What Is Natural Bodybuilding
What exactly is natural bodybuilding? If you check out the forums and the message sites online there seems to be a difference of opinion, and in some cases there is some quite heated debate. Put simply however, natural bodybuilding is the practice of bodybuilding without the use of performance enhancing or illegal substances. While both natural and enhanced bodybuilders are all seeking the same end goal of building the perfect physique, how they go about it, and the effects both physically and mentally that has on them are worlds apart.
Natural bodybuilding, and in fact bodybuilding in general, has to be one of the most widely misunderstood physical activities ever. There are so many myths and misconceptions that need to be addressed that it’s difficult to know exactly where to start. We have to deal with the cynics who just ignorantly claim that all bodybuilders are just drug addled narcissists, right down to the deluded young boys who believe that taking out a gym membership and pushing out two sets of incline bench press is enough to turn them into Gods.
A huge muscular physique needs to be built over time , it doesn’t just happen overnight. There are very few guys out there who are built that way naturally so you will need to work, and work damn hard, to reach your goal.
It is wise to remember that natural bodybuilding is a scientific process. You will need to educate yourself on a number of matters. For example, what is your body type? Do you understand your metabolism, your anatomy and your own personal physiology? Have you taken the time to understand how muscle is actually built, how the muscle fibres are broken down and then replenished? Sure natural bodybuilding is a hugely physical undertaking but it would be ridiculously naïve to overlook the importance of education and knowledge when it comes to developing the perfect physique. It should come as no surprise whatsoever to learn that nearly every single successful natural bodybuilder is also highly intelligent. The myth of the meathead bodybuilder is exactly that, a myth!
Now I am not here to judge anyone so I am just going to concentrate on the positive aspects of bodybuilding the natural way. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the sense of achievement that arises from knowing you, and only you have built your body is immense. The rise in self-esteem is tangible and the feelings of self-confidence and self worth are unmatched. There is a great deal of truth in the old maxim that your achievements mean so much more when you have worked hard for them. If you choose to go down the route of taking performance enhancing or illegal substances, and it is a choice, nobody will have forced you to down those steroids. There will always be a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you have cheated. Is it worth it?
When it comes to natural bodybuilding, as with any form of endeavour in fact, it will be impossible to achieve your ultimate goal without the right mindset. You simply must have a specific goal in mind and have formulated a plan to reach them. You have to believe in order to achieve. It is no coincidence that the people who have achieved greatness, in whatever field that may be, have all had specific goals to work to. Let me tell you right now, if you think that simply by taking out a gym membership and turning up two or three times a week for a gentle jog and a few bicep curls, you are going to end up looking like Arnold, then you are very sadly mistaken. Have a plan and stick to it rigidly.
This positive mindset will serve you well when it comes to the most important part of your training. The final rep. You might be doing your last set of incline bench and you are cruising towards the last rep when suddenly you hit the wall, every part of you is screaming out to stop and give up. What do you do? If you stop then you may as well forget about building the perfect body, but if you give that final rep everything you have got then results will follow. Even if your form and technique are all over the place and you are nowhere near completing the rep, the mere fact that you gave that last bit of effort will have stimulated the muscle fibres into action and your body will start the muscle building process. You just have to try to push out that last rep or all your other good work will have been in vain.
With that in mind you should never forget the importance of a good recovery program. The vast majority of your gains through natural bodybuilding will occur when you are nowhere near the gym. My advice would be to avoid working the same muscle group more than once a week. The real secret to achieving huge gains is to really focus on the intensity of the exercise, and then allow plenty of time to recover to let the body recuperate. A recent study stated that high intensity strength trained muscles need more time than previously thought to recover and become stronger. In fact some studies show that muscles are still overcompensating and getting stronger for up to 21 days after the previous workout. Don’t be shy about taking time out to recuperate. It will be worth it in the long term.
The bottom line however, is that by keeping it natural and doing the right things for long enough you will achieve fantastic results. Stay training hard and focusing on your goals, eat the right foods and take the right natural supplements and that perfect physique will be yours for the taking. Now that we have established exactly what constitutes natural bodybuilding let’s take a look at some of the benefits.
