I decided to write about what constitutes a ‘natural’ bodybuilder since there has been so much recent discussion on the subject. As the sport increases in popularity there is debate as to what is ‘natural’.
This post is not meant to define ‘natural’ but rather provoke thought and commentary.
From a personal standpoint, I am ecstatic to see this form of bodybuilding since it leads to a prolonged and healthier lifestyle which is why most people get into fitness in the first place!
Why Natural Bodybuilding?
Fortunately there is a growing number of people that enjoy the bodybuilding lifestyle but do not want to get into the Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) that accompanies this when competing. This is especially true in certain bodybuilding governing bodies where to even place in a local event, your only chance is to ‘juice’.
Just taking a look at the top competitions in the world like the Olympia or Arnold Classic, the competitors are becoming more and more like cartoon characters. Now don’t get me wrong, if that is your cup of tea, have at it. In fact I can say I’ve been there, done that, until I got smarter.
What annoys me though are people that try to deny that these contests are nothing more than who can take the most PED’s without dying first. What is even more annoying are those that say they have no long term negative effect on the body and will even defend the sudden deaths of so many past bodybuilding champions at an early age as nothing more than pure coincidence!
Can you really tell the difference between cartoon and reality in these two pics?
The working out part is probably the easiest since you do it because you love it. From past personal experience, PED’s make your workouts easier, not harder. Pushing yourself to do more is really not that big of a deal (pardon the pun!).
So back to the beginning; as a result of such PED abuse, unhealthy lifestyle and deaths, a grassroots group of bodybuilders calling themselves ‘natural’ has been taking hold.
What is a little amusing though, is that even amongst the natural competitors, there is debate as to what is cheating or not. I see on FB posts and other forums some calling out others because they took a supplement that ‘in their mind’ was cheating and so on and so forth.
The definition of Natural…
Ok, if you are not going to allow PED’s you have to define ‘natural’ right? More Natural Bodybuilding organizations have sprung up than Republican/Democratic debates on the economy! You have the ABA, PNBA, INBA, NANBF and NPA just to name a few. Some of these are intermingled with each other in terms of sponsorships and promoting each other.
Most of the organizations follow the IOC banned substance list and all or some form of IOC testing.
So can you still cheat being Natural?
When you go to bodybuilding blogs and forums, there is heated debate on whether taking a natural substance that can stimulate your body is considered some form of cheating.
I find this amusing because where do you draw the line? Is it considered cheating if you took a natural supplement that helps your body produce xyz in your body in a natural way?
How far do you go in defining what cheating is? Is it cheating eating foods that have been pumped with artificial drugs and hormones? Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) is applied on most of our produce, is that considered cheating? Should ‘all natural’ mean eating grass fed beef as an example, and being 100% organic? Should everything else that has been treated with some form of chemicals to enhance something be on some sort of banned list?!
If that is the case, I guess everyone would be excluded from competing except the great Eugene Sandow, famous strongman from the 1800’s?!
Why can the average Joe get on steroid therapy for an injury but a natural bodybuilder potentially lose their ability to compete if they do the same?
There are hormone replacement therapy clinics sprouting everywhere for those with low T counts as they age. The average person can take low T therapy with no problems but a natural bodybuilder can’t? Go to any gym in the country and you find men AND women that are juicing via hormone replacement therapy (wink wink).
Maybe testing in these natural events should involve what levels of T one can have in their body regardless of how they got to that level??? Maybe there should be ‘T level’ categories based on where you fall in your T count? Would that be a more fair way to compete since everyone is on the same level playing field?
Regardless of what defines ‘natural’ amongst the governing bodies and participants, I am glad to see that they all strive to get away from the PED’s that are prevalent in every sport today. It isn’t just bodybuilding, it is everywhere. High school kids on baseball teams are even juicing just to gain a competitive advantage.
The tunnel vision of ‘success’ for many of our athletes today is to win at all costs and ignoring the fact they are role models for youths that will emulate what their heroes’ are doing.
It is a sad state of affairs so I am glad that natural bodybuilding is out promoting their sport and serving to be true role models for those that are seeking a healthy lifestyle.
Although there is a definite difference in physique size between a juiced up bodybuilder and a natural one, in my opinion it is much harder and takes a lot more dedication to do it the natural way than it does via the drug induced method.
I tip my hat to those men and women doing it the right way…
Natural is the only way to go to be….Fit Forlife