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  1. #1
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    How do you Guys feel about the Casey Butt and Eric Helms calculators?

    You know, the FFMI and Maximum Genetic potential ones.

    https://fastfoodmacros.com/maximum-m...calculator.asp

    Have you guys ever plugged in your numbers in to these? Have you come close to the numbers it generates? Think it's legit?

    I know Casey Butt puts a disclaimer that these are maximum numbers if you train 100 percent properly, including eating and sleeping right. But I also wonder in a perfect world if most people have the genetics to reach that number.

    For me at 5'10"... my max genetic potential at 15 percent bf is 201 lbs according to this calculator. Which honestly is my end goal.. 15 percent and as close to 200 as possible. Whether I can legitimately get there who knows. Those numbers plugged into Eric Helms calculator is FFMI 23.8 which still seems to be attainable naturally.

    I know that people shouldn't read too much into these things but they are still fun and interesting to look at.
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    Originally Posted by xTeTe View Post
    You know, the FFMI and Maximum Genetic potential ones.

    https://fastfoodmacros.com/maximum-m...calculator.asp

    Have you guys ever plugged in your numbers in to these? Have you come close to the numbers it generates? Think it's legit?

    I know Casey Butt puts a disclaimer that these are maximum numbers if you train 100 percent properly, including eating and sleeping right. But I also wonder in a perfect world if most people have the genetics to reach that number.

    For me at 5'10"... my max genetic potential at 15 percent bf is 201 lbs according to this calculator. Which honestly is my end goal.. 15 percent and as close to 200 as possible. Whether I can legitimately get there who knows. Those numbers plugged into Eric Helms calculator is FFMI 23.8 which still seems to be attainable naturally.

    I know that people shouldn't read too much into these things but they are still fun and interesting to look at.

    I quit listening to 3dmj when I realized none of them had made a single gain in years. Srs
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    Originally Posted by fishnbrah View Post
    I quit listening to 3dmj when I realized none of them had made a single gain in years. Srs
    Never heard of 3DMJ.. do they promote this?
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    yeah, interesting... and of course difficult to take into account individual variations... I got 24.9 on Helms' calculator and I'm barely getting started... (and natty).
    Casey is a little more in depth of course and suggests that my max lean at 15% would be 208 (basically the same as I am now but 10% less BF and of course more muscle mass).

    Interesting as you say, and some targets to intrigue but obviously tough to say how accurate for you specifically.
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    Originally Posted by xTeTe View Post
    You know, the FFMI and Maximum Genetic potential ones.
    But I also wonder in a perfect world if most people have the genetics to reach that number.
    .

    No. Nature is a bell curve. "Most" people will never even come close to those numbers by definition. That data represents the top 1% or probably the top .5%.

    From what I have seen, it is mostly accurate except on one level. People try to use it to determine is people are 'natural'. Nature always allows for outliers and genetic 'freaks'. So all the nerds punching numbers into a calc disputing some others natural claims is just a waste of time. I have seen a few freaks in my time. They do exist.

    Most people though are somewhere in the middle of the curve and wont even come close to this.



    Originally Posted by PhDPepper1111 View Post
    yeah, interesting... and of course difficult to take into account individual variations... I got 24.9 on Helms' calculator and I'm barely getting started... (and natty).
    Casey is a little more in depth of course and suggests that my max lean at 15% would be 208 (basically the same as I am now but 10% less BF and of course more muscle mass).

    Interesting as you say, and some targets to intrigue but obviously tough to say how accurate for you specifically.
    You are GREATLY underestimating the amount of fat you have. Not your fault....most people do. No, you are not even close to that FFM level. A good estimation on the amount of fat you THINK you have, is just double that number. (srs) That is close to where most people really are fat wise.
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  6. #6
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    Originally Posted by PhDPepper1111 View Post
    yeah, interesting... and of course difficult to take into account individual variations... I got 24.9 on Helms' calculator and I'm barely getting started... (and natty).
    Casey is a little more in depth of course and suggests that my max lean at 15% would be 208 (basically the same as I am now but 10% less BF and of course more muscle mass).

    Interesting as you say, and some targets to intrigue but obviously tough to say how accurate for you specifically.
    I read a really good Legion Athletics article about these calculators and the author brought up an interesting take... the average person should get their max lean body mass number and subtract 5 percent from it... and that should be the realistic number you should aim for. It makes sense too. He was saying that people who can hit that max number the Butt calculator spits out are typically genetic outliers that do everything right.

