What’s up, guys, how are we all doing today?
In today’s article, we’re focussing on steroids vs natural bodybuilding.
So prepare yourselves for an interesting and slightly controversial article today.
Bodybuilding is a sport that has evolved hugely over the last several decades.
In the past, bodybuilding was seen as a sport for freaks.
You’d see big and muscular bodybuilders and strongmen being viewed like nothing more than circus freaks.
Sometime after that, bodybuilders were no longer viewed as freaks.
But rather as dumb meatheads that could do nothing but grunt and lift heavyweights.
Then, along came a bodybuilding “mockumentary” called Pumping Iron.
That changed everybody’s views on bodybuilding and the men that took part in the sport.
The movie introduced audiences to a number of bodybuilders training to compete in some of the world’s most prestigious competitions.
One of the show’s breakout stars was a little-known bodybuilder from Austria.
Who went by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The movie gave audiences an insight into what it took to compete at an elite level, and it showed them that each competitor was a regular human being with a unique personality.
Interestingly, for the movie’s 20th anniversary years later, steroids were discussed.
This is very rare in bodybuilding, and it sparked a fierce debate on this subject.
Which is precisely what we’re looking at today.
Table Of Contents
Androgenic anabolic steroids also referred to as AAS.
Are incredibly dangerous.
They have claimed lives before, and they probably will again.
What’s more, they also cause a number of very serious side effects.
Many of which can actually be permanent.
The purpose of this article is to inform readers about the risks and potential benefits of steroid use while looking at the differences between steroids and natural bodybuilding.
To begin with, we’re going to talk about natural bodybuilding.
Now, if you mention anabolic steroids to a professional bodybuilder allegedly on gear.
They’ll clam up quicker than a politician being quizzed about bogus expenses.
Normally, bodybuilders are happy to talk about the sport they love until they’re blue in the face.
If they happen to have allegedly used, or be using, anabolic steroids to enhance their physiques however, any discussion about steroids will leave them incredibly uncomfortable.
Natural bodybuilders, however, are generally happy to discuss steroids, and many of them don’t have many positive things to say about them.
We’re not idiots, and neither are you.
We all know that the huge 260 – 300-pound guys competing at an elite level.
Despite being 6-feet in height or less, couldn’t possibly have gotten to that size naturally.
But nobody acknowledges it.
Steroids are synonymous with the sport of bodybuilding.
Yet nobody wants to address the elephant in the room.
Hell, there are even ‘natural’ bodybuilding divisions and organizations.
Which surely proves the fact that steroids are used in bodybuilding.
Yet they still aren’t acknowledged.
Natural bodybuilders are basically bodybuilders that train naturally, and by that.
We mean that they don’t use steroids, hormones, or any other banned or illegal drugs or substances to improve their performance and their physiques.
Some guys choose to simply take up the sport as a hobby.
And so they train naturally without any drugs at all.
They may use legal supplements, but that’s it.
Natural bodybuilders that compete, compete in organizations where competitors are drug-tested.
Some organizations are very strict with their drug testing and will test competitors multiple times before and after competing, completely at random.
Others, however, are a lot more relaxed with their drug-testing policies.
Certain organizations that have claimed to be natural will only test athletes once.
What’s even more laughable is that they will test athletes after they have stepped on stage and competed.
There’s nothing random about it.
And technically, guys could easily run a cycle and plan it so that all of the drugs have left their systems by the time they are tested after they have competed.
Long story short, however, is the fact that bodybuilders that are truly natural.
Will not use any form of steroid, hormone.
Or banned substances to improve their body or their athletic performance.
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Now we’re going to take you over to the ‘dark side’ as some bodybuilders call it.
And we’re going to talk to you about non-natural bodybuilding, I.E the use of steroids.
One reason why bodybuilders are still not taken completely seriously and are still viewed by some members of the general public as freaks is that they are.
You have guys standing at 5 foot 10 inches in height.
Weighing close to 280 pounds off-season, and that’s just not natural.
If you’ve trained as a natural, you’ll know how difficult it is to build muscle and how long it takes to build a few pounds of muscle.
Yet there are steroid users out there piling on anything from 20 – 60 pounds of muscle in a year.
And they seriously expect people to believe that they’re natural?
The truth is that you simply can’t get to that size naturally, no matter how much steak you eat.
How much creatine you use, and how hard you train in the gym.
Some huge bodybuilders, for example, Kali Muscle, Bradley Martyn, and Phil Heath are very obviously on steroids that it would be pointless to ask if they were or not because it’s so obvious.
That doesn’t however, mean that the smaller guys aren’t on gear either.
There are countless steroids out there being sold on the black market, and each one is designed to provide different benefits because it works differently.
Some steroids like Trenbolone, for example, will help you to pack on mass like you wouldn’t believe.
Others such as Winstrol however, are designed to help strip away body fat and help you to tone up.
