Is there natural bodybuilding?
It is very sad that for this inherently beautiful sport we are forced to use such a term as “natural bodybuilding”. Nevertheless, let’s face the reality and acknowledge the fact of anabolic steroid use among both pros and amateur bodybuilders.
An athlete who trains without steroids and strives to gain muscle mass while burning subcutaneous fat at the same time, as a rule, applies a combination of grueling workouts, proper diet, sports supplements and additional cardio loads to the main exercises in the gym. And a number of hormonal drugs, such as testosterone, anabolic steroids, growth hormone , insulin and IGF-1 , allow you to gain muscle mass almost instantly without special training and dietary tweaks and therefore are so popular in the bodybuilding environment.
From all this, it is clear why the role of pharmaceuticals in the bodybuilding market is very significant – the effect of the use of drugs by modern developers is sometimes really amazing.
Obviously, over the past 50 years, pros at all levels have consistently used steroids to prepare for their performances. According to some estimates, up to 99% of competitors have used a course of steroids at least once in their life during the last weeks of preparation for performances. The remaining 1% is easy to identify – these bodybuilders always take the last places in competitions and performances. But, despite this sad truth of life, there are still many fans of the so-called natural bodybuilding in the world, when athletes, in principle, do not use any prohibited drugs in their training sessions.
It should be noted that almost all successful “before and after” stories with rapid progress, which are abundantly laid out on social networks, are associated with the use of pharmacology. In fact, all well-known bloggers and trainers use pharmacology, but only a few admit this. In addition, most natural bodybuilding “apologists” also hide the fact of the use of pharmacology, for the purpose of self-promotion and promotion of their methods, programs and resources. In confirmation, you can evaluate the world famous athletes of the past – the founder of bodybuilding Charles Atlas and the strongman Georg Gackenschmidt. These are the representatives of bodybuilding at a time when anabolic drugs were not yet available and the results presented were achieved through systematic strength training.
The term “natural bodybuilding” first came into use in the early 1990s. Its main goal was to give up doping and steroids and to inspire the training athletes to improve their physical condition. It is not necessary to become like the participants of the “Mr. Olympia” tournament and have a mountain of muscles – it is much more important to have good health and a beautiful athletic physique, built without the use of forbidden “chemistry”.
To develop this popular trend, magazines began to be published, where photos from the performances of the so-called natural, natural bodybuilders were published.
There are organizations that promote the so-called “natural” bodybuilding. These include:
- North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation (NANBF);
- The International Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness Federation (INBFF);
- Australasian Natural Bodybuilding Association (ANBA);
- International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA);
- Natural Physique Association (NPD);
These associations promote bodybuilding without the use of anabolic steroids and pharmacological agents. Adherents of bodybuilding “without chemistry” believe that their method is more focused on a healthy lifestyle and natural competition.
True, practice has shown that some of them refused to take drugs on the days of the competition but used them in their past.
Today, in order to exclude such cases at such competitions, athletes pass two tests: 1) on a polygraph (lie detector); 2) the traditional steroid test.
Interestingly, athletes who have previously used steroids can also compete in these competitions, but with one fundamental condition: the last period for taking steroids must be at least 7 years ago.
Here is a short list of pharmaceuticals that a natural bodybuilder should not use throughout their career to validate their status:
- anabolic steroids;
- human growth hormone;
- insulin-like growth factor;
- any anabolic prohormones,
- thyroid hormones;
- 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP);
- erythropoietin (EPO);
- norephedrine, ephedrine, ephedra;
- stimulants such as amphetamines;
As well as experimental and new developments of pharmaceuticals:
- selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs);
- myostatin inhibitors;
- gene doping;
- stem cells.
Please note that this is only a minimal list of prohibited “chemistry”, which contains mainly those drugs that are most often used by athletes. There are many other products on the sports federation’s anti-doping list that can significantly add to this list.
This list does not include some drugs that are intended to treat therapeutically diseases such as allergies, asthma, and inflammation. Moreover, these drugs should not have a pronounced anabolic effect.
Nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are also not prohibited, as they can be found naturally in food and are used quite often in the daily life of most people.
What can natural bodybuilders take?
Naturals can take protein, amino acids, glucose, vitamins, minerals and creatine because they are naturally present in common foods that are part of a normal, healthy daily diet. They are also not banned by any anti-doping organization.
Also, natural bodybuilders are allowed to use some pharmacological preparations and herbal adaptogens, which increase endurance, strength, activity and are not prohibited from use by anti-doping commissions.
Natural bodybuilding should be based primarily on a healthy lifestyle and diligent, optimally selected training. At the same time, it is very important to adhere to a healthy diet, and, if necessary, include additional sports nutrition products and permitted pharmacology.
The pros and cons of natural bodybuilding
Of course, it is not always easy to become a “natural bodybuilder” and everything is not as glamorous as it might seem at first glance. Often, many are frustrated not seeing the immediate effect, and you must know what you will have to face and deal with.
Cons of natural bodybuilding
- You will need to put in a lot of work and maximum patience to achieve the intended results.
- You will never get the same muscle mass and volume as those who take steroids.
- It is unlikely that you will be able to participate in competitions at the pro level.
- Some of the compliments in the gym will not be addressed to you, since there will always be a bodybuilder with a more powerful physique, thanks to doping.
- As soon as you achieve good results in the development of muscle mass, then others think and say that you are taking anabolic steroids. You assure them that this is not true, and they, in turn, consider you a liar.
- There is always the temptation to try a course of steroids for progress and quick results in gaining muscle mass.
Pros of natural bodybuilding
- You don’t need to buy and use steroids through black market and internet services.
- There are no health risks, on the contrary, you improve your well-being and health.
- You save your finances (money can be spent on better sports nutrition and healthy things).
- You don’t have to lie to others about steroid use. Although, subsequently, if you achieve impressive muscle development, you may not be believed.
- Most girls prefer men with a naturally athletic body.
- You can rightfully be proud of your results, because you have achieved all of this by your own efforts, and not by taking some illegal pills or injections