Eric Bugenhagen – Natural Or a Needle Samurai?

| by Truth Seeker |


Today, the natty or not review focuses on Eric Bugenhagen – an Internet sensation in the world of muscle known for his extreme intensity and high-energy attitude towards lifting.

Is he natural or is he a needle samurai?

Let’s look at his stats:


Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 233 lbs (106 kg)
Bodyfat: Unknown but seems fairly low – 12-15%

FFMI: 25.85

At 233lbs and 15% BF, he is carrying 198.05lbs/90kg of lean body mass.

To determine what his hypothetical weight would be at 8% body fat, I will use Lyle McDonald’s formula which goes like this:

Goal Weight = Current Lean Body Mass / (1-Goal Body Fat percentage as a decimal) {source}

In this case we have:

Goal weight = 198.05lbs /(1-0.08) = 198.05/0.92=215lbs/97.7kg.

According to the formula, Bugenhagen will be shredded at 215lbs – pretty damn big for his height.

In comparison, the bodybuilding legend Serge Nubret weighed between 200lbs and 217lbs at 6′. He wasn’t natural. He was a pinner for life and stood next to the best bodybuilders of his era. Legend has it that his favorite drug was primobolan.

Am I supposed to believe that Bugenhagen has a comparable amount of lean body mass at a similar enough height because he does deadlifts between his legs?


Can you have 20-inch pumped arms naturally without being fat?

In a video uploaded on January 27, 2019, Bugenhagen showcases his pumped 20-inch arms while being in a fairly lean condition.

I want you to perform the following exercise. Pump up your arms. Take a tape measure, put it around your arms and set it at 20. Look at the enormous gap between your skin and the tape. Do you think you can fill that abyss while preserving some form of six-pack abs?

This brings me to the next question. If Bugenhagen can have 20-inch pumped arms naturally, how big would his guns be if he goes full Ronnie Coleman? 25 inches?

Arnold would be jealous. Back in the day, the GOAT claimed to have 22-inch arms, but rumor has it that Arthur Jones measured them at 19 3/4. What’s the truth? I don’t know.

What I do know, however, is that a man who doesn’t have an absolutely freaky thick skeleton is incapable of constructing 20-inch arms naturally in anything that resembles a lean condition.


Does he have the Photoshop look?

Bugenhagen does not have the typical trenbolone look common for physique models. He is holding a little too much water and fat to replicate that appearance. However, he is still very lean and muscular. You don’t have be as shredded as an aesthetic brah to be a needle samurai.

“But he has been training for decades. He must be natural,” say the dreamers.

You are right, bro. Decades of training is why Mike O’Tren is so big. Years of dedication, annunaki-approved training regimen and autistic nutrition is where it’s at. Just pack it on slowly every year and eat your carrots. By the time you’re in your 40’s, you will be huge and ripped.

Except things don’t work like that. Who’s bigger? The twin that’s been training for 5 years or the one who’s been lifting for 15? You don’t know. Why? Because a man doesn’t need five centuries to reach his natural potential. Eventually, you are just maintaining because no amount of natural stimulus can boost you past your pre-determined physiology.

“But he trains like a hardcore maniac,” say the fans of AlphaDestiny.

Bugenhagen is known for maxing out on exceptionally weird lifts almost daily. The program is called Bulgarian lite. It’s derived from the original plan of the weightlifting coach Ivan Abadjiev who used to torture his pupils by forcing them to max out every day. Some survived; some didn’t. Those who did certainly weren’t natural.

Since the Internet warriors have a soft spot for barbaric lifting, the Bulgarian method became popular. It was all cool except for one big problem – the routine is too brutal if you don’t own a pharmacy. Hence why the geniuses came up with the lite version.

Here’s my take on the subject: who cares? Whether you do Bulgarian lite or the full-blown version, you still won’t break the natural limits today or 100 years from now because those limits are not dependent on the variable known as training.

In other words, the lifting acrobatics that Bugenhagen does at his basement do not have the capacity to produce musculature beyond the natural limits. If he has broken the natty limits, it’s certainly not the result of extremely heavy lunges.

That’s entertainment footage rather than a way to hack natural bodybuilding. There’s a reason why Bugenhagen became a wrestler too – he is funny (to some), big, muscular, handsome and high-energy  – qualities that make him a good entertainer without an actual impact on his natural ability to build muscle mass.