The Benefits Of Natural Bodybuilding:
The benefits of natural bodybuilding would appear to be wide and varied, but as much as we are all different as human beings, so we are as bodybuilders. Our backgrounds, our current status in life and our genetic code all have a huge part to play. We all have our individual goals and motivators for why we train so hard and it would be wise not to judge another for their choices.
From a personal standpoint I am a huge advocate of staying natural, not just for the obvious health reasons, more of which we will discuss shortly, or indeed from a moral or ethical point of view. No, my motivation for staying natural comes from within.
I constantly strive to be the best I can be, both physically and mentally, and my ultimate goal is to realize my true potential, to push myself to the very boundaries of my physical abilities. I know I can only truly appreciate my efforts if I know I have done it by myself, without any form of outside assistance. The bottom line is that I have to know it was down to me and not the drugs! Only then can I achieve total satisfaction in reaching and exceeding my goals.
Never underestimate the importance of the role psychology has to play when it comes to perfecting your physique the natural way. The joy you experience when you add an inch to your arms or break a weight barrier is 100% genuine because you earned it. You worked your butt off for it and you did it for you!
I am not going to judge any assisted trainers too harshly, as I said everybody is different and we all have our own reasons for doing what we do. However, I know that I have to feel as if I have earned it and this provides me with an enormous feeling of satisfaction. The body I have built is all my own work, and nobody can deny me that.
The satisfaction gained at achieving your goals naturally is one obvious benefit, however, we should look at the physical benefits of natural bodybuilding in more detail. As we are all too painfully aware steroid abuse is rife in the bodybuilding world, primarily as a way of taking a shortcut to a great physique. The problem here is however, that there are a number of misconceptions regarding illegal substances.
The fact is that just simply using steroids does nothing to guarantee building a great physique. There is no pill on earth that you can pop that will reduce your body fat by 10% and increase your muscle mass overnight. The mainstay of your bodybuilding program will always be a well devised training plan and a rigid diet. If your training and nutrition are right on the money, then you will achieve a fantastically defined and much bigger physique and you will also have the added benefit of staying within the law!
As well as the possible legal ramifications there are also some considerable physical side effects of steroid abuse that should be taken into account. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but should certainly provide some food for thought.
High blood pressure and heart disease
Liver damage and cancers
Stroke and blood clots
Urinary and bowel problems, such as diarrohea
Headaches, aching joints, and muscle cramps
Nausea and vomiting
Increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries
Severe acne, especially on face and back
Testicular Shrinkage (Ouch!)
However, as scary as the list above might be I believe the most startling problems associated with the use of steroids are the psychological problems that are created. Steroid use can cause paranoia, seeing things that don’t exist, severe mood swings, anger, and depression. Of course these are only in extreme circumstances but it is a slippery slope and one that should be avoided if at all possible.
Supplements have their place in a good bodybuilding regimen. They should however, be natural supplements so try to make yourself familiar with these. Building a huge physique will require quite a significant increase in your intake of a number of minerals, nutrients and multivitamins, and while you can theoretically get everything you need from your regular diet, it can be difficult to get the correct levels of proteins and carbohydrates so supplements can be an essential tool in your training programme towards your ultimate goal.
The benefits of natural bodybuilding are there for all to see. The natural way of building your physique will not only give you the body you deserve but also heighten your self-esteem, strengthen your character and provide you with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction.
I am sure that if you are an experienced lifter then you will have already have a workout plan in place. However, when you are starting out it is important that your program is well thought out and 100% suitable for you, your metabolism and body type.
A Natural Bodybuilding workout should be a well-rounded program that provides an adequate amount of resistance to all areas of the body and all muscle groups. It should contain a variety of exercises including weight training and a cardiovascular rotation as well. If you are wondering about different types of body building workouts, there is no one magic formula for everyone.
When you are trying to devise a good Natural Bodybuilding workout, you need to consider the current state of your health. Your current health issues, if indeed you have any, can play a massive part in your recoverability, susceptibility to injury, and your physical limitations. If you are embarking on a natuarl bodybuilding program to get fit, you will probably have to start slow and work your way up.
