Is bone structure going to dictate your success in the sport of bodybuilding? What about whether people are going to think you’re natural?
Comparing yourself to others is the fastest way to become discouraged and it won’t result in you getting your best results. Remember, it’s always you versus you. Instead of worrying about how you compare to others, focus on improving yourself every single season. You’re more likely to reach your true competitive potential with this mindset. In all honesty, worrying about your genetic potential is somewhat of a pointless practice because you’re never going to know what you can accomplish until you’ve been at it 10 years or longer anyway.
But let’s get back to what I think is one of the main components that is often overlooked when we discuss “bodybuilding genetics”: bone structure.
Here is a photo of me and my longtime fellow training partner, Adam, only days before a show we did together in 2009. We are the same age, have the same number of years training same style of training, and our weights progressed similarly relative to our bodyweight overtime, based on that you’d think our bodybuilding genetics are pretty similar.
When you look at the picture, ask yourself, “who has bigger delts?” It’s clear you would answer, it’s Adam. His delts are much more capped and he’s much wider than I. The first thing you may think is that Eric needs to do more shoulder work: lateral raises, overhead press, etc to prevent his legs from overpowering his physique.
Now, before we finalize that conclusion, let’s look at this picture we took just a few seconds later doing a side tricep:
As you can see here, it no longer appears that I have smaller delts than Adam.
The reason being is dependent on two simple things:
1. Muscle shape and attachments.
2. The frame which all of the muscles sits on top of.
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t change muscle shapes or attachments with training. Muscles insert where they insert. While muscle growth isn’t completely uniform in response to resistance training, for the most part muscles get bigger or smaller and there isn’t a lot of muscle shaping that we can do.
But truly the biggest difference between Adam and I is the shape and width of our ribcages, and the size of our rib cages relative to our pelvis. He has a narrow pelvis, whereas my pelvis is a similar width as my ribcage.
When I turn to the side you can’t get a perspective of the narrowness of my physique. Thus, I look a lot bigger from the side or from an angle. On the other hand, Adam, looks very wide from the front. However, from the side, you can see that in some body parts he does not have the same thickness. In many ways Adam’s bone structure is ideal for bodybuilding. He has a small pelvis and a large ribcage, which means his shoulders will be visually further out relative to his waist and thus will create a better taper and the illusion of more size (not that he’s not big).
This is a huge part of bodybuilding: illusion. The way you do well in this sport is not by being, xxx lbs at xx body fat percentage, or having xx inch arms. While that’s part of it, a large part of it is also muscle attachments, joint size, the relationship of size between bones and the person’s ability to pose to hide their weakness and emphasize their strengths.
Stop looking at your stats. Don’t worry about what you’re going to look like at a certain weight or body composition. Stop comparing yourself to other people, especially those with totally different bone structures than you.
The main point being, you can’t change your bone structure and you can’t change your muscle attachments. All you can do is bust your ass, do the best you can, and put in as much time as possible to see what you can accomplish. If you improved upon your last showing, you’ve won and you’re moving in the right direction, don’t let things you have no control over dictate your happiness.