Friday, September 3, 2010

Are you Natural?

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 That question can mean a zillion things, but for me I am talking about bodybuilding and the use of anabolic steroids , growth hormone, illegal drugs.
The question has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  Unless you compete, or know someone who does, you probably were not aware that there are two types of bodybuilding organizations. There are  "competitions" (non-drug tested) and there are "Natural Competitions".

The non-tested competitions don't drug test, the naturals do. They usually require each competitor to take a lie detector test prior to the competition. Those who place high, and a few random competitors will be tested with urinalysis.  If you are caught with evidence of drugs in your system, you are stripped of your title, banned form the organization, labeled as a "cheater" and you may even get your picture plastered all over the promoters website! They typically test for anything banned by the IOC (International Olympic Committee).

Now just because the non-tested shows don't test, it doesn't mean all the competitors are taking drugs. I have been competing in the non-tested shows for two years, and I don't take drugs.  I know many other competitors who do not take drugs either. It just so happens that there are a lot more non-tested competitions than tested ones. It is expensive to have everyone take a lie detector test, and then the urinalysis is even more expensive.
Now the bodybuilding industry has been notoriously involved in drugs forever, this does not mean that all individuals who compete take drugs, but there are quite a large number that do.
People always asume that a woman with an amazing physique takes drugs, this is not so. Most of us are just busting our butts at the gym and carefully monitoring  what we eat. We also employ nutrient timing, when you eat is just as important as what you eat.

One of the most common comments I hear after a woman starts competing, or gets ready to is that they never knew the food was such a huge factor.  Look around the gym, you will see many people working very hard, every day. They may not look that great, and that is because they may have the mindset that "I have worked hard at the gym, so I can eat whatever I want!"

Big, big mistake.
Now as far as "bulking up" and a woman getting so big she looks like a man, well that is quite difficult to do. I have tried it countless times! They can get big, sure, real big, but not that huge look, similar to a bodybuilding male.

Consider the fact that a woman simply cannot build muscles like a man without the testosterone, unless she has consierably more testosterone in her system than most women. Look at Caster Semenya, the poor thing had to submit to a gender test to prove she was legit! She is not the norm though.

For most women, they can lift all the heavy weights that they like and without drugs, they just cannot look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is almost impossible. Speaking of Arnold, it is even impossible for HIM to look like himself! Here are some quotes of his regarding his past steroid use:
1974. "I take steroids because they help me an extra 5 percent. Women take the (contraception) pill.
They are somewhat similar. I do it under a doctor's supervision."

1977: "Yes I have used them, but no, they didn't make me what I am. Anabolic steroids were helpful
to me in maintaining muscle size while on a strict diet in preparation for a contest."

1987: "I don't worry about it, because I never took an overdosage."

1992: "In those days you didn't have to deal with the black market.
You could go to your physician and just say, 'Listen, I want to gain some weight,
and I want to take something.' Then the physician would say, 'Do it six weeks before
competition, then it will be safe.' And that's what you would do. The dosage that
 was taken then versus taken now is not even 10 percent. It's probably 5 percent."

1996: "I used steroids. It was a risky thing to do, but I have no regrets.
It was what I had to do to compete. The danger with steroids is overusage.
I only did it before a difficult competition – for two months, but not for
a period of time that could harm me. And then afterward, it was over.
I would stop. I have no health problems, no kidney damage or anything like that from using them."

When you read about a successful Natural Bodybuilder, you will notice that they ALWAYS ensure that the word NATURAL proceeds their title and name. There just are not that many natural, successful bodybuilders. It's hard to get that big naturally.

I do want to repeat, that many competitors don't rely on any drugs to get where they are, the work hard, diet smart and train day after day. It's the ones using drugs who give the rest of us the bad rap.

The one group of people you would imagine to be the healthiest are often the least healthy. I do think that drugs will be the death of the sport eventually, and that's unfortunate. 
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