Eric Bugenhagen – Natural Or a Needle Samurai?

| March 25, 2019 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.


  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. 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.

  6. 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………

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