Natural bodybuilding has seen a variety of talented bodybuilders over the years, from the 19th century to the present day. This article will take a look at the best natural bodybuilders of 2023 – both the titans of today and the legends of yesteryear.
It will unpack the defining features of natural bodybuilding, as well as exploring the steroid saga and the mental toll of bodybuilding.
Finally, it will provide 10 essential exercises to help enhance the natural bodybuilder’s game.
- Paul Krueger shocked the bodybuilding world by winning the 2021 Natural Olympia just weeks after earning his Pro card, establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
- Meshack Ochieng, also known as “The Natural Ronnie Coleman,” has achieved remarkable success in natural bodybuilding competitions and competes in strict federations that conduct random steroid tests.
- Ron Williams is one of the most decorated natural bodybuilders in history, having won 250 natural bodybuilding competitions, including prestigious titles such as Mr. Natural World, Mr. Natural Olympia, and Mr. Natural Universe.
- Kiyoshi Moody holds the record for being the most dominant Natural Olympia champion, winning the coveted title for six consecutive years from 2009 to 2014, showcasing his exceptional genetics and dedication to the sport.
Introduction: The Unfiltered World of Natural Bodybuilding
Natural bodybuilding has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years as more athletes have sought to compete without the use of performance-enhancing drugs. This type of bodybuilding requires hard work, dedication, and a commitment to clean eating and training. It also requires an understanding of the bodybuilding industry and the giants of the past and present who have made it what it is today.
The best natural bodybuilders of 2023 have made their mark in the industry through winning titles, setting records, and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. These athletes include Paul Krueger, Brandon Lirio, Meshack Ochieng, Derek Joe, Ron Williams, John Hansen, Komang Arnawa, Philip Ricardo Jr., Kiyoshi Moody, Rob Terry, Eugen Sandow, Steve Reeves, Bobby Pandour, Al Treloar, Sig Klein, Alan Mead, and Maxick.
These bodybuilders have achieved success through hard work and dedication, and have set the standards for others to follow. They have also shown that natural bodybuilding is a viable and competitive option for athletes who want to compete without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
10 Titans of Today: Best Natural Bodybuilders
Rob Terry is a two-time Natural Olympia champion who has made a name for himself in the professional bodybuilding world. His 6’5′ frame and 300-pound weight make him an imposing force in the sport.
Paul Krueger has become one of the most sought-after bodybuilders in the industry after winning the 2021 Natural Olympia and earning his Pro card weeks after. His remarkable 25-year journey to the top is a source of inspiration for many.
Philip Ricardo Jr. is a four-time Natural Olympia champion, having won the coveted title in 2007, 2008, 2015, and 2019. His remarkable return to the top after a six-year gap has set an example for natural bodybuilders to strive for.
Brandon Lirio is a 3X Mr. Natural Olympia and 2X Mr. Universe champion, and is also a PNBA Pro Hall of Famer.
Meshack Ochieng is nicknamed “The Natural Ronnie Coleman” for his incredible physique. He has won every contest he has participated in, including those in 100% natty federations, and has set a benchmark for others.
Rob Terry: A Force to be Reckoned With
A two-time Natural Olympia champion, Rob Terry stands at 6’5′ and weighs 300 pounds, making him a formidable presence in the natural bodybuilding scene. Before turning to bodybuilding, Terry was a professional wrestler and appeared in the WWE and Impact. He switched to pro bodybuilding after getting fascinated by the physiques of 80’s action movie stars, WWF Wrestlers, and British Gladiators.
Terry is renowned for his impressive physique and strength. He boasts an impressive 52′ chest, a 29′ waist, and 18.5′ biceps. His physique and strength have enabled him to win the Natural Olympia title twice in 2017 and 2018.
Terry has set a high standard for other natural bodybuilders and is sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
Paul Krueger: The Perfect Symmetry
Paul Krueger’s impressive physique is characterized by its perfect symmetry, earning him the 2021 Natural Olympia title. His rise to success is a testament to his hard work and dedication to bodybuilding, having been an amateur for 25 years before earning his pro card.
He has since won a pro bodybuilding competition on his debut, shaking the bodybuilding world. His balanced body type, wide shoulders, and tapered waist has earned him multiple accolades. His impressive physique is a result of his disciplined workout regimen and nutrition plan.
Krueger’s success is a testament to his commitment to success and his passion for bodybuilding. He is a shining example of what is possible when dedication, determination, and passion are combined.
Philip Ricardo Jr.: From Strength to Strength
Philip Ricardo Jr. is a four-time Natural Olympia champion, having won the title in 2007, 2008, 2015, and 2019. An impressive feat, considering the six-year gap between his first and fourth title. His success is attributable to his unmatched strength and impressive muscular development.
Ricardo Jr. is a PNBA hall of famer, inducted in 2019. He has won over 250 natural bodybuilding competitions worldwide. He has an impressive chest size of 52”, waist of 29”, and biceps of 18”.
Brandon Lirio: The New Era Phenom
Brandon Lirio is a three-time Mr. Natural Olympia and two-time Mr. Universe champion, as well as a PNBA Pro Hall of Famer. He began lifting in 2006 to combat his anxiety disorder after joining the military.
