To Top

Good Genetics

Q: I’ve been training for four years, and I’m thinking about entering my first bodybuilding competition. Some of the guys at the gym have watched me pose, and they say I have good genetics. What exactly does that mean?

A: That’s a great question because many people in the bodybuilding industry talk about good or bad genetics without ever explaining what it means. Several aspects of a person’s physique reveal genetic potential.

First of all, there’s your basic skeletal structure. The ideal frame for bodybuilding is wide shoulders with a narrow waist and hips. That look is exemplified by bodybuilding champions such as Steve Reeves and Lee Haney. They both inherited a superior bone structure that was exaggerated even more when they developed their physiques.

Your skeletal structure is completely genetic because there’s no exercise you can do to widen your shoulders or narrow your hips. You can, however, emphasize certain areas of your physique to help overcome those structural deficiencies. Bodybuilders like Larry Scott and Rich Gaspari worked hard on developing bigger medial deltoids so they would look wider in the shoulders and narrower in the waist. Rich also cut back on heavy squats because they were making the muscles in his waist bigger and making him look more blocky.

Another genetic predisposition is your ability to add muscle size. Some people are naturally more muscular and bigger. They’re the mesomorphs, and they grow much more readily than the average person. It’s a function of the number and type of muscle fibers a person is born with.

Bodybuilders like Casey Viator, Eddie Robinson and Jay Cutler are pure mesomorphs, and they developed massive size soon after they began training. Interestingly, Casey, Eddie and Jay were all teenage national champions—further evidence that getting big came pretty easily to them.

Another big factor in bodybuilding is your ability to be ripped and fat free. Some individuals have a faster metabolism and can get conditioned much more easily than the average person. That’s very important because being ripped is such a big factor in bodybuilding competitions today.

People who have fast metabolisms may have a more difficult time adding size, but when they eventually do get bigger, they have a huge advantage over their competition because they can get so ripped. Most bodybuilding contests are won by the person who’s the leanest and most conditioned.

If your gym buddies told you that you have good genetics, they may mean that you have a good structure and good shape. If that’s the case, continue working out hard to add more quality size and enhance your natural shape. Work on developing your muscle groups so they’re all in proportion to one another, and make sure you enter the contest in ripped condition. Best of luck.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Mr. Natural Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Check out his Web site at, or send questions or comments to or at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561. Look for John’s DVD, “Natural Bodybuilding Seminar and Competitions,” along with his book, Natural Bodybuilding, and his training DVD, “Real Muscle,” at his Web site or at Home Gym Warehouse, Listen to John’s new radio show, “Natural Bodybuilding Radio,” at

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Contest Prep

  • Peak Week

    Learn what a top competitor goes through in the final days before a contest. By Mike Carlson Most of us have...

    Sharon OrtigasDecember 17, 2016
  • NPC West Coast Men’s Physique Results

    Click on the link to see all the results: WC_16__Final-Mens Physique Men's Physique Class A   Men's Physique Class B Men's Physique...

    Iron Man MagazineJune 27, 2016
  • NPC West Coast Men’s Bodybuilding Results

    Click on the link to see all the results:  WC_16__Final-Bodybuilding Master Men's Bodybuilding over 40   Master Men's Bodybuilding over 50...

    Iron Man MagazineJune 27, 2016
  • The Advent Of Classic Physique

    A new NPC category will breathe competitive life into athletes who are stuck between divisions.

    Iron Man MagazineDecember 26, 2015
  • Blurring The Lines And Birth Of The Hybrid Training

    The classic era of bodybuilding and weightlifting undoubtedly occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s. Back then, gyms weren’t deemed “hardcore,”...

    Iron Man MagazineOctober 8, 2015
  • The Future Of Men’s Physique

    The relatively young sport is only in its adolescence, but it’s experienced explosive growth. What will the division look like 10...

    Iron Man MagazineOctober 5, 2015
  • Go Pro – Thinking Outside The Gym

    Training outdoors can provide a valuable mental and physical boost. We go to the gym, we work out, and we move...

    Iron Man MagazineSeptember 14, 2015
  • Water Manipulation for Cuts and Striations

    I’m often asked how to manipulate water prior to a contest or photo shoot to get as ripped and hard-looking as...

    John HansenFebruary 17, 2015
  • Staying Motivated for Competition

    Q: I’ve just started to learn about natural bodybuilding, and after being a tad disappointed when coming across a lot of...

    John HansenNovember 21, 2014