First off, the answer is, I don't know. I have no clue as much muscle you, dear reader, or anyone else can expect to gain over the period of your training life.
But we can speculate based on some bullshit, can't we?
Before we talk about this gay topic, one of the things that must be done, is to throw out extremes. That means the guy running 2 grams of test a week along with insulin, GH, trenbelone, deca, and a whole host of other compounds has to be discarded. The great majority of guys that pick up a weight are never going to go to these extremes to put on muscle mass.
You also have to throw out dudes that are like 6'5" with 2" wrists and shit. Guys that were 2 pounds when they were 15 years old. That shit is not normal either.
If you have been training for 10 years and eating like a ravenous cannibal, and you're like 107 pounds, you're just as much on the extreme scale as the guy shooting a full syringe of anything everyday. Not worth talking about.
Natural Bodybuilders -
I personally don't want to get into the wrist measurement, ankle measurement, how many inches from your taint to your asshole, blah blah I don't care. I also don't want to get into arm or chest or whatever measurements. That's not even worth debating.
We can look at height, weight, and eye ball the conditioning level.
And do not send me your god damn pics to judge your bodyfat. If you want to know, go get it measured like I do. That's the best way. But the sake of the article, we will in fact use a little eyeballing just for the sake of conversation.
The best place to start, in my opinion, would be to look at natural bodybuilders. So let's look at a few.
According to the T-bag article, Kiyoshi actually eats up for his contests. He runs around 175 in the offseason and then eats up to around 205 for his contests. This is strange and unusual, and yes I know some guys do it, but they are few and far between. Never the less, the dude is in contest shape, which is around 5-6% or so at 5'10" and 205 pounds. Let me also add that he's 40 years old.
|5'10 205 pounds|
If you don't know who Skip is, then well either you're some kind of noob to bodybuilding or you've just never picked up a Flex or Muscular Development or some other muscle rag. Skip is probably the most successful natural bodybuilder of all time. He's certainly the most well known one. I used to chat with Skip quite a bit and I know for a fact that in this particular pic he was 213 pounds at 5'10". Let me also add that Skip is over 40 as well.
|5'10" 213 pounds|
John Hansen won the Natural Mr. Olympia in 1998. According to pretty much every stat I could find on him he's about 5'8" and 210 pounds in contest condition. Let me also point out that Mr. Hansen was born in 1963. So when he won the 98 NMO he was 35 years old.
|5'8" 210 pounds|
Jeff is another very well known natural bodybuilder like Skip (they also both are/were sponsored by AST). Jeff is the proverbial midget of this bunch, at around 5'7". And he was a 198 guy as a competitor. Jeff is 37 or so, approximately.
Doing the math -
If you take all of these numbers at face value, and add up the math you get an average height of around 5'9".
If you do the same for their contest weight you get around 206-207 pounds.
If you divide 69 inches by 206 pounds you get 2.98. Let's just round to 3. So roughly, 3 pounds per linear inch.
Is that a very crude way of measuring it? Maybe. But all of these guys come out to about the same weight per linear inch really. Can't be a coincidence.
Also can't be a coincidence that all of these guys are within an ear shot of being the same size, and all say they are natural. I'm not going to dispute their claims of being natural, that's not what this particular post is about. For the sake of discussion, I'm going to say they are all natural and these stats are real. Which I believe they are.
If you do believe all of, that would say that the above average genetically gifted guy, would fall within that 3 pounds per linear inch range. So if you're 6'1" and wanted to have some IDEA (read that word over and over again, since none of this is fucking science) of what your potential might be, then you'd figure around 219 pounds or so. Again, that seems about right too.
Where it all falls apart -
Anyone who reads these things and immediately begins protesting starts in with the "well I've only been training for X number of years and I'm already x-weight and have x-inch arms".
Ok good for you. In contest shape? No. So shut the fuck up.
There's a whole mind fuck world of difference between 5'10" 205 shredded and 5'10" 205 at 12+% bodyfat. It's not even comparable.
The biggest most guys have is that they underestimate their bodyfat. The guy that thinks he's 10% is usually more like 15-17%. Calipers are nice, but they can be off by as much as 5%.