Something to bear in mind would be to establish early on exactly what you are trying to achieve from your body building workout. Do you want to increase body mass, lose weight, or just become stronger? Whatever goal you have will certainly dictate what type of workout will work best for you.
You must have a basic knowledge of human anatomy and what muscles are located where on your body. When you know where your muscles are, you’ll be better equipped to work them to their maximum capacity. You can concentrate on the specific muscle groups and use the weights to tone and sculpt those muscles.
There is just no way around it your diet will ultimately determine just how successful you will be. You could spend all day at the gym working your butt off but if you leave and go straight to Mcdonalds for a dozen happy meals and a Mcflurry then you may as well forget about your muscular physique. You have to increase your caloric intake to encourage the required weight gain and that diet will have to focus on high fibre, low fat and seriously protein rich foods. The right diet is a subject that could, and indeed has, filled many volumes and all the information you could ever need is out there for you. There is therefore no excuse, as you are responsible for what you put in your mouth and nobody else. Remember, if you eat crap, you will look like crap! Simple as that, and it’s 100% non negotiable.
An effective body building workout will be four days long to begin with. A good idea is to workout on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday with your rest day on Wednesday and the weekend. Here is a good, basic body building workout that will focus on each part of the body, but not all at the same time:
* Day 1: Deltoids, Triceps
* Day 2: Back, Traps
* Day 3: OFF
* Day 4: Legs, Forearms
* Day 5: Chest, Biceps
* Day 6: OFF
* Day 7: OFF
Working out in this way will work each body group on one day only which will allow for maximum recovery time as well as maximum growth potential. You need recovery time due to the intensity of a strong body building workout to allow your muscles to heal in between workout sessions. This is very important in any body building program.
Keep a log of the exercises you are performing and note your progress regularly. By doing this, you’ll know where you stand as far as your strength potential, and you can make changes as needed to realize your personal goal.
Body building workouts vary from person to person, but they all contain basic components that can help all body builders grow their muscles and tone their bodies. When putting together your natural body building workout, keep your personal goals in mind and then go for it!
The workout mentioned above is just one of a myriad of potential workout plans that could provide you with great results. However, only you can determine exactly what your training goals are. For example, are you simply looking to increase your strength levels. If so then a simple strength training program would be more beneficial to you. Most strength training programs are built around the following heavy compound exercises and are very similar in nature. These lifts are all variations of the 7 primary natural movements.
Squat and front squat.
Bench press and close grip bench press.
Military press and push press.
Deadlift and Romanian deadlift.
Barbell and dumbbell rows.
Power cleans and Olympic lift variations.
However, it should also be noted that these exercises should play an integral role in the development of your natural bodybuilding workout as they are proven to be the greatest mass builders in the history of physical exercise! Throughout this site you will find related articles on these subjects, be sure to check them out.
Natural Bodybuilding Essentials:
There can be absolutely no doubt that building your perfect body takes time and effort, and will require 100% commitment from you. A great natural physique is a wonderful goal that will not only develop your physical self but will also have a tremendously positive impact on your emotional well being as well. More self-esteem, more confidence and a greater sense of self worth are just some of the many benefits if building your perfect physique the natural way. So how do we go about it? Well, here are a few basic fundamentals to set you on your way.
1: Eat Right:
Try to remember that the vast majority of your gains will take place away from the gym, they will take place during your rest and recovery periods and during your time spent in the kitchen. You will need to significantly increase your caloric intake in order to build the sort of lean muscle mass you need. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting for one minute that you gorge on fried chicken and cream cakes just to up your calorie intake. You need to take on board the right type of calories. Focus on high quality proteins in the form of lean red meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Also try to take on board as much high fibre, low glycemic carbohydrates as you can. For example, oatmeal, brown rice etc.
If you are serious about your natural bodybuilding plan then it would be wise to consider incorporating some raw foods into your diet. I am aware that this philosophy has it’s detractors with some people believing that you simply won’t get enough energy in to sustain a long term strength building plan. I however, tend to look at nature itself. The gorilla eats nothing but a raw plant diet and I wouldn’t want to cross one of them!