    Here's the article if anyone's interested.

    https://legionathletics.com/how-to-b...cle-naturally/

    I found this to be the best piece written about the subject of natty muscle potential. I feel like this guy's story dovetails quite a bit with mine and my wheel spinning in the gym and not dialing in a program and diet for years on end. Of course for about five solid years of my lifting I was boxing and just lifting to gain some extra strength and not trying to bulk up.

    Unfortunately after I quit competing I just kept up with my terrible program and mediocre diet for a while with no real plan until the past year or so.

    From the article:

    "At this point I’d been training for about seven years, weighed around 195 pounds (6'1"), and was about 16% body fat. I’d gained a fair amount of size along the way, but was stuck in a rut—I hadn’t made any real progress in size or strength for years and thought maybe this was it.

    Soon after taking that last picture, however, I dramatically changed the way I was eating and training, and here’s me just a few years later:

    That’s me at about 185 pounds and 7% body fat, so I had gained another 10 pounds of muscle, despite thinking I was an “intermediate” or even “advanced” weightlifter (I wasn’t).

    And just in case it needs saying, I’ve never used steroids, prohormones, SARMs, clenbuterol, or any other drug (besides caffeine, synephrine, and ephedrine) to get here.

    The moral of the story is you may think your DNA dealt you a busted flush, but it probably didn’t.

    Although you can only gain so much muscle, the amount is likely a lot more than what you see in the mirror and certainly more than enough to look and feel great about your body."
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    I honestly believe it is almost a measuring stick for Natty or not and is typically referenced more in that context than real training talk much beyond a a couple years of natural lifting. I say that because most people out there who are natural lifters realize just how long it is going to take to ever get near their own maximum muscle potential that it really becomes an after thought.

    Fun to play with and consider from time to time but overall it's just another calculator that there will be outliers that CAN fall outside of the perimeters.
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    No. Nature is a bell curve. "Most" people will never even come close to those numbers by definition. That data represents the top 1% or probably the top .5%.

    From what I have seen, it is mostly accurate except on one level. People try to use it to determine is people are 'natural'. Nature always allows for outliers and genetic 'freaks'. So all the nerds punching numbers into a calc disputing some others natural claims is just a waste of time. I have seen a few freaks in my time. They do exist.

    Most people though are somewhere in the middle of the curve and wont even come close to this.

    You are GREATLY underestimating the amount of fat you have. Not your fault....most people do. No, you are not even close to that FFM level. A good estimation on the amount of fat you THINK you have, is just double that number. (srs) That is close to where most people really are fat wise.
    In this case you are incorrect Sir. I did a bod pod recently - pretty much the gold standard of accurate BF measurement - so I know exactly what my fat is. The 24.9 result was from my current BF. If I were to get to 15% BF at my current weight my FFM would be quite a bit higher (28.2). I'm not at all convinced this number means much though.
    EDIT: Also, this FFM calculator could be off a bit too. I don't have the full bod pod printout (lost it) which does an exact FFM. I am scheduled to go again next month and will see what it says.


    Originally Posted by xTeTe View Post
    I read a really good Legion Athletics article about these calculators and the author brought up an interesting take... the average person should get their max lean body mass number and subtract 5 percent from it... and that should be the realistic number you should aim for. It makes sense too. He was saying that people who can hit that max number the Butt calculator spits out are typically genetic outliers that do everything right.

    Here's the article if anyone's interested.

    https://legionathletics.com/how-to-b...cle-naturally/
    Good advice on aspiration. Really, it needs to be individually tailored... and focus on maximizing one's healthy behaviors rather than some projected 'potential.'
    If these numbers do mean anything ... well personally it points out that I've been squandering my potential, but I already knew that.
    Agree with both of you that it clearly is misused as a measure of natty or not.
    Last edited by PhDPepper1111; 02-17-2021 at 11:05 AM.
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    "Most" people will never even come close to those numbers by definition. That data represents the top 1% or probably the top .5%.
    ^^THIS.

