What is the Male Maximum Muscle Size?

In other words is it possible to calculate how big can one naturally get?

Casey Butt, Ph.D performed an awesome analysis on body builders from the pre-steroid era which attempted to answer the question: is it possible to create an accurate and precise formula, based on personal bone structure and height, that gives the maximum lean body mass a trainee can achieve without the use of anabolic drugs?

He was able to do so via this formula with remarkable accuracy:

Formula to calculate maximum lean body mass

A list of drug-free bodybuilding champions both past and present [3-6,12,13] with their actual weights and the weights predicted by the formulae. Also included are the maximum “bulked” off-season body weights of these bodybuilders (or after a day or few of heavy eating) and the percent body fats used in the predictions. The current champions are unnamed because several have expressed to me personally that they did not want their stats published publicly (there is a “sensitive” nature to the body weights and measurements of actively competing bodybuilders).

Don’t worry, you don’t need to do any math on pen and paper. He also created a calculator which will do it for you! The following calculator gives you an estimate of the maximum muscular bodyweight and muscular measurements (at roughly 8 to 10% bodyfat) that a drug-free trainee of your structure is likely to attain. It is based on equations Casey developed through over 6 years of research and analysis of data from drug-free champions both past and present. In essence, the calculator scales the weights and measurements of the drug-free champions to one’s skeletal structure.

Link to Calculator which requires three inputs:

  • Height in inches
  • Ankle circumference in inches
  • Wrist circumference in inches

Lastly, I’ll finish by emphasizing two points that Casey makes in the conclusion of his paper:

First, even if you are not a bodybuilder or training for pure muscle growth, knowing this can still be helpful because it can provide perspective and help fine tune goals

The knowledge of how much muscle can be developed without the use of anabolic drugs would be a very valuable asset. Unfortunately, because of the achievements of drug-using professional, amateur and recreational bodybuilders, many natural lifters either have no idea of their actual potentials, they over-estimate what they can realistically achieve or they adopt a defeatist attitude and set their goals too low. Perspective is needed. The ability to set ambitious, yet realistic, goals is needed.

Your Maximum Muscular Bodyweight and Measurements

And second, while this formula provides a lofty, yet realistic goal, it isn’t a limitation. That being said if you were to surpass these predictions you’d be 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.

This doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try but at the end of the day it takes years of dedicated training for most genetically typical trainees to even approach these predictions.

If you want to read more on this check out the full paper here or you can also check out Casey’s e-book.

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