As well as forming a vital component in your natural bodybuilding plan there is more good news. A recent FDA study revealed that increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables significantly reduces the risk of contracting type II diabetes. This is, of course, positive news, however, if you are serious about building muscle and maintaining a great physique then you should already be incorporating plenty of vegetables into your diet.
To be honest, the best option is to stick to the basics and keep things simple. Try to eat as much natural produce as you can and make yourself familiar with your local health food store. Keeping things as simple as possible can be the easiest and most efficient solution to getting a lean body and building a great natural physique!
Here are 3 more fantastic fat burning foods to consider next time you are at the grocery store.
Fat Burning Food #1: Salmon
This type of fish is great for burning fat as it is high in protein, and best of all, rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids. It also has a good ratio of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which makes it well balanced.
Fat Burning Food #2: Oatmeal
Oatmeal is delicious and can really help boost your metabolism. Oatmeal contains good fats and it is a source of low glycemic carbohydrates. Low glycemic carbohydrates are crucial for helping to incinerate your stored fat as they give you time released energy and help you to store glycogen in the muscles (fuel that can later be used to power your workouts).
Fat Burning Food #3: Nuts
A great addition and snack that can be added to your diet is nuts such as cashews, almonds and walnuts. If you do not go crazy overeating nuts, you can benefit from eating them. Not only are nuts high in fiber and contain good fats, but they also are high in antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium.
A good approach to use when eating nuts is to consume around 1-2 ounces at most. Using this approach will prevent you from overeating fats and enable you to get the right combination of good fats to help you blast your excess fat away.
Of course all these nutritional tips merely scratch the surface. You will need to have a well devised, carefully thought out diet and workout plan if you are to reach your goal of a massive natural physique. Developing your physique the natural way is not an easy option or a casual undertaking, but the benefits are huge. It leads to an improved quality of life, higher self esteem and a greater sense of physical well being.
2: Increase your intake of water:
For years, doctors, nutritional experts and fitness trainers have recommended that drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day is an absolute must to maintain good health. Drinking more will help burn extra fat by increasing lipolysis and mobilizing stored fat.
Of course there have been countless studies into this. The University of Utah carried out one of the most recent. They found that people who drink the most water have higher metabolisms. In this study, subjects drank 4, 8, or 12 cups of water each day. Those who drank at least 8 cups reported better concentration and higher energy levels, and tests showed that they were burning more calories than the 4-cups-a-day group. As we know, higher metabolisms lead to greater fat loss, a vital tool in our quest for a great naturally muscular physique.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey measured where most of our calories come from and discovered, to their horror, that the category making up the largest percentage of our calorie intake—over 7% in fact—was not a food at all. It was soda!
All these carbonated beverages contain loads and loads of sugar and empty calories. In addition, they can cause bloating and water retention. The bottom line here is steer clear of the fizzy drinks and unhealthy juices and just stick to water if you possibly can and just watch that fat melt away!
I know it may seem difficult at first, you may even feel slightly bloated. However, it is vitally important that you stay well hydrated and take as much water on board as you possibly can. The benefits of taking plenty of water on board are obvious and are very well documented, however, one really key point to bear in mind is that water has been shown to considerably reduce the risk of injury while training, an absolutely vital requirement in any natural bodybuilding regimen.
3: Be Specific:
Be as specific as possible about your goals and your training plan. The vast majority of super successful people, irrespective of their field of expertise, will recognise the importance of setting specific goals and targets, and having a definite plan in place. You absolutely have to keep a detailed record of your training and your diet. That is the only way you will be able to measure your gains and to check you are still on track.
4: Be consistent:
If you have a training plan that involves you going to the gym 4 times a week, then follow it to the letter. You will find yourself losing the edge pretty quickly if you start to become inconsistent with your workouts, and you can forget all about building that perfect natural physique.
