What is the Meaning of Natty in Bodybuilding? Explained!

Walk into any gym, and you’re bound to hear bodybuilders talking about being “natty”—but what is the meaning of natty in bodybuilding? In essence, being natty refers to building muscle and achieving peak fitness without taking performance-enhancing substances. It signifies relying solely on your own natural abilities through proper training, nutrition, recovery, and healthy lifestyle practices.

Within bodybuilding circles, being natty is considered by some to be a badge of honor—it means your sculpted physique and impressive lifts come from your own dedication rather than any artificial help. Even for casual gym-goers looking to add some muscle, hitting goals naturally can bring a great sense of accomplishment and self-validation.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll learn what is the meaning of natty in bodybuilding. And break down all things related to the concept of natty in bodybuilding culture. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Defining What is the Meaning of Natty in Bodybuilding?

a man lifting dumbell with one arm

So, what classifies someone specifically as a “natty” bodybuilder? Put simply, this label refers to any person who builds muscle without using any banned or illegal performance-enhancing substances.

The exact definition does vary slightly. Some consider supplements like protein or creatine to make you not 100% natural. But the consensus is that being natty means:

  • No use of anabolic steroids or other enhancing drugs
  • Avoiding any substances banned or not approved for competitive use
  • Relying on your innate, drug-free abilities

According to this widespread definition, legal supplements still allow you to claim natty status. But anything that artificially and significantly alters your hormones or physiology constitutes crossing into “not natty” territory.

More than just a label though, embracing the natty lifestyle is considered by some to be a matter of ethics and integrity. It means prioritizing pushing your natural limits over chasing externally enhanced results.

Why Does It Matter So Much?

woman showing her muscular back

After learning what is the meaning of natty in bodybuilding, we clearly know “natty” does not simply refer to a person who avoids taking drugs. The concept represents an entire training philosophy centered around what is achievable drug-free.

But why does making this distinction matter so much to countless bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts? There are several core reasons:

1. Pride in True Natural Abilities

Part of the appeal of natty training is being able to say your muscle gains stem purely from the work you put in. Hitting goals through your own strength, without relying on artificial shortcuts, brings an unmatched sense of self-satisfaction.

This holds especially true in competitive bodybuilding circles. Stepping on stage knowing your rival used steroids to achieve their look can significantly dampen your sense of achievement. Pride in being drug-free helps motivate continuous self-improvement.

2. Promotes Long-Term Health

Anabolic steroids and related PEDs undoubtedly speed up muscle gains. But they come saddled with a diverse range of health risks from liver toxicity to cardiovascular problems.

Some moderate steroid users may accept these risks. But for many, the long-term health consequences simply aren’t worth it. Prioritizing nature means embracing sustainable, lifelong fitness unencumbered by complications.

3. Optimal Natural Potential

Another draw lies in seeing just how far your genetics can take you drug-free. PEDs may drive “enhanced” results, but they prevent you from discovering the outer boundaries of your innate abilities through training alone.

Chasing ever-higher natural barriers offers continuity and challenge that drug-aided gains simply do not. Hitting new lifetime best lifts brings satisfaction that artificial strength peaks cannot match.

Challenging Misconceptions of “Natty”

the back of a man lifiting two arms up to show muscles

In an image-conscious fitness culture, misconceptions abound over what constitutes a naturally achievable physique. Between false natty claims and unrealistic body standards, perception has become skewed.

Training as a proud-natty athlete helps challenge these ingrained beliefs. By showcasing legitimate natural potential, genuine natties make it harder to dismiss the effectiveness of drug-free training.

The Downsides and Difficulties of Avoiding PEDs

two people lying on a gym floor

Of course, just like embracing any philosophy, choosing to train natty in bodybuilding or fitness does not come without sacrifices and difficulties.

Among the most frustrating barriers that 100% natural lifters must confront include:

1. Quicker Improvements for Enhanced Trainers

Anabolic drugs unquestionably speed up gains in muscle size and strength. A bodybuilder using a testosterone cycle can pack on more mass in 12 weeks than a natty trainee might in 1-2 years. For the natural athlete focused on quantitative results, this gap poses motivation challenges over time.

2. Strength and Growth Plateaus

Similarly, drug-free veterans inevitably hit plateaus where new mass and strength become excruciatingly difficult. At advanced stages, adding just 5 pounds of muscle in a year can be considered a success.

Meanwhile, PED users break through sticking points more easily and essentially expand the scope of “possible” results. Remaining patient and finding new metrics beyond weight lifted or size can help weather natty plateaus. But they test even the most determined.

3. Accusations of Faking Natty Status

Lastly, skepticism seems almost inevitably to greet any impressive natural physique in the modern fitness space. Thanks to realistic-looking fake natties, even drug-tested competitors get accusations of using steroids or SARMS.

For proud natty athletes, constantly facing this doubt and suspicion grows tiresome. And over time, it threatens to undermine their sense of authentic achievement.

Managing expectations, diversifying definitions of progress, and boosting the visibility of legitimate natties all help. However, the prevalence of performance enhancers ensures skepticism follows even the most gifted genetic outliers.

The Ongoing Debate Between Natty and Enhanced

two women in workout clothes sitting against a wall discussing

Given the investments and identities tied up in the concepts, debates frequently rage in circles over what is the meaning of natty in bodybuilding. vs enhanced. And there are indeed reasonable cases to make on both sides:

1. Arguments Supporting Drug-Free Training

  • Achieving natural potential demonstrates full genetic capabilities
  • Avoids legal issues and dangerous health side effects
  • Results wholly earned through effort and smart training
  • Promotes sustainable, long-term fitness habits
  • Challenges perceptions and misinformation around realistic natty limits

2. Arguments Supporting Performance-Enhancing Drugs

  • Build muscle and strength at a vastly accelerated pace
  • Blast through frustrating plateaus in growth
  • Unlock quantification-based results seen as impossible naturally
  • Obtain inspiring physiques that capture the public imagination
  • Level playing field when rivals also use enhancements

At the highest competitive tiers, the prevalence of PEDs presses athletes to follow suit. But for most everyday weightlifters and bodybuilding hobbyists, the choice ultimately comes down to aligning actions with priorities.

If quantifiable gains and rivaling Mr. Olympia mass ranks first, enhancements offer clear advantages. But for sustainably improving health and ability while demonstrating raw effort? Embracing the natty lifestyle has merit.

Bottom Line

As we know exactly what is the meaning of natty in bodybuilding, we can now promote lifelong health and fitness free of complications.

While opinions certainly differ on priorities, there remains universal respect for those disciplined enough to develop inspiring physiques naturally. If you possess the drive to find your natty limits, embrace the journey and take pride. Just be ready to confront naysayers while mapping new heights of legitimate natural potential.

The decision between chasing this noble natural path or seeking faster gains through enhancements ultimately comes down to aligning actions with your core values and priorities.

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