There are 300-pound bodybuilders running steroid cycles but at the same time.
There are guys weighing in at 180-pounds that are also using steroids.
If you’re talking about being healthy, then natural bodybuilding is of course much healthier and far safer than using steroids.
For the purpose of muscle growth, strength increases, fat loss.
And performance enhancement, however, is it better to use steroids or to remain natural.
Well, even though you can probably guess the outcome, we’ve got a bit science-y on you and have looked at a 10-week study which took 43 men and split them into different groups.
Some on steroids, some natural.
To try to determine whether steroids were more beneficial than staying natural.
The study took 43 men aged 19 – 40.
Each man had some weightlifting and bodybuilding experience.
So none of them were beginners or novices.
From here, these 43 men were then split into 4 different groups.
Group A consisted of men that did NO exercise whatsoever and did not use any steroids at all.
These were all natural men, doing no bodybuilding at all.
Group B consisted of men receiving 600mg of testosterone enanthate in injection form every single week. These men did NO exercise whatsoever.
Group C consisted of men that received NO steroid injections or tablets but would perform weight lifting and traditional bodybuilding exercises and workouts.
These were basically natural bodybuilder.
Group D was your traditional gym ‘roid heads’.
Group D consisted of men that received 600mg injections of Test-E each week while performing traditional bodybuilding exercises and workouts.
Just to make sure that the results were fair.
Each individual’s diet was tailored to his own specific needs and macro requirements.
This is basically to ensure that everything remained fair.
For example, if there was a 5ft 4, 170-pound man following the same anabolic diet as a 6ft 5, 275-pound bodybuilder, he would be consuming way more calories and macros than he should be, and vice versa.
To ensure fairness when it came to the workouts however, those that exercised, which were groups C and D, would follow the same workouts.
Which were overseen by trained professionals!
This basically helped make everything as fair and as equal as it could possibly be.
Even though you can probably guess the outcome, we’re going to share the results with you anyways.
Now, if you are a natural bodybuilder, it probably bests that you try not to get too disheartened.
Here’s what the study found:
This group performed no exercise and received no steroids.
They experienced no significant changes whatsoever.
This group received 600mg of Test-E per week but did no exercise.
They gained 7 pounds of muscle tissue over 10 weeks.
Yep, that’s right, 600mg of testosterone enanthate per week.
Helped them to gain 7 pounds of muscle tissue, despite not picking up a single weight for 10 weeks.
This group performed traditional bodybuilding workouts multiple times per week but did NOT receive any steroids.
They trained naturally and gained 4 pounds of muscle on average.
Yep, training naturally for 10 weeks meant that they gained LESS muscle than steroid users that sat on their butts for 10 weeks without ever working out.
Kind of depressing, isn’t it?
Now for the big boys.
This group performed the same bodybuilding workouts as those in group C.
But they received 600mg of test-E per week, in injection form.
At the end of the 10-week study, they gained 13 pounds of muscle!
Needless to say, those that used steroids and worked outgained considerably more muscle than those that trained naturally without the use of drugs.
More disheartening still, for natural bodybuilders.
However, is the fact that those that took steroids but didn’t even work out, were still able to gain more muscle than those that worked out but stayed natural.
To cut a long story short, this shows us that anabolic steroids are pretty freaking awesome for anybody looking to build muscle.
It shows us that sitting on your ass naturally and not lifting weights will not benefit you at all, but we already knew that anyway.
It also shows us that it is possible to build a decent amount of muscle while on steroids, without even working out.
Do we, therefore, recommend that you sit on your butt and inject yourself with test-e every week instead of heading to the gym and training?
No. exercise is beneficial for numerous reasons, and if you do train while on gear.
You will almost certainly make even better gains than just by doing nothing.
In terms of building muscle, of course when it comes to steroids vs natural bodybuilding.
Steroids are better than training naturally, but surely, we knew that anyway?
Does this mean that we’re recommending that you use steroids if you want to build muscle?
No, definitely not.
If you use steroids you will build muscle, even when you do very little.
However, you can still build muscle while training naturally.
Which is very important from a health perspective.
You see, steroids may build muscle, but boy, are they dangerous.
Steroids provide some truly shocking side effects and sadly.
They have contributed to numerous deaths in the past, and they, unfortunately, will continue to do so in the future.
Some potential side effects associated with steroids, depending on which steroids you use, of course, include the following:
As you can see, steroids may build muscle, but they are dangerous, and nothing can change that.
If you eat right, visit a doctor regularly, get your blood work done regularly.
And run a course of Post Cycle Therapy after each steroid cycle, you can minimize the risks.
Reda is an ACE Certified Nutritionist, Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt and bodybuilder with 11 years of experience. He's been published on many influential websites such as lifehack.org, Wealthy Gorilla, Good Men Project and more.