Add intensity to your workout. There has been a lot written and said about training to muscular failure and you will probably have to make your own mind up about that. However, what I would say is that if at the end of your workout you are not lying on the floor in a pool of your own sweat, or are not on the verge of collapse just praying for the sweet release of death then the chances are you haven’t worked hard enough!
Finally I have one tip for you that will probably have more of an effect than any other and it is this. Take Action Now! It is truly incredible just how many times you see guys at the gym standing around talking about what they are going to do. Why are they not just getting on with it? Procrastination is the biggest impediment to any program of personal development. You can take on board all the information and facts and figures as you like, you can come up with the greatest training plan ever devised, but I can assure you of one thing right now, I have never seen anyone develop a great physique simply by talking about it!
Natural Bodybuilding Supplements:
There has, and will continue to be, many volumes written about the thorny subject of the role of supplements in true natural bodybuilding. After all, the term “Natural Bodybuilder” has come to mean different things to different people. However, it would be wise to remeber a few basics here. Do not listen to the hype and waste your money on a pile of bodybuilding supplements before establishing exactly what it is you are hoping to achieve. Never, ever lose sight of the fact that sound nutrition forms the basis of any muscle building program and no amount of supplementation with the latest and greatest products will make up for bad eating habits.
The bottom line is, bodybuilding supplements should be used IN ADDITION to regular food, not INSTEAD OF it However, for the purposes of this article we will take a look at the more popular forms of supplementation and break them down into bite size chunks.
Firstly, it should be noted that anything that comes in tablet form, unless otherwise stated, is likely to have been created from non natural sources. There are also the issues surrounding the true effectiveness of pills. Other than the obvious placebo effect that taking a pill can induce, there is very little evidence to support the taking of vitamin and mineral pills as an effective muscle builder over the long term.
There are also the urban myths surrounding tablet absorption and these seem to be backed up by a number of official reports prepared by numerous government agencies in the US. For example, 250, 000 pounds of undigested vitamin and mineral pills have been reported as being pulled out of the sewers in Tacoma, Washington, every six weeks, and 159 gallons of undigested pills are showing up in sewer filters in Salt Lake City every month, In fact, a National Advisory Board investigation has revealed only 8.3% of every 100mg of nutrients consumed in tablet form is absorbed.
There is one form of supplement that is both absolutely essential to your muscle building plan and completely 100% natural, and that is PROTEIN. Every single natural bodybuilder would agree that supplementing with whey protein is an important element in achieving serious muscle gains. Whey protein is produced during the process that sees milk turned into cheese. It is also found naturally in dairy products, eggs, soy and vegetable proteins but none of these compares in quality to whey protein powder. It also scores highly in providing the branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) that are important in the building and retention of muscle.
Whey protein is highly favored by bodybuilders because it provides the necessary building blocks to produce the amino acids that the body uses to build lean muscle tissue. Many studies have shown that whey protein contains the perfect combination of amino acids, in just the right concentration for optimal performance in the body. It is also thought that whey protein has a role as an anti-oxidant and immune system builder.
It is best taken in powder form mixed in juice or milk, spread throughout the day to maintain a positive nitrogen balance. Serious bodybuilders often consume up to 150 grams each day but as a rule of thumb, daily protein intake for active trainers can be calculated by taking your weight in pounds and multiplying by 1 or 1.5. But remember, you need to work out how much protein is taken from food and other sources, and then spread the remaining whey protein balance over the day.
Whey protein is a relatively safe supplement but no more than 30 grams of protein should be taken at one sitting as excessive single doses could overload the liver. The safety of whey protein has been well documented in many scientific studies and there is clear proof that taken consistently, coupled with regular exercise, it will result in meaningful muscle gain.
You will undoubtedly be aware of the popularity of Amino acids as a from of muscle building supplement. In my own personal opinion they are probably unneccessary, certainly in the early stages if you are taking on board enough protein, as they occur naturally anyway.