His sheer size and presence on stage make him an intimidating figure, and his physique has led some to mistake him for an enhanced bodybuilder. His success is the result of a rigorous training regimen and an exceptionally high degree of discipline.
He has competed in numerous competitions, including the 2019 INBF Natural Olympia and the 2021 INBF Phoenician Classic. Brandon is a true testament to the fact that dedication and hard work can pay off in the bodybuilding world.
Meshack Ochieng: Africa’s Natural Prodigy
Meshack Ochieng, hailing from Kenya, has earned a reputation as a formidable natural bodybuilder after achieving success in numerous INBA and NANBF competitions. He stands at 5’2” (157 cm) and weighs between 170 and 185 lbs. His physique has earned him the nickname “The Natural Ronnie Coleman” and his physique is often mistaken for one that is on steroids. Ochieng has won every competition he has participated in, proving his natural capabilities.
- Won several INBA and NANBF competitions
- Has undergone multiple drug tests in these federations
- Nicknamed “The Natural Ronnie Coleman”
Ron Williams: Consistency and Commitment
Ron Williams stands at 5’11’ (180 cm) and weighs between 195 and 200 lbs, making him one of the most decorated bodybuilding champions in history. He has won the Natural Olympia title six times, as well as the Natural Universe title three times and has been inducted into the PNBA Hall of Fame.
Williams’ success can be attributed to his commitment to bodybuilding and the consistency with which he has approached his career. He has achieved his incredible feats in a natural bodybuilding setting, which requires athletes to adhere to strict drug testing standards.
Williams’ success serves as an example for aspiring bodybuilders that dedication and perseverance can lead to success.
John Hansen: The Golden Proportions
John Hansen’s impressive physique is the result of his commitment to developing “the golden proportions” of bodybuilding. A PNBA Hall of Famer, he has won the Natural Olympia title thrice and appeared on several bodybuilding podcasts.
His dedication to “the golden proportions” has enabled him to:
- Achieve a well-balanced and aesthetically pleasing physique
- Realize the importance of muscle symmetry
- Incorporate muscle control and posing techniques to enhance his physique
Komang Arnawa: Bali’s Best
Komang Arnawa is one of the most successful bodybuilders of Asian descent, having won the Natural Mr. Olympia title in 2020. He is the second bodybuilder of Asian descent to do so, after Danny Chau won in 2004.
Arnawa won his last six competitions and became one of the youngest-ever Pro World Champions. He stands at 5′9″ and has a weight between 205–220 pounds.
His impressive physique is often mistaken for being enhanced, however he has consistently passed multiple drug tests over the years. He has been an inspiration to many aspiring natural bodybuilders and is a testament to what hard work and dedication can achieve.
Derek Joe: Sculpting Excellence
The Natural Olympia Men’s Classic Physique Open saw Derek Joe take the top spot in 2021, his debut year as a pro bodybuilder. Joe was motivated by his runner-up finish in his first amateur bodybuilding event in 2020 at the Grand Canyon Classic. Joe’s success is a testament to his dedication and hard work, as well as his ability to recognize his weaknesses and improve upon them.
- An exceptional level of focus and discipline
- A unique combination of size and symmetry
- A relentless drive to succeed and improve
Joe is an example of what can be accomplished through dedication and hard work, and his success serves as an inspiration to bodybuilders everywhere.
Kiyoshi Moody: Beyond the Ordinary
Kiyoshi Moody has dominated the professional bodybuilding arena for six consecutive years by winning the prestigious Natural Olympia title. His six-year reign has earned him a spot in the PNBA Hall of Fame in the class of 2013.
With his impressive physique, it is easy to mistake Moody for a juiced-up bodybuilder. However, he has been subjected to multiple drug tests every year, proving that he has some of the best genetics in the game.
Moody stands at 5’9′ and has weighed between 205-220 pounds. His impressive bodybuilding resume includes multiple other titles, such as Mr. Natural World, Mr. Natural Universe, and Mr. Natural Olympia.
He is an inspiration to many aspiring bodybuilders and a true testament to the power of natural bodybuilding.
7 Legends of Old-School Natural Bodybuilders
Maxick was a German strongman and gymnast born in 1882 who performed under the stage name Maxick. He helped popularise muscle control, a technique used to make muscles move voluntarily.
Bobby Pandour, a bodybuilder of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, had one of the best physiques of his era and is still remembered today.
Eugen Sandow, born in 1867, was the ‘Father of Modern Bodybuilding’ and is credited for promoting strength sports before world tours were a thing.
Steve Reeves, born in 1926, was the first bodybuilder to make a successful transition to Hollywood.
Al Treloar, born in 1874, was the winner of America’s first large-scale physique show in 1904 and was known for his poise and muscle control.
Maxick: Muscle Control Master
Maxick, born Max Sick in 1882, was a German strongman and gymnast who helped popularize muscle control. He performed under the stage name “Maxick” and could make his muscles wave, jiggle, and roll to different music, which captivated audiences. His skills included:
- Muscle control: The art of making your muscles move voluntarily.
- Gymnastics: Performing tricks with his body such as handstands and flips.
