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Natural Bodybuilder vs Unnatural -
When it Comes To Training and Diet,
What's The Difference?

by Psymon H.

Natural Bodybuilder vs UnnaturalNatural Bodybuilder vs Unnatural - When it Comes To Training and Diet, What's The Difference?

Introduction:

If you're a natural lifter, it's crucial to understand the difference between the Natural Bodybuilder vs Unnatural. From diet to training and all the bits in between, there are some distinctions between being natural and being enhanced.

Back in the early days before science research was readily available as it is today, many thought the two processes of natural bodybuilding and building muscle with the use of performance-enhancing drugs were the same. Through research, we now know that the two methods take very different paths. If you train naturally, understanding what makes the two methods different will mean that you will be able to train at your most optimum, and build muscle mass while keeping your body fat percentage under control.

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Who am I?

natural bodybuilder vs unnatural

I’m Psymon H, and I’ve been a natural bodybuilder for over 40 years. In this article, I will explain the difference between natural vs. unnatural bodybuilding.

Natural Bodybuilder vs Unnatural - Natty Facts

From the outset, I need to clarify what I mean when I refer to enhanced or the use of performance-enhancing drugs. I'm referring to the use of Anabolic Steroids, SARMS, and Peptides and the use of banned substances such as human growth hormone. Now we understand the definition of building muscle enhanced, let's get into why training naturally differs from training enhanced.

It was once believed in the world of bodybuilding (and still is in certain quarters) that natural and enhanced lifters could utilize the same workout program and gleam the same results, with the only difference being the guy using performance-enhancing drugs would see more significant gains due to the anabolic steroid he was on.

This has since proven not to be the case because what is optimal for natural bodybuilders will still work for enhanced athletes, but the opposite isn't necessarily true for the natural bodybuilder. Let me explain.

Natural Bodybuilder vs Unnatural and Protein Synthesis:

Due to philological chances, the enhanced trainee walks around in an anabolic state 24 hours a day, meaning his Protein Synthesis, which is the process of building muscle, is always "on," making him primed and ready to build muscle. His workout goal is to create a pump by forcing as many nutrients into the muscle as possible while keeping amino acid levels high when he trains.

The natural bodybuilder's body is only interested in balance, and harmony. Building muscle does not provide balance and harmony.  Unlike the enhanced lifter who's anabolic most of the time, the natural bodybuilder's muscle-building opportunities are only enhanced inside the gym because they only have the workout itself to stimulate and build muscle.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Cortisol

Natural Bodybuilder vs Unnatural and Protein Synthesis

The natural bodybuilder must train hard enough to maximize muscle fiber recruitment and fatigue to prompt growth without getting severely chronically elevated Cortisol levels, which could impede Protein Synthesis. Building muscle is a stress on the body. Cortisol naturally rises with stress, and when this hormone gets too high for too long, it can hurt the natural bodybuilder's attempt to build muscle. On the other hand, the enhanced lifter doesn't have this problem due to the drugs inhibiting Cortisol at the cellular level.

When a natural lifter works out, he can mobilize fuel through muscle glycogen or energy stored in his fat cells. The more fuel mobilized the higher Cortisol rises. When this happens, there's an increase in the gene expression Myostatin. This negative regulator of muscle growth instructs cells to shrink and negatively affects muscle growth.

Natural bodybuilders need to minimize creating excess amounts of Cortisol if they want to grow. One way to do this is by ingesting small amounts of fast-absorbing carbs before and/or during workouts. This will go a long way to preventing excessive cortisol output.

Other strategies include using vitamin C pre-workout or a couple of hours post-workout (around 2000mg). 5-20g of the amino acid glycine post-workout and 500mg of magnesium post-workout can also help.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Volume and Frequency:

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Volume and Frequency

While volume is a crucial driver of hypertrophy, volume during a workout should be controlled, since too much volume can raise Cortisol to the point it hampers protein synthesis.

When you understand this, you can look at the Bro Split approach to training a muscle group once per week with high volume, and be led to think that this practice wouldn't be the most optimum way to train for the natural lifter.

Imagine the natural bodybuilder undergoing his weekly high volume Chest and Back workout, and let's say it takes four days to recover. The Bro Split means his Chest and Back have to wait until the following week to trigger another bout of Protein Synthesis.