I do not accept the “he trains really hard argument”. There are many people out there who train hard, albeit without doing Bugenhagen’s stunts, but never transform into men accused of taking anabolic steroids. Why?

The kids want him to be natural.

The fans of Alpha Destiny want this man to be natural because they like his screamy personality, but that is not a valid argument. His body is still subject to the natty laws. I don’t care if he does squats with his head upside down. That will always be the case.

You want him to be natural because it would make for a great story. Well, bro. Just do what he does and maybe one day, you too will have a 20-inch pumped arm.

In conclusion

This man is so close to the bodybuilding legends from the 70s that it would be unreasonable to assume that he isn’t a part of the needle samurai legion.

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  1. Glove

    I can´t imagine that somebody really could think that he is clean.
    Seems to be that the internet implements many more silly ideas in the heads of the public as expected.

  2. Austin

    i just think it’s annoying that we can’t, with assurance, know what a peak natural looks like.

    It’s also ridiculous that using PEDs and lying about using them is completely normalized.

    1. Matt

      I think we pretty much do know the natural upper limits. If you’re significantly above elite on the strength benchmarks charts from Practical Programming, you’re not natural. So if a guy is deadlifting 700lbs, you automatically know he’s not natural, etc. If you’re hitting elite strength benchmarks while maintaining respectable cardio or getting impressively lean, you’re not natural. Or, if your bodyfat is below 10% without significant losses of strength and muscle mass, you’re not natural. Make it around 18% for women. If a girl looks like a crossdressing male bodybuilder/fitness model/etc, she’s not natural.

      I would consider a peak natural to be elite level strength benchmarks with 10-12% bodyfat and zero cardio. From there you can trade strength for lower bodyfat or more cardio. To get there you should have excellent genetics and do everything right for a very long time with laser focus on this one goal. If you have a life outside the gym, play sports, or aren’t the perfect gym rat in some way, aim correspondingly lower.

    2. Nake Fatty

      Eugen Sandow and a few other pre 1930 bodybuilders are prob as close as you’ll see to true naturals. I really doubt their stats are completely accurate though. Of course, people will try to argue that those guys would be even bigger if they had access to modern science/equipment/ and of course supplements 🙂 Others will argue that since there weren’t a lot of bodybuilders back then, it’s possible they didn’t represent the best of the best as there was a potential for others to be even bigger brah!

  3. GreedyJoe

    My opinion is that he used gear back in the days and then quit and maintained. Using gear permanently affects muscle cells and even if you come off, you still remain enhanced to a very small degree.

    Or he may be on TRT.

    He stated once in the video “stay natty bros” (which i appreciate him doing so for the youngsters and i hope people follow this instead of Tony Huge) that he maintained the same look over the years, not having ups and downs.

    He progressed liniarly.

    He is motivating and inspires dudes to lift natty, but not like him. A teen joining a gym for the first time will try that reverse grip behind the back with his eyes shut and legs crossed deadlift with one hand maxing out for one rep and get his ass injured.

    Also, the advice of GOMAD is stupid. He does that and eats honey and still is lean.

    So yeah… He’s on something…. Nanobots :)))

    1. Jem

      I hate Tony Huge tbh. Anyways he did say he used when younger but short time and quit like they all say. Alphadestiny sorta training isn’t for novices and IMO Alex is a fake natty too. He went from scrawny to huge then shredded all relatively quickly and we all chalk it up to his weird lifts and vegan OMAD diet?

      1. Grey_Mysterio

        I can’t believe there are people who think scam artist Tony H is for real. They even make sure to include the Dr. while addressing him.

        Alex maybe natty imo because he might be enhancing his pics or it is all that close-ups in the video. Looking at the troll account (but funny as hell) ‘Cope Destiny’ compilation you can see some unflattering shots just showing how tiny this man is.
        Smoke and Mirrors!

  4. Jem

    He said he used steroids before when he was younger but stopped using them and is natty now. Just like shit they all say. He just ate an extra chicken breast for supper and did weird lifts and bam jacked.

  5. joesantus

    “Arnold would be jealous. Back in the day, the GOAT claimed to have 22-inch arms, but rumor has it that Arthur Jones measured them at 19 3/4. ”

    Ellington Darden, who was taught by, employed by, and closely friended with Art Jones, states, “Interestingly, Jones measured Schwarzenegger’s upper arm at 19 1/2 inches…forearm…at 13 15/16 inches” (“The New High Intensity Training”, Darden c.2004. p. 40 ).