- Strength: He was well-known for his strength and power.
Maxick was one of the most impressive bodybuilders of his time and is remembered as a pioneer in the world of muscle control.
Bobby Pandour: The Timeless Classic
Bobby Pandour is a timeless classic in the world of bodybuilding, renowned for his exceptional physique and strongman abilities. He was born sometime in the late 1870s to early 1880s in Poland, and gained fame through the French magazine La Cultur Physique. Pandour was primarily a Strongman and traveled to the United States between 1907 and 1915, and was also a trained gymnast. He stood 5’6′ tall and weighed 160 pounds, with a chest measurement of 42′ and biceps of 16-17′.
Not much is known about Wladyslaw Kurcharczyk, except that he had one of the best physiques of his era. Kurcharczyk was born in Poland and gained fame through the French magazine La Cultur Physique. His exact birthdate is unclear, but it is believed to be sometime in the late 1870s to early 1880s. Despite the lack of information, Kurcharczyk’s physique was highly regarded during his time.
Pandour’s legacy endures, as his exceptional physique and strongman abilities continue to inspire and influence bodybuilders today.
Eugen Sandow: The Father of Modern Bodybuilding
Eugen Sandow, known as the ‘Father of Modern Bodybuilding’, was born in 1867 in Prussia (now known as Kaliningrad, Russia). He is renowned for emphasizing muscle proportions and developing the Grecian Ideal to establish benchmarks for building a flowing and balanced physique. Sandow was also a powerlifter and Strongman who traveled the world to promote strength sports. His impressive physical form was immortalized in the coveted Mr. Olympia trophy.
Notable achievements of Sandow include:
- Winning America’s first large-scale physique show in 1904
- Introducing muscle control, a technique later used by Mead
- Creating standards for bodybuilding aesthetics
Sandow’s legacy continues to be remembered by bodybuilders all over the world. He remains an inspirational figure for all aspiring athletes.
Steve Reeves: The Golden Age Icon
Steve Reeves was an iconic figure of the Golden Age of bodybuilding, achieving success in the late 1940s. He was the first bodybuilder to forge a successful career in Hollywood.
Standing at 6’1′ with a 52′ chest and a 29′ waist, Reeves was considered one of the most impressive physiques of his era. He won the Mr. America contest in 1947, the Mr. World in 1948, and the Mr. Universe in 1950.
Reeves popularized the Grecian Ideal, emphasizing muscle proportions and helping establish benchmarks for building a flowing and balanced physique. He was also a powerlifter and Strongman.
Reeves’ success set the standard for natural bodybuilders, inspiring generations of athletes to reach their best potential.
Al Treloar: Pioneer of Poise
Transitioning from Steve Reeves, another Golden Age icon is Al Treloar, the pioneer of poise. Born in 1874, Treloar won America’s first large-scale physique show, the Physical Culture Show in Madison Square Garden, in 1904. His fame was further solidified with a silent short film capturing the competition.
Treloar was distinguished for his muscular physique and the poise he presented himself with. Here are some of his stats:
- Height: 5’6′ (170.6 cm)
- Weight: 160 pounds
- Chest: 42′
- Biceps: 16-17′
Treloar became a significant influence in bodybuilding, serving as the benchmark of poise and grace. Many bodybuilders have carried his legacy since, and his impact is still felt in the industry.
Sig Klein: Fitness Over Flash
Sig Klein, born in 1902, was a German-American strongman, bodybuilder, and magazine publisher who focused on fitness over flash. He started weight training at the age of 12 and opened his own gym in New York.
Klein was known for his impressive muscularity, with a height of 5’4′, weight of 152 pounds, chest of 44′, waist of 32′, and biceps of 16′. He was also well-known for his muscle control, which he displayed in his performances. Klein was able to make his muscles wave, jiggle, and roll to different music, which captivated audiences.
He was a pioneer in the field and set the standard for other bodybuilders. Klein was an influential figure in bodybuilding and left a lasting legacy.
Alan Mead: Beyond the Spotlight
Alan Mead was an English bodybuilder born towards the end of the 19th century who garnered attention in the 1920s due to his impressive muscularity. He was nicknamed the “human anatomy chart” due to his peeled physique and muscle definition. Mead was known for his muscle control, the art of making one’s muscles move voluntarily. He was also one of the best muscle performers of his era.
His unique abilities included:
- Making his muscles wave, jiggle, and roll to different music.
- Exhibiting a variety of poses and movements that captivated audiences.
- Performing feats of physical strength and agility.
Mead helped popularize muscle control, which was later used by Maxick. He was a true giant of the bodybuilding in the past and an inspiration to many.
Unpacking Natural Bodybuilding
Natural bodybuilding is the practice of building muscle mass without the use of performance-enhancing drugs. It is a subset of bodybuilding and has become increasingly popular in recent years. Natural bodybuilders are generally judged by their aesthetics, symmetry, muscle size, and stage presence. This sport is highly competitive and requires athletes to be dedicated to a strict diet and training regimen.
