Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What is "natural" anymore?

No one knows what a natural bodybuilder "looks" like.

I've read hundreds of these discussions about who is on and who is natural and all of that bullshit, and here is what I think.

1. How do you define natural?

I don't even know what natural means anymore. Back years ago, guys took pro-hormones, which were INDEED legit oral steroids. Yet because you could buy them over the counter, they claimed they were still natural.

So those guys claimed natural status (and you know who you are) yet it's obvious they were not "natural".

There were several guys that went into retirement or quit competing after these products came off the shelves. Why? Because they couldn't compete at the same level (and no, I'm not naming names but some guys are outing themselves slowly now).

Clen? Not natural. T3 or T4? Not natural. Is taking ephedrine natural? Some people say natural is defined by the organization in which you compete, and I personally think that's bullshit. To me natural means food, training, and sleep. That's it. Nothing else. Nothing that spares lean tissue, speeds fat loss, or dries you out that you can't do with food, cardio, and training.

2. Height and weight with leanness

I do believe there is a correlation here. My belief is, for the NORM, there are some height to weight to leanness ratios that generally cannot be breached naturally by the majority of human bodies. I am being careful in my wording here because there will always be an exception to that rule. But most guys that are 5'8" are not going to be able to walk onto a bodybuilding stage at 220+ natural. In fact, I feel pretty safe in saying no one could. And to get back to point #1, how would you ever REALLY know? People beat drug tests everyday.

Think of it this way. Arnold was pretty gifted genetically. And he competed at around 230-235 pounds at 6'1". And Arnold was obviously not natural. So if a genetically gifted bodybuilder can use, and compete at 230 at 6'1" are you really willing to believe that a natural guy could step onstage shredded, shorter than Arnold and almost as heavy? I have trouble digesting that.

3. "he's been lifting for X amount of years and trains hard"

I had this conversation with a really smart dude the other day. And we both agreed that muscle mass for a natural guy, is going to be pretty maxed out after about 8-10 years of REALLY intelligent training and dieting. There may be a morsel gained here and there after that, but the fact is, it won't be much. From there it's about a change in muscle maturity and density, but for the most part, the ratios are going to be pretty close to what can be done.

Just because a guy is dedicated and trains hard for 20 years doesn't mean he can naturally build a physique that can rival drug users that are also of similar genetic advantages. In other words, two guys with similar genetic muscle building ability, the guy that stays natural will never catch the guy that chooses to use. This should be obvious but I still see people arguing that if you just train really fucking hard for X number of years then "drug like" gains are possible. It really doesn't work that way. Trust me, I speak from experience.


  1. " two guys with similar genetic muscle building ability, the guy that stays natural will never catch the guy that chooses to use." - Thank you.

  2. I agree with your premise that natural is probably a useless term now.

    Do you believe Paul Anderson was steroid-free? How about Bruno Sammartino? Weird question but I'm serious. Trying to establish what a drug free athlete might accomplish by looking at a earlier time periods.

    Bill Pearl used to be the "proof" that a vegetarian can establish a great physique. And supposedly natural. Not really sure but would be interested in your thoughts.

    1. Pretty sure Bill Pearl used. He also wasn't a vegan. I believe he ate eggs and fish, but I'd have to go back and look.

    2. Pearl became a vegetarian later in life, he wasn't one when he built his contest-winning physique (although he did win one Universe title as a vegetarian). He also juiced, by his own admission.

      I tend to go with the general opinion on the "natural or not" debate (natural = lifetime juice free), without concerning myself much with the semantics. I don't have a moral stance regarding drug use, and differentiating between a drug-built physique and a "natural" one is pretty easy, so I don't see what the big issue is here. Juice if you want to, don't juice if you don't.

      I do think that people juicing and claiming to be "natural" (prohormones / TRT) is pretty pathetic/stupid, but that doesn't bother me that much since I don't compete. Insecure people exist in all walks of life.

      As to great "natural" physiques, maybe Steve Reeves or John Grimek. Not sure if Grimek missed the steroid boat or not, but his physique seemed pretty attainable. Huge drug free guys were/are fat without exception.

