The role of genetics in the use of PED in bodybuilding

How Genetics Affect Bodybuilding Physiques and the Use of PED, Explained

When we talk about some of the greatest legends in sports history, the term “gifted” is often used. There is another word for it – genetically blessed. Hard work can help achieve great things, but hard work combined with superior genetics creates truly unforgettable legends. How does this affect bodybuilding in terms of nutrition, training, aesthetics, and physique size? And does genetics play a big role in how competitors’ bodies react to DEPs? We partnered with Barbend in our latest GI Exclusive interview to chat with Jim Stoppani about the role of genetics in bodybuilding and the use of PED.

It is often said that genetics plays a big role in bodybuilding. At first glance, this may seem somewhat daunting for budding bodybuilders. What’s the point of putting in all that hard work if you just don’t have the right genetics to compete with the best in the world? However, there have been professional bodybuilders proving that it is possible to break the mold. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger himself admitted that his genetics weren’t ideal for the physique he desired (and ultimately achieved).

Hard work can make up for less than ideal genetics. You will simply have to work harder than the others. Then there is sometimes the rare breed of humans who can push harder than anyone else while having the best genetics of anyone else. These become iconic untouchable legends – like Ronnie Coleman.

So the big question is, how much can genetics affect the outcome of a bodybuilder’s hard work? And being transparent about industry realities – how much does genetics affect how DEPs react in a person’s body? We turned to Jim Stoppani to break it down with some of his knowledge.

How Genetics Affect Bodybuilding Physiques

Jim Stoppani confirms what many avid fans and athletes already know – genetics is an essential factor of success in bodybuilding. It actually extends beyond our sport. Any pro-level athlete can find greater success if they have “gifted genetics.”

To help explain this in simpler terms, Jim Stoppani uses basic genetic traits as an example. Characteristics such as eye color, hair color and height are not something we can control. They are predetermined via our genetic code. We cannot “train” our eyes to turn blue. It’s the same mentality behind bodybuilding physiques.

Some bodybuilders will react differently to training and diets. Some will find the simple act of training intensely easier to bear. The debate between nature and nurture will continue for all of human existence. So it’s possible, as a community, that we mistakenly attribute genetics to something that is actually just hard work and life experience (and vice versa).

But overall, Jim Stoppani’s simple example proves that genetics has a basic effect. If you give two bodybuilders the same diet, workout routine, and supplements, they won’t have the exact same physical result.

Can genetics cause DEPs to affect individuals differently?

Jim Stoppani also discusses DEPs such as steroids and how genetics may or may not affect our body’s reaction to these drugs. Stoppani explains that, of course, genetics will cause drugs to react differently for each individual. This is actually a big part of why drugs like steroids are regulated and banned for athletic use.

In the United States, steroids can only be prescribed by a doctor. This very factor is proof of how a drug can affect each individual differently. A doctor or healthcare professional should assess what your body can handle. It’s different on a case-by-case basis.

Jim Stoppani uses cigarettes as a more basic example of this concept. There is no doubt that cigarettes cause harm to the body and long-term health effects. However, there will always be some smokers who will live into their 90s. Conversely, there may be someone who has never drunk or smoked a day in their life and dies suddenly from a medical emergency.

We can’t control genetics – but they control us. This is a factor we all need to consider when it comes to not only our ability in a sport like bodybuilding, but also our health when taking advice.


You can watch Jim Stoppani go into detail about genetics in bodybuilding and how they can affect reactions to PEDs in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above. Be sure to stop by every Monday for new Jim Stoppani explainer videos every week!

Teresa E. Burton