Since ster*id usage is rampant in the fitness and bodybuilding community, many people find it hard to distinguish natural from “enhanced” bodybuilders. But even the word “natural” is ambiguous. What does it actually mean to be a natural bodybuilder?
For people who’ve been in the lifting game for quite some time, it’s usually not so hard to make the distinction. But beginners who are just starting cannot and seeing all those enhanced bodybuilders they begin to be driven by unrealistic expectations, thinking that they too can achieve such a physique. This will only lead to needlessly spent time and effort which can ultimately lead them to quit lifting weights altogether.
To avoid this, people need to be educated on what they can achieve naturally (if they choose to do so) and look out for the 6 most obvious signs someone is a natural bodybuilder.
The 6 signs of a natural bodybuilder
Traps are tiny muscles but they can give off the illusion of having a huge neck. Having a big neck is a symbol of power and can be very intimidating. The traps are awesome for filling out your T-shirts and can even be seen through them when viewed from the back. It’s no wonder, bodybuilders are working hard to build their traps, they are really impressive.
If you see a guy with huge traps then it’s very likely that he was using ster*ids. Numerous studies have shown that there is a correlation between the use of androgenic-anabolic ster*ids and the trapezius muscle androgenic receptor myonuclei, which is the main driver of muscle tissue growth and strength.
Because of lack of ster*id use, natural bodybuilders have significantly less developed traps most of the time and you won’t often see a natural with his traps stretching his shirt.
A reasonably normal body weight to body fat ratio
For many, this one is the most obvious. If you’re huge and shredded at the same time, then something is “off”. It’s simply not naturally possible to be both. That’s not to say that you can’t get big and shredded at the same time, of course, you can, but the keyword here is “big”, not huge.
The combo of being huge and ripped at the same time is simply too glaring and we can instinctively tell that we see an enhanced user. You can discern a natural among enhanced users by the amount of bodyweight they carry, relative to their body fat level. There is a range that is believable and when that range is passed, the body starts to look a bit “unbelievable”. Anyone who’s been in the lifting game for some time can easily tell which is which.
Natural bodybuilders don’t have that peculiar “enhanced” look
You may have seen “naturals” who look enhanced but somehow they managed to achieve that physique naturally right? In all fairness, there is a tiny minority who managed to do that with a lot of hard work and discipline, but the majority do use PEDs and would lie to people that they didn’t for a variety of reasons.
The minority who managed to achieve a natural big look deserve all the credit, but those who claim to be natural and yet use anabolics can still fool the general population and trick them into buying some of the merchandise they’re usually be selling.
The way you spot these fakers is that most of them tend to have a “3D appearance” (provided they do it right) as every part of their body seems to stick out. A natural bodybuilder will have a pretty good look and will turn heads (mostly depending on body composition) but will certainly never look like an IFBB professional bodybuilder.
A natural bodybuilder’s body changes differently
A major difference between natural and enhanced is the bodily changes that a lifter who injects anabolics experiences that a natural doesn’t. For example, have you ever seen a juiced-up female bodybuilder? All the signs that are uncharacteristic for a woman, the deeper voice, the square jaw, superior definition, and rippling muscles are all signs of someone who takes anabolics.
Natural bodybuilders don’t experience these changes because they do not add extra androgenic hormones to their bodies. Someone who lifts without ster*ids will have no other noticeable changes except for muscle growth and fat loss.
Juicers are more “flat looking”, more often
Another difference between enhanced and natural is the flat look that enhanced bodybuilders appear to get when they’re depleted of water and carbohydrates which fill out their muscles. At the end of preparation for a show or when cutting down on body fat, their bodies take on a flat look.
Certain ster*ids can remedy this and help to make their muscle bellies look full. And this is no ordinary fullness. Enhanced bodybuilders have a great visual advantage over naturals which only drugs can provide. A natural bodybuilder, on the other hand, would have to be careful all the time to keep his muscles full looking via proper diet and hydration.
Proportionate head to body ratio
When you someone who’s jacked and likely juiced up, you usually see someone who has a normal-sized head on top of a huge, muscular body. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find a natural bodybuilder who has a small head compared to his body but that it’s very rare.
Usually, it’s very large juiced-up bodybuilders who have tiny heads compared to their bodies. It is thought that the use of the Human Growth Hormone is the main reason behind a larger-looking face and head. This may have some truth to it, but in any case, when your body starts growing and gets a bit disproportionate, it’s pretty normal to have a smaller looking head.