by Craig Titus
Question: How important are genetics in a bodybuilding competition? Must you have superior genetics to be a champion?
Answer: Let me start this article by saying “don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have the genetics to become a professional bodybuilder.” That’s such a crock of shit! The list of very successful IFBB pro bodybuilders who clearly did not or currently do not possess superior genetics is endless. Obviously these particular professionals can’t all be Mr. Olympia but they certainly can be considered champions by their own accomplishments and accolades. Before I discuss specific successful IFBB pro’s let me first outline what’s considered to be superior genetics. Some of the greatest bodybuilders are the athletes that are gifted with excellent balance having no weak points and muscles that are equally sized, referred to as symmetry, besides excellent balance, superior genetics also include many different physical traits. For example, bodybuilders such as Flex Wheeler were arguably one of the most genetically endowed athletes ever to grace an IFBB stage. Flex was born with extremely small joints causing deep muscle insertions which create a greater exaggeration in the muscle belly, hence full muscle bellies. Undoubtedly Flex Wheeler is the quintessential specimen of a bodybuilder possessing all the superior genetic traits. Along with small joints and full muscle bellies, Flex was also blessed with clavicles that are wider than average accompanied by a tiny waist and small hips gave Flex an extreme v-taper giving his physique a beautiful appearance. Other examples of IFBB pros gifted with superior genetics are Melvin Anthony, Shawn Ray, Lee Priest and most recent is the current reigning Mr. Olympia Phil Heath. In fact, Phil is very similar to Flex Wheeler in that he to displays ridiculous muscle insertions and full muscle bellies. Up until Phil Heath entered the bodybuilding arena, I don’t think another athlete comes to mind that remotely came close to Flex in regard to superior genetics. Keep in mind I make that statement with the total exclusion of the greatest bodybuilder in the history of sport…. Ronnie Coleman. Even though it’s my opinion that both Phil Heath and Flex wheeler retain better genetics suited for bodybuilding then Ronnie, in Coleman’s case it didn’t matter. You see Ronnie is the classic example of why you “don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have the genetics to become a professional bodybuilder.” That’s not to imply Ronnie doesn’t possess good genetics, he simply did not appear to be blessed with superior DNA early on in his career to foresee him becoming the greatest. It took Coleman many more years and countless more competitions before he finally started to realize his dream, in comparison to Heath or Wheeler. Early on in Ronnie’s armature career someone probably told him he didn’t obtain the genetics to be a champion bodybuilder. History show’s Coleman in fact contained perfect DNA for professional bodybuilding that manifested slowly over a longer period of time. Ronnie Coleman was a “genetic freak” in a unique way in that his DNA makeup gave him the ability to recover quickly and build uncanny amounts of muscle fiber. Once Ronnie was aware of these physical advantages, he tailored a training regimen that totally exploited his genetic gifts by preforming a mind blowing high volume and heavy work-out routine using extraordinary amounts of weight, consisting of training six day a week hitting each body part twice. You have to realize this style of training is most definitely not the norm by any standards and truly astonishing. Ronnie Coleman employed a work ethic and drive that was second to no other bodybuilder catapulting him into becoming an eight time Mr. Olympia and arguably the greatest bodybuilder in history. Like I have already stated, the list of very successful IFBB pro bodybuilders who clearly do not possess superior genetics is endless. Obviously great genetics give athletes an advantage with other competitors. However, even if you’re one of te “gifted,” you still need to practice a tenacious training schedule with no less than perfect work ethic. Not to mention a successful bodybuilder’s diet and use of anabolic androgenic steroids has to be tailored perfectly to his or her specific bodybuilding genetics. The bodybuilder that discovers their own perfect combination of training, diet, supplementation and AAS implementation early on in their career, despite their genetic make-up, can