The Abs Of Natural Bodybuilders vs. The Abs of Steroid Users

| by Truth Seeker |


Shredded abs have the status of diamonds. They are the exception rather than the norm in the modern world worshiping the fat gut.

Most men and women have never seen the entirety of their abdominal musculature. This fact leads to the logical conclusion that the average lifestyle of the modern humanoid does not lead to leanness. People let their bodies assume whatever form the societal dogmas and conditioning have prepared for the average individual. It just happens that the output includes a ball of lard around the mid-section.

Since we lift weights to differentiate ourselves from the masses, a lean waist is a priority and an understandable desire/goal. Visible abs and developed biceps are the two biggest signals to the outside world that you are lifting weights – a property behind the cult status of those two body parts.

Contrary to the belief spread by the 5×5 zealots, nobody cares how much you squat, bench or deadlift. It’s all about looks. Only guys on forums and in the gym are interested in your numbers. The gazelles certainly don’t lose sleep over your lifts.

Do you really think that women hyperventilate in the presence of a man because of his massive bench press? Do you really think that you need a strength certificate from Mark Rippetoe to get women? Come on, boy. It’s time to get serious.

The anti-sex combo of man boobs and a fat gut is the biggest reason why men are afraid to take their shirt off in public. Books could be written on the self-awareness caused by this shame, but let’s be brutally honest for a second and admit the obvious – lard does not look good. You know it consciously and subconsciously. Regardless of the gymnastics that the modern culture is making to legitimize fatness through mind conditioning, you cannot overcome the built-in biological mechanisms in us that determine what we find attractive or repulsive.

No one’s idea of a good body includes a big fat gut. Even the wannabe powerlifters who bulk up heavily while making fun of the “pussies” who preserve their abs at the expense of higher squat numbers hate it when their lard ball bounces around. On a deeper level, those men know that lifting heavy weights is worth little in the pursuit of a physique leading to as many bedrooms as possibles. If low bar squats were the key to aesthetics, the barbell warriors doing them wouldn’t be taking pics while sucking in their guts as if it’s a life or death situation.

The solution seems fairly simple, right? Acquire the abs of a fitness model.

The question is – can you do that naturally or not?

Can you develop abs worthy of a magazine cover without injecting?

In theory, yes. But there’s more to the story. The natural and the enhanced journeys towards abs of magnificence are similar but not identical.

How Do Steroids Help The Acquirement Of Sexy Fitness Model Abs

1.More mass

The primary role of anabolic steroids is not fat obliteration but rather the construction of muscle mass. The extra fibers, however, possess two major qualities that facilitate the leaning out phase.

A guy on steroids is not afraid that he will lose precious muscle mass because the drugs are there to protect it. Also, the larger muscular base increases the resting metabolic rate of the roid bro and allows him to consume more food on a diet – a bonus leading to a more enjoyable fat destruction process.

The extras do not end here. There’s one more that plays a fundamental role – the external support of the spectators.

As the cut progresses, the natty martyrs cry while the roid users are encouraged to continue by the applause of the crowd. As the weeks advance, the druggies start to look bigger while the natties are slowly fading out.

In reality, both groups of cutting warriors are getting smaller. The difference is that the roid bro has enough muscle mass to pull off the low body fat look whereas the natty acquires an emaciated refuge appearance because of his smaller musculature. During the final weeks of the journey, when extreme leanness is just around the corner, friends and family organize an intervention for the natty bro. All members bring up delicious food to the meeting to jump-start the recovery process.

The roid users do not face similar issues. Their only problems are the side effects as well as the increasing number of women looking to touch their popping muscles.

The Halo Effect

Another bonus of carrying extra muscle mass is the halo effect making people assume that you have visible abs even when you don’t. I know this sounds weird, but it really happens. A man may have blurry or even invisible abs, but when his chest, back and arms are big they trick the mind of the observer into projecting the existence of more detailed abdominal muscles.

