T Nation

What is a Natural Bodybuilder?


What is the definition of a "natural" body builder? Another BB website that I go to featuring Skip LaCour and Jeff Willett claims they are all natural... yet they take no less than 8 supplements.

Is the only thing that makes you unnatural steroids? It seems like DHEA and Gaba and Glutamine would cancel you off the list. To me, natural should be no supplements of any kind, just food and exercise.


I think their definition of natural is "no controlled substances, no illegal substanced".

I don't see any problem with supps like protein, glutamine, MRP, ZMA, creatine...although I'm not a frequent consumer of supps either.


I don't see any problem using supps either and I am currently on HOT-ROX and soon to be other supps. But to me taking 8 different chemicals and then calling yourself "natural" doesn't really seem to fit together.

If steroids were legel, would taking them still qualify you as a natural builder? Just because someone is legal doesn't make it natural.


Natural refers to steroid use, legal or otherwise...a guy taking MAG-10 or methasteron is no more natural than a guy using test and tren. That's the established definition, sorry if you don't like it.


This is a EXCELLENT question, that probably has more than one answer...so I'll just give you my take...

The term "Natural" is most likely used in order to garner acceptance, both by the general public, and on an international level (e.g.the IOC).

The International push is pretty self- explanatory (although hypocritical when you see how the IOC will often turn a "blind eye" to a lot of abuses...but that's another thread completely!).

On the general public level, there are literally thousands (if not millions) of people willing to take their bodies "to a higher level" but NOT at the expense of their health or by breaking the law. They simply want to push the iron, eat clean, take supplements, and compete to whatever level their bodies will take them WITHOUT breaking laws or by what I call "Hormonal Manipulation"...and when they compete, they want to know that they will be on a "level playing field".

These people are a HUGE untapped market (and Bill Phillips knew it VERY well)...so putting "Natural" on your Federation and/or contest really taps into that market.

On to your question!

What is the "divide" for "Natural" FOR ME? (This is just MY take...I don't speak for anyone else...)...it has to do with what I call "Hormonal Manipulation"...if I take an exogenous substance that suppresses the very natural balance and "rhythm" of our hormonal system (that has derived that delicate balance over thousands of years) because I can get more of it in my body...then I have to take OTHER substances to counteract the side effects...THEN wait and hope that natural hormonal production will return...TO ME, I've crossed the line from being "natural".

This is NOT a "moral" judgment on who chooses to do so...I think that it's just a dangerous game of Roulette that I'm not willing to play...

And for those who support exogenous Hormonal Manipulation by saying that " takin' protein powders ain't natural EITHER, man....!...", it's a ludicrous argument. By taking a protein powder OR by eating a lot of protein, I'm providing raw material (substrate, if you may) so that the machinery of my body does its job more efficiently.



This is Skip LaCour's and Jeff Willett's definition of natural: if it is legal, it is natural. Why do I say this? Because they both admitted to taking prohormones when they were legal. Now I don't agree with their definition, but that is their definition.


My point exactly... these guys are awesome and have been an inspiration to me, but I hardly consider them natural. Just because they don't use steroids doesn't make them natural in my opinion (mainly because of the 10 other supplements they list using...at the very least.)

Their bodies are FULL of chemicals at all times, yet they are natural? I was just wondering where the 2 roads crossed.


If we really take a universal look, nobody is natural. You can say no supplements and food only is natural, but nothing is natural about our food anymore. How tainted is any meat you eat? How polluted is any fish you eat? Guess what, that piece of fruit you just ate had some genetic engineering in its lineage. We have all benefittted from "better life through chemistry" Natural doesn't have much meaning anymore. Drug free means a bit more - but again society decides what is a drug and what is merely another chemical. In the end, does it really matter.


Over here in the UK Natural is classed as conforming to IOC guidelines, this means that things on their list have been banned. Ephedrine has been banned for aslong as I have been aware.


I know most untrained guys look at any kind of bodybuilding supplement (multivitamin not included) as a steroid. Allso many see barbells and machines as unnatural manipulation. So the only way to be a big and universally natural, you need to eat only non-processed food, take noo supplement and train by doing gymnastics, push-ups, lift big stones and maybe the Conan wheel. Although the push-ups may be on the edge of natural though :wink:


Natural is using only supplements that naturally occur in the body. Therefore what could be more natural then a shot of test and some HGH. Everything else is AS and should be avoided so as to not get labeled a cheater.


I would agree with this definition! Brings up another issue though. I'd be willing to bet a lot of 'natural' body builders have used "Hormonal Manipulation" at one time or another to help them gain size. It could be years back, but they may never have reached the size they are without it. What do you guys think?


Natural is defined by whatever sanctioning body you are competing under.

The rules are not universal, hence neither can the definition be a one size fits all. In some arenas, taking an antihistimine will get you banned.

As for my personal definition - if it is legal it is natural. Especially in the anti-supplement environment we find ourselves currently.

It seems un-natural to ingest protein @ 2g/lbBW, but does that make it so?

Just my .02


I competed in a natural show before ph's were banned, but they were still not allowed and included in the lie detector test. Once ephedra was banned it was added to the list as well.


I used to compete in the WNBF(World Natural Bodybuilding Organization). Every contestant who entered was submitted to a polygraph and urinalysis and had to abide by IOC regulations. If it was on the IOC banned substance list then it was not allowed.


Hmm... Interesting points.

I kind of have a problem seeing people on all sorts of supplements being labled as natural. I think they have those kinds of contests to gain a little more "validity" with the regular crowd. I don't really care that they use them, I use them myself. It just seems paradoxical to be "natural" and be full of unnatural man-made chemicals(which i'm all for).

I think they should have a real natural division in which all supps are banned...but I guess that would be a VERY small contest.


Small competitiors too. hahahaha! Ok-maybe not. It's certainly possible to have a good physique with zero supplementation.


What's the difference in "manmade chemicals" that are found in supplements, and the multi-processed crap that passes for food these days? Must everything come straight from an animal in order to pass as natural? Should those that ingest plants, whether they are herbs or spices, be banned? Because you know - most of the supplements are herbs, and roots and such that have been processed to yield a concentrated version of a very naturally occuring substance.


For what it's worth, I know some people who think lifting weights is "unnatural and a sin against man and nature". Well, unnatural anyway. Apparently, we were meant to sit around on our asses all day and let grass grow between our toes.

I second the above comment: what's the difference between man-made superfoods and man-made shitty-edible-crap? They're both not natural, which these days seems to mean "found growing by the side of the road".

I think the specific definition is determined by the governing body of the competition you are competing in.

I propose two T-Nation definitions:

1 - Natural - "a person that doesn't use anything that we in T-Nation wouldn't recommend a teenager use".

2- Supernatural - the above with everything that Biotest make.


Oops! To clarify my second definition above - we wouldn't recommend Alpha Male, for example, to a teenager but it's a great supplement for those post-teens. Grow! does not unnatural make.