Ignore Your Muscular Growth Potential

A type emerges for success with any activity. The activity itself contributes, but that alone does not produce the result. A selection process may emerge through competition. This highlights the best individuals. This occurs noticeably through sports. Genetics account for a large variation in athletic ability, and therefore muscular strength and size.

Correlation does not imply causation. Correlation involves two variables changing in the same direction. Causation provides for a direct cause-and-effect relationship. This requires a burden of proof.

Do the best perform their workouts because they lead to success, or do the best tolerate less successful programs due to their high potential?

Spectacular deviations do not represent the expected results of any fitness program. Practices that improve fitness should increase the performance from the mean, not simply the outliers. Never use the exception to prove the rule. People assume if elite athletes succeed on a program that it must work. If a method works, it should allow a principle that helps nearly everyone, not just those with access to the best drugs or possessing ideal genetics.

Our potential may have limits, but ignore them. Your potential should not affect how you train. Keep in mind that most people never strive to succeed at anything. Of course genetics determines everything when you fail to apply yourself. The best in any field work very hard behind closed doors. Never give up. Do everything in your power to improve before you curse your lot in life.

Rate of Progress

Ultimate development, as I have pointed out repeatedly, primarily depends upon individual potential – which is hereditarily determined. But such ultimate development will not result without proper training – good heredity merely makes good results possible, it doesn’t produce them.

 – Arthur Jones

Beginners make much faster progress relative to more advanced trainees. Everyone experiences diminishing returns. The more advanced you become, the slower progress comes.

Expectations for training results involve too many variables. You cannot predict it. Some factors include age, gender, program design, genetics, diet, sleep, rest, and motivation.

Limb length, tendon insertions, fiber composition, muscle belly length, testosterone levels, and neurological factors all represent inherited traits. These affect the expression of strength and potential. Most people have specific exercises and muscles that progress faster.

Different formulas, equations, and standards exist for predicting your potential. These involve elaborate bodybuilding statistics and other measurements. Wrist measurements, body proportions, or other models are purported to predict your results.

Strength targets often involve goals such as a 300 lb. bench press, 400 lb. squat, and 500 lb. dead-lift. These may represent average results from training but have little value beyond motivation.

Proper training does not have a final result. Continue to strive for achievement as no one can predict your potential. Tinker with the variables before assuming you have reached your limits.


Neural factors account for the initial improvement for resistance training. Proprioceptors that monitor feedback allow for better performance and form. Other effects include better motor unit recruitment, inhibition of stop mechanisms. Stop mechanisms include the Golgi tendon organs and muscle spindles. Golgi tendon organs inhibit contraction and promote relaxation when dealing with excessive force that may damage the muscle. Blunting this effect may improve strength. Muscle spindles may initiate a contraction to resist a stretch. They may activate when unneeded during resistance training. Blunting this effect as well will improve strength. Reflexes represent rapid, unconscious reactions to stimuli that may hamper movement. These regulate better with training.

When your body has optimized the use of its current muscle, the only way to grow stronger is to increase the size of the muscle. Long-term gains result almost entirely from increased muscular size.

Assessing progress should be straightforward. Measurements are unnecessary given the direct relationship between muscular strength and size.

Various testing procedures exist to assess improvement for a component of fitness. Although interesting, improvement should appear clear without these methods. Testing complicates a simple matter and may introduce false cause-and-effect relationships. It also wastes valuable training time.

Accurate and reproducible measurements of strength are difficult to achieve even with special equipment. Other muscles can play more or less a role than the targeted muscles to overestimate and underestimate force. This also fails to include neural adaptation from repeated testing. Body measurements are unnecessary too. Skinfold calipers can measure bodyfat in specific regions, but requires a skilled user and once again goes too far. Simply make progress on your own program. Testing often wastes a valuable workout, and only measures what should have been evident from the start.

The best way to build strength does not equal the best way to demonstrate strength. This was made clear when discussing exercise selection. Testing often assumes these are equal.


When such an individual has produced better-than-average results from his training – as this man has – then it is only natural for many people to consider him an expert; but it should be clearly understood that final results are no proof of good methods – particularly when such final results are viewed without consideration for the amount of effort that was required to produce them.

– Arthur Jones

Somatotypes represent a way of formalizing the different body types we all have. Ectomorphs have small bones and thin muscles. They usually appear lean with little body fatness. They look linear and fragile, coming described as skinny. They possess a high metabolism. Endomorphs have large builds with high bodyfat, described as soft round and having large midsections. They have a slow metabolism. Mesomorphs have thick muscles and connective tissue. They have little body fatness with a square build. They possess broad shoulders and a thinner waist. This represents the ideal build for bodybuilding.

Different programs often suggested for each body type. This is wrong. Mesomorphs can handle with less efficient routines than the other types. They still benefit from sensible principles. Somatotypes remind us to have realistic expectations. Everyone will gain muscle and lose fat through resistance training, but the outcomes will be different.

The most muscular are less efficient. They compensate by adding additional muscle. A strength athlete such as a Olympic weightlifters has physical and neural qualities that allow him or her to get more out of less muscle mass. Bodybuilders have less efficiency and often add muscle mass faster. This distinction is important. Strength and size are directly related. People differ in their ratio of gaining one to the other. This has spurred lots of false training methods. Train for strength, and you will train for size.

Ignore Your Potential

Even if analyzing your potential could take place, it would not change the proper way to train and would provide you no useful information.

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