In the comments of the post Muscular Potential and Reality, Skyler Tanner mentioned that the Casey Butt book had a second formula for calculating the muscular potential for ectomorphs and hard gainers. Stephan at BioHacks went to work and created a second online calculator to support that formula.
Here is an updated table using my numbers for both formulas.
|Lean Muscle Potential (original formula)||190 lbs|
|Lean Muscle Potential (hardgainer / ectomorph formula)||178.5 lbs|
In the previous post, I said this before explaining the work of Ellington Darden.
Today I weight 206. If my bodyfat percentage is 16%, then my lean mass is 173. Subtract that from 190 and according to the calculator I still have the potential to gain 17 more pounds of muscle. I’m highly skeptical. Not because I am a beast. I’m clearly not. I’m skeptical because the formula doesn’t capture enough data points.
Using the ectomorph / hard gainer formula from Casey Butt, I am only shy of my muscular potential by 5.5 pounds. This seems closer to reality to me than 17 pounds. The reason I say that is because whenever I’ve pushed the mass as a primary goal, I tend to get fatter. This has held true ever since I captured the early gains from following the Pavel training protocol around 2003.
Photo from Good Health (1906)
Setting Realistic Goals
Using this formula, I think an ectomorph can set better goals. We can define both muscular potential and lean potential. For me, I think my ideal body fat is probably 10%. My face takes on a meth addict look when I drop into single digit bodyfat percentages.
- Muscle Potential Unrealized: 178.5 – 173 = 5.5#
- Lean Potential Unrealized: 206 * (16% – 10%) = 12.36#
In my case, I should pursue fat loss as my primary goal as I can capture twice the body composition gains there.
Jun 14, 2014 — 2:04 pm
Age makes no difference?
Jun 14, 2014 — 2:22 pm
Yes – good point Wayne. Age must make a difference – especially below 30 versus above 30 or 40.
On a separate but related point, just saw a documentary (excellent) that included footage of the Bushmen of Kalahari. Was surprised how relatively little muscle mass they seemed to have.
Jun 14, 2014 — 2:31 pm
Also, for what it’s worth (not much) my measurements are almost *exactly* the same as yours. Weird! (I’m 49 though..)
My guess is that *in theory* I could add 17 lbs of muscle – and that would like quite good : -) I could fit a couple of pounds on each shoulder, one or two in each lat; definitely 3 or 4 pounds on each quad and a pound or so on each calf.
Also, also – I think I’m about 10-12% body fat and about 205 pounds.
Jun 14, 2014 — 2:34 pm
Yikes! Apologies – got my numbers wrong. My wrist and ankle measurements are the same as your but I’m 6′ 3.5″ (75.5 inches) meaning I’m even more of an ectomorph than you 🙂 ! Do I win some kind of a prize?
Jun 14, 2014 — 2:43 pm
BTW – This is what fully “filled out” ectomorphs look like at their peak. That’s a lot of weight in quad muscles! http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_me3vjgq7CN1qaiqgz.jpg
Jun 14, 2014 — 5:16 pm
@Wayne – That would be a good question for someone that has trained many clients. How much if any potential is lost by delaying strength training? I would **guess** that the potential remains the same, but the time it takes to reach that potential will take longer as we get older.
Jun 14, 2014 — 6:02 pm
Are those rowers in the photo?
Jun 15, 2014 — 6:37 am
I’m 73, 160 lbs, 120 non-fat lbs. Formula says 170 lbs lean potential! There’s a reason masters weight lifting contests give me an index of about 2 (double my lift to get a 30-year-old’s equivalent. Everbody is subject to some degree of sarcopenia. To say that I can add 50 lbs of lean mass is quite frankly ludicrous. I’m going to be lucky to keep what I have!
Jun 15, 2014 — 8:53 am
Skyler – Yes – those are the London Olympics gold medal winning coxless fours – from Great Britain – average height about 6’4″ average weight about 100 kilos.
Jun 16, 2014 — 6:39 am
If there’s something I’ve noticed about “athletic ectos,” it’s that they’re super glute dominant. Rowers are basically twiggy in their long limbs (as expected) and generate huge force from their hips.