  3. Thanks. Sounds about right with Pearl.

    Sammartino was a wrestler but quite an athlete and amazing bench presser. And was a pretty big anti-steroid guy. He also had what we used to call a typical "natural physique". Huge but never lean.

  4. The worst thing is people's expectation of what is possible strength wise without the use of steroids. I mean, I see a lot of comments from people that think that for a person to bench 350 or squat 500 they have used PEDs. Its pathetic really, I think its more of a cop-out so they don't have to feel bad about not achieving those things, and they claim a false moral high horse for being better than everyone who has achieved a decent level of strength.

  5. A man is either strong or he's not,the best lifters are the best because of genetic predispositions to being built to squat,bench and deadlift.Steroids positively effect aesthetics much more than strength,i don't care how many of you people disagree with me on this,I KNOW this to be true.
    I have trained with 600lb bench pressers and have seen them not train for 3 months then come back in their first workout and start banging out reps with 315 for 15 easy.This is genetics,not steroids.On the other hand ive seen guys that were 'buff' & using Trenbolone and whilst looking like Greek gods ,could not even squat 2 wheels each side.
    I firmly believe successful drug free strength training calls for a very early start,age 14 or 15,then using a well thought out,intelligent percentage based cyclical routine,a persons full strength potential can and will be attained.
    In this instance,the big challenge becomes the individuals ability to stick religiously to his plan,as it'll take maybe a decade or more of slowly increasing bodyweight and bar poundage to accomplish this.
    If any of you think this sounds odd,then i agree,it is very odd because absolutely no-one trains like this anymore,because nearly all new trainees are shit scared to even put bodyweight on for fear of not having 'abs'....I'm sure Doug Hepburn or Paul Anderson were not effected by such a feminine mindset.

    1. Not sure where you're going with the anecdotal evidence, 315x15 would probably be pretty easy for a 600-lb. presser even after a couple years' layover. That'd be like me doing reps with 200 pounds.

      I do agree that most people fail to max out their drugfree muscle potential before turning to drugs. Although obesity is a pretty stupid way to lift more weight, unless you're a) winning major competitions, or b) getting paid for it, or c) both.

  6. "Although obesity is a pretty stupid way to lift more weight,unless you're a) winning major competitions,or b) getting paid for it,or c) both."
    Saying that just getting fatter to lift more weight is "stupid" is a fairly standard and expected thing for any modern thinking,appearance conscious,hobby metrosexual to say,however,my suggestion is that if the "stupid" guy getting fatter just to max out Powerlifting potential is pure,drug-free and the "sensible" lifter who gains only quality mass is using ,say,trenbolone,anapolons,test etc etc,then who's blood work do you think would look the best?....The tubby guy or the "sensible" steroid user?
    Obviously,i'm well aware neither scenario is ideal but if we look at the mortality rate of gross steroid users ( high dose+ long term) against hard training but slightly higher than normal bodyfat level lifters then you'll see the point i'm making.
    For example,Doug Hepburn carried a larger than 'normal' level of bodyfat and was lifetime drug free and lived a good long healthy life,as do most lifters who follow this 'old school' philosophy.
    I suggest you stop watching youtube videos put out by the the likes of Bostin Loyd and similar clowns and try to to think for yourself a bit....i know its hard but try,please.

    1. It's a good point. Eating huge or trying old school stuff like A Gallon of Milk a Day often led to guys gaining weight in an attempt to recover from hard training. And before the internet small gyms often had local strong guys who were big, powerful and fat. But they were probably the least objective about what there physiques were like as they pushed for 500lb benches or 700 lb squats. I knew a big 340lb guy with a Grizzly Adams beard who carefully cut his string tank tops like he had Frank Zanes' physique to show off.

  7. they will have a hell of a career, the juicers. they will look good for a brief moment in time. and then they will die way too soon, their bodies destroyed by what they have consumed to get bigger/better/faster. Quite sad really It is all related to this toxic notion of masculinity and is the epitome of shallow. fuck off