The difference between natural bodybuilding and other forms of bodybuilding lies in the restriction of using performance-enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids. Natural bodybuilders must be able to display an impressive physique without the aid of these drugs. As such, natural bodybuilders must be focused on proper nutrition and intense exercise to achieve their desired results.
While there is a great deal of debate over what constitutes a natural bodybuilder, the sport is largely self-regulated, with various organizations and federations enforcing strict guidelines. To compete in natural bodybuilding competitions, athletes must usually take a drug test to prove they are not using performance-enhancing drugs.
Natural bodybuilding is an incredibly challenging sport, but it can be immensely rewarding. It requires dedication, hard work, and commitment but can be an excellent way to stay healthy and build strength. Natural bodybuilders are also an inspiration to many, proving that you can build an impressive physique without the use of drugs.
Check Out: Guide To Natural Bodybuilding
What Defines Natural Bodybuilding
Natural bodybuilding is an ever-evolving sport that has seen many greats come and go over the years. What defines a natural bodybuilder is their ability to build muscle without the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Natural bodybuilders rely on hard work, dedication, and a proper nutrition plan to achieve their goals.
To build muscle naturally, the following must be taken into consideration:
- Genetics: Natural bodybuilders must possess genetic traits that promote muscle growth and strength.
- Diet: Eating a balanced diet with the right macronutrients and calorie intake is essential to build muscle and strength.
- Training: Natural bodybuilders must use a combination of weight training, cardiovascular exercise, and rest for maximum muscle growth.
The Great Divide: Natural vs. Untested Bodybuilding
The great divide between natural and untested bodybuilding is evident in the contrast between the physiques of modern-day bodybuilders and those of past generations. The introduction of performance-enhancing drugs has resulted in bodybuilders having larger and more muscular physiques than what was seen in past generations.
On the other hand, natural bodybuilders focus on building their physique through diet and exercise, and don’t rely on the use of anabolic steroids and other supplements. This has resulted in physiques that are less extreme, but still impressive.
While the use of untested bodybuilding may be more advantageous in some aspects, natural bodybuilding still has its merits. Natural bodybuilders are seen as more ‘authentic’ and often have more respect amongst the bodybuilding community.
Ultimately, the decision to choose one over the other is a personal one and should be based on individual goals and preferences.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Comparing the two styles of bodybuilding, it is important to consider the pros and cons of each in order to make an informed decision.
Natural bodybuilding emphasizes the importance of a healthy lifestyle and nutrition over supplements and drugs. However, achieving the desired results also requires a lot of discipline and dedication.
On the other hand, untested bodybuilding may be able to provide accelerated results due to the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. However, these drugs can have damaging effects on the body in the long run.
Pros of Natural Bodybuilding:
- Emphasis on nutrition and healthy lifestyle
- No long-term damage to the body
- Achievable results with dedication and discipline
Pros of Untested Bodybuilding:
- Accelerated results
- No drug testing
Cons of Natural Bodybuilding:
- Longer time to achieve desired results
- High level of discipline and dedication required
Cons of Untested Bodybuilding:
- Possible long-term damage to the body
- Dependence on performance-enhancing drugs
Advantages of Walking the Natural Path
Walking the natural path of bodybuilding offers several advantages over using performance-enhancing drugs.
For starters, natural bodybuilding is a safe and healthy way to build muscle since it requires no drugs or banned substances.
Moreover, natural bodybuilders have better longevity because they don’t have to worry about side effects or long-term health risks associated with anabolic steroids.
Natural bodybuilding also requires more dedication and discipline, as it involves rigorous diet and exercise, while also offering a better sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Finally, natural bodybuilding is more accessible to the general public since it does not require any expensive drugs or supplements.
All in all, natural bodybuilding is a great way to build muscle without compromising your health.
Longevity: More Than Just Muscle
Natural bodybuilding is not merely a means of building muscle, but also a way to achieve greater longevity. Physical activity and a healthy diet provide numerous benefits in terms of body composition and quality of life. Natural bodybuilders are able to attain their desired physique without the use of performance-enhancing drugs, which can cause serious health risks.
The following are key components of achieving longevity through natural bodybuilding:
- Intense and consistent workouts: A well-rounded workout routine that includes cardio and resistance training is necessary for achieving and maintaining physical fitness.
- Proper nutrition: Eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods is essential for bodybuilding and overall health.
- Rest: Adequate rest and recovery is necessary for the body to repair and rebuild muscle.
Economics of Natural Bodybuilding
Economically, natural bodybuilding has grown in recent years, with more individuals investing in nutrition, equipment, and coaching to pursue a healthier lifestyle. This has led to a surge in the number of natural bodybuilders competing in competitions such as the Natural Olympia and the Natural Universe.
The resulting rise in popularity has caused a corresponding rise in the costs of entry into the sport and the cost of equipment, nutrition, and coaching. In addition to the financial investment, natural bodybuilders need to dedicate a significant amount of time to training and nutrition, which can add to the cost of pursuing the sport.
Despite the cost, many bodybuilders find the physical and mental benefits of the sport to be worth the financial investment. As the number of natural bodybuilders continues to increase, the economics of the sport will need to be examined to ensure that it remains accessible and affordable for those who wish to pursue it.
