Instagram fitness folks all use steroids

Natural limit of muscle building - we tell you the maximum amount of muscle you can build without steroids (with calculator)

Recently, during one of my research work on the Internet, I asked myself the following at some point: Do you only see anabolic steroids on YouTube? That led me to the following point: How much muscle building is possible in a natural way?

I admit this is a provocative thesis. But I once saw for myself in a gym that for many fitness freaks the hurdle of taking anabolic steroids or other prohibited substances is shockingly low. Sure, young people in particular run into the studio with the proviso that they want to look like Chris Hemsworth as Thor or Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. Only results that can be seen count. Together with the wonderful feeling of invulnerability that one still has at a young age, some people think to themselves: Nothing will happen. So why work for years when I can achieve the same result in a few months?

Reach your goal faster with shortcuts

A study by the Federal Ministry of Health even supported these assumptions with figures: It is above all young men and women (19-29 years) who regularly go to the gym who are increasingly resorting to prescription drugs in order to increase their performance (cf. . KOLIBRI Study).

In addition to film stars, a not insignificant part of the increased desire for lots of muscles is certainly due to today's YouTube stars and gangster rappers, who glorify strength training and the resulting mountains of muscles. So when the role models of the young fitness fans show off their mountains of muscles, the fans are naturally only too happy to emulate them. And a few then like to take the dangerous shortcut with anabolic steroids and co. This will certainly be intensified when things get a little more ambitious in the sporting environment or there is even money to be made with them.

Social media as a fire accelerator

Today's media age and innovative channels like Youtube, Facebook and Instagram make it easy for a lot of people to market themselves and their bodies. It is teeming with self-proclaimed muscle building experts and fitness professionals who look like Ken at the same time. Everything of course! After all, you have to be authentic. Have all of these Youtube stars really got their muscles through with total dedication and a disciplined lifestyle? It could be that it is similar to that of professional bodybuilders and that one or the other has helped a little ...

This article is not intended to reveal the dark machinations of bodybuilding, nor do I want to lump all participants in this aesthetic sport together. There are sure to be honest and natural strength athletes!

A negative test proves innocence?

“But at least in competitions there are tests!” One or the other will say now. Yes that's true! But even if most professional bodybuilders have tested negative several times, that unfortunately says nothing about whether they have not even taken such preparations in the distant past. Because whoever helped build muscle for a certain period of time may benefit from it for a few more years. Also: Lance Armstrong wasn't tested positive once during his career, if I remember correctly ...

That probably makes it attractive for many hobby jumpers to “just help out a little in the bulk phase”. Then drop the stuff and move on to the so-called definition phase. Unfortunately, some stay longer!

Pity! Well, as mentioned earlier, this is not meant to be an article about doping. Rather, I would like to clarify which natural limits are shown to you as a fitness athlete. So where does Mother Nature let you hypertrophy with real nutrition and honest training? What is your genetic potential?

How much muscle can I gain?

There are various studies and theories on this. The authors include former bodybuilders, sports medicine specialists and strength and conditioning trainers. They all have one thing in common in their thoughts: There is a natural limit! But this differs from person to person. If I want to determine this limit, I can fall back on various models or formulas. Of course, it should be mentioned at this point that we cannot guarantee the validity of these models. They are based on experience and observation and do not claim to be one of the 10 holy commandments.

The Alan Aragon model

Alan Aragon is an American trainer, writer and lecturer for the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the National Strength & Conditioning Association, among others. According to his theory, a beginner can gain 1% - 1.5% of his body weight in additional muscle mass per month. For a 100 kg man that would be 12-18 kg in the first year. In the second year of training (he is now an advanced beginner) another 6-12 kg would be possible. The rate then drops sharply during the third year of training. Only 3-6 kg of muscle mass are possible here. The bottom line is that our originally 100 kg man would weigh between 121 kg and 136 kg after three years of continuous training. Not a very precise statement. The table shown here again illustrates the rate of muscle gain:

Rate of muscle gains / month

Beginner1-1.5% of body weight
advanced beginner0.5-1% of body weight
More advanced0.25-0.5% of body weight

Casey Butt’s frame size model

The natural bodybuilder Casey Butt conducted a study with numerous colleagues and made the claim that genetic potential and stature are closely correlated. For this purpose, he examined the circumference of the ankles and ankles, body size and the current percentage of body fat (KFA) in%. The result was the formula:

Size ^ 1.5 x [(√ wrist) /22.6670 + (√ ankle) /17.0104] x [(KFA% / 224) + 1] *

This calculation has a small disadvantage: you have to know your current body fat percentage. This can be determined in advance using the Calipper method (measurement of the thickness of the skin folds) or a valid body fat scale. However, if you now want to know how much muscle mass would be possible with a certain desirable KFA in the coming training year, the following simplified derivation is suitable:

0.3 × wrist ^ 2 × 0.5 ^ (training years - 1) *

The result is the possible additional muscle mass at approx. 8-10% KFA.

As you can see, it is also based on the level of training. Muscle growth also decreases as the training experience progresses. Personally, since I've been training relatively continuously for some time, according to this formula, I could add 1.57 kg this year. Believe me, I'm working on it;)

The lean mass index

This is a value that provides information about the general body composition and should be more meaningful than the well-known BMI (Body Mass Index). After all, a very well-trained man can have a BMI value that, according to the scale, indicates obesity. Unfortunately, this value only takes body size and weight into account and should therefore not be taken into account.

The following formula was developed to calculate the fat-free mass index:

FFMI = fat free mass / (size x size) + 6.3 x (1.8 - size)

The fat-free mass is calculated as follows:

FFM = body weight x (100 - body fat percentage in%) / 100

*: Wrist and ankle in inches, the result is in American lb

∆: fat-free mass in kg, size in centimeters

What makes this formula so interesting for our topic is the following: A research team from McLean Hospital in Massachusetts carried out a study among professional bodybuilders. They came to the conclusion that the athletes who did not take anabolic steroids had an index of no more than 25. Steroid users could far exceed this value. This suggests that there is a natural barrier at an FFMI of ~ 25. Or to put it another way: up to a value of 25, the body can regulate its building processes hormonally and energetically itself. With a sufficient supply of natural nutrients and the right training stimuli, of course. After that, artificial steroids have to help.

The aerobis fat free mass index calculator

Here we have you the ultimate aerobis fat free mass index calculator tinkered. Simply enter your values ​​and find your fat-free mass and your fat-free mass index.

If you now want to know how many muscles you can theoretically build, you simply have to increase the value for body weight a little or reduce the value for body fat percentage until the FFMI levels off at ~ 25. But keep in mind that a KFA below 6% is unhealthy and can only be achieved by professional bodybuilders for a few days (competition climax). A value of 10-12% is desirable for men. For me, for example, the result is that I could gain a maximum of 18kg of muscle mass.


The bottom line is that there are many theories and models. Some are even relatively meaningful and one has even been proven by a study. However, one should not pay too much attention to these values, because they describe the genetic potential to build muscle mass under optimal conditions and continuous training. As far as I know, this only applies to professional bodybuilders, who devote an enormous amount of time to their task through advertising contracts or other business models and can also invest a lot of money. To reach your natural limit, in my opinion, complete surrender is necessary. This is then no longer a hobby but a lifestyle! Don't skip any training, perfect nutrition, sufficient regeneration and sleep, pushing the body to its limits again and again - not everyone can and wants to do that.

Now you have to look at the lifestyle of the so-called YouTube stars. Do you find these perfect conditions in your life? Or can they create these conditions for themselves? I imagine it to be relatively difficult, especially professionally. However, I can be wrong, because with a little skill and commitment you can earn money relatively quickly with this medium. And then you have time to pump all day and film yourself;)

What do you think?

Are all the muscles you see on Youtube, Facebook or Instagram really real? Or are they blank cartridges?

In this sense,
get functional!
Your Fabien