This is a lot of muscle growing potential missed out on. When he throws Cortisol into the mix, it's possible this high volume once per week approach could be compromising his ability to build muscle. 

The natty bodybuilder needs lower volume per workout per muscle group and more frequency per muscle group per week to create the most optimal muscle-building environment. The enhanced trainee can get away with less frequency and volume because he's anabolic twenty-four-seven. He or she can also profit from doing more volume and frequency. This is why it's not a good idea for the natural bodybuilder to blindly follow the same program as an enhanced lifter, however suitable they tout a program to be.

If you're an advanced natural lifter, frequency per muscle group can play an even more prominent role as protein synthesis shortens the more advanced you are in training years. If you are utilizing a fully optimized eating and training program as a novice natty lifter, you are the closest you'll ever be to an enhanced lifter when it comes to how long protein synthesis lasts after a workout and the rate of muscle that can be built in the shortest amount of time. As you advance, muscle gains become smaller and harder to achieve.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Reps in Reserve:

With reps in reserve or how many repetitions you leave in the tank, the enhanced lifter does very well in the five or six reps in reserve range; but the natural trainee will see better gains with four or fewer reps in reserve.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - 1RM 

The enhanced lifter does very well with weights as low as 20% of 1RM and as high as 80% of 1RM. Natty bodybuilders do better with weights as low as 30% and as high as 85% of 1RM.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural -Diet

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural -Diet

With diet, enhanced athletes have the luxury of going hard at both ends of the scale when it comes to stripping off body fat and putting muscle on. A different approach has to be made with the natural athlete because super extreme bulks and cuts can have detrimental effects on the result.

As a natural bodybuilder trying to lose body fat, a good calorie starting point would be 11 calories per pound of bodyweight. If you are 185 pounds, you would start with a 2035 daily calorie intake.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Protein

Protein is the most critical nutrient for lean mass retention when trying to lower body fat percentage. The ideal amount to increase muscle protein synthesis is around 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. This would mean that in a calorie deficit, you would lose fat while maintaining maximum lean body mass. 

A minimum of 1g per pound of bodyweight would also decrease muscle breakdown, lower cortisol production and help maintain a stable blood sugar level.

When you are enhanced, anabolic steroids and other drugs will increase the protein synthesis process by large amounts, meaning that you can and should eat more protein to build muscle faster.

Protein and overall energy are needed in bigger amounts when you're enhanced, simply because calorie and protein intake closely relate to muscle growth. The higher the number of steroids and growth hormone used, the higher the food intake.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Carbs Fats & Calories

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Carbs 

As a natural bodybuilder, it's hard to build muscle with low levels of carbohydrates. Insulin production and carbs lead to an increase in mTOR.

When natural bodybuilders are on low-carb diets, it can lead to lower levels of systemic IGF-1. To produce large amounts of IGF-1, both growth hormone and insulin are needed.

Carbs should make up about 35 to 60% of a natural bodybuilder's diet, but this is dependent on insulin sensitivity. 

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Fats

When calculating fats, shoot for between 0.4 - 0.5 grams per pound. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the "good" fats should be in a natural bodybuilder’s diet to help increase levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. HDL leads to increased production of growth hormone, which in turn triggers more amino acids.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Fat Loss

As a natural bodybuilder trying to lose body fat, a good calorie starting point would be 11 calories per pound of bodyweight. If you are 185 pounds, you would start with a 2035 daily calorie intake.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Lean Mass

 Likewise, when it comes to building muscle, 16 calories per pound of weight would be a decent area to make the best gains without gaining too much-unwanted weight. This would mean that at 185 pounds, you would need about 2960 calories per day.

Of course, these numbers are subject to change depending on how active a person is. For example, if you work on a building site, you may need to consume more calories.

Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural - Calories

When you're natural, you need a surplus of calories to increase muscle growth. You can't and shouldn't force-feed yourself because you are limited to how much muscle you can grow by your natural physiology. This is why the "bulk" approach doesn't usually work for the natural lifter.

Now you understand the difference between the Natural Bodybuilder vs. Unnatural lifter and all the significant differences, you'll be able to make more intelligent and more effective moves toward your physique goals.

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