It is very sad that for this inherently beautiful sport we are forced to use such a term as “natural bodybuilding.” Nevertheless, let’s face reality and acknowledge the fact of anabolic steroid use among pros and amateur bodybuilders alike.
An athlete who trains without steroids and strives to gain muscle mass while burning subcutaneous fat, as a rule, applies a combination of grueling workouts, proper diet, sports supplements and additional cardio loads to the main exercises in the gym. And a number of hormonal drugs, such as testosterone , anabolic steroids, growth hormone , insulin and IGF-1 , allow you to gain muscle mass. Almost instantly without special training and dietary tweaks and therefore are so popular in the bodybuilding environment.
The effect of the use of drugs by modern developers is sometimes really amazing.
Obviously, over the past 50 years, pros at all levels have consistently used steroids to prepare for their performances. According to some estimates, up to 99% of competitors have used a course of steroids at least once in their life during the last weeks of preparation for performances. The remaining 1% is easy to identify – these bodybuilders always rank last in competitions and performances. But, despite this sad truth of life, there are still many fans of the so-called natural bodybuilding in the world, when athletes, in principle, do not use any prohibited drugs in their training sessions.
It should be noted that almost all successful “before and after” stories with rapid progress. Which are abundantly laid out on social networks, are associated with the use of pharmacology. In fact, all well-known bloggers and trainers use pharmacology. But only a few admit this. Most natural bodybuilding “apologists” also hide the fact of the use of pharmacology. For the purpose of self-promotion and promotion of their methods, programs and resources. In confirmation, you can evaluate the world famous athletes of the past – the founder of bodybuilding Charles Atlas and the strongman Georg Gackenschmidt. These are the representatives of bodybuilding at a time when anabolic drugs were not yet available. And the results presented were achieved through systematic strength training.
Is there any?
The term “natural bodybuilding” first came into use in the early 1990s. Its main goal was to give up doping and steroids and to inspire the training athletes to improve their physical condition. It is not necessary to become like the participants of the “Mr. Olympia” tournament and have a mountain of muscles. It is much more important to have good health and a beautiful athletic physique. Built without the use of forbidden “chemistry”.
For the development of this popular trend, magazines began to be published, where photos from the performances of the so-called natural, natural bodybuilders were published.
Today, in order to exclude such cases at such competitions, athletes pass two tests: 1) on a polygraph (lie detector); 2) the traditional steroid test.
Interestingly, athletes who have previously used steroids can also compete in these competitions, but with one fundamental condition: the last period for taking steroids must be at least 7 years ago.
Please note that this is only a minimal list of prohibited “chemistry”, which contains mainly those drugs that are most often used by athletes. There are many other products on the sports federation’s anti-doping list that can significantly add to this list.
This list does not include some drugs that are intended to treat therapeutically diseases such as allergies, asthma, and inflammation. Moreover, these drugs should not have a pronounced anabolic effect.
Nicotine , alcohol and caffeine are also not prohibited, as they can be found naturally in food and are used quite often in the daily life of most people.
Protein , amino acids , glucose, vitamins , minerals and creatine can be ingested by natural people because they are naturally present in common foods that are part of a normal, healthy daily diet. They are also not banned by any anti-doping organization .
Also, natural bodybuilders are allowed to use some pharmacological preparations and herbal adaptogens, which increase endurance, strength, activity and are not prohibited from use by anti-doping commissions.
Natural bodybuilding should be based primarily on a healthy lifestyle and diligent, optimally selected training. At the same time, it is very important to adhere to a healthy diet, and, if necessary, include additional sports nutrition products and permitted pharmacology.
Of course, it is not always easy to become a “natural bodybuilder” and everything is not as glamorous as it might seem at first glance. Often, many are disappointed not seeing the immediate effect, and you must know what you will have to face and deal with.
In order to increase muscle size and expression (by decreasing fluid levels in the extracellular space), in the last days and hours before competition, many bodybuilders use certain regimens. It is including taking electrolyte and carbohydrate solutions. The effect of dehydration and electrolyte manipulation on the appearance of bodybuilders is currently not seriously studied. But at the same time it can be a very dangerous practice. In addition, general dehydration can negatively affect the athlete’s appearance. Since extracellular fluid is present not only in the subcutaneous layer. A significant amount is found in the vascular system. Thus, dehydration and imbalance of electrolytes can negate the effect of pre-competition “pumping” (lifting small weights just before going on stage in order to emphasize muscle definition).
In the last days before a competition, many bodybuilders practice carbohydrate loading in order to increase muscle glycogen levels and increase muscle size. In the only study on this topic, there was no significant change in the coverage of various muscles. However, in this study, diets were used with the same calorie content. The differences were only in the percentage of carbohydrates. In case the total calories were also increased. This would increase glycogen levels to a greater extent. And it will possibly lead to different results.
It should also be borne in mind that performance in bodybuilding is subjective, so that measuring muscle coverage alone cannot capture all the subtle nuances that can matter in terms of competition success. Many bodybuilders optimize carbohydrate loading based on changes in muscle appearance. In general, a static analysis of a carbohydrate load in a laboratory setting may not reflect many of the dynamic nuances of this process in real life.
In one observational study, on the last day before a competition, bodybuilders experienced an average 4.9% increase in biceps thickness . Overall, it remains unclear if this was caused by an increase in muscle glycogen levels. It can only be assumed that this is definitely not related to the increase in lean muscle mass. In general, this issue requires additional research.
To date, there is no evidence to support the effectiveness of dehydration and electrolyte manipulation in the context of competition for bodybuilders. At the same time, it can be confidently asserted that such practices are hazardous to health. The effect of pre-competition carbohydrate loading on bodybuilders’ appearance has not been confirmed at this time either. At the same time, a number of researchers recommend taking an increased amount of carbohydrates in the last weeks of preparation for a competition.