Steroids vs Natural Bodybuilding

The easiest way to spot a fake natty is to look out for some of the common side effects of steroids which could include heavily pronounced veins, acne (either facial or body acne), changes in jaw structure, exceptional trapezius muscles, gynecomastia, flushed skin, etc.

Steroid use has become extremely rampant within the bodybuilding world with almost anyone and everyone seeking the support of PEDs to achieve their bodybuilding goals faster than normal. Some of the common steroids being used for bulking include Dianabol, Deca, and Testosterone/Sustanon while Winstrol and Anavar are commonly used for cutting. Clenbuterol is also widely used for a cutting cycle. Sadly, all of these steroids have side effects and when taken for a longer period of time or in a heavy dosage they can spell disaster for your internal system.

steroids vs natural bodybuilders

Steroids Vs Natural – How To Spot a Fake Natty?

A lot of bodybuilders lie about their steroid use and claim to be natural. However, with a closer look, you can easily find out if one is lying or not.

Here are some important things to consider to find out if the bodybuilder is a fake natty or a real natural:

1. Gynecomastia or Man Boobs

One of the most common and apparent side effects of anabolic steroids is Gynecomastia or man boobs which occur because of high levels of the female hormone estrogen in the body. What actually steroids do is that they escalate your testosterone levels to unnaturally high levels. Your body responds to it by raising estrogen in order to regulate testosterone back to its natural level and this, in turn, tends to lower testosterone.

steroids vs natural bodybuilders

Having said that, not every bodybuilder who is on steroids may have gynecomastia. There could be a couple of reasons behind this, some of which are listed below:

  • Aromatase is the enzyme in your body that is behind the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. However, genetics also play a role here. While one bodybuilder may be more genetically prone to get gyno another one might not be.
  • Secondly, most bodybuilders who use gear (steroids) use AI or aromatase inhibitors to prevent the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. Such drugs may prevent gynecomastia but may lead to other problems such as high blood pressure and flushed skin, etc. Interestingly enough, flushed skin is another classic tell-tale sign of using steroids!

One of the best ways to prevent gynecomastia in men is with the help of a natural supplement like Gynetrex. It is a complete 3 step system that helps reduce male breasts through exercise, diet and nutrition changes, and a natural supplement.

2. Flushed Skin

Another sign to watch for is flushed skin. It actually reveals a higher-than-normal body temperature. Steroids are known to interfere with blood pressure in your body and this can result in an irregularity in the blood which further translates into a high body temperature.

flushed skin

But why do steroids increase blood pressure?

For this, you need to understand the relationship between your testosterone levels and LDL cholesterol. Steroids tend to boost testosterone levels in your body to abnormally high levels, which in turn affects your lipid profile by increasing LDL or bad cholesterol. An increase in LDL cholesterol is always certain to increase blood pressure in your body.

Flushed skin or high blood pressure is a common side effect of using bulking steroids which could include Dianabol, Trenbolone or Anadrol. It is also quite common for bodybuilders to stack steroids together to get faster results. A perfect example of such a cycle is a Dbol and Test Cycle wherein Dianabol is used along with Testosterone. Such stacks can also lead to high blood pressure and flushed skin.

Even though the use of such steroids and stacks can often lead to high blood pressure by exerting your heart, bodybuilders do not really avoid using them because of the muscle and strength gains that they lead to.

3. Exceptionally Developed Trapezius Muscles

Another sign that can give away the fact that a bodybuilder has been using steroids is his exceptionally developed trapezius muscles. This is because muscle receptors in your traps are more responsive to growth during a steroid cycle because of the fact that they contain more androgen receptors as compared to other muscle groups in your body. Thus, among two bodybuilders who have otherwise the same proportions, the one using gear is likely to have more developed traps as compared to the one who is natural.

Massive traps

Steroids like trenbolone will make the traps pop like this. Such a ‘blowing up’ of the traps is very rare in natural bodybuilders.

4. Bloated Face and Stomach

One of the most common side effects of steroids is that a couple of them, especially those used for bulking can lead to water retention in your body. This typically results from high estrogen levels in the body. One of the most important things to understand is that with an increase in estrogen levels in your body, sodium salt absorption also increases. What it means is that after a salty meal your body is likely to retain more water than it normally does.


One of the best ways to reduce water retention is by consuming more water and cutting down on your sodium or salt intake.

5. Acne

Yet another telltale sign of steroid use is acne or rather, severe acne. When you consume androgenic steroids, the sebaceous glands secrete oils into the skin. Now, if the type of androgen used is quite powerful (for instance, Dianabol or Trenbolone), then you can get a severe type of acne. Not just this, it can also result in the appearance of red blemishes on the skin.


Those bodybuilders that are into gear are often spotted with acne or scarring, more commonly on their backs. Back acne is often referred to as bacne and can be really painful. It can make sleeping on your back something really difficult and painful.

Does Spotting One of These Side Effects Imply Steroid Usage?

I don’t think you should label a bodybuilder if you spot just one of these side effects. For instance, it could be normal for a guy to have acne or broad shoulders. Having said that, if you see a bodybuilder with more than one or two of the abovementioned side effects, you can safely conclude that he is on steroids. For instance, if someone has flushed skin, severe acne and extremely well-developed shoulders then there is a heavy possibility that he has been using gear.

Natural bodybuilders, on the other hand, will not show any of these results. Some guys may have acne scars from their teenage years but nothing more than that. If you are a natural, you will not show any signs of steroid use on your body.

