What are our limits?
For example, I would love if I could indefinitely increase my “one rep max” in all my powerlifting. But of course I could not deadlift 10,000 pounds.
My simple goal is:
Increase my one rep max by 5 pounds every week.
In theory, that means 52*5=260 pounds a year. Of course this is impossible to maintain, because I doubt I can increase 405 to a 665 pound in a single year. And I doubt I can increase that to ~900 pounds another year after that.
Or let us be more conservative — if we can increase our one rep max by 1 pound a week. That’s 52 pounds a year.
- Year 1: 52 pound increase
- Year 2: 104 pound increase
- Year 3: 156 pound increase
- Year 4: 208 pound increase
- Year 5: 260 pound increase
- Year 6: 312 pound increase
- Year 7: 364 pound increase
- Year 8: 416 pound increase
- Year 9: 468 pound increase
- Year 10: 520 pound increase
So in theory, in 10 years, you can achieve a 520 pound deadlift, squat, and bench (assuming you increase one pound a week, consistency for 10 years straight).
But let’s assume these are your numbers starring off:
- Squat: 315
- Deadlift: 405
- Bench: 225
In theory consistent, slow yet steady gains over 10 years of training should result in:
- Squat: 835
- Deadlift: 925
- Bench: 745
This is probably highly unrealistic gains— but it’s technically physically possible (look at powerlifting records).
Indefinite muscular gains?
Generally speaking if you weigh more, you can lift more.
Therefore if your goal was to indefinitely gain 1 pound a week to your maximum lifts, you want to out on more muscle mass.
Once again, the conservative gaining 1 pound of muscle a week would mean 52 pounds of muscle a year (this is a lot).
Let’s assume you start off at 165 pounds. That would mean:
- Year 1: 165 pounds
- Year 2: 217 pounds
- Year 3: 269 pounds
- Year 4: 321 pounds
- Year 5: 373 pounds
So it’s highly unrealistic to become 363 pounds in only 5 years (assuming your body fat percentage is under 10%). Morbidly obese people prove it’s possible to become that weight (in terms of visceral adipose fat tissue), but is it possible to accumulate that much muscle mass?
Assuming you had unlimited time and resources, money, meat, could we realistically do it? Do the laws of physics restrict us?
In other words:
Is it possible for our muscle mass (skeleton muscle) to gain indefinitely?
No. There are obvious limits; no human could become 1,000 pounds with less than 10% bodyfat. Or no matter the effort, a human can never become 10,000 pounds (even if hyper morbidly obese).
So the question is:
What are the limits of human strength, and human muscle?
Simple generic or physiological differences:
- Men have higher genetic potential in terms of muscle accumulation and strength augmentation when compared with women.
- Some men have thicker wrists than other men.
- Some men are taller than other men
No matter my effort, I cannot increase the thickness of the bones of my wrists. And no matter my effort, I cannot will myself to grow taller.
Therefore the optimal genetics for a person to become maximally physically powerful and muscular:
- Thick wrists (bigger bones)
So obviously we are limited to a certain extent by our genetics.
But the question:
To what extent do our genetics limit us?
For example, do genetics determine our physical potential by a factor of 5%? 10%? 25%? 50%? 75%? More?
For myself personally, I don’t care so much about genetics, because I don’t compete with others (I only compete against myself). Therefore the goal is simple:
Strive towards the apex of my own genetic potential.
But what is our genetic potential? Is it possible to ever achieve it? And if we did achieve it, would it give us great joy, or would it cause massive depression (to no longer have anything to strive towards?)
For example, I’m 5 foot 10, and currently around 165 with less than 10% bodyfat. My max lifts has been so far:
- 315 Squat
- 425 Deadlift
- 105 Dumbell press
If I put in immense effort, and never and interrupted, by the time I am 42 (I’m 32 years old right now, 10 years from now)— what can my limits become?
Let’s say I achieve:
- 600 pound squat
- 800 pound deadlift
- 150 pound dumbbell press
And let’s say I become around 300 pounds of pure muscle at less than 10%— is this something I desire?
Is the final destination the joy, or the witnessing of growth in power?
Perhaps in us, we hate the notions of having limits, having plateaus, etc. Perhaps this is the boon of technology, science, and physics:
We keep overcoming any plateaus (Moore law) — and that’s what the human spirit is all about?
Also with creating new world records in physical strength or speed — perhaps we delight in it because it is a testament to the human spirit and strength:
We have no limits. With enough effort and human ingenuity we can become stronger, wealthier, and more powerful indefinitely.
Why are there physiological limits?
Why do humans die? Why do we stop growing taller? Why is our potential to put on muscle mass limited? Why is our potential to gain weight limited? Why is our physical strength limited?
Perhaps it is related to our genetic code, metabolism, heart rate, size. We aren’t meant to live forever, nor should we live forever.
What are our physiological goals?
It seems the practical goal is:
Maximal physical strength, maximal muscle mass, minimal body fat.
Once we reach a certain “ideal” physique, is the goal to maintain it? Or to always push to becone more?
For myself, maintence seems boring. I want more. I’d rather have indefinite 1% gains (until I die), than to reach any certain goal.
So perhaps the best goal is no goal, but simply a focus on indefinite (slow and steady) gains!
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