Natural bodybuilding techniques are those methods that enable one to build muscle without the use of artificial-and often illegal-injected or ingested substances. The most common class of artificial substances used for this purpose are anabolic steroids which, despite strong warnings from health officials, continues to be used by bodybuilders who want to see fast results from their workouts.
But there is a terrifying risk in choosing steroids over natural bodybuilding techniques.
Health Risk of Steroid Abuse
Anabolic steroids are artificially produced testosterone, a male hormone. Because it is a male hormone, this drug increases strength, energy, and muscle mass. Bodybuilders, and other athletes, are attracted to steroid use because of its purported-and often very apparent-muscle enhancement effects in a very short period of time and for a relatively small amount of effort. (In general, those who take steroids are able to build significantly more muscle mass as compared with those who follow strictly natural bodybuilding techniques).
But the health risks related to steroid abuse cannot be overstated. Some of these risks include:
Heart attack. Steroids have been shown to have at least three different effects on the heart: (a) they can lower the good type of cholesterol (HDL) and raise the bad type of cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. (b) they can raise the blood pressure and (c) they can literally damage the heart by enlarging the left ventricle.
Prostate cancer due to steroid’s tendency to enlarge the prostate gland
These and many other health effects of steroid abuse (up to and including death) should give one pause before choosing this method over natural bodybuilding techniques. But there is one more aspect to consider.
Steroids-a Temporary Fix
Despite its much-vaunted ability to “pump up” an athlete quickly, steroids have another reputation that is not as well recognized-they are a temporary fix. Indeed, the muscle that steroids build so quickly will just as quickly diminish once one stops taking steroids, say experts.
This is why many athletes suffer from long-term steroid abuse-to maintain its muscle-enhancing effects, they must continue taking this synthetic hormone. Continued steroid abuse then leads to higher risks of adverse health effects.
It would appear, then, that the only benefit of steroid use is this temporary advantage, but this advantage is accompanied by serious (and often irreversible) effects upon the user’s physical and sometimes emotional health.
Benefits of Natural Bodybuilding Techniques
In contrast to steroids, natural bodybuilding techniques offer a number of benefits to bodybuilders and other athletes. Some of these benefits include:
An absence of unhealthy side effects
Long-lasting results with respect to enhanced musculature, which do not dissipate as is the case with steroid use
Workouts are positive reinforcers, as compared to excessive testosterone use which interferes with the release of endorphins
In general, however, there is not much of a difference between natural and “unnatural” bodybuilding techniques. The types of exercises and training routines are the same in both cases. However, one’s training schedule will likely change. Since steroids speed up the repair time of the muscles, those that use these synthetic hormones are able to have more intense, and more frequent, training sessions as compared with those who use natural bodybuilding techniques.
Nutrition Tips for Natural Bodybuilders
Experts consider proper nutrition to be one of the most significant factors in natural bodybuilding. Although opinions regarding what constitutes proper nutrition for bodybuilders varies, many experts recommend that, of all of the calories a bodybuilder consumes each day:
– 30 percent should be a form of protein
– 50 percent should be derived from carbohydrates
– 20 percent should be from healthy fats
In addition, one should minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the consumption of sugar and of processed foods. Of course, this is true for all individuals.
According to Iron Magazine, “[t]he trick with weight training is that you need to actually rest more than you need to train. When you train with weights, you are breaking down the fibers in the muscles of your body.” In order to successfully build muscle, it is necessary to rest those same muscles the day after training. Thus, if you work the muscles of the upper body one day, do not work those same muscles the next day. A good training technique, therefore, is to work different muscle groups on alternate days.
In addition, Iron Magazine suggests a number of natural bodybuilding techniques that have been proven to increase muscle mass relatively quickly. These varied techniques prevent the body from becoming too comfortable with a particular training routine and will enable the muscles to be more responsive to training.
Stalled repetitions. Stop at the midway point of a repetition and hold it for a few seconds before completing the repetition. This can be modified by stopping the movement during different points in the range of motion.
Forced repetitions. Use as many repetitions of a particular weight as is necessary to force the muscles to fatigue or failure (a point at which another repetition cannot be performed).
Load Pyramiding. Add additional weight with each successive set of repetitions.
Repetition pyramiding. Use a consistent amount of weight, gradually increasing the number of repetitions for each successive set.
As always, consult a doctor before starting this, or any, exercise routine. Bodybuilding is particularly strenuous so this caution is particularly advisable before embarking on this path.
Natural bodybuilding techniques are becoming increasingly popular with athletes who desire a increased muscle mass without the side effects of muscle enhancing drugs. By choosing natural methods, including those rare supplements that have been proven through clinical studies to assist performance enhancement without unhealthy side effects, these athletes can take pride in the fact that any muscle they build is derived from hard work, discipline and healthy habits as opposed to use of dangerous drugs.
Author – Cara Zolinsky