On the strength of these correlations, data was fit and a set of equations that predict muscular measurements in lean condition of approximately 8% to 10% body fat was derived. Again, height, ankle circumference and wrist circumference are the determining factors. One caveat is in order: People with uncharacteristically small joints for their frames and/or significantly longer than typical muscle belly lengths may be able to exceed some of these predictions by up to approximately 3%.
Maximum Muscular Measurements
chest = 1.6817W + 1.3759A + 0.3314H
biceps = 1.2033W + 0.1236H
forearms = 0.9626W + 0.0989H
neck = 1.1424W + 0.1236H
thighs = 1.3868A + 0.1805H
calves = 0.9298A + 0.1210H
chest – measured relaxed (not expanded), arms at sides, tape under armpits
biceps – flexed, at largest point
forearms – fist clenched, hand out straight, measured at largest point
neck – below Adam’s apple at smallest point
thighs – standing relaxed, midway between hip and knee
calves – standing relaxed, at largest point
* For all measurements tape should be snug but not compressing the flesh.
For our 5’9″ trainee with 7.0″ wrists and 8.7″ ankles we have:
chest = 1.6817 x 7.0 + 1.3759 x 8.7 + 0.3314 x 69 = 46.6″
biceps = 1.2033 x 7.0 + 0.1236 x 69 = 17.0″
forearms = 0.9626 x 7.0 + 0.0989 x 69 = 13.6″
neck = 1.1424 x 7.0 + 0.1236 x 69 = 16.5″
thighs = 1.3868 x 8.7 + 0.1805 x 69 = 24.5″
calves = 0.9298 x 8.7 + 0.1210 x 69 = 16.4″
Clearly, these predictions are not comparable to what some drug-using bodybuilders are claiming and/or achieving. But, realistically, those numbers represent the maximum measurements that such a natural trainee is likely to achieve in lean condition without drugs, while still maintaining balanced measurements throughout the body. In reality, any trainee who reaches the measurements predicted by these equations will be an impressive physical specimen …he would have the size and proportions of the bodybuilding legends listed above and of the current drug-free bodybuilding champions.
As an illustration, Table 2 shows how the old-timers and some drug-free elite competitors from 2003-2006 “measured up”, along with the predictions of the equations. The actual measurements were taken from a variety of sources deemed credible, and were taken at body fat levels of approximately 8-10%.
Again, the predictions are quite accurate, but they also help illustrate certain points. For instance, you’ll notice that many of these bodybuilders have calves smaller than the predicted values, whereas Steve Reeves and Current World Champ. “B” exceed the predicted values. What you are seeing there is the fact that the calves are a notoriously difficult body part to develop, whereas these competitors were genetically blessed with great calves that responded well to training. Another thing these equations can reflect are outstanding body parts. For instance, Current National 1st Place “B” is the only of the above competitors to exceed the biceps prediction, even though he surpassed it by a mere 0.3″ he is known for his outstanding biceps development, even amongst other elite bodybuilders (and he is still well within the 3% maximum adjustment factor for exceptionally gifted muscle groups). Current National 1st Place “A”, on the other hand, is a full inch below on the predicted thigh measurement …and thigh development has long been an acknowledged weak point for him.
What these equations give you is the level of muscular development you would need to be equally developed, both in terms of mass and proportion, to elite-level drug-free bodybuilders of your height and bone structure. For individuals within the average height and bone structure range, and possessing average muscle belly lengths, this also corresponds to the heaviest lean body mass and largest lean measurements they are likely to achieve without drug-use and while maintaining balance throughout the muscle groups of the body (people with significantly smaller or larger than average bone structures are referred to the e-book for more accurate predictions). That isn’t to say that a bodybuilder won’t have a genetically gifted body part(s) that exceeds these predictions, or that he can’t surpass these predictions by specializing, perhaps inappropriately, on certain muscle groups. However, it is very unlikely that the rest of the physique, as a whole, would reach that standard. If you have body parts that can exceed the predictions then you’ll probably always have to “take it easy” on those muscles or they’ll grow out of balance with the rest of your physique. (And if your outstanding body part is a large muscle group like legs or back this can cause your bodyweight to exceed the prediction given by the bodyweight equation.) In this regard, these equations should be viewed more as maximum guidelines than as limitations. On the other hand, perhaps you would like your biceps a little oversized with respect to the rest of your physique.
Also, keep in mind that achieving these measurements doesn’t necessarily mean that your body will be “perfect”. Measurements don’t tell the full story – things such as muscle shape, symmetry, separation and definition can make all the difference. You may find yourself achieving these measurements yet your physique still lacking in certain aspects. Most commonly, if a person reaches these predictions, yet still doesn’t appear muscularly impressive, then he’s simply too fat – keep in mind that these equations describe a lean condition. On the other hand, if your measurements are significantly under what the equations predict, you’ve probably got the potential for further growth (baring some medical/physiological condition prohibiting this).
In reality, it will take years of dedicated, productive training for most genetically typical trainees to even approach these predictions. Most people, including champions, will never achieve this level of development throughout all of their muscle groups – and measurements taken at higher body fat levels do not reflect true muscular development. If you reach 95% of most of these predictions – in lean condition – you will stand out in almost any gym. In fact, 95% represents good lifetime goals for most genetically typical, drug-free trainees. At a lean 90% you’d look like a fitness model.
In closing, I want to stress that although these formulae present lofty, but realistic, goals for most drug-free trainees, they are not meant to represent “limitations”. But you also must realize that in the process of surpassing these predictions you are also surpassing the development of drug-free world champions. Very few people will have the genetic gifts to accomplish that. What the formulae give you is the lean body mass and full-body measurements that you’d need to achieve to be on an equal footing, size-wise, with current drug-free champions and the greats of the drug-free era. I’m not saying that no one can surpass that, but to put it in perspective, you’d need to be carrying more muscle (with respect to your skeletal frame size) than a prime Reg Park in order to do it.
Images of bodybuilders at the pinnacle of drug-free achievement: Drug-free Bodybuilding Champions
Online calculator based on the formulae presented above: Your Maximum Muscular Bodyweight and Measurements Calculator
The equations in this article are accurate for individuals of approximately average bone structure sizes and muscle belly lengths and heights from roughly 5’5″ to 6’2″. They were based on simplifications of material presented in the “body weights and measurements of elite-level drug-free bodybuilders” sections (2.1 and 2.2)
of the e-book YOUR MUSCULAR POTENTIAL: HOW TO PREDICT YOUR MAXIMUM MUSCULAR BODYWEIGHT AND MEASUREMENTS. However, they by no means tell the full story. For a much more comprehensive and detailed estimate of your personal muscular potential, including taller and shorter and small- and large-boned trainees and accounting for individual muscle belly lengths, etc, see…
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