Natural bodybuilding is not an easy path to take, and the practice has many cons.
It requires an immense amount of dedication and commitment to maintain the physique that is desired.
Additionally, the diet plans that are followed are often very strict and require much discipline to adhere to.
The Hard Truth: Cons of Natural Bodybuilding
Competing in natural bodybuilding competitions requires a great deal of dedication and commitment which can be costly in terms of time and money. Not only do athletes have to put in grueling hours of training and dieting, they also have to pay for competition fees, travel expenses, and nutrition supplements. The hard truth is, even if all the effort and resources are put in, the ultimate success of a natural bodybuilder is still not guaranteed.
Natural bodybuilding requires a lot of patience and perseverance. The bodybuilding journey is a long one and it requires athletes to stick to their training and diet regimen for a long period of time.
Natural bodybuilding does not guarantee success. Despite a bodybuilder’s best efforts, they may not achieve the desired level of success. This can be a huge mental blow to the athlete, as all the hard work may not pay off.
Drug tests are a real threat. Natural bodybuilders have to face random urine tests to make sure that they are not using any prohibited substances. This can be a huge deterrent for athletes looking to compete in natural bodybuilding.
Navigating Through the Hassles
Navigating through the hassles of competing in natural bodybuilding events requires extensive knowledge and dedication. It is not as straightforward as it looks, and requires a deep understanding of the rules and regulations pertaining to the federation in which the competitor is competing.
Many federations have strict rules regarding drug testing and supplements, and the competitor must adhere to the rules or risk disqualification. Furthermore, natural bodybuilders must be aware of the potential risks of long-term supplementation and use of drugs, and must be in control of their diet and training routine for best results.
It is also important to be aware of the importance of rest and recovery, and to be mindful of the body’s limitations. Natural bodybuilders must understand the importance of proper hydration and rest, and must always strive for gradual progress.
It is also recommended to seek the help of a qualified coach to ensure the proper execution of their training and diet.
The Recognition Gap
Despite having an extensive history of success, natural bodybuilding has been largely overlooked in comparison to its enhanced counterpart. This has resulted in a recognition gap, as the achievements and potential of natural bodybuilders are often overshadowed by their enhanced counterparts.
The following factors contribute to the recognition gap:
- Natural bodybuilders are often judged on a different scale than enhanced bodybuilders, making it difficult for them to compete on the same playing field.
- Natural bodybuilding federations have fewer resources and sponsorships than enhanced federations, making it harder for natural bodybuilders to reach the same level of exposure.
- Natural bodybuilding competitions are held less frequently than enhanced competitions, making it more difficult for natural bodybuilders to compete as often.
Despite its long history of success, this recognition gap has led to a lack of appreciation for the natural bodybuilding community.
The Prize Money Disparity
The disparity in prize money between natural and enhanced bodybuilding is substantial. Natural bodybuilders often have to compete for much lower prize money than their enhanced counterparts. Natural bodybuilding competitions tend to have more modest prize purses and payouts than enhanced bodybuilding contests.
Natural bodybuilders often have to compete for lower prize money and are often limited to competing in smaller, overlooked shows. The prize money disparity is a reflection of the recognition gap between natural and enhanced bodybuilding. Enhanced bodybuilding has a larger following and purses, making it more attractive to sponsors and bodybuilders.
As a result, natural bodybuilding often takes a backseat to enhanced bodybuilding. This prize money disparity is concerning, as it limits the potential of natural bodybuilders to make a living off of bodybuilding.
Competing in natural bodybuilding can be a challenge due to the prize money disparity, and frustration can build as a result. However, there are ways that natural bodybuilders can overcome this frustration. These include:
- Staying focused on the journey: Rather than fixating on the prize money, natural bodybuilders should focus on their own personal growth and development as athletes.
- Setting realistic goals: Natural bodybuilders should set realistic goals and expectations for themselves. This will help them stay motivated and prevent disappointment.
- Having a positive attitude: Having a positive attitude can help natural bodybuilders stay motivated and encouraged. They should focus on what they can control and remain positive in challenging times.
The Steroid Saga: Spotting the Signs
The use of steroids among bodybuilders is a controversial topic. It is well known that many bodybuilders use steroids to achieve rapid gains in muscle and strength. However, some telltale indicators of steroid use can help tell if a bodybuilder is using steroids.
These include the rapid gains and losses in muscle and strength, the hair chronicles of fall and growth, skin talk beyond acne, and echoes of voice change. It is important to be aware of these signs in order to identify steroid users and ensure the health and safety of all competitors.
Telltale Indicators of Steroid Use
It is important to note that many natural bodybuilders have found success without the use of steroids, as evidenced by the numerous natural bodybuilding champions of the past and present.
Certain telltale indicators of steroid use can help distinguish between a natural and enhanced bodybuilder. These include:
-Unusually large muscle size and fullness
-An unnatural shape or vascularity
-Rapid gains in muscle size and strength
It is important to note that these indicators are not necessarily definitive proof of steroid use, as genetics and hard work can also produce such results. However, they can be used as a general guide to help distinguish between a natural and enhanced bodybuilder.