    I'm quicker to concede when most of us hit our genetic limit than others (and for most of us, it'll be a lot less than those calculators). Perhaps I'm referring to a "near limit," but if you've been intelligently applying sound nutritional, weightlifting, and recovery principles for five years or so, you're so close to your genetic (within 5-10% or so IMO) that the remaining fraction won't be recognizable by the general public or your significant other. Not to say that you shouldn't try and squeeze out those last few pounds (maybe ounces LOL), but don't expect the camera to show the extra effort that will be expended in the years that follow.
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    Powerlifting in disguise induced_drag's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PhDPepper1111 View Post
    In this case you are incorrect Sir. I did a bod pod recently - pretty much the gold standard of accurate BF measurement - so I know exactly what my fat is. The 24.9 result was from my current BF. If I were to get to 15% BF at my current weight my FFM would be quite a bit higher (28.2). I'm not at all convinced this number means much though.
    EDIT: Also, this FFM calculator could be off a bit too. I don't have the full bod pod printout (lost it) which does an exact FFM. I am scheduled to go again next month and will see what it says.

    Actually no. I have seen bodpods come back WAY off. The 'gold standard' is a DEXA scan. Seen many occasions where people post bod pod results that come back way off.

    Also what you dont realize is water is "LBM". When you are carrying more fat, you also get water retention along with it. At 20%+ bf, you can "lose" 15lbs of "lean mass" in 12 days by going keto.

    That is why you LBM numbers are so skewed.

    Finally you are not calculating the amount of true LBM you will lose when dropping to 10% bf. It is significant.

    So I will hold to my statement. Calculate the amount of weight you think you have to lose and DOUBLE it. That is probably close to getting you to 10%. That may change you FFMI calcs a touch
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    Actually no. I have seen bodpods come back WAY off. The 'gold standard' is a DEXA scan. Seen many occasions where people post bod pod results that come back way off.

    Also what you dont realize is water is "LBM". When you are carrying more fat, you also get water retention along with it. At 20%+ bf, you can "lose" 15lbs of "lean mass" in 12 days by going keto.

    That is why you LBM numbers are so skewed.

    Finally you are not calculating the amount of true LBM you will lose when dropping to 10% bf. It is significant.

    So I will hold to my statement. Calculate the amount of weight you think you have to lose and DOUBLE it. That is probably close to getting you to 10%. That may change you FFMI calcs a touch
    I'm happy to argue something unimportant...
    The index was developed by several researchers as an estimate of FFM (and then modified by Helms as posted by OP). They used previous Mr Olympia winners among other folks. I couldn't easily get the full text, but from the abstract it's clear their estimates didn't use DEXA, or bod pod, or water displacement.

    We could have lots of fun with this one and you know far more about this area than I do ID, but in this case you remain wrong in fact while you are right in principle.

    I'm willing to bet my BF measurement was more accurate than those used in developing the FFMI, and in any case, the FFMI is an estimate, not an exact measure of 'true' FFM which you seem to be focused on. I used the index, it gave me a number. That number is as good/accurate as any used by the researchers in developing the index itself.

    Let's take this into a realm in which I AM an expert. IQ is one of the most-quoted and incorrectly used 'measures' in the psychology realm.
    For now let's just say that measured IQ as operationally defined by Wechsler or other researchers is an estimate at 'true' intelligence (much more difficult to define and agree on than FFM).

    If I give you my WAIS score, I'm telling you how the test estimated general intelligence. That number may or may not represent my 'real' intelligence, even though people have tried to use IQ scores for so many things - incorrectly. But, if I had a properly administered test, the WAIS score is the WAIS score. You could still debate my true intelligence, but you couldn't argue my WAIS score.

    Back to this scale FFMI. I'm not arguing for the accuracy of the measurement of the underlying construct, I'm only stating that I used the index correctly to arrive at a number the researchers developed. Using DEXA is certainly not a prerequisite for using FFMI.

    All the other stuff you wrote is interesting, but not related to the index itself. Which I filled out on a lark like my daughter does all those buzzfeed surveys.

    EDIT: BTW, I'm mostly funnin with ya since that really should be the point of this post (interesting/funny/discussion/grains of salt), but when I looked up DEXA I got this: https://hudsonmedical.com/articles/d...gold-standard/ hehe
    Last edited by PhDPepper1111; 02-17-2021 at 01:10 PM.
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    Originally Posted by PhDPepper1111 View Post
    I'm happy to argue something unimportant...
    The index was developed by several researchers as an estimate of FFM (and then modified by Helms as posted by OP). They used previous Mr Olympia winners among other folks. I couldn't easily get the full text, but from the abstract it's clear their estimates didn't use DEXA, or bod pod, or water displacement.