This manipulation is also similar to the cheerleader effect which increases the perceived attractiveness of women in a group. For better or worse, the extra points disappear when you analyze objectively every single female in the circle. If you were to do that, you will realize that your beloved queens are less attractive than what your mind was originally telling you.

Natties cannot create this effect unless they have a politically correct body part (arms, chest, lats) that’s big enough to steal the attention of the crowd. This lack of halo power gives the critics more time to focus on the abs (an essential body part to aesthetics) and judge the area harshly.


There are anabolic compounds and other drugs that dry out the physique by reducing the extra water. For instance, some believe that steroids like Trenbolone push the subcutaneous water into the muscle – an architectural hack resulting in a more detailed and bigger musculature. Naturals cannot experience the same metamorphosis and are usually watery unless they follow a very strict diet unsustainable in the long run.

Natural vs. Enhanced Dieting





Low but higher than the allowance of natty martyrs


Only if starting from a very fat point

Yes. They’re all ‘miring.

Muscle loss



Looking big in clothes



Strictness of the diet



Level of Pain



Satisfaction from the final result

Low to Medium



Depreciating – as the diet advances it becomes apparent that the actual muscle mass of the lifter is lower than previously envisioned

Increasing – every extra gram of lost fat takes the lifter once step closer to the desired mean and nasty “shredded as a cock” look.

The Photo Shoot Illusion

After the adoption of the phone camera, the market share of digital photos in the life of the modern human increased to scary proportions. People invest a serious amount of time in the arrangement of their pics and the analysis of others’ galleries on social media.

The muscle deities follow the trend for business and narcissistic reasons. They do everything to enhance the digital pixels that represent them. If you think that your favorite muscle celebrity takes a photo and immediately uploads it, you need to spend some time behind the curtains. Only photos that satisfy the illusion enter the public treasury.

This creates a false perception that hurts naturals trying to get dividends from their time in the gym. The women that you want to impress do not care how much effort you are investing into the fight against gravity when you don’t have a physique showing it. Since females form their idea how a dedicated lifter looks from boosted social media posts of highly edited photos of steroid addicts, the task of the natty becomes even harder.

The full list of artificial effects helping the professional muscle models maintain the illusion includes:

– digital enhancement such as Photoshop

– professional photographers with expensive equipment

– shaving & tanning – muscle models remove their body hair and spend a decent amount of time in a solarium cabin to darken their skin for the purpose of a more detailed musculature. This may seem hilarious, but people are doing it because it works. Meanwhile, Mr. Natural rarely indulges in similar cosmetic orgies and loses a few more definition points.

– angles, filters, high volume of photos

– posing – the purpose of posing is to put the body in an aesthetic form further enhancing the effect of muscular development and leanness

– temporary dehydration

Before a photo shoot or a contest, models and bodybuilders force their bodies to lose water weight. The goal is to make the musculature even more defined. This conditioning, however, cannot be preserved for a long time since it’s unnatural and unhealthy. Drugs known as diuretics are often a part of the process too.

All of the above forms the Photo Shoot Illusion which is no different than a movie poster.

Everyday Natural Look vs. Enhanced Brah Ready For a Photo Shoot


Enhanced Brah


Highly unlikely


Hair removal






Digital Enhancement

Possible but unlikely


Angle Frauding

Yes but on an amateur level




Before the photo shoot

Instagram filters



That Last Layer of Fat

Unless one has great genes for leanness, maintaining a set of HD abs as a natural forever is an almost impossible goal. It can be done, on paper, but the majority will always fail for two reasons – the constant dieting drives you insane, and the motivation to preserve the low body fat levels diminishes as the novelty effect wears off. Once a natural has failed to find the awaited satisfaction from carrying shredded abs, he or she could easily choose pizza over leanness.

Maintaining a shredded waist without an ounce of fat in the love handle region as a natural is a goal of questionable value. It’s cool, but the changes to one’s lifestyle may not be worth the trouble especially if you are doing it for external reasons which is always the case.

Not even the druggies do that even though it’s easier for them. They also gain weight and lose definition in the offseason.

