Natural bodybuilding was introduced around the mid 1990’s with the main purpose of bodybuilding without the use of banned substances.
In practice there appears to be a fine line between bodybuilders and natural bodybuilders; thus differentiating the two may be not as easy as one may think.
The term ‘natural bodybuilder’ is the catalyst for many a heated debate as many of the modern high tech supplements have blurred the differences between legal and illegal products.
The addition of numerous supplements into a natural bodybuilder’s arsenal e.g. hormonal drugs, creatine and L-Glutamine really does open up a can of worms. Therefore just because they are not banned supplements ‘would the individual naturally consume them if they weren’t competing?’
Probably not and can the natural bodybuilder achieve a monster physique without any supplementation? To level ‘yes’ and then genetics start to play a key role and this is the main rationale why people start to take steroids or illegal supplements to get to the next level .
However legal supplementation does increase the speed of your body’s transformation but this is deemed ‘natural’ because they are legal. This is where the lines are blurred between the natural bodybuilder and the others; this is possibly why arguments still exist between the various disciplines.
The modern day bodybuilder
It is common knowledge that many bodybuilders have to follow a strict diet, a rigid supplementation and training plan to induce a massive muscle growth.
Many competing bodybuilders have taken a course of illegal supplements to boost their aesthetics and this again is common knowledge. Let’s remind you that not all competing bodybuilders have taken illegal supplements but with the ever changing advancements in the supplement market many are taking products which in the future could be banned outright.
Many of these ‘legal’ supplements do improve your muscle gains and help with a reduction in your % body fat – so should they be ‘banned’ or deemed as unnatural?
Maybe this additional classification of being ‘unnatural’ would clear up any confusion, creating a clearer line between the ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ bodybuilding groups and sub-groups. This is just a thought and we are not here to put the world to rights!
The official stance on natural bodybuilding
Natural bodybuilding can be a competitive or non-competitive lifestyle option. In terms of the competitive pathway the participants are judged for the quality of their body’s aesthetics.
For the competitor the main objective is to increase the aesthetics of their physique without the use of banned performance drugs. However the prohibited substances can vary between countries and different body building federations.
Fundamentally bodybuilders have to pass through a variety of tests in order for them to compete. The most common tests to assess their status a natural bodybuilder are the urine, blood and polygraph tests.
It is a simple pass or fail structure and obviously if you fail then you don’t compete. If you are caught doping then depending on the organisation you could be banned for up to 7 years.
Many organisations stipulate that you have to clean of any illegal supplements for 7 years before you can compete as a natural bodybuilder, but proving this timescale can prove to be extremely difficult for obvious reasons!
Ultimately there are thousands of people on the planet who want to improve their physiques without taking drugs and really don’t want to look like Mr Universe.
Many natural bodybuilders want to take their bodies to the next level again without illegal supplements. Instead they prefer a pathway of eating clean with natural and healthy foods, legal supplements and sweating their butt off with some hard work at the gym.
This can have some impact on your muscle building and fat burning hormones but not to the same degree as taking illegal supplements.
Therefore as a natural bodybuilder you need to be very aware of your genetic limitations and that your physique goals need to be extremely realistic. So if your goals are to have the same physique as Mr Universe then maybe you need to tweak your supplementation plan!
Pro and cons of natural bodybuilding
Being a natural bodybuilder is by no means an easy pathway to follow and you will probably face the following challenges along the way:
- Patience is a virtue and you to have lots of them when training hard and trying to reach your goals
- You will always have to deal with the temptation of the quick fix that you would get from taking illegal supplements
- You may not get the same results as someone who is on illegal supplements
- If soon as you do get the results that you deserve, then people automatically assume that you are on illegal supplements
- You may not get the same results as somebody who is on illegal supplements
There are some very attractive benefits of being a natural bodybuilder:
- You don’t have to spend money on illegal supplements and this will save you money in the long run
- You will not be susceptible to the side effects and health risks of taking illegal supplements
- You can be extremely proud of your achievements because they exist due to your own hard work and not from any illegal supplements