While the right training program, nutrition, cycle, stack, and dosage plan of androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) will go a long way in helping you achieve your bulking or cutting goals quickly, you may be at risk of a failed drug test if you intend getting into competitive bodybuilding.
On the flipside, you can still achieve significant bulking and cutting results with natural bodybuilding workouts, but this time without the fear of being disqualified from a bodybuilding tournament due to doping.
In this post, you will get to know just about everything there is to know about natural bodybuilding including tips on dieting, and supplementation. But first, you might want to start-off by knowing the true meaning of natural bodybuilding.
What does Natural Bodybuilding mean?
Natural bodybuilding is essentially a holistic type of training program designed to help you reach your full bulking, cutting, and/or performance-related potentials without the aid of AAS or any other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
The best natural bodybuilding program will emphasize regular workouts, a clean diet, lots of rest time, and supplementation to aid skeletal muscle growth and recovery.
You need to be consistent with your natural bodybuilding workouts, and that also means regularly engaging in compound movements while also acknowledging your training limits to avoid injuries that could severely derail your program.
Your diet needs to be structured to meet your daily calories, micronutrients, and macronutrient requirements. The importance of recovery to bodybuilding cannot be overemphasized.
Whether you are a traditional bodybuilder or a natural bodybuilder, you need to make time out from your busy training schedule to have an ice bath, deep tissue massage, and simply put your feet up as you relax on your couch. Recovery helps with the repair, regeneration, and growth of your muscle tissues.
The use of supplementation before, during, and after your natural bodybuilding workouts should not be confused with taking PEDs or AAS. Supplements help to augment your nutritional requirements while providing your body with the support needed to boost muscle growth.
Popular natural supplements in bodybuilding include BCAAs, creatine, and protein powders. It is also worth noting that natural bodybuilding demands an unflinching dedication to your training sessions, daily dietary needs, and good lifestyle choices.
Without the right mentality and discipline, you are more than likely to be left frustrated and lacking the spirit needed to achieve results and be successful in your bodybuilding attempts.
Is Natural Bodybuilding safe?
Natural bodybuilding is without a doubt safer in comparison to traditional bodybuilding that involves the use of potentially harmful PEDs and AAS.
If executed with proper form and within relatively safe limits, your natural bodybuilding workouts which should include compound movements from weight training and high-interval intensity training (HIIT) should not only build skeletal muscle, but also boost your metabolism, improve your overall fitness, and promote good cardiovascular health.
It is worth mentioning at this point that strength training is capable of stimulating the production of nitric oxide which is known to help the arteries to relax while at the same time reducing your risk of cardiovascular conditions like strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure.
Diet Tips For Natural Bodybuilding
You should know that whether you go natty or enhanced, you need more or less the same dietary requirements.
However, if you are taking the natural route to bodybuilding, you may need to give yourself a whole lot more time (in comparison to bodybuilders using cutting PEDs) to burn fat naturally while at the same time preserving your skeletal muscle gains in preparation for a competitive bodybuilding event.
It is therefore important that you fully understand your caloric surplus during bulking and caloric deficit when cutting. This way you will be able to adjust your daily nutrition requirements to match your bodybuilding goals accordingly.
You want to be sure that during a bulking phase, you are not adding too much weight and during a cutting phase, you are not losing too much weight.
Establishing this balance in your daily calorie intake is essential to the success or otherwise of your natural bodybuilding program.
Depending on your bodybuilding goals, you should ideally consume between 200 to 400 calories more or less than your maintenance calories as specified by a qualified personal coach, dietician, or nutritionist.
Your weekly aim should be to either gain or lose (depending on your goal) about 1.1 pounds or half a kilo. You may think gaining or losing 1.1 pounds a week is on the lower end of the scale, but experts have argued that in order to maintain your strength and lean muscle mass gains, it is advisable to gradually gain or lose body weight rather than do so rapidly.
You can adjust your calorie intake accordingly after weighing yourself on a weekly basis. When your body weight gain is too sudden, you can scale-down your daily calories. A calorie deficit anywhere from 100 to 200 calories should suffice.
However, in the event that you are losing weight much too slowly, you can decide to scale-up your daily calories. A calorie surplus anywhere from 100 to 200 calories should be just fine.
Another reason why it is preferable for you to experience a gradual weight gain or loss, is that you tend to lose more free testosterone with quick changes to your weight whereas the reverse is the case when your weight gain or loss is gradual.
Endogenous testosterone is important to your natural bodybuilding workouts, as this hormone gives you the energy, strength, aggression, and stamina needed to successfully complete a result driven training session.
Macronutrients for Natural Bodybuilding Workouts
Note that your diet should consist of all three macronutrients, namely; carbohydrates, fats and protein.
As a standard rule, you should maintain a diet rich in both carbohydrates and protein, but low on fats. A 40% carbohydrates, 40% protein and 20% fats daily diet should help boost your energy levels while maintaining your muscle mass gains.
Carbohydrates provide you with the energy you need to workout.
You should eat more complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and whole grains rather than simple carbohydrates like bread, pastries, and pasta which have very little nutritional value.
You need protein to aid muscle tissue repair, regeneration, and growth.
Protein is also a more satisfying and filling macronutrient which is great if you are running a cutting program.
You can derive your daily protein requirement from foods like beans, eggs, lean meat, poultry, and fish.
Healthy fats derived from avocados, olive oil, and seeds are great for improving the functions of your body’s hormones.
Fats will boost your endogenous testosterone levels for example, as well as improve its active functions.
Micronutrients for Natural Bodybuilding Workouts
Your macronutrients will consist of essential minerals and vitamins mainly derived from natural food sources.
Essential minerals and vitamins like iron, zinc, vitamin A, B-complex, C, D, E, and K will help to reduce muscle fatigue, boost hormonal functions, brain activity, and improve your full body coordination and concentration levels.
Supplements in Natural Bodybuilding
Supplementation is just as important as your workouts and diet. Supplements can help to replenish lost macronutrients and micronutrients needed to maintain your muscle mass gains while ensuring the proper functioning of active endogenous bodybuilding hormones like your testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), and Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1).
The best natural bodybuilding supplements include:
#1. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
This supplement is made up of three (3) essential amino acids, namely; valine, isoleucine, and leucine. In their natural state, these three amino acids can be derived from foods that are rich in protein, such as; dairy, eggs, and meat.
However, by taking BCAAs as a supplement, you can be sure to supply your body with the right amount of these three amino acids essential for promoting protein synthesis in skeletal muscle tissues leading to quick muscle repair, and growth.
Creatine is considered by most experts as one of the safest and most potent supplements for promoting muscle growth, improved athletic performance, and reduced muscle fatigue.
#3. Whey Protein
Whey protein is widely regarded as a complete form of protein, as it is made up of nine (9) essential amino acids.
Whey protein will help promote protein synthesis in skeletal muscle tissues to boost recovery from muscle tears while also stimulating growth in muscle mass.
Natural bodybuilding is certainly the way to go for anyone that is looking to achieve bulking and cutting bodybuilding gains without the aid of PEDs or AAS.
However, you need to ensure that your lifestyle, nutrition, and workout routine is on point before you can enjoy the benefits of going natty. To this end, you need to consult with an experienced trainer, dietician, and/or nutritionist before you start a natural bodybuilding workouts regimen. If you prefer, you can get free assistance from our in-house coach here today.