The Rapid Gains and Losses
Rapid gains and losses in muscle size and strength can be an indication of steroid use in bodybuilding. Steroids can help bodybuilders achieve rapid muscle growth and strength gains in a short period of time. These gains are usually not sustainable in the long run, and the bodybuilder often experiences a rapid decline in muscle size and strength once the steroids are stopped.
Thus, bodybuilders who make rapid gains and suffer rapid losses in muscle size and strength can be suspected of using steroids. In addition, steroids can also lead to shorter recovery times between workouts, which can also be an indication of steroid use.
It is important to note that bodybuilders who use steroids can suffer from serious health problems like organ failure, heart disease, and weakened immune systems. Therefore, it is essential to take all possible measures to identify steroid use in bodybuilding.
The Hair Chronicles: Fall and Growth
Hair loss and growth are an integral part of bodybuilding, as they can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of a bodybuilder’s training program. Bodybuilders often experience hair loss due to the intense stress imposed by the sport. This is because stress causes the body to produce a hormone called cortisol, which can cause hair to fall out.
In addition, bodybuilders may experience hair growth due to increased testosterone levels, which is an important hormone for muscle growth and development.
- High levels of stress can cause cortisol to be produced, resulting in hair loss.
- Increased testosterone levels can lead to hair growth.
- Hormone balance is essential for maintaining healthy hair growth and preventing hair loss.
Skin Talk: Beyond Acne
Good skin care is essential to bodybuilding, as it can provide the bodybuilder with the foundation for a healthy and aesthetically pleasing physique. Beyond the basics of acne prevention and moisturizing, there are more specific skin care needs that bodybuilders should consider.
Sun protection, for example, is important for athletes in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer. In addition, bodybuilders often develop calluses on their hands from weightlifting, and protective gloves can be used to prevent these.
Another issue that bodybuilders must consider is the maintenance of tattoos, as tattoos can fade or become distorted from excessive sweating and muscle growth.
Echoes of Voice Change
Voice change in bodybuilders is an interesting phenomenon with significant implications for physical performance and aesthetic appeal. It can occur due to various factors, such as hormonal changes that arise from anabolic steroid use, resulting in a deeper, more masculine voice. Increased vocal fold tension or a decrease in larynx size can also contribute to voice change in bodybuilders. Additionally, higher vocal intensity, which may be caused by overtraining or other fitness activities, can lead to voice changes.
These changes can be beneficial for some bodybuilders, as they may help them project authority. However, it can also be detrimental to performance if vocal fatigue sets in or if the bodybuilder has difficulty controlling their voice. Therefore, voice changes should be monitored to ensure that bodybuilders can continue to perform optimally.
Shifting Body Structures
The physical structures of bodybuilders have shifted over time, with changes in musculature, size, and proportionality. As early bodybuilders like Eugen Sandow and Steve Reeves gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they set the standard for a more ‘classical’ bodybuilding physique. This physique was characterized by a balanced, symmetrical look, generous amounts of muscle mass, and very little fat.
In the decades since then, bodybuilders have pushed the boundaries of what is possible with their physiques. Most modern bodybuilders strive for larger, more detailed muscle groups with less body fat. This shift has been enabled by advances in nutrition and supplementation, allowing bodybuilders to achieve greater levels of muscle growth.
Additionally, bodybuilders have sought to create physiques that are more ‘aesthetically pleasing’, with greater proportionality and emphasis on the ‘V-taper’ look. This has resulted in bodybuilders with a more ‘sculpted’ physique, greater definition and muscle separation.
Gynecomastia, commonly referred to as ‘man boobs’, is a condition that occurs when there is an imbalance of hormones in males causing an increase in breast size. It is caused by an excess of estrogen and a decrease in testosterone. Symptoms of gynecomastia include enlarged breasts, breast tenderness and nipple tenderness.
It is important to note that gynecomastia is not caused by fat, and thus, cannot be reversed through diet and exercise alone.
Medication, such as selective estrogen receptor modulators and aromatase inhibitors, may be used to treat gynecomastia.
Surgery is another option for treating gynecomastia, though it can be expensive and invasive.
When “Natty” is Overemphasized
Overstating the importance of being ‘natty’ can lead to unhealthy comparisons between bodybuilders. It can lead to a false assumption that a natural bodybuilder requires fewer years of hard training and dedication than those using PEDs to achieve their physique.
Natural bodybuilders can still experience the same struggles as those using PEDs, such as the hours of training, strict diets, and the mental and physical fatigue that come with staying on top of their game. The reality is that both types of bodybuilders have to put in tremendous hard work and commitment to reach their goals, regardless of whether they are using PEDs or not.
Natural bodybuilders must also be aware of the limitations of their body and know when it is time to take a step back and rest. It is important to emphasize that being ‘natty’ is not an easy path to success.
The Mental Toll: Anxiety and Depression
Competing in bodybuilding competitions can take a toll on mental health, leading to anxiety and depression in some bodybuilders. Bodybuilding can be a solitary endeavor and the lack of a support system can lead to feelings of isolation. The pressures of maintaining a healthy diet and intense workouts can be overwhelming. Additionally, the constant comparisons of one’s physique to others can lead to feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.