    We could have lots of fun with this one and you know far more about this area than I do ID, but in this case you remain wrong in fact while you are right in principle.

    I'm willing to bet my BF measurement was more accurate than those used in developing the FFMI, and in any case, the FFMI is an estimate, not an exact measure of 'true' FFM which you seem to be focused on. I used the index, it gave me a number. That number is as good/accurate as any used by the researchers in developing the index itself.

    Let's take this into a realm in which I AM an expert. IQ is one of the most-quoted and incorrectly used 'measures' in the psychology realm.
    For now let's just say that measured IQ as operationally defined by Wechsler or other researchers is an estimate at 'true' intelligence (much more difficult to define and agree on than FFM).

    If I give you my WAIS score, I'm telling you how the test estimated general intelligence. That number may or may not represent my 'real' intelligence, even though people have tried to use IQ scores for so many things - incorrectly. But, if I had a properly administered test, the WAIS score is the WAIS score. You could still debate my true intelligence, but you couldn't argue my WAIS score.

    Back to this scale FFMI. I'm not arguing for the accuracy of the measurement of the underlying construct, I'm only stating that I used the index correctly to arrive at a number the researchers developed. Using DEXA is certainly not a prerequisite for using FFMI.

    All the other stuff you wrote is interesting, but not related to the index itself. Which I filled out on a lark like my daughter does all those buzzfeed surveys.

    EDIT: BTW, I'm mostly funnin with ya since that really should be the point of this post (interesting/funny/discussion/grains of salt), but when I looked up DEXA I got this: https://hudsonmedical.com/articles/d...gold-standard/ hehe
    No worries man. Just sharing experiences. I was part of that club who at one time GREATLY underestimated the amount of fat I carried.

    That is the only real point I was trying to make. The rest is semantics. But I have said this a bunch of times and yet to see it be wrong. To a guy at 20+% bf, they need to lose close to TWICE the amount of weight they think they do to get to a true 10% bf.

    I have been at 20+ and been under 10. And back and forth several times

    Just sharing experience.
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    No worries man. Just sharing experiences. I was part of that club who at one time GREATLY underestimated the amount of fat I carried.

    That is the only real point I was trying to make. The rest is semantics. But I have said this a bunch of times and yet to see it be wrong. To a guy at 20+% bf, they need to lose close to TWICE the amount of weight they think they do to get to a true 10% bf.

    I have been at 20+ and been under 10. And back and forth several times

    Just sharing experience.
    All good, and fwiw, that part I'm sure you're correct on that. I started well over 20%, I'm sure it will be years to get to a much healthier level after the initial gains I'm making now.
    I'm lucky to have pretty good genetics, but I took it for granted for many years. I'm finally just now trying to train holistically to be healthy.

    another takeaway for me is that I'm trying to figure out how to get a DEXA test now
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    No worries man. Just sharing experiences. I was part of that club who at one time GREATLY underestimated the amount of fat I carried.

    That is the only real point I was trying to make. The rest is semantics. But I have said this a bunch of times and yet to see it be wrong. To a guy at 20+% bf, they need to lose close to TWICE the amount of weight they think they do to get to a true 10% bf.

    I have been at 20+ and been under 10. And back and forth several times

    Just sharing experience.
    Amusing update.

    I think these calculators are no less off base than last I ran the numbers.

    Since this discussion I dropped to 192 for a comp in May 2021 that was clearly too low for me with too long/too hard a cut (the final ~6lbs included a water cut).
    In January 2022 I did the bod pod again and rang in at 18% BF at I think around 209. I've continued a bulk and tipped in at 217 this morning. I doubt I've put on much fat if any - while I could be wrong I've been able to lean bulk so far - there will come a day when that's not true, but for now my noob lean gains have continued.

    Also, ID and others - I've done a fair bit of reading and I'm not convinced DEXA is better than Bod Pod or immersion: from what I've read and seen all three are very comparable and typically produce VERY similar numbers. Now, am I really at 18% BF? I think it's pretty close - but I do believe ID is right in saying that 10% BF is a VERY long way from 18% and frankly I really don't aspire to get there - at least not yet.

