What Does Natty Mean in Bodybuilding?

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Every bodybuilder’s story is different. Some gain muscle fast, while others hasten the process, so they do more than lift weights and watch their diet. This difference in tactics defines the type of bodybuilder you are.

So, what does natty mean in bodybuilding?

In the natural bodybuilding world, the term natty describes individuals who pursue muscle and strength gains without relying on performance-enhancing drugs like human growth hormone (HGH).

Natty bodybuilders, or “natties,” rely solely on their genetics, training methods, nutrition, and recovery.  In this comprehensive article, we delve into the natural bodybuilding world.

What is Natural Bodybuilding?

A natty bodybuilder focuses on developing a well-sculpted and muscular physique through dedicated training, proper nutrition, and sufficient rest. The intensity and type of lifting routine depends on a person’s fitness level, the goal, and the trainer. Here’s an overview of the aspects of natural bodybuilding.


Progressive Resistance Training

The foundation of a natural bodybuilder lies in weightlifting and resistance training. The focus is gradually increasing the weight or resistance in exercises to challenge and stimulate muscle increase. It prioritizes compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and overhead presses to target multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

Split Routines

Natural lifters follow split routines. These involve dividing the training sessions into specific muscle groups. For example, they may work on the chest and triceps one day, back and biceps another day, legs on another, and shoulders another day.

Frequency and Rest

Good rest and recovery can improve muscle development. Natural lifters typically allow each muscle group to recover for 48-72 hours before training it again. That way, the muscles repair and grow effectively.



A natural bodybuilder pays close attention to healthy eating. For instance, the macronutrient intake includes proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Proteins are essential for muscle repair and growth, and bodybuilders aim to consume high-quality sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, and plant-based protein options.

Carbohydrates provide energy for intense workouts and overall activity, while fats are crucial for hormone production and overall health.

Caloric Surplus and Deficit

Depending on the goal, a natural bodybuilder may follow a bulking phase (caloric surplus) to gain muscle or a cutting phase (caloric deficit) to reduce body fat and showcase the muscle definition built during bulking. The caloric intake is adjusted accordingly during each training phase.

Nutrient Timing

Bodybuilders often emphasize nutrient timing to optimize muscle recovery and growth. They may consume protein-rich meals before and after workouts to provide essential amino acids when muscles need them the most.


Staying well-hydrated helps overall health and performance. Bodybuilders ensure they drink enough water throughout the day to support their intense training sessions.

Although a natural bodybuilder relies primarily on whole foods for nutrition, one may use supplements to support diet and training. These supplements include whey protein, creatine, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and vitamins/minerals to fill potential nutrient gaps.

Benefits of Natural Bodybuilding

Natural bodybuilding requires dedication, consistency, and patience. As such, it takes time to build well-developed physiques naturally, and progress may not always be linear. Hence, a natural bodybuilder stays committed to the training and diet plan and understands results come gradually. 

A natty bodybuilder also consults a qualified fitness professional or nutritionist before starting any bodybuilding regimen, as individual needs and goals may vary.

You can be successful as a bodybuilder without depending on performance enhancers. Here are some of the gains for natty bodybuilders.


One of the primary advantages of natural bodybuilding is that it promotes overall well-being. By avoiding steroids, individuals reduce the risk of potential side effects and long-term complications associated with these substances.


Natural bodybuilding emphasizes hard work, dedication, and discipline. Hence, natty bodybuilders take pride in their accomplishments, knowing their progress results from their efforts and commitment.

Sustainable Progress

Natural lifters build their physiques naturally over time. It promotes more sustainable long-term progress. This approach helps to avoid the risk of drastic muscle loss that can occur when coming off a steroid cycle.

Fair Competition

In natural bodybuilding competitions, participants compete on a level playing field without the influence of performance-enhancing drugs. It fosters fair and genuine competition, where success depends on dedication, training, and genetics.

Cons of Natural Bodybuilding

Although a natty bodybuilder has so much to gain from following natural progress, a few factors are demotivating, such as the following.

Slower Progress

One of the main drawbacks of natural bodybuilding is that progress can be slower than using anabolic steroids. Hence, individuals seeking rapid results may become discouraged by the time it takes to achieve their desired physique.

Genetic Limitations

While a natural bodybuilder can achieve impressive results, a person may have genetic limitations that prevent them from reaching the same mass as those using steroids. Some lifters turn to drug enhancers after years of training naturally and getting unsatisfactory results.

Competitive Disadvantage

A natural lifter may face disadvantages due to muscle size and definition compared to an enhanced counterpart in non-natural bodybuilding competitions. It can impact their chances of winning top positions in competitions. 

On top of that, it can discourage a natural lifter from participating when most of the competitors are out to display how drug enhancers have built their muscles better.

How Do You Tell Someone is Natty?

Bodybuilding is a popular pursuit for many individuals aiming to transform their physiques and enhance their overall health and fitness. The concept revolves around building muscle and strength through exercise and nutrition. However, the methods employed to achieve these goals can differ significantly. 

One of the most debated topics in the bodybuilding community is steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. 

Identifying whether someone is a natural bodybuilder is complex and often speculative. Certain factors might raise suspicions but are not definitive proof of steroid use. Key indicators include the following.

Progression Over Time

A natural lifter typically shows gradual progress in muscle development and strength gains over years of consistent training. In contrast, steroid users may experience rapid and dramatic transformations in a short period, with significant mass gains in a matter of weeks.

