I started on a long journey from being almost morbidly obese with test around 320 ng/dl to where I am now -- lean, 13-14% bodyfat and test recorded at 800 -- highest ever record for myself early in the morning. I have noticed zero difference from having 320 and 800 when it comes to muscle building. For example, weightlifting at a low test level showed the same timeframe and gains as they do now with a higher one. I workout religiously and do everything right -- but I build muscle painfully slow -- less than 6 pounds a year -- and highly inconsisent results (strong as hell one week -- very weak the next). For example, I could bench 315 2 times less than a month go -- now I struggle to do 275 twice. I get excellent rest and never feel tired or fatigued -- I just poorly build muscle it seems. I figured higher testosterone would make a massive difference, but it doesn't -- at least not for me. A near 500 ng/dl increase and virtually no difference in protein synthesis/etc. I recover very quickly, big there's never much mass. I get unbelievable pumps, but after 1-2 days I go back to normal size. My arms have been stuck at 13.5 inches for 2 years even though I've added 10-15 lbs. to my biceps curls in that timeframe. I at first assumed "genetics" but all steroid users take high test and they easily gain size -- so I figured naturally increasing my testosterone would work the same -- just at a lower level. I've noticed my jawline is prominent -- I have an incredibly high libido -- my self-esteem has improved -- everything basically. I did not need TRT like a beta male and I'm definitely an alpha male -- I just can't look like the ideal one with muscularity.

Do I just accept genetics? Do I keep trying to up my testosterone naturally? I can re-evaluate diet and rest more or try and have sex more and fight (all things that supposedly increase testosterone).

I just wish I could look like the ideal alpha male when it comes to muscle. I look too small for my leanness and I'm trying to get ripped, but I can't put on much size even in a surplus for months. I gave up bulking when I just got fat and DEXA scans show virtually no change in muscle mass over months of steadily checking while bulking. I just do a steady re-comp and try to lose/gain now, but it seems I can keep losing fat but barely put on muscle, bulking or not. What are my options?

At my current musculature I'll look like a puny marathon runner or cyclist at ripped status.

I'm trying to get (something like) this body type, but with a little lower bodyfat naturally:

enter image description here

Can genetics let me succeed? Can I break any genetic limitations I may have without drugs?

Is it possible?

  • 2
    As has been mentioned before, T level variation within the natural range does not seem to have the same effect. Endocrinology. 2006 Jan;147(1):141-54.
    – John
    Sep 4, 2017 at 12:06
  • Not even if it's dramatic? That study mentions little about bigger differences.
    – Sey Charl
    Sep 5, 2017 at 0:45
  • I'm also curious how you are getting these testosterone levels? And you've never looked at a true cyclists legs, have you? Or are you only interested in the trophy muscles?
    – JohnP
    Sep 5, 2017 at 20:33
  • @JohnP I see a doctor every 2-3 months. I don't need TRT -- I just go and get my levels checked and one morning they got about 800 ng/dl. I am up nearly 500 ng/dl from where I was 5+ years ago. I'm shooting to break 1,000 naturally by altering diet and switching workout cycles and nutrient timing.
    – Sey Charl
    Sep 6, 2017 at 0:19
  • 1
    "I'm too masculine for steroids." - Don't waste your breath, this is also going up on the fail wall in my gym.
    – John
    Sep 11, 2017 at 7:17

1 Answer 1


As JJ references in his comment, having high testosterone does not translate to easier bodybuilding. Fluctuations within the normal range do not appear to have much effect on building muscle. It may however have an effect on bodyfat levels.

The actual studies are behind paywalls, but the abstracts can be referenced in the cited studies in this article.

Also, you state "but with lower bodyfat, naturally". It is unclear whether you mean through natural methods (no drugs) or that "naturally you want lower bodyfat" referencing the guy in the photo. That guy is actually in the 5-10% bodyfat range already, which is about the lowest healthy, maintainable bodyfat level.

Lastly, your statements about being weak one week, strong the next, and building less than 6 lbs of muscle a year points at something not quite right either in nutrition or your workouts. Working out religiously doesn't automatically translate to huge gains unless you are also doing so intelligently. The statement "I've added 10-15 lbs to my curls in the last 2 years but stuck at 13.5 inches" is especially telling. 10-15 lb increase in 2 years is basically nothing.

Instead of going on about your high test levels, put a question with a full delineation of your last month of workouts, rest and food levels. That will be much more telling than hormone test results. If you aren't tracking that, then you aren't "religious" about working out, you're just someone who goes to the gym a lot.

  • There is no way the guy in the picture is anywhere near 10%. 10% is already very lean, and he isnt even close. He might be as low as 15% and as high as 20% depending how he carries it, but there is no way he’s under 10.
    – Thomas Markov
    Nov 19, 2021 at 12:35

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