Bodybuilders often struggle with the physical and mental demands of the sport. The pressures of competing can lead to anxiety and depression. The lack of a support system can make it difficult to cope with the stress.
Tackling the Big Questions
The impact of bodybuilding on physical and mental health is an issue of considerable importance. While the physical benefits are widely recognized, the mental effects of bodybuilding are often overlooked. Bodybuilding can be used as a form of self-expression and as a coping mechanism for individuals suffering from anxiety or depression. It can also provide a sense of accomplishment and give people a sense of purpose and identity.
Despite this, many people struggle to find a balance between the physical and mental aspects of bodybuilding. Some may become overly focused on their physical appearance or put too much pressure on themselves to achieve a certain physique. This can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as overtraining, extreme dieting, and substance abuse. Additionally, there is a risk of developing body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
It’s important to find a healthy balance between bodybuilding and mental health in order to maximize the benefits of both. It’s also important to remember that bodybuilding is a unique journey, and everyone’s progress will be different. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and everyone should take the necessary steps to ensure they’re taking care of both.
Boost Your Game: 10 Essential Exercises for Natural Bodybuilders
Squats are widely considered to be the king of lower body development, as they target the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Deadlifts are an exercise that helps to develop power, posture, and build strength.
Bench press is a classic exercise used to sculpt the upper body.
Pull-ups are a challenging exercise that tests the strength of the upper body.
Rows are an effective exercise for building a broad and strong back.
All of these exercises are essential for natural bodybuilders to incorporate into their workouts to boost their game and reach their goals.
1. Squats: The King of Lower Body Development
Squatting is widely regarded as the king of lower body development for bodybuilders due to its ability to target multiple muscle groups in the body. It is an effective exercise for developing strength and building muscle mass in the quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and calves. Squats also help build core strength and stability and improve posture and balance.
The benefits of squats:
- Promotes overall muscular strength
- Develops core stability
- Improves posture and balance
2. Deadlifts: Power and Posture Perfected
Deadlifts are a powerful exercise that can help improve posture and build strength. It is an essential part of any strength-training program and is considered one of the most efficient compound exercises.
It is an effective way to build strength in the lower body and core, while also increasing flexibility and balance. The deadlift is a full-body exercise that involves lifting a weight from the floor to the hips.
It is important to keep proper form and avoid injury by engaging the core, using correct posture, and keeping the back straight. The exercise can be done with either a barbell or a set of dumbbells.
Proper form and proper execution is key to getting the most out of the deadlift and to avoiding injury. It is important to keep the back flat, maintain a slight bend in the knees, and keep the chest up.
Deadlifts should be done with a slow and controlled movement, and the weight should never be lifted beyond the point of control. Deadlifts can be beneficial for bodybuilders looking to increase strength and muscle mass and athletes looking to improve strength and power.
3. Bench Press: Sculpting the Upper Body
The bench press is a staple exercise in upper body training and is often considered the gold standard for developing chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles. Its importance is further highlighted by its inclusion in many powerlifting competitions.
To maximize its potential, proper form and technique must be used. Here are three important tips for mastering the bench press:
- Grip: A firm grip on the barbell is essential, as it helps stabilize the bar and prevents it from slipping. A wide grip also increases the range of motion.
- Posture: Maintaining a neutral back position and keeping the feet flat on the floor will help to generate maximum power.
- Spotter: A spotter is essential to ensure safety and help with heavier loads. It is also beneficial to have a spotter for technical feedback or advice.
4. Pull-Ups: The True Test of Upper Body Strength
Pull-ups are a classic exercise for developing upper body strength and muscularity. They require the use of multiple muscles in the arms, shoulders, back, and core to raise, hold, and lower the body.
Pull-ups are especially beneficial for bodybuilders as they allow them to target hard-to-reach muscles that are not activated by traditional exercises like bench presses and rows. Additionally, pull-ups can be performed with a variety of grips and hand placements to hit different muscles and promote growth.
Moreover, pull-ups are a great way to increase grip strength, which is essential for many bodybuilding exercises. Because of their versatility and effectiveness, pull-ups are a staple in bodybuilding routines. They can be modified with practice to challenge even the most experienced bodybuilders.
5. Rows: Building a Broad and Strong Back
Rows are a popular exercise for building a broad and strong back, and can be used to target different muscles depending on the grip and hand placement. Here are some benefits of performing rows:
- Strengthen the back muscles, including the lats, traps, rhomboids, and rear delts
- Improve posture and reduce back pain
- Increase muscular balance and stability
Incorporating rows into your back workouts can be done in a variety of ways, such as using a barbell, dumbbells, cables, and machines. It is important to use strict form while performing rows, as this will help maximise the exercise’s benefits and reduce the risk of injury.
6. Standing Overhead Press: Delts and Core Engaged
Standing overhead presses are an effective exercise for engaging the deltoids and core muscles. This exercise involves pressing a barbell or dumbbells up over the head while standing.
A proper form is essential to maximize the benefits of this exercise and reduce the risk of injury. Keeping the feet shoulder width apart, back straight, and core engaged, the lifter should press the weight up in a controlled motion. The barbell should move in a straight line as the lifter exhales, and should be lowered back to the starting position in a controlled manner.
