Natural Bodybuilding vs Steroid-Users : Pros & Cons


When it comes to the world of bodybuilding, the division between steroids and natural bodybuilders is well known. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more heated debate in the wide world of body building. Both sides claim that their methods are superior and get better results. It’s easy to find people who will swear on their own lives that one is better than the other. Naturally, with so much personal belief put into the matter, it can be hard for someone who’s not already in the bodybuilding world to find the facts underneath all the bragging and bold claims. But we’re here to help! So this article is going to explain in clear terms the big differences of natural bodybuilding vs steroid-users.

We should mention that anabolic steroids are illegal and that we don’t endorse them. However, anyone faced with a decision should have the right information to make it. We’re just here to give you the facts about natural bodybuilding vs steroid users.

Steroids or All Natural – What’s the Difference?

Before we go any further, we’re going to have lay out a few explanations about what we’re talking about. This article covers natural bodybuilding vs steroid-users. That means that we’re not talking about guys who do 45 minute sessions at the gym three times a week. We’re talking about guys who are serious about working out, keeping to a strict diet, and maintaining a serious work out routine.

So let’s get down to business.

Natural Bodybuilding

First off, let’s get down to what being a natural body builder, or being ‘natty’ actually means. A natural bodybuilder is anyone who chooses not to use any substance that doesn’t occur naturally. This means that they don’t use steroids, growth hormones, or anything else that might ‘boost’ the body past its natural abilities. These guys make their gains by simply lifting iron at the gym, diet control, maintaining a serious work ethic.

For those opposed to using steroids, there’s a whole slew of great supplements out there to help you make gains and put on muscle. Using supplements instead is a great way to prevent health risks, avoid the uglier side-effects of using steroids and feel like you made the gains yourself.

natural body building can still achieve amazing gains

Other than not using anabolic steroids or other performance enhancers, the exact definition of natural bodybuilders can be a bit fuzzy. Some don’t even use whey or other protein powders. Some natural bodybuilders can even take it a bit further and are fully vegan. It might be hard to believe, but there are actually quite a few vegan strongmen, the most famous being Kenneth Williams.

There are even competitions meant just for natural bodybuilders . These days, the number of competitions that are specifically meant for natural bodybuilders is on the rise. For these sort of competitions there is a long list of banned substances, which most often include

  • Anabolic Steroids
  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
  • Insulin
  • Diuretics

Steroid Users

Since we’ve talked all about natural steroid users, it’s time to give the other side a chance. Just like the die-hard natty body builders, there are loads of steroid users who swear up and down on the results they get from anabolic steroids. Some steroid users will talk about natural bodybuilders as people who have missed out on their full potential. They’ve simply accepted using anabolic steroids as part of the process.

There’s no debate, steroids help your body recover faster allowing you to make gains more quickly. The entire purpose of anabolic steroids is to quicken the muscle building process, which it does with great effect. There’s simply no comparison between how fast one can make gains on steroids to how fast they can doing a natty routine.

Gains between Natural Bodybuilding vs Steroid-Users?

So now we’ve arrived the question about gains and the bodybuilding method. A lot of steroid-users will say that getting truly impressive gains is impossible without some kind of performance enhancers. We want to tell you that that’s dead wrong. Someone who sticks to all natural workout routine can undoubtably make some seriously impressive gains. Getting truly swole and shredded without any extra help is no myth, it just takes the right level of dedication.

That’s good to know, but the main thing that people want to know is if they can achieve the same gains with natural bodybuilding as they can with the aid of anabolic steroids. The simple truth is that steroids allow the body to go beyond what it could ever do naturally. You can go pretty far on an all natty regimen, but you’ll almost certainly never reach the same level as someone using steroids. Anabolic steroids just give their uses too much of edge compared to someone without.