Are There Any Structural Differences Between The Natty and Steroid Abs

Steroids don’t change the original shape of a muscle. They just make the fibers bigger.

The abs do not have an extreme potential for hypertrophy for practical reasons. The abdominal region can grow in size and thickness as a result of resistance training but not nearly to the degree of other muscle groups like the legs and back for example. There simply isn’t “room for growth”.

Anabolic steroids have the capacity to give the shoulder girdle a nasty look due to the large amount of androgen receptors in the area, but they certainly don’t do the same to the mid-section. The popping detail showcased by fitness models and bodybuilders comes from the extremely low body fat and dryness rather than a muscular mutation of the abs induced by the drugs.

The only exception would be modern professional bodybuilders carrying distended guts caused by a prolonged abuse of insulin and growth hormone. In that case, the drugs actually destroy the aesthetics of the mid-section despite the low levels of body fat.

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  1. T-Moron

    **bows down**

    Good write as always.

  2. Jai

    What a Fab writer u are ?/what language!!! What wit!!!! Beautiful analysis… Big fan of yours… Much respect from India

  3. Jai

    You are a writer non pareil and you are a boon to millions. Thank you so much… You have saved me in many ways.
    A haters synthesis was fantastic…..

  4. Oldboy

    Thanks for my dopamine dose 😉

  5. The Italian Stalion

    Im curious but what do you consider big? What’s your standard for a big, muscular body?

    In the digital world, anyone who isn’t 120kg/250 pounds of pure muscle at 10% bodyfat is considered puny, but in the real world, standards seem to differ greatly.

  6. Brett

    For some reason I found that spending your evening bar hopping and drinking beer normally equals a flat stomach the next day. Obviously if only done once every few weeks. Might be from the dehydration.

    I think most nattie’s are content with only top four abs showing. I think that’s like 12-15% bodyfat. Not sure though.

    I personally don’t care much about looking Ripped To Shreads. I just want basic leanness with perhaps my abdominals basic outline visible. Kinda like Tom Hardy in ‘Warrior’.

    Good article. Impressed that you are still able to find things to talk about that are interesting. Most other authors would be out of ideas after all the posts you have done.

    1. Fatman

      “I personally don’t care much about looking Ripped To Shreads.”

      This is actually a very bad look for most naturals. They look much better at a higher BF% but carrying appreciable muscle mass (i.e. letting the “halo effect” kick in).

      The guy from Nick’s Strength channel on YT chronicled his journey to shredness in a video. He has IMO the optimal natty physique (decent muscular development and lean, but no sixpack) but dieted down for a bodybuilding show. He achieved impressive definition, but lost almost all his muscle mass in the process. In the conclusion to the video, he seems unwilling to try it again.

  7. Steve Crook

    > abs of magnificence
    I wish. I’ve found there’s a point at which my desire for chiselled abs has met my metabolic resistance and diet pain and lost. Every time.

    To a point where I was thinking liposuction? Hmmmmm? Which made me wonder how many fitness models (and others) had gone down that route? One off payment, abs forever…

    1. matt

      Very True about Natty’s with low body fat. Muscle and strength loss is not what I am looking for as I am not wanting to be a body builder. I don’t want to be a lard carrying powerlifter. Natty’s do look best in my opinion with the 15%-12% Body fat because it is still fairly lean and you can still have something to show for it with some muscle.

  8. Robert

    Would love to hear your views on the MGTOW movement

  9. James

    Great article as always brother 🙂

  10. Remi

    Great analysis as always. Greets from Poland!

  11. MB

    Great info on this website. Thanks to the author of all the articles and the interesting comments.
    Most articles are focussed on men, but I still find it’s difficult to figure out what the maximum potential is for a woman who is natural.

    1. MB

      For example, there’s a personal coach named Debbie Crall. She’s very fit and in better shape than most women I see in a commercial gym while she’s over 60 years old. Is that achievable natty for a woman?