    But, who th’ fuck really knowssssssssssssss?…

    1. Valier

      The OAK. Austrian OAK.
      Ronnie Coleman is the GOAT.

  6. Grey_Mysterio

    When I mentioned this on YT some people got proper triggered!

    1. Josh

      There’s no reason to be triggered unless you idolize someone. That being said, Eric was a freak in college. If I recall correctly, PED’s are not allowed in college athletics. And there aren’t very many ways to pass a random drug test. All the author of this article has said, essentially, is “Well, he’s close to breaking the natty limit and he’s bigger than me. Therefore, StErOiDs!” If “Truth Seeker,” was really a truth seeker like he says, maybe he should conduct a strict study of what natural lifters can do and give them strict protocols instead of ASSUMING a FIXED ffmi limit of 26. Clearly you and “truth” seeker are unaware of bodybuilders from before the 1930’s. These guys have massive physiques, and could not have possibly touched steroids given the time period. With today’s better knowledge of nutrition and training, I’m supposed to be led to believe that a slightly bigger physique is impossible? I’m not implying it’s possible to look like Ronnie Coleman without touching drugs, but this article is just laughable. And has he even SEEN Eric’s physique? That IS a pretty big skeleton. Just LOOK at his ribcage! My structure isn’t super big and I only have a year of lifting under my belt, but I have 13 inch arms relaxed and 15 flexed unpumped. I’ve gotten a 3/8 inch pump before…I’m sure I can do more as I get more advanced in training. Clearly Truth Seeker hasn’t busted his @$$ in the gym for a sizeable pump. I hate to be blunt in my comments, but this article was written based purely off assumptions, and he thinks he’s untouchable because the only people that can disagree are “fanboys.” No. I think Eric gives good advice, but I don’t like the way he’s responded to comments in the past, showing me he can’t handle criticism too well. At the end of the day, what may be naturally attainable for one person may not be for someone else. Bottom line. You won’t know until you get there. I sure don’t.

      1. Josh the Cuck

        Lifters in the 30s looked like DYELs in clothing, and were tiny compared to modern day “naturals” aka fake naturals. So yeah sorry but your idols Eric Needlehagen, Beta Destiny etc are pinning FAKE NATURALS.

        1. Josh

          Was your low-grade mockery name supposed to make me mad? That’s all you got? XD Oh yeah, GREAT argumentation. You have not refuted anything I brought up, but just revealed to everyone on this forum how insecure you are that someone may have better bodybuilding genetics and training protocols than you. “DYELs” and “tiny” my touche. Do you even research bro? Your reply is a prime shining example of cognitive dissonance.

          1. Killer of Good genetics

            know something. Anyone with good genetics didn’t do jack shit to deserve them. And since most people have average genetics, anyone above average will usually just be not natty. I think bugenhagen and alpha destiny are natty, but uhh, people with good genetics did nothing to deserve them so fuck them, their like people being born into a royal family. Spoiled bratty pigs. I hate everyone with good genetics and whenever I meet someone new with good genetics i lie to them about lifting or if I get past someone in powerlifting due to knowledge I get to laugh at them its the best feeling, like shitting on their face or something. Yeah I have a personal vendetta against people with good genetics, but you know, average guy can put on decent size, even ectomorphs can get pretty jacked naturally, truth seeker actually is kinda meh physique, but I think he has only achieved like 60% of his genetic potential maybe a little more. I give a message of hope to all people who don’t have good genetics. Just train properly and trust the process and 9/10 times you’ll be the strongest person in the gyms and the most jacked and fittest person.

        2. Josh

          Was your low-grade mockery name supposed to make me mad? Is that the best you can do? XD GREAT argumentation there. You have not refuted anything I brought up, but just revealed to everyone on this forum how insecure you are that someone may have better genetics and training protocols than you. “DYELs” and “tiny” my touche. Do you even research bro? Your reply is a prime-shining example of cognitive dissonance.

  7. Nick

    Interesting article!

