by Geoff Roberts
One of the most common statements in the world of bodybuilding goes as follows: “A fast metabolism is both a blessing and a curse.” This statement, in regards to bodybuilding, for several obvious reasons (at least obvious to me), is completely incorrect. Claiming that a fast metabolism is a curse in bodybuilding because you have to eat more food and it makes building muscle harder, is like claiming that being tall is a curse in basketball because you tend to be a bit slower and you need custom made shoes. On paper, this age old statement makes perfect sense. However, when you look at the facts, and analyze how fast metabolisms have affected bodybuilders over the years, it becomes very clear that nothing could be further from the truth. I prefer to garner knowledge and information via critical thinking and observation, as opposed to what people might claim, or what is generally accepted. When applying this strategy to the notion that having a fast metabolism in bodybuilding is a curse of sorts, it becomes obvious that a gifted metabolism is in fact a blessing, and only a blessing.
First and foremost, how many professional bodybuilders have great metabolisms? Nearly all of them. How often do you hear a top professional bodybuilder say that he has a poor metabolism and always has to be careful not to let himself get too fat? Now, how often do you hear a top pro or amateur claim that it is hard for them to gain weight, they were a skinny kid, etc.? The latter outnumbers the former at least ten to one. If a great metabolism is partly a curse, how come all great bodybuilders have a great metabolism? If this metabolism curse idea was true, wouldn’t all the top bodybuilders have an average metabolism? The list of great bodybuilders who have never had a body fat issue in their lives, due to a fast metabolism, is pretty much endless. Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson, Dennis Wolf, Big Ramy, Branch Warren, Juan Morel, Justin Compton, Roelly Winklaar, Toney Freeman, Brad Rowe, Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, Brandon Curry, Ben White, Steve Kuclo, the list goes on. The only good professional that I can possibly think of that might have a slow to normal metabolism is Evan Centopani, and he is the greatest example of all as to why a fast metabolism is nothing but a blessing. More on Evan later.
I find it excessively humorous when guys like Dexter, Juan, and Dave Palumbo say that it is hard for them to build mass because of their metabolism. If this is true, how is it possible that these guys put on more muscle than any other bodybuilders? Dexter gained 100 pounds of muscle in his career, Dave gained over 10 pounds a year and 150 pounds of muscle total, and Juan has gained 12+ pounds of muscle every year, all while not gaining an ounce of fat. Explain to me again how those metabolisms are hurting these guys. Do you think they would have gained muscle faster if you were able to get fat easier? Darrem Charles is known for having a very fast metabolism as well, to the point of avoiding all cardio his entire career. In Darrem’s case, this “curse” failed to prevent him from turning professional without any drugs. These guys probably think that they have a hard time gaining muscle because their actual body weight may go up slowly, but what they fail to recognize is that every single ounce they gain is pure muscle. Poor souls! All their metabolisms are doing is preventing them from gaining any fat, while they build muscle. What a bummer that is. Cursed! Calling Juan Morel’s metabolism “fast”, to me, is incorrect. I feel that it should be referred to as “perfect”. Same goes for Dave and Dexter. Perfect, meaning they can build muscle as fast as or faster than anyone else, yet they never store an ounce of fat. Sounds like a blessing and a blessing to me.
If you are going to say that a fast metabolism makes it harder to gain muscle, than it stands to reason that athletes with a normal or slow metabolism would gain muscle more easily. This is what is generally accepted, and it does make sense on paper. However, as John Romano would say, where are the bodies? Where are all the normal metabolism bodybuilders who gain muscle faster than the fast metabolism bodybuilders like Dave and Juan? They do not exist. This is where Evan Centopani comes into the picture. Evan, for all intents and purposes, has a normal metabolism, and he is an extremely rare case of a good bodybuilder who was fat as a kid. Yet, magically, he does not gain muscle anywhere near as fast as Juan or the other metabolic freaks. The same can be said about Trey Brewer. We all saw how fat Trey was able to get, but he never put on a lot of muscle from one year to another, despite his lackluster metabolism. I can’t be the only one who sees this massive loophole in the old “It’s a blessing and a curse” speech.
It would seem that the metabolism deals much more with body fat than it does muscle mass. Building muscle is pretty simple. It requires lifting heavy weights, and eating protein to repair the muscle. If you accomplish these two things, muscle will grow, period. It really does not matter how fast one’s metabolism is, as Dave, Dex, and Juan have proven to us. That said, if you have a slow metabolism, you have to cut back on food intake in order to not gain fat, which limits muscle growth. Not to mention, the more fat you put on when trying to gain muscle, the more muscle you will lose when dieting for your next show. I wonder if these fast metabolism guys would claim that only having to diet for eight weeks and not having to do cardio is a curse. Hard to imagine why guys think that waking up hungry and going to bed hungry so that you do not get fat, is equally as bad as having to eat fast food and avoid cardio to gain mass. If a guy with a fast metabolism screws up for a weekend, his abs get shredded, when a slow metabolism guy messes up for a weekend, he gets a spare tire. Does that first guy honestly think he is cursed? Talk about incorrectly thinking the grass is greener on the other side!
When is comes right down to it, bodybuilding is about gaining muscle and eliminating body fat. A fast metabolism makes half the battle automatic, with almost no work. This rapid metabolism allows you to focus solely on gaining muscle, while giving very little thought, if any, to how much body fat you are carrying. Guys with a slow metabolism on the other hand, have to constantly restrict the foods they are eating in order to avoid fat gain. Everybody knows that dieting is the hardest part of bodybuilding. Well, I have news for you, a compromised metabolism means that you have to diet year round, or get fat. To all of the metabolic freaks out there, trust me, your grass is beautiful, green and smells like roses, while guys with a slow metabolism on the other side, are standing in feces and vomit. If you have a metabolism that does not allow you to put on body fat, you should seriously count your blessings before you reiterate the ridiculous statement that your metabolism is partially a curse.