFMI is calculated:

FFMI = (lean mass / size²) + 6.1 x (1.8 m - size)

with the lean mass in kg and the height in m. Here you can calculate your FFMI.

The highest FFMI measured in the study under natural bodybuilding conditions was 25, the average was 22. Among the steroid users, a maximum value of 32 was measured (average: 25).

Women are allowed to set slightly lower upper limits: In the literature, an FFMI of 21 is given as the natural upper limit for women.1011

To determine your muscle building potential, you can break down the FFMI formula for lean mass. Then we get:

Lean mass in kg = size² x (FFMI - 6.1 x (1.8 m - size))

A FFMI of 25 (men) or 21 (women) can presumably only a few people naturally - and then only under perfect conditions in terms of genetics, nutrition and training.

Hints:If you want to look good more than just naked, e.g. because you have competition ambitions in natural bodybuilding, you will find a discussion of the three models presented in this article by Andy Morgan that is worth reading. You can find more information about the FFMI and common values ​​for men and women in this article.

5 things to consider when building muscle

Why is it that people with identical training plans and identical nutrition programs achieve different results?

That is an important factor Training age. Beginners can make good progress very quickly, while advanced learners can bring more patience.

How much muscle building you can expect in what time, you will find out in this article.

What's next?

It is a good idea to check and optimize the following 5 points step by step:

  1. Do you eat enough Here you will find out how you can calculate and readjust your calorie requirement in order to achieve optimal progress in muscle building.
  2. Are you eating the right thing? The calories are important, but at least as important is the quality of your food. In these articles you will find out everything you need to know about the right muscle building diet.
  3. Are you exercising properly? Why do powerlifters look different from bodybuilders or fitness models, even though they all train with heavy weights and often have similar exercises on the schedule? The most important variables for your training plan are often overlooked. In this article you will find out what really matters.
  4. Are you afraid of getting too massive? Then you are not alone. Read this article. Time to clear up some training myths.
  5. How Much Protein do you need? Protein is the core building block of a fit, slim and defined body. In my free ebook you will find out everything you need to know about it.


I suppose you don't really care about being on stage in a natural bodybuilding competition.

You just want to look good naked, don't you?

Then you shouldn't worry too much about where your genetic muscle building limit is and whether you are above or below average.

To get an amazing physique that is strong, muscular, and defined, you probably need less muscle than you think.

In fact, you can subtract a good 7 kilos from your theoretical maximum weight and still have a body that is strong, defined and athletic - provided you have the appropriate body fat percentage.

Also, “more” doesn't always have to be better when we talk about building muscle. The closer you get to your genetic maximum, the more effort you can put into keeping your shape.

But that's probably a topic for another article ...

Question: How do you deal with the topic of muscle building: Do you want to gain mass as quickly as possible or have you already achieved your muscle building goal? What is your arithmetical natural bodybuilding limit? Have you ever been confronted with steroids yourself? Share your experiences. Write a comment.

  1. Striegel, et al .: Anabolic ergogenic substance users in fitness-sports: a distinct group supported by the health care system. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2006 Jan 4; 81 (1): 11-9. Epub 2005 Jul 11. [↩]
  2. Wanjek, et al .: Doping, Drugs and Drug Abuse among Adolescents in the State of Thuringia (Germany): Prevalence, Knowledge and Attitudes. Int J Sports Med 2007; 28: 346–353 [↩]
  3. Ronnie Coleman. Accessed: July 18, 2015. [↩]
  4. Springer Gabler Verlag (editor), Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon, keyword: normal distribution, online on the Internet: [↩]
  5. Lyle McDonald: What’s my genetic muscular potential? Access: July 21, 2015 [↩]
  6. Casey Butt: The Weight Trainer. Access: July 21, 2015 [↩]
  7. 1 pound = 0.454 kg [↩]
  8. 1 inch = 2.54 cm [↩]
  9. Kouri, et al .: Fat-free mass index in users and nonusers of anabolic-androgenic steroids. Clin J Sport Med. 1995 Oct; 5 (4): 223-8 [↩]
  10. Schutz, y., U. Kyle, and c. Pichard. "Fat-free mass index and fat mass index percentiles in caucasians aged 18-98 y." international journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders: journal of the international association for the study of obesity 26.7 (2002): 953-960. [↩]
  11. Gruber a. J., Pope h. G., borowiecki j. J. And cohane g. (2000) the development of the somatomorphic matrix: a biaxial instrument for measuring body image in men and women. In: Norton, et al .: Kinanthropometry VI. International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry; Adelaide, Australia: pp. 217-231 [↩]

Category: Fitness with M.A.R.K., muscle buildingTags: strength training, muscle building training, muscles, bad genes, training, training theory, goals