    Just a thought, can you give measurements in Metric (1st) and imperial (or what the USA uses) 2nd . Most of the world uses metric and some of those will be people reading your articles in English as a 1st (Australians as one example) or as a 2nd language………

    1. Vlad Eugen

      Been working in a gym for 20 years (but not trained others!) and seen thousands of young athletes but I never seen even one 1 clean athlete coming close to bench 2x his bodyweight -ie. They worked hard for years like 3-4-5 years with complete dedication under my very eyes shoulder to shoulder to say so and after the initial 20% increase in muscle mass who would come in the first months-one year – their progresses effectively would stop. Then after 4-5 years all of a sudden in a few months -sometimes weeks -bam! bench double their weight or gained 30 kg of muscles. Some admit it about doping, others negate saying that it is because some magic protein, while laughing -because they know that I know it is like saying to Dorian Yates that you are natty, but still don’t want to break the bubble -over time they will start talking about their dosage in the changing room, anyway.
      From my experience achieving big lifts without substances is possible! but it requires very specific training, which none even in the pro fitness industry does today I mean I never seen anyone trainingmy way. To me for good bench ie it required about 20 sets of maximal bench (2-3) reps with huge pauses between sets -of 5-6 minutes- and I done this every day! 7 days a week. I would bench daily for about 100-110 minutes so close to 2 hours. Then I would go train other muscles -sometimes after 2-3 hours break -for another 1,5-2 hours. This is the level of train and sacrifice I had to make to get to bench double my weight, but wherever I look around and see good benchers I only see guys benching like 6-8-10 sets with variable weight, well they put maximal for 2 sets and that’s it (LOL) and then moving on to other exercises, and this is not the way to get big lifts -unless you are on steroids -because natural lift requires even more effort than you would see on these so-called hard trainees doing. As indicator to my bench at 29 years I weighted about 68 kg and benched 140, with my bodyfat probably at 12% or more, but not very fat. Because my bodyweight of 68 kg was coming at the height of 171 cm!, so as you can see my BMI was 23.26, I was pretty skinny judging by my strength. When I started benching 7/7 I would already have about 10 years of experience in DAILY lifting (including Sundays, also for 10 years). My arms would though be at about 40-41 cm, and I probably neglected a bit my legs -but not excessively, I would still squat about 160 kg for 2-3 reps, just doing normal squat train there, the basic 2-3 times a week with 6-8-10 heavy sets of squat and additional exercises. My deadlift was always good though, at around 220 kg with specific training and about 180-190 kg with close to no train at all -still if you squat relatively often, like I did, your back will stay strong.

      From what I seen to other guys and compared to me, it seems that I have the extraordinary capacity to recover without external help, which most people lack -most of the time I would not even use proteins, let’s say that I would buy one low quality 900 gr quantity once a year finish it in about a month and that was it for the entire year, so that could not be a decisive factor. So it seems that I might be one of those in a hundred thousands with blessed genetics in terms of recovery.
      It still required for me incredible amount of volume, intensity and frequency to get to have decent results in lifting, and still I could not round my records all around if not for else then because the time factor -couldn’t nor wouldn’t want to train 10 hours/day for all my muscles at same volume and intensity. My brain would have just exploded LOL.

      Judging yet by the all round results of the guy in the article and his training style I’d say that the probability of him being on steroids is 99.99%. He does lift heavy, then he do normal workouts and some specificity, but it is not even remotely close enough to what it is needed to get those results of him while clean. Watch his training and multiply by 10 -this is the amount of work required without steroids -yet Millions of physics wouldn’t resist such tremendous stress.

  8. Ben

    FFMI calculation what is this youtube fitness 2010 XD

  9. Blahadestiny

    He’s a professional wrestler so he had to hide his juice stats.

  10. Neckman

    Lmao the guy is an athlete and in the WWE. His heavy ass training isn’t even optimal for hypertrophy. Juicing since day1

  11. Lewis

    I think that the guy is totally natural. If you cant be 6’2 and 230lbs without cheating we might as well go home. Im almost his weight and a couple of inches shorter. You know i think the real problem today is the laziness of all the jealous lifters. You see them all the time when you go to the Gym. They go on a machine for 30 seconds, then they get off while their mates have a go, stand for 15 minutes chatting, then go to another machine for 30 seconds and repeat the process. Go home 45 mins later and that’s their supposed work out and now anyone over 200 pounds is now on PED’s. How about actually pushing yourselves! Making sure you get the protein, have your creatine and do it natural. You want to see people on roids then look at the 300lb + shredded bodybuilders and old wrestlers from the 80’s and 90’s. Not the nattys over 200 who actually grind for their gains. FFS !