certainly compensate for their DNA short cummings. There are literally dozens of pro bodybuilders currently competing with less than great genetics maximizing their ability to train hard with an unshakeable desire for greatness. Jay Cutler for example is a four time Mr. Olympia despite the fact his genetics and physical traits were less than perfect for bodybuilding. Cutler made up for his lack of v-taper, his wide waist and large bone structure with knowledge. He’s the prime example of an athlete who obtained the knowledge that provided him with the perfect diet, the perfect training schedule, the knowledge to become a prolific AAS, HGH and insulin user, and the knowledge to consistently step on stage in perfect contest condition. Sure Jay doesn’t have the greatest genetics, but with total dedication to his craft, and practicing an astounding work ethic, he transformed his physique into “freak” status keeping the judges fascinated with his enormous muscle development. Cutler found the perfect contest prep formula that totally capitalized on his genetic ability to achieve outstanding conditioning every time he walked on stage. Jay’s condition and immense muscular development proved to be a lethal combination against his opposition, despite the fact his opponents in many cases displaying much prettier physiques. Dorian Yates is a six time Mr. Olympia despite the fact his genetics and physical traits were far less superior for the bodybuilding stage. In spite of Dorian’s sizeable waist line, below average arm development and less than perfect muscle balance or symmetry, he still managed to display the most extremely conditioned and graining physique on stage by exploiting his genetic abilities. The level of condition, muscle separation and graining appearance that Dorian’s physique achieved was absolutely awe-inspiring. Yates is yet another example of a champion bodybuilder who made up for having less than superior genetics with hard work in the gym while utilizing the genetic gifts he was born with. Then you have literally dozens of professional bodybuilders who are very successful and champions in their own right, who clearly do not display the much desired v-taper, with symmetry being slightly off and waist lines that are obviously a disadvantage. Bodybuilders such as Branch Warren, Johnnie Jackson, Evan Centopani, Jose Raymond and many many others overcome their imperfect genetics with hard work and total dedication to every aspect of professional bodybuilding. There’s no doubt that superior genetics is an definite advantage to succeed in the professional bodybuilding arena… but make no mistake, superior genetics is not required. As I have clearly presented to you, champion bodybuilders are those athletes that train the hardest, who take advantage of their own specific genetic blessings, who obtain the knowledge to exploit their DNA potential and burn with tenacious desire to achieve greatness! Plain and simple, other competitors may have better symmetry then you, they may have a smaller waist with a better v-taper and muscle bellies fuller then yours… but never for one second let them work harder then you!
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Craig Michael Titus was born in Wyandotte, Michigan on Jan 14, 1967. The eldest of Michael and Sandra Titus’ three children. In high school, Craig wrestled for his school team at 132lbs. After graduation, decided to put on some muscle via weight training. When Craig graduated from high school he was 5’6″ and 140lbs. By the age of 21, he was 5’9″ and 185lbs. Once he started weight training and seeing results, he was hooked. Craig’s first bodybuilding show was the 1988 Houston Bodybuilding Championships in which he won the Men’s Open middleweight class and the overall title.
2002 Mr. Olympia – 11th
2002 Night of Champions XIV – 5th
2002 Southwest Pro – 7th
2001 British Grand Prix – 9th
2001 Mr. Olympia – 12th
2001 Arnold Classic – 6th
2001 SAN FRANCISCO GRAND PRIX – 2nd
2001 IRONMAN PRO INVITATIONAL – 5th
2000 Toronto Pro – 1st
2000 Arnold Classic – 10th
2000 Night of Champions – 11th
2000 Ironman Pro Invitational – 8th
1996 NPC USA Championships — 1st Heavyweight and Overall
1995 NPC USA Championships — 2nd Heavyweight
1994 NPC National Championships — 2nd Heavyweight
1994 NPC USA Championships — 2nd Heavyweight
1993 NPC USA Championships — 4th Heavyweight
1991 NPC Ironman/Ironmaiden — Overall
1990 NPC Tournament of Champions — 3rd Heavyweight
1990 NPC Western Cup — Overall
1989 NPC Houston Bodybuilding Championships — Overall