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June 12, 2019 2 min read

I’ve given advice to hundreds, perhaps thousands of bodybuilders, athletes, and regular people over the last three decades, and the first thing I do when I start working with a new client is sit them down and have a conversation about goals. In that conversation, I tell it to them straight:

“You’re probably not going to be a professional bodybuilder. Or a professional athlete. Or a cover model. Bodies are given out on a lottery system, and if you’re not one of the big winners, you need to accept that and save yourself a lot of pain.”

I’m not saying you can’t get super-strong, or look amazing without your clothes on, but I am saying that you can only become as amazing as your genetics, metabolism, and bone structure allow you to become. When you get to the top levels of competition, there will always be people who train as hard as you, and are genetically advantaged.

Bodybuilders need the genetics for small wrists, ankles and waists, which makes them look bigger. They benefit from higher insertion points on their calve muscles and biceps, and with a fast metabolism, they can safely eat carbs without adding too much fat.

With hard work and proper nutrition, anyone can significantly improve their body, but bodybuilding's visual ideals are very specific, as are those of magazine cover models (which are different to bodybuilding), and the many natural advantages of an elite athlete are not something you can train up.

So, if you’re the competitive type, ask someone to take an objective look at your body. Not your friends and family. Take photographs of yourself and compare your body to Olympic athletes in different disciplines. Do some research about what sports you have the genetics for. If you have a long torso and wide shoulders you could be a great swimmer. If you’re a big, naturally strong endomorph who has trouble losing fat, maybe powerlifting is for you.

If you’re not the competitive type or are happy to compete with yourself (usually the smartest option), do the research anyway, and train the right way for your body. If you’re overweight, you CAN get lean, and if you’re skinny, you CAN build muscle. But if you come to my door, or the door of any competent trainer, with genetically narrow shoulders and dreams of winning Mr. Olympia, the best thing we can do for you is tell it to you straight.