This exercise works the shoulders, triceps, and core muscles while also engaging the back and leg muscles to maintain balance. The standing overhead press is a great exercise for strengthening the upper body and can be incorporated into any bodybuilding or fitness routine.
7. Dumbbell Lunges: Symmetry and Stability
Dumbbell lunges are a great exercise for building symmetry and stability in the lower body. These challenging exercises require coordination, balance, and strength, making them an excellent way to sculpt the legs and glutes.
Here are the main benefits of the dumbbell lunge:
- Strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and quads
- Improves balance and stability
- Develops coordination and mobility
8. Calf Raises: Elevate Your Lower Leg Game
Building a symmetrical and stable lower body requires more than just dumbbell lunges. Calf raises are essential for building the strength and shape of the lower leg muscles. This exercise targets the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, responsible for the ankle joint’s plantar flexion. Calf raises can be performed with bodyweight, with dumbbells, or on a calf raise machine.
Each type of calf raise has its own benefits. Bodyweight calf raises can be done anywhere and require no additional equipment. They are great for beginners, as they can be done with low intensity and progress can be made with higher intensity. Dumbbell calf raises are great for adding resistance and progressing to higher intensity. Calf raise machines are best for maximum intensity and adding extra weight.
No matter which type of calf raise is chosen, proper form is essential for optimal results. When performing this exercise, make sure to keep the knees slightly bent and the toes pointing forward. This will help ensure the maximum recruitment of the calf muscles and reduce the risk of injury.
9. Bicep Curls: For Those Peak Performances
Bicep curls are an effective way to increase strength and size in the biceps muscles. This exercise can be done with a variety of equipment, such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or cables. The motion of the curl works to target the bicep muscle, and the variations can be used to build mass, improve definition, and increase strength.
To maximize the benefits of this exercise, proper form is essential. This includes keeping the elbows tucked close to the body throughout the range of motion, beginning with the arms fully extended, and keeping the back and core tight. Additionally, the tempo of the exercise should be kept slow and controlled.
To further increase the intensity of a curl workout, varying the grip, range of motion, and equipment can be helpful. Additionally, adding weights and incorporating dropsets, supersets, and tempo variations can increase the difficulty and challenge the muscles in different ways.
10. Tricep Dips: Defining Arms to Perfection
Tricep dips are an effective exercise for targeting and strengthening the triceps muscles. This exercise is often used in both bodybuilding and general fitness routines. It can be performed using a variety of different pieces of equipment such as a dip machine, a chair, a bench, or even the floor. When done correctly, tricep dips can help increase muscle size and strength while improving muscular tone and definition.
The primary muscle worked during a tricep dip is the triceps brachii, however the exercise also engages other muscles in the upper arm such as the pectoralis minor, the coracobrachialis, and the deltoids. To perform the exercise, the body is lowered toward the floor while the arms remain straight. The arms are then bent to lower the body further before returning to the starting position.
Tricep dips can be made more difficult by adding weight plates to the body or by using an elevated surface, such as a bench, to increase range of motion. Alternately, the exercise can be made easier by using a chair or bench to reduce the range of motion. Regardless of difficulty level, tricep dips are an excellent exercise for targeting the triceps and can lead to improved muscle size, strength, and definition.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Differences Between Natural and Untested Bodybuilding?
Natural bodybuilding is a form of bodybuilding that does not allow the use of anabolic steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. It focuses on proper nutrition, exercise, and supplementation. Untested bodybuilding involves no drug testing and does not require competitors to adhere to any set standards.
What Are the Benefits of Natural Bodybuilding?
Natural bodybuilding offers numerous benefits, such as enhanced physical performance, improved muscular definition, increased strength, improved cardiovascular health, and a reduced risk of injury. Additionally, natural bodybuilding can help improve mental health and reduce stress levels.
How Can I Spot Signs of Steroid Use in Bodybuilders?
Signs of steroid use in bodybuilders include rapid muscle growth, increased aggression, and changes in body composition. Testing for steroids can be done through urinalysis and hair samples.
What Exercises Are Essential for Natural Bodybuilders?
Natural bodybuilding exercises should focus on compound movements that target multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, presses, pull-ups, and rows. Isolation exercises can also be used to target specific muscle groups. It is important to ensure proper form and technique to maximize effectiveness.
Is Natural Bodybuilding More Expensive Than Using Steroids?
Natural bodybuilding is typically more expensive than using steroids, as it involves purchasing dietary supplements and equipment, and dedicating more time to training. Additionally, natural bodybuilding requires strict adherence to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Natural bodybuilding has seen a variety of talented bodybuilders from the late 19th century to the present. The current champions have demonstrated that natural bodybuilding is a viable option, with many of them winning multiple Natural Olympia titles.
While anabolic steroids are prohibited in natural bodybuilding, many ways to improve performance without them exist. It is important to consider the mental toll of bodybuilding, as those involved can experience anxiety and depression.
Ultimately, natural bodybuilding is a rewarding journey and requires dedication and hard work. It is an art form that will continue to thrive and evolve for many years to come.