  12. joe santus

    I’m age 62, have been no-PEDs bodybuilding for 45 years, and, yes, I still have washboard abs. The reason I began bodybuilding at age sixteen in 1972 was to get a chiseled six-pack. As a natural, my bodyfat percentage has hit as low as 10%, and I know how to maintain it between 10-12% for as long as six months each year during warm-enough-for-shirtless weather. I’m only 5’8″, with small bones (slightly too-narrow clavicles, 6.625″ wrists, 8.875″ ankles, very short muscle bellies everywhere except my average-length lats), and I realized after two years of bodybuilding that I have inferior muscle-building genetics. I ceilinged my genetic limits for mass/proportion after five consecutive years of consistent, proper training (based around compounds such as squats, leg presses, overhead presses, pull-ups, barbell rows, dips, deadlifts, straight-legged deadlifts) n’ eating n’ recovering. From that point, I realized that being as cut as comfortably possible to sustain for long periods was my practical goal.

    I’ve had several women with whom I’ve developed long-term relationships admit later that my abs are what initially caught their attention. I’m not in that 10-20% group of guys whom women find automatically sexually attractive, but my making leanness a priority along with the muscle mass I can hold does compensate for that significantly.

    So, yeah…like it or not, most women find lean washboards sexually attractive. And, remember (if this matters for how you specifically are wired): if you have social status and/or money, etcetera to spend on her, a woman might let you have sex with her…but…neither social status nor money can make her lust for you so that she feels desire for sex with you.

    1. Justin

      This i find inspiring as oddly i have nearly the same measurements as you but a bit taller, perhaps for me its this but for you id say thats average. Id be interested to see your physique, theres always appreciate for someone who puts in natty effort & sticks to it. Kudos to you man. Keep truckin, its not just a look, its pure health.

    2. Paul

      I hear ya, Joe. We’re about the same age and size (but I’m 5’5″) with a similar training history. My bf% ranges between 10-15%, depending on the season. Easy, peasy.

  13. Mike

    So, what about Merijn of former Student Aesthetics. Natty or not?

  14. LS

    I actually don’t give a shit about visible abs. Unless I was trying out to be the next Calvin Klein underwear model or was actually trying to be in a bodybuilding contest I just don’t care. If given the choice of being able to actually look like I lift in a T shirt or other street clothes, but have no real visible abs (not fat though, a flat stomach, just smooth), or look like a regular sized person in street clothes but have great abs underneath I would take the former over the later every time. I was just watching an old press conference with Mike Tyson before one of his fights wearing a T Shirt and he looked very impressive. Yet in the fight he had no real visible abdominal development. He was lean and certainly not even close to being fat. By youtube standards he would have been called fat and somewhat small which is absurd. Who do you think would get noticed first in a crowd? Someone like Tyson in a T shirt (but no real abs, at least at this point in his career) or the guy with great abs but looks like a regualr skinny guy in street clothes? Sure some take the bulking thing too far, but just as destructive is this obsession men seem to have with having the waist line the size of a woman.

  15. Vali

    Last time i almost saw my abs, i was looking and feeling like crap. Everyone thought i was sick! Got down to 10-12% and only my upper abs were showing. Around the waist is where is store the most fat. My arms went from DAMN BRO to Do you even lift BRO.
    I hated the perpetual feeling of hunger, cortisol and lethargy from all the cardio, training and stuff. I stopped when i did get sick (low blood suger, anxiery, panic attacks. Went back to 15%. Now i’m over 20% and feel ok. I lift to feel strong and healthy, not starving.

    1. realitybites

      Did you ever find out what was causing the symptoms of lethargy, low blood sugar, anxiety, panic attacks etc.? Was it the way you dieted down or just being at a body fat percentage your body was not too happy with?

      1. Vali

        It was the low carb intake – the only diet that works for me. The anxiety and loss of libido (and ED) seems to be caused by low testosterone levels and raised catabolism (thus the muscle loss as well). Man i wish i had the money for HGH, T3 and Clenbuterol like fake nattys do. Honestly, they get cut and cut and also look full and pumped. Dieting down as a natty is like starving in the wild, hence the slow metabolism and thyroid function. I now eat whatever i want so i can have the energy to work out and get my day going.

