Clement | Sun October 03, 2010
Cordova. He has the best and fullest muscles. As a side note, I would prefer natural bodybuilding over the unnatural ones, if I may.
October 03 2010
Like the Mr.Olympia, there is no single federation where all the natural bodybuilders compete.So it is hard to pick the best or the biggest natural bodybuilder.
In my opinion, these are the best natural bodybuilders (in no particular order) who have stood out in the recent years. Note that all these natural bodybuilders are currently competing. These are also some of the The biggest natural bodybuilders you will ever find.
Competition Weight: 180
Competition Weight: 195-200
Competition Weight: 186-192
Competition weight: 170-180
Competition Weight: 180’s
Who do you think is the biggest natural bodybuilder?
And just to give you some perspective. Here is what drugs can do to you.
Mr. Olympia 2010 (Not Natural).
Competition Weight: 270!
Clement | Sun October 03, 2010
Cordova. He has the best and fullest muscles. As a side note, I would prefer natural bodybuilding over the unnatural ones, if I may.
Nice and refreshing article. Thanks.
What about Layne Norton? Is he still competes?
Anoop | Sun October 03, 2010
He is the the Frank Zane of Natural bodybuilding. Clearly his weak point is his lower body.
He recently competed in his first show after a 4 year hiatus. Took 1st in the heavy weight class (IFPA)in his first pro show. But I don’t think he can win over these freaks.
How about Skip la Cour and Jeff Willet?
Nice to see an article like this that put natural bodybuilder in the spotlight. I like that is not only about mass with these guys. Some are “light”, but look freaky anyway.
From the list I would say Cordova looks best. I like his line, but I have not seen his legs so the jury is still out.
Anoop | Sun October 10, 2010
Not all, but most folks who compete in the NPC shows like team universe are not natural, especially when they dominate it like Skip La cour and Willet. A lot of these shows aren’t tested or have like a 1 year rule or only test the top two. And even if you are tested positive, I dont think anything happens.
They are kind of too big to be a natural you know. But then again, there some exceptions you know.
Jeff Willet is an IFPB pro. I don’t think anyone can be an IFBB pro and be natural. Think about it - Jay Cutler and Ronnie Colemann are IFBB pro’s.
Anoop | Sun October 10, 2010
You are welcome. And Jim Cordova is competing this November against some of the folks in the list. That’s going to be one heck of a line-up. He needs to bring his calves and legs and come in more conditioned. He is the Frank Zane of natural bodybuilding!
A couple of the top natural federations are the WNBF, and IFPA. They usually require a 7 year drug free duration.
Nobody knows what ‘natural’ bodybuilding is. I’ve given up defining it or coming up with criteria.
Anoop | Sat October 23, 2010
I think most who compete in WANBF,IFPA are pretty legit.
And I agree sometines it is hard to define natural. If someone took drugs 7 yrs back and if he doesn’t take now, is he natural?
But it is pretty rare to see someone who is at the top level of natural bodybuilding taking drugs and fooling everyone. If he was that motivated, he would move to IFBB or something you know. There is not much money in natural bodybuilding nor hugeness. You only get a good feeling of accomplishment.
I can’t speak to much of the natural organizations because I’m a fan of the IFBB. However, I do know there isn’t much money in the NPC or IFBB. Every natty I know is pushing the envelope on being natural and becoming better bodybuilders. They are all looking for an edge.
Andy | Fri October 29, 2010
Phillip Riccardo looks natural in the 2nd pic. All the others will be either ‘juicing’, have ‘juiced’ or telling porkies.
I’d say a general rule of thumb