Muscle Mass and Size

While natural bodybuilders can achieve impressive mass, steroid users often exhibit large muscles beyond what can be genetically attainable naturally. The rapid and exaggerated growth might be a sign a bodybuilder is using muscle-enhancing drugs.

Muscle Symmetry

Natural bodybuilders tend to have more balanced and symmetrical muscle development due to consistent and well-rounded training. On the other hand, steroid users may exhibit uneven growth patterns as some muscles are targeted more than others.

Fat Percentage

Natural bodybuilders typically maintain sustainable body fat levels, especially during bulking phases. In contrast, steroid users may have low fat percentages even during muscle gain.


Steroid use can increase vascularity, making veins more prominent and visible throughout.

Strength Levels

While natural bodybuilders can achieve impressive strength gains, steroid users might experience rapid and substantial increases in strength beyond natural potential.

What is Bodybuilding Using Steroids?

Bodybuilding using steroids refers to using anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) or other performance-enhancing drugs to accelerate muscle growth, increase strength, and improve physical performance beyond what is achievable naturally. 

These steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone, and they work by 

increasing protein synthesis in cells, leading to enhanced muscle hypertrophy (growth) and decreased recovery time.

Steroids can lead to adverse effects. If you only hear about these substances and don’t know what they are and how they work, here’s information about some common steroids historically misused in bodybuilding. 


You probably know or have heard of this male sex hormone. Well, it’s a natural anabolic steroid. Bodybuilders may use exogenous (synthetic) testosterone to increase muscle strength and performance. Testosterone can be administered through injections or as transdermal patches and gels.

Nandrolone (Deca-Durabolin)

Nandrolone promotes muscle growth and enhances recovery. It is available in injectable form and is popular because it improves joints and alleviates pain.

Dianabol (Methandrostenolone)

Dianabol is an oral steroid known for its rapid muscle-building effects. It increases protein synthesis, glycogenolysis, and nitrogen retention, leading to significant muscle gains. However, it is highly hepatotoxic and can cause liver damage.


Trenbolone is a potent androgenic steroid that can increase mass and strength while reducing fat percentage. Lifters use it in many forms, including injectables.

Anavar (Oxandrolone)

Anavar is a mild oral steroid often used by male and female bodybuilders. It can promote lean muscle gains and is considered one of the safer steroids because of its less severe androgenic side effects.

Winstrol (Stanozolol)

Winstrol is commonly used during cutting phases to preserve lean muscle mass while reducing fat. Users get it in oral and injectable form.


While not technically a steroid, lifters also use Clenbuterol for its thermogenic properties, promoting fat loss and increasing energy and stamina. However, it can have adverse cardiovascular effects.

It’s important to reiterate that anabolic steroids have risks and side effects, including liver damage, cardiovascular issues, hormonal imbalances, and psychological effects. These substances shouldn’t be used casually or without medical supervision.

Hence, the natural way, which focuses on proper training, nutrition, and recovery, is a safer and more sustainable approach to building a well-developed physique. Always prioritize your well-being above any shortcuts to achieving fitness goals.

Steroid Misuse Side Effects

When bodybuilders use steroids, they can experience several effects, including the following.

Hormonal Imbalances

Steroids disrupt the body’s natural hormone production, leading to imbalances and potential long-term effects on the endocrine system.

Cardiovascular Issues

Steroids can negatively affect cholesterol levels, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems.

Liver Damage

Oral steroids may cause liver damage. Oral steroids, such as methandrostenolone (Dianabol) or oxandrolone (Anavar), are alkylated (modified) to survive the first pass through the liver. This chemical modification allows the steroids to be orally active but makes them more resistant to breakdown by liver enzymes.

Aggression and Mood Swings

Steroid use may cause mood swings, aggressive behavior, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Physical Side Effects

Steroid use can lead to acne, hair loss, and gynecomastia (enlargement of male breast tissue).

Legal Consequences

In some places, it’s illegal to use them unless you have a prescription. Further, you may miss out on competitions created for natty lifters if you test positive for steroids and other enhancers.


Some individuals may become psychologically dependent on steroids, leading to potential substance abuse issues.

Due to these serious risks and side effects, bodybuilding using steroids is discouraged, and most reputable fitness organizations, competitions, and sports ban their use. 

The natural way is a safer and more sustainable approach to achieving a well-developed and muscular physique without the risks associated with steroid use. Always prioritize your well-being when pursuing any fitness goals.


Bodybuilding encompasses various approaches, from natural lifting relying on genetics and hard work to steroids to accelerate muscle growth and performance. Each path comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and it is essential for individuals to carefully consider their goals, values, and the potential risks involved before making a decision. 

Whether pursuing natural muscle building or exploring the use of steroids, individuals should prioritize their well-being above all else, as building a foundation of fitness and sustainable progress is the key to long-term success in bodybuilding.


What does it mean to go natty?

It means muscle growth and strength gains without using performance-enhancing substances such as anabolic steroids or other synthetic drugs. Some lifters may be using performance enhancers, so when they decide to go natural, they’re going natty.

Is Natty better than on roids?

Whether natty bodybuilding is better than steroids depends on individual goals and values. Natural lifting emphasizes well-being, integrity, and long-term sustainable progress, while using steroids can lead to rapid muscle growth but may come with potential health risks and ethical considerations.

Is it possible to tell if someone is natty or not?

Determining if someone is natty or not is challenging as some individuals may have exceptional genetics or natural potential for muscle development. However, signs like extreme muscle mass gains, rapid changes in physique, and low body fat percentages may raise suspicions of potential steroid use.

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