Second, numbers don't always tell the whole story. I had a friend who got his bodyfat done in a bod-pod and he was 11% bodyfat. 6'3" and 205 pounds. You'd expect him to have a pretty good build wouldn't you? Well you'd be wrong. He looked like shit. Was the epitome of what most people think of as "skinny-fat". He carried a lot of weight in his ass (no homo) and legs. But had no visible abs and no real visible muscle separation. I was surprised that his bodyfat measured that low because that's generally the range I am in (legit) with quite a bit of muscular separation.
|10% = muscle separation|
"But I have visible upper abs in the morning!"
You're still fat. I wish I had a dollar for each time some fat guy told me this. This is NOT abs. Second, everyone carries bodyfat a little bit differently. The 20%+ fat guy could still have an outline of abs, but carry the majority of fat in his legs and ass (no homo). The 15% guy may carry that "belt of fat" around his waist, but have very lean legs and a really lean sexy ass (no homo).
More number crunching -
So here is the other deal. Most guys aren't going to diet down to 5% bodyfat. We just aren't. I have no need to do so, nor do I want to. I already eat very little and do a lot of conditioning. I have been a legit 6% before and I was 202 pounds (at 5'11") and I was running 40 miles a week, biking, swimming, and lifting. It was when I was preparing to go back into the military after 9/11. That was as small as I could get and that took 8 months. I was very very fucking lean, and cold all the god damn time. I had veins running through my lower abs and my legs looked like granite. Yes it was cool, but the work to put in to get there wouldn't seem worth it to me just to show off.
So where does that leave the average guy? Well in SHAPE, and that's in the 8-12% range. I'd say you calculate that more like 3.2 or so. Again, is this crude? Fuck yes it is. But what else do you have? Talking about wrist measurements is gay and meaningless. That means you'd be walking around at 225 pounds at 5'10" at 8-10% bodyfat. Look dude, that's big. The MAJORITY of guys at your gym that weight more than that are not anywhere close to 10% bodyfat.
I trained with a guy in Wichita who was 6'2" and around that 8-10% range at 251 pounds, and he was an absolute monster. Everywhere we went people stopped and stared. That puts him in a 3.3 per linear inch range, but he was not natural, and had very good genetics to boot. He had always been naturally very lean. And the leaner you are, the bigger you look.
Bottom Line -
I believe in knowing your limits, because I feel like knowing them puts you in a better position to progress faster. If you have been training for 10 years in a hard and dedicated manner, and your best ever bench press was 315, you're never going to bench 500. Not without some "supplements". And even then, it still probably isn't going to happen (that's a whole different article).
Let me add that as you can see, most of these guys are in their 30's and 40's. That generally means a few decades of hard training. If you're a young guy, don't expect to be at that level when you have 5 years of training under your belt. If you are, you're awesome and I salute you. However 99% of you won't be. Maybe that's what the 99% REALLY is. I fall into this same category. When I was 18 I was 220 or so pounds. But I promise you if I dieted down for a contest in that time I woulda stepped onstage at something in the 170-180 range, at the most. And I was bigger/more muscular than most guys at that age obviously.
If you believe you can be 6' 230 ripped naturally, brother go after it. Eventually you will learn what your limits are. Just don't bullshit yourself. Get your bodyfat checked and be honest in your evaluations. 5'9" and 205 lean is BIG. Is it big compared to IFBB pro bodybuilder big? No. It's not. But unless your purpose is to try and go pro, you don't need to be that big, nor do you want to take all of the shit you'd to take to make that happen.
Don't obsess over the scale. Go by what you look like and what you feel like. Two guys that are both 5'10" that step on a scale that says 205 doesn't mean they have the same build, or the same proportions. If one dude is 5% bodyfat and the other 15% then one dude is going to looking fucking jacked to shit and the other is going to look like shit.
Eventually you will be secure in who you are, and you'll come to terms with what you can accomplish. One of the reasons guys obsess so much over this shit is because they aren't happy with who THEY are. No amount of muscle in the world can make up for that emotional short coming. I know, I went through it. Lots of guys reading this will go through it, are going through it, or have made it to the other side like me.
In the meantime, just put your nose to the grindstone and worry about being the very baddest mother fucker you can be. And the rest of the pieces will fall into place.