It would be a mistake for anyone to think that everyone working out in the gym is using one form of performance-enhancing drug or another. This is far from the truth, as personally I have lots of gym buddies that stick to a completely natural training program and diet. The most these guys take are vitamins and food supplements.
Many bodybuilders are not on steroids and their reasons vary. Some are not on anabolic steroids because of their religious beliefs, ethics/morals, and health, while others are legally restrained from using steroids.
Strength-based athletes like powerlifters, bodybuilders and weightlifters can benefit a lot from using steroids. For starters, steroids can be used for running both bulking and cutting programs. If bodybuilders need muscle mass gains in the fastest way possible, then using anabolic steroids like Dbol or Test will get them there quicker than if they were to go the natural route.
So here lies the question that many bodybuilding newbies tend to ask when they first walk into a gym – ‘how big can you get naturally without using steroids?’. The safe answer to this question is – ‘it all depends on your genetics!’
Your Genetics Determine Your Size
It goes without saying that if you want to engage in high intensity training and intense workout routines without using any performance-enhancing drugs, you will spend more time gaining or losing weight and building lean muscle mass.
If you are ready to go 100% natural, then you would need to back up your workout sessions with a dietary plan aimed at providing you with the right amount of calories needed to see you through each session and also to promote muscle growth.
While a tried and tested training program as well as dietary plan will help you to gain weight and muscle mass, you can be sure that these gains would not be quick.
I know some gym fanatics that have spent over a decade lifting heavy weights on an almost daily basis barring muscle injuries and without using PEDs showing significant muscle mass growth.
I also know even more people that have gained some pumps naturally after spending a lengthy period of time training naturally, but their gains are nowhere near what steroid users that I know have achieved in a much shorter time frame.
The truth is, your genetic makeup has a lot to do with how big you can actually get and how soon you can naturally get to the size that your body is capable of reaching without help from roids. The thing with genetics is that no matter how hard and how long you train, you cannot be bigger than what your genetic makeup allows.
Another consideration with running a training program without juice is that you are more prone to muscle-related injuries and your recovery time from these injuries are bound to be much longer than steroid users. Injuries can severely hinder a training program and it becomes difficult to maintain muscle mass gains while nursing an injury without taking anabolic steroids.
If you were born with Mr. Olympia type genetics, then you are more likely to experience muscle mass growth naturally and at a much faster rate than the average Joe when you embark on an intense training program.
Your age, gender, height, size and build all matter when it comes to the amount of weight and muscle mass you can gain naturally. So for example, a person that is say 5ft 3 inches and weighs 110 Ib (50 kg) is not likely to gain as much muscle mass as an individual that is 6ft 2 inches and weighs 210 Ib (95 kg).
Alan Aragon Natural Muscle Mass Gain Model
The Alan Aragon natural muscle mass gain model provides a good indication of the amount of muscle mass you can gain as a natural bodybuilder.
It provides a monthly percentage muscle mass gain rate for newbies, intermediate and advanced level bodybuilders looking to gain muscle mass benefits from intense training without steroid use.
The model presupposes that a newbie should naturally gain muscle mass on a monthly basis of between 1 and 1.5% of their overall body weight. For intermediate bodybuilders, their monthly muscle mass gain should be between 0.5 and 1% of their overall body weight while for advanced level bodybuilders, their monthly muscle mass gains should be between 0.25 and 0.5% of their total body weight.
While it is quite hard to determine when when a person falls under the beginner, intermediate or advanced level, it is assumed that a beginner is a bodybuilder that has been working out for less than a full year.
So for example, if you are a newbie bodybuilder and you weigh 154 Ib (70 kg), then you will be expected to gain a monthly muscle mass of between 1 and 1.5% of your total weight.
This means that you will gain muscle mass of between 1.54 and 2.31 Ib (0.7 and 1.05 kg) per month. By training for a full year, you will gain between 19 and 28 Ib (8.4 and 13 kg) of muscle mass assuming that your total body weight is consistently at 154 Ib (70 kg) all through the year.
As you enter into your intermediary bodybuilding phase which should begin from your second year of training. Your monthly muscle mass gain is expected to drop by as much as 50%, so instead of gaining muscle mass of between 1 and 1.5% of your total body weight per month, you will gain between 0.5 and 1%.
Assuming you still maintain a body weight of 154 Ib (70 kg) while in your intermediate bodybuilding phase, you will gain a monthly muscle mass of between 0.8 and 1.54 Ib (0.35 and 0.7 kg). Note that these monthly muscle mass percentage gains are all dependent on several factors including your training, diet and nutrition.
Your intermediate bodybuilding phase can also run for a significant period of years. During the advanced phase of natural bodybuilding which is a phase that many bodybuilders hardly attain, the focus would not be on gaining increased muscle mass naturally, but actually in maintaining your muscle mass gains.
You can attain relatively big muscle mass gains naturally, but it all depends on your genetic framework in addition to your age, gender, height, size and natural build. It would be unrealistic for you to think that you can reach Mr. Olympia status naturally.
This would entail that you spend a tremendous amount of time engaging in high intensity training while also ensuring that your diet is spot-on at all times. You would also need to be extremely lucky not to pick up niggling injuries that can put a stop to your workouts for a significant length of time.
Without steroids to help maintain your muscle gains especially during the length of an injury, you would soon lose your muscle mass and you will be forced to start a whole new training program just to regain your lost weight and muscle mass.
This can be frustrating, but if you intend going natty to achieve your bodybuilding goals, this is an all too common experience that you would have to expect and live with.