Creatine is a naturally formed amino acid that is found in the human body, especially around the skeletal muscle. The human body generates Creatine naturally, partly from the diet we take and partly on its own. A healthy person has about 120g of Creatine, most of it being in the form of a compound called PCr. The body can store a maximum Creatine quantity of 0.3 g per one kilogram of body weight. The body produces about 2g of Creatine per day. The chief food sources of Creatine are fish and red meat. Half a pound of raw meat provides about 1g of Creatine for the body. Creatine that does not come from food is produced endogenously by the body from amino acids.
Creatine monohydrate can rightly lay claim to being the most popular and arguably most effective bodybuilding supplement currently available. The beauty of creatine is that it is 100% natural and occurs in many foods so it’s unlikely to be banned from any sports or competitions.
Let’s first establish what creatine actually is. In brief, creatine is produced naturally in our bodies to help supply energy to the muscles. It is produced in the liver, pancreas and kidneys before being transported in the blood to our muscles. It is then converted into phosphocreatine which is a powerful metabolite used to regenerate the muscles’ ATP source of energy.
From a bodybuilder’s perspective, creatine can significantly increase lean muscle mass quickly, improve performance in high intensity exercise, raise energy levels and speed up recovery rates. Creatine’s ability to raise energy in muscles is due to its muscle protein synthesizing action whilst reducing the breakdown of protein. This happens because creatine has the effect of super-hydrating muscle cells with water. It also improves muscle growth adding size and strength to muscle fibers.
Creatine is normally taken in two ways. The first involves loading the muscles with 20 to 30 grams of creatine per day for four to seven days. At the end of this phase maintenance involves a regular intake of 5 to 15 grams per day. The other method is more gradual in that it skips out the loading phase and simply involves supplementing with 5 to 15 grams per day for an extended period.
Two questions remain to be answered – does it work and is it safe? Creatine has undoubtedly been proven effective in recent years – over twenty scientific studies have concluded that creatine can increase energy levels and result in enhanced strength, endurance levels and recovery rates. As a training aid it therefore has many merits. In terms of safety, no study to date has shown creatine to be anything other than safe, provided manufacturers’ instructions are followed.
TO BE AVOIDED
Supplements can be a tricky subject so if you are in any doubt whatsoever as to the validity and saftey of a form of supplement then the best thing to do is simply not take it. Thankfully the governing body in the world of natural bodybuilding, the WNBF provides a comprehensive, although not exhaustive list of banned substances. They include the following:
Absolutely all Anabolic Steroids including bolasterone, boldenone, clostebol, fluoxymesterone, mesterolone, methandienone, methyltestosterone, nandrolone, norethandrolone, oxandrolone, oxymetholone, stanozolol, testosterone and all other related compounds are strictly banned.
Testosterone, in any form or for any reason, whether that be injections, patches or gels and even if they are prescribed by a doctor. There is also a limit to the amount of testosterone found naturally in the body and this is measured by what is known as the T/E Ratio. This stands for Testosterone/Epitestosterone and a ratio of 6/1 and above would be ruled as a positive.
Pharmaceutical Human Growth Hormones. The use of any hormones, whether orally or via injection including insulin is prohibited.
Prescription diuretics, ephedrine, amphetamines, speed, cocaine (unsurprisingly) GHB, clenbuterol, and any substance banned by the following agencies. The Government, FDA and IOC. You should visit their relevant websites for further details. The best advice would be to make sure you rigorously check the ingredient list on any medication or supplement you might take. Some cold and flu remedies can contain significant levels of paracetomol, codeine or pseudoephedrine, so be careful.
The key to being a safe and natural trainer really comes from within. You and only you will really know if you are taking a 100% natural approach. If you are taking your training seriously and have crossed the line from being someone who just works out now and again, then you will have educated yourself as to all the assistance that is available to you. You will need to fully understand your own metabolism and genetics and will have to devise a specific diet and training plan to suit you, with the correct amount of recovery time built in.
The satisfaction and self esteem you will feel as a direct result of knowing that your results are completely down to you will far outweigh any feelings of under achievement you may have when you compare yourself with one of our assisted brothers. Stay natural and stay safe. Use natural supplements wisely and in moderation to begin with, and remember as we stated at the beginning of this article that supplementation is no substitute for hard work and good diet!