        1. OldManMuscle

          Curious as to why low carb is the only diet that works for you. I experienced the same symptoms you listed when I tried it, plus as an added bonus it spiked my blood pressure. I was under the mistaken impression that only ketosis would burn body fat, but I was wrong.

          Switched to a 1500-calorie daily intake, no special foods, no foods I proclaimed were “off limits,” just religiously kept track of cals with MyFitnessPal. LIfted 3 times a week, no cardio ever. Lost 1-2 lbs of fat a week and maintained the deficit for 3 months, dropped 20 lbs of flab. Relaxed waist went from 37.5″ to 33.5″ and actually sort of have abs. Losing fat is slow, boring, and sucks. Just takes dedication and discipline.

          1. Thorgal

            Low carb ?

            Bad idea. You need fat AND carbs for testosterone. In fact, I remember reading a study showing that the ratio carb / protein is also important for test. And you know the result ? the ratio should be high enough, i.e. if you eat too much protein with respect to carbs, your test declines 😀

            Then you have to think about WHAT you eat: there are foods inhibiting the production of test (look up aromatisation, i.e. this link : ).

  16. fredrik

    You should do (bodypart) of natties vs steroid users for legs, arms, chest and back as well. Great article nevertheless.

  17. Jack


    My experience too. I’m pushing sixty and have dieted down many times over the years. Feels like that every time. Only time I’ve ever seen my entire abs was in high school. I’m trim but not cut. Gotta be at least 12-15% to feel dynamic and alive. I love the way clothes feel at lower levels but hate the lower libido, sluggishness and cranked mood. Unless you’re on some kind of gear, can’t have the best of both worlds.

    That’s why I Red-pilled at last as a natty. When I see cover models looking ripped AND plump n pumped, I call bullshit. I’ve chased the illusion until it broke me. I’ve joined Team Hater because they exploited my ego desires since I was a teenager. I even despise Arnold for lying to me. That Austrian Oak phuqqer

    1. Vali

      :)) Arnold is the biggest liar in BB history. Hence, the route to politics. He took dbol like we take creatine from age 16. His arms were freaky huge when he began lifting. Just look at the old pictures. Genetics-genetics, ok, i get it. I’ve seen big gifted natty guys, but they did not look disproportionate as they looked. I do not discredit his efforts whatsoever, without him, we would’ve not be talking about all this right now, bodybuilding would still be underground, but what do it know? If steroids would not’ve existed, picture that!

  18. Bortman

    Lol why do you care what women think so much, women don’t care how much you squat blah blah blah. Women don’t really care about anything we do really, so why care about what they think they certainly don’t care about what we think about their make up damn you are so stupid.

    Talking about our lifts is something for men to do, just as women gossip about whatever and makeup you idiot, but morons like you will do anything for acceptance form women.

    A natural having washboard abs is worthless because he ends up being so weak, lift for strength and astethics, for a natural that’s around 12% to 17% BF looks good enough in person and that’s all you need, And with solid lifting numbers you are good to go and of course money but you seem to need women when they are truly worthless besides sex, that is what makes men stupid and weak like you, always worrying what women think and sex from them.

    I can tell you are a simp and will do anything for a women pathetic loser you are, same goes for the fat powerifters, Weight training and working out should be about your health not this crap, if you are healthly and strong but don’t have visible abs who gives a crap.

  19. Jason

    I’ve been searching for an article like this for a long time. For years I’ve been trying to get shredded since I already naturally get big from weight training. I desired that ripped look because I was always “bulky”. Everyone else online says you can achieve the ripped look naturally alone but it frustrated me because I’ve been doing crazy cardio and been eating at a caloric deficit for years but never saw the ripped results. Now I know I wasn’t t doing anything wrong after reading this article!

  20. Yoel

    I feel the list left out one of the most obvious cheats that everyone has seen when the changing room selfies are posted: perfect lighting. This is the one trick that makes more difference than any of the professional tricks, and casts the perfect shadow and colouring on any posed selfie.

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