  12. Neck

    Go home then
    You are obviously a noob lifter
    First off he isn’t 6’2
    Second a lean 230 is near impossible to achieve naturally unless you are over 6’4. Lean basketball players like Micheal Jordan are much taller and don’t reach that weight at their peak musculoskeletal development (by the way they used steroids too… Shocking)

    Your boy Eric is nice and all. But he’s full of crap with his coffee garlic annoying music crap. The guy has crazy physique one surpassing freaking Thor. Stop it. Go home. He’s on a juice bro since day 1 no breaks.

    1. Fuck You

      “ACKSHUALLY I’M GONNA BREAK DOWN HOW INSECURE I AM IN DETAIL” – Little bitter beta boy Neck over here. You’d all be making more gains if you weren’t bitching and whining online, like a bunch of self-victimized Karens.

      1. Necks

        Why you so mad bro?
        You really believe in Eric that much
        Well I have another secret to share with you
        Wrestling is fake
        And they all on steroids

    2. Lewis

      Lol noob lifter? Neck you are the one who has no idea what you’re talking about. Firstly Eric said in his videos he’s a tad under 6’2. Secondly I’m 6 foot and 230 lbs and I’ve never taken any peds, yeah sure Eric’s a little leaner than me but he’s not competing bodybuilder lean either and it’s his job to work out and push himself as he is a professional athlete. I’m not, but I’m sure stronger than most I come across in the gym. I don’t push myself like I did I’m my twenties either and do most workouts at home now. If your not getting bigger i would say it’s most likely you don’t push yourself hard enough, 2 you might be focusing on too many different things on gym days and not focusing on a muscle group enough 3 your not getting enough calories in your diet which is a big one 4 you not getting enough protein

  13. Fuck You

    Fuck your lame ass website, pussy. Just fucking kill yourself.

  14. Lewis

    I actually think sites like this is actually contributing to the rise of young people taking Peds. They give the impression that if you want any kind of bulk you better juice because they start waving the finger at anyone over 200 lbs and acuse them of cheating. All you people saying it must be steroids clearly dont have the right mindset. You realise it takes years of hard training, making sure you eat lots of calories and protein every day for years!. To get this body naturally is attainable you just need to put the work in and build year after year. Eric looks natural to me, like I said above I’m 6′ 230lbs natural and it doesn’t happen over night. Years of dedication, just like Eric has done in his 20+ years of lifting. Eric has none of the signs of steroids, he’s not excessively lean, his vains don’t bulge out all over the place, doesn’t have acne, no hair loss, etc Now stop complaining and put the effort in and I hope you know these sites and the people claiming roids at everyone bigger than them, you are part of the problem and you are contributing to many young people feeling like they must. Congratulations.

  15. Hxcp

    My opinion – I like the guy and his content, but I personally don’t believe he is “fully” natty. Zero examples of people with his kind of musculature and physique in the pre-PED era.

    Now, do I believe he uses a lot of PEDs? Not at all. His progress, physique, size etc have all been consistent and he trains like an animal. But I think his ego is too big to not want every edge he can get to be successful or at least to help recovery from his intense training.

    What I think is that he does very low dose test and/or a couple sarms/peptides/occasional light orals like tbol and var for strength. No more than that.

    Him and Mike Ohearn are ironically probably the most natty guys out of the fake nattys. They’re complete genetic freaks who get insane results from little to no PEDs

    He’s in the wwe and steroids are illegal in his country, so no he can’t be going around broadcasting this to the world

  16. Neckman

    Lmao dawg either he’s natty or not. No such thing as halfway Natty. Once you get on dat dere ‘trt’ you know damn well these dudes adding many other compounds because they aren’t worried about a shutdown. Dawgs I saw his video about natural training years ago I didn’t buy a word even there he looked huge my dawgs

  17. TW0

    So sad to see people trying to cope with the reality that some people are naturally freaks. There are people who are 7 feet tall, people who have 14 inch dicks, people who wear a size 19 shoe at 6 foot flat. Stop trying to make excuses for your shitty 135 lb at 6 foot physiques, get in the fuckin gym, and move weights dumbass.

  18. Fukhim

    Delusional boys thinking he’s Natty lmao biggest joke
    And he has shittiest most obnoxious personality

  19. Hesafraud

    Eric is pumped full of growth hormone currently wrestling in the WWE and fanboys still think he’s natty lol

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