    Ok, so Helms is now saying my FFMI is 30.1 which is "highly unlikely scores to be obtained naturally without steroid usage"
    Butts' calculator has me at 29.8 which is above the "largest natural trainee ever scientifically documented"

    Something doesn't add up because I KNOW I'm not all that, even at 18% BF or so. I do have an unusual amount of FFM but I just think that the calculators have trouble with folks far outside the average.
    Still, it's amusing to read that according to these calculators I must be on steroids.
    Last edited by PhDPepper1111; 04-19-2022 at 11:03 AM.
    It's never too late!

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    2/26/22 USPA PNW drug tested championships: 501/325/540/1366 @ 209lb
    11/7/21 IPL drug tested world championships: 463/319/529/1311 @ 205lb
    6/20/21 USPA Western drug tested regionals: DQ (bombed squats) @ 192lb
    2/27/21 USPA PNW drug tested championships: 468/308/501/1278 @ 202lb
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    There are a few things you are missing. That table of limits is based on being at 10% bf. Remember that water is "lean mass". The more fat you carry, the more bloat you can carry which is technically 'lean mass'.

    As anyone drops to 10% or less, you are shedding both muscle and fat inevitably. You are also carrying a lot less water, hence less 'lean mass'. The table of limits dont apply in any way to people who dont have abdominal vascularity for example. The data set was collected from lean individuals and that is all it applies to.

    I am sure if they collected data from offseason natural bodybuilders, or life long power lifters, the FFMI would be MUCH greater at say 20% bf.
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    Originally Posted by induced_drag View Post
    There are a few things you are missing. That table of limits is based on being at 10% bf. Remember that water is "lean mass". The more fat you carry, the more bloat you can carry which is technically 'lean mass'.

    As anyone drops to 10% or less, you are shedding both muscle and fat inevitably. You are also carrying a lot less water, hence less 'lean mass'. The table of limits dont apply in any way to people who dont have abdominal vascularity for example. The data set was collected from lean individuals and that is all it applies to.

    I am sure if they collected data from offseason natural bodybuilders, or life long power lifters, the FFMI would be MUCH greater at say 20% bf.
    Thought I might get you back into the conversation ID!
    You aren't saying anything incorrect here overall: "Although the formulas correct for body fat percentage, since fat-free mass scales considerably with body fat percentage, these estimates are only accurate for men in the body fat range of 4-12%." (Menno Henselmann's comments on the calculators and the research behind them). But, I don't think you are making any argument that supports the accuracy or efficacy of the calculators either.

    The estimate isn't accurate until 12% per the researchers.... although it does do a correction for BF, so the statement that it doesn't apply at all is probably also an overstatement. Frankly, I'm not convinced it does that great of a job at it's stated goal even with lean people... after all, what is the value of a calculator if it only applies to people who are already lean? :P I'd be interested to see it if they did collect data on people at higher BF % and it might have greater generalizability. Also, if the calculator states it calculates an upper limit of lean muscle mass, but if you can get more lean muscle mass than the calculator says if you are willing to increase BF%, then it still isn't an accurate predictor of maximum LMM is it?

    Ok sorry for rambling but I'm at least amusing myself.

    I'll see what it says for me as I continue to recomp... although again I don't plan to hit that 12% any time soon.

    Obviously this is an area that ID (and many here) have much more experience than I: these calculators for example say that if I were to cut to 10% BF that I'd also lose about 13-17lbs of lean muscle mass.
    I'll be happy to continue to see how these things change, but my main comment remains as it has from the beginning; these calculators are mostly a novelty for the purpose of generating interest. They DON'T do a good job of predicting if someone is using PEDs, they don't really do a great job of predicting someone's maximum potential FFM, and they maybe apply to the 'average' person but not very well to outliers - many of whom spend their time here.
    It's never too late!

    5'6", 215
    Age: 51

    Results:
    2/26/22 USPA PNW drug tested championships: 501/325/540/1366 @ 209lb
    11/7/21 IPL drug tested world championships: 463/319/529/1311 @ 205lb
    6/20/21 USPA Western drug tested regionals: DQ (bombed squats) @ 192lb
    2/27/21 USPA PNW drug tested championships: 468/308/501/1278 @ 202lb
    10/10/2020 USPA FS meet: 407/303/474/1185 @ 212lb

    Gym PRs:
    513/335/555
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