That being said, using steroids isn’t the silver bullet of bodybuilding either. No matter what path you choose, it requires a lot of blood, sweat and dedication to really achieve those higher level results we all aim for. At the end of the day, bodybuilding is about sculpting your body into the best instrument that it can be. That means hard work and real endurance, not a quick fix.

The Effects of Natural Bodybuilding vs Steroid-Users

Saying that anabolic steroids allow for more intense gains is only telling half the story though. Both regimes have different effects on the body inside and out. So we’re going to explain how different the effects from an all natural bodybuilding regime can be from one that incorporates anabolic steroids.

Outward Appearances from Steroids

We’ve all heard it at some point. A thick muscled guy with a wide chest walks by an someone says “Looks like he does steroids.” But what does it actually mean? Since steroids change the way that a person develops muscles, there are some outward differences between those who prefer natural bodybuilding vs steroid-users.

One of the most sure-fire ways to tell natural bodybuilders from steroid users is to look at their shoulders. Using steroids allows people to get their trapezius muscles much larger than you ever could naturally. As a result, steroid users almost always have bigger traps than you normally see on people. Often times there’ll be a bulge of muscle between the shoulder and the neck.

Effects on the shoulders of steroid users vs natural bodybuilders


For the same reasons, natural bodybuilders’ bodies often have different proportions to than those of steroid users. Using anabolic steroids encourages rapid muscle growth. This means that often their muscles will grow in a way that doesn’t match natural muscle growth. One sign of this is when muscles are uncannily symmetrical. Likewise, some people say that the muscles on steroid users look more three-dimensional or that they ‘pop’ more.

As we’ve  mentioned before on this blog, using anabolic steroids can affect a persons hair growth. This includes the production of body hair as well as head hair. Since testosterone can turn into dihydrotestosterone, the excess caused by steroid use can trigger or accelerated already existing hair loss.

Different Side-effects of Steroids

One of the biggest and most well known difference between natural bodybuilders and steroid-users are the side effects. Living the natty lifestyle only comes with only minor side-effects expected. On the other hand, anabolic steroids have quite a few more. You probably already know that using anabolic steroids comes with a lengthy list of undesirable side-effects. Being perfectly honest, a lot of the possible side-effects are pretty rough sounding. We’ve talked about them at length in our beginners’ guide to anabolic steroids, but here’s another quick overview the possible side effects that can come with using anabolic steroids. A longer list can be found here.

  • steroid triggered hair loss
  • excessive body hair
  • mood swings
  • gynecomastia
  • shrunken testicles
  • high blood pressure
  • changes in libido
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • acne
  • diminished liver function

steroid users often have a different look than from natural bodybuilding

Different growth cycles

Likewise, natural bodybuilding and using steroids comes with different effects on muscle gains. If you’re going natty then don’t expect your muscular gains to change much. No matter how much you hit the gym, there’s a limit to how much the human body can reasonably accomplish.

There’s also a big difference between the two as to when someone can build up muscle. The body doesn’t naturally let someone build new muscle while being fully ripped. In natural bodybuilding you need to put on mass in order to be able to gain new muscle. This is one of the reasons, guys who use steroids might look absolutely impeccable all year round.

Now that you know some of the outside differences, we should point out that it’s not always obvious as observer who’s using and who’s going natty. Some people might use steroids, but have no idea how to diet or work out properly, so they don’t really take on that  much muscle. Other times, you might see someone who looks absolutely massive and perpetually ripped but has never even used whey protein. Some guys just have the right genes and more importantly the right dedication to look super fit all the damn time.

Natural or With Steroids – It all Starts with You

No matter what path you choose to take – remember that you only get out of bodybuilding what you put into it. You’re not going to make any sort of progress by doing nothing. Only by maintaining a strict diet and training your ass off are you ever going to push your body to higher level of performance.  The whole natural bodybuilding vs steroid-users debate doesn’t mean a thing if you’re not giving it your all. So now that you know the big differences between natural bodybuilding and steroid-users, you can make the choice for yourself about how you want to make your gains.

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