What is natural bodybuilding?

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

You’ve probably seen a lot of talk online regarding ‘natural’ bodybuilding and might – at some stage – have wondered what it’s all about.

If you’re keen to get into the best possible shape you can AND you want to do it without the dubious ‘benefits’ and honestly pretty terrifying side effects of chemical enhancers then natural bodybuilding is exactly what you’re looking for. 

In basic terms, natural bodybuilding is a combination of hard work, good nutrition and the right program of exercises. 

Natural supplements, like protein, are fine. Chemical enhancers, like steroids, are not. If you’re thinking of getting seriously into natural bodybuilding and want to look at competing you should check out the whole list on the World Anti-Doping Agency website. <link> https://www.wada-ama.org/

Benefits of natural bodybuilding

Natural bodybuilding = natural shape

We’ve all seen the ‘Roid Boys at the gym – you know, the ones who look a bit like balloon animals. They’re usually massively out of proportion and top heavy and you get the feeling they’re just totally out of balance most of the time and are at risk of falling over. 

Natural bodybuilders, on the other hand, tend to have a far more ‘ripped’ and natural shape. That’s not to say you can’t get massive – you absolutely can. But because you’re going to have to work hard to get it, and it’s going to take some time to get there, you’re going to wind up with a whole lot of ripped lean muscle mass and a far more natural, symmetrical shape.  

No nasty side effects

When you look at the side effects of most performance enhancing drugs, it’s hard to see why anyone would ever want to go anywhere near them. Sure, you’re going to get massive gains fast but boy, the damage they do to your internal organs, your libido, your mood and your general wellbeing are pretty brutal. Side effects of steroids include: 

  • Liver damage
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Overall enlargement of internal organs (read: they have to work harder and wear out faster)
  • Drop in libido (and a lack of ability to ‘follow through’ even if you are interested)
  • Testicle shrinkage, lowered sperm count, possibly total infertility
  • ‘Roid Rage 
  • Moodiness 
  • Hair loss or excessive hair growth
  • Acne 
  • Water retention
  • Increased blood pressure

Seriously, is getting bulky faster really worth risking all that? 

Respect

Not that you should get all caught up in what other people think of you, but when people see you putting the hard work in, the props they give you for the results you get mean a whole lot more. And you’re going to respect yourself a lot more for not taking the ‘easy’ route as well. 

Top tips for a better natural bodybuilding program

Be patient

Building natural bulk is going to take time, but working out every single day isn’t going to get you there faster. Your best results will come from having a workout-rest-repair approach. Every natural muscle building programis based around the same formula: the muscle being worked and then given time to rest and repair. You just can’t shortcut this process if you want to take the natural approach.

Give your diet a makeover

Great results are fuelled by great nutrition – and this goes a lot further than just having a protein shake before or after you workout, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. If you’re serious about wanting to build lean muscle or bulk up with natural bodybuilding then it’s definitely worth having a chat with a sports nutritionist who will be able to work out your personal base metabolic rate to calculate your optimum caloric intake so you can make sure you’re eating to it. They should also be able to help you with meal planning so you can incorporate the most nutritionally beneficial foods to support muscle repair and growth and make sure you’re eating the right things at the right time (ie: meals for workout days and meals for rest days). This is super important if you are vegetarian or vegan – because may need to look at certain supplements to make sure you’re getting all of the micronutrients and macronutrients your muscles will need. 

Take a wholistic approach

Getting ripped is not just about lifting heavier and heavier weights. Sure, you’ve got to increase the amount you lift as it gets easier for you to lift it, but you also have to look at your whole body. There’s no point having massive arms and shoulders if your core is weak or if you’re not flexible enough to bend over to tie your shoes. Lifting is important for getting those massive gains, but stretching, balance work and cardio are going to be the things that left you keep lifting for longer. Take the time to warm up and cool down. Stretch (this is best done after your muscles have warmed up). Throw some cardio into the mix by setting up a circuit at home with things like a skipping rope and some of the agility training that pro basketballers use. Agility drills normally need minimal equipment, but will absolutely keep you on your toes. You might even want to have a shot at some core strength exercise like yoga or pilates to help with your core and balance. All these things are going to keep you injury free and improve your overall condition, so make sure you work them into your routine. 

In short, with natural bodybuilding, it’s 100% possible to bulk up and build quality lean muscle without using any harmful chemical enhancements. And the added bonus is that without having to worry about all those nasty side effects, you’ll be able to enjoy all the rewards that come from working so hard.

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