I am sure you are almost clear on how to spot a fake natty!

A lot of celebs are often seen to have great bodies. While some of them are known to be natural, others give away signs of juicing. You can actually find out if some of the famous names such as Tom Hardy, Dwayne Johnson, Hugh Jackman, Mark Wahlberg, etc., are guilty of using steroids or not.

Natural Bodybuilding

Natural bodybuilding, as it sounds, involves the use of natural products and avoiding steroids, SARMs, hormones and other similar drugs to gain muscle or burn fat. Your main focus is on consistent training, a healthy diet and legal supplements including proteins and those supplements that are formulated with natural ingredients.

It is interesting to note that a lot of bodybuilding competitions have natural divisions and they test competing bodybuilders for use of illegal substances including steroids. Sadly, most bodybuilders get away with such tests one way or the other (by having steroids in a way that they appear clean during tests).

Benefits of Natural Bodybuilding or Being a Natty

Being a natural bodybuilder greatly helps improve your strength and overall well-being. Steroids tend to damage your internal organs and can even lead to premature death. I have covered bodybuilders who died young because of steroid use in a separate article which you can access here.

Getting back to the benefits of natural bodybuilding, here are some:


One of the most important benefits of natural bodybuilding is that it is much safer than building muscle through steroids. Men who build good physiques through natural means experience great health with improved longevity. On the other hand, bodybuilders who use steroids are known to suffer from a lot of health problems such as high blood pressure, cardiac condition, liver damage, kidney damage, aggression, etc.

When it comes to safety, there’s nothing that can beat natural bodybuilding even though it is hard and more time-consuming to build muscle size through natural means.

No Breaking Laws

One of the most important benefits of natural bodybuilding is that you do not break any law. Steroids and other similar drugs are often banned for human consumption and buying or using them may land you in trouble with the authorities.

When you buy natural supplements, you do not break any laws. Thus, you can train and concentrate on building muscle in peace.

Builds Muscle, Strength, Improves Overall Health

Natural bodybuilding is not just safe but is great for building both muscle and strength. It may also help strengthen your heart and boost your stamina. There’s no damage to the liver or kidneys. Not just this, it is also likely to help boost your immunity.

With better stamina and strength, you are likely to get a libido boost too. Not just this, you are also likely to enjoy better sexual and reproductive health. Here, I would like to point out that a couple of steroids are known to wreak havoc as far as your libido is concerned and may lead to erectile dysfunction. Not just this, they can also lead to a drop in your sperm count resulting in infertility.

Disadvantages of Natural Bodybuilding

Here are some of the main disadvantages of natural bodybuilding:

Less Impressive Muscle Gains

Building muscle through natural bodybuilding takes time. It may take you years before you can make substantial muscle gains. At times, this could be demoralizing for you, especially when you see someone new at the gym gaining muscle at a quick rate because of using steroids.

Even though it is difficult and time-consuming to gain muscle naturally, you can still have pretty impressive muscle gains.

Steroid Bodybuilding

Since in this article, we are comparing natural bodybuilding with steroid bodybuilding, let’s find out more about how steroids can help build muscle and what its side effects or negatives could be:

If you decide to use gear for bulking or cutting, you must do your research well before you take your first injection. You should be mentally prepared for things to come. Not just this, you must also buy from trusted and reliable sources since buying a steroid from an unreliable source can do more damage. Last, but not the least, you must keep a tab on your blood profile and get your blood work done every now and then to make sure you press the stop button if things spiral out of control.

Benefits of Steroids

Here are some of the main benefits that make them lucrative to most bodybuilders and gymgoers:

Increased Muscle Mass

One of the most appealing benefits of anabolic steroids such as Dianabol, Anadrol or Trenbolone is that they can help you gain muscle fast and dramatically fast. Within a short period of time, such steroids can help you get jacked with solid, dense and impressive muscle mass.

In simple words, steroids can help you pack in muscles within weeks which would take you months and months of slogging in the gym if you were to go the natural way.

But again, this massive muscle growth comes at a huge price!

Better Athletic Performance and Recovery

Some steroids such as Winstrol or Stanozolol are particularly good at improving athletic performance. They can help build, speed, power, and agility and help field athletes get an edge over other competitors. It’s hardly surprising that they are banned by most sports authorities around the world.

Furthermore, steroids can help speed up recovery so that you can train a single body part multiple times in a week resulting in impressive growth.

Negatives of Steroid Bodybuilding

Let’s have a look at the dark side of steroid bodybuilding:


One of the major downsides of steroid use is that it is illegal to use them in most countries around the world. What it means is that if you are caught using or possessing them, you can be arrested and face legal action from the law authorities.

Nasty Side Effects

Steroids can also have pretty nasty side effects. Some of such side effects could include gyno, shrinking of testicles, infertility, reduced sperm count, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart stroke, mood swings, aggression, low testosterone, liver or kidney failure, etc.


Even though steroids can ensure quick and dramatic muscle gains, they can produce serious side effects. I am sure by going through the article above, you should be able to spot a fake natty quite easily with all the tell-tale signs of having used steroids.

Tanveer Quraishi, the main editor of this site has vast experience in the field of bodybuilding. He has been training for almost two decades and has studied steroids and SARMs extensively over the past 10 years. When he is not sweating it out at the gym or writing for this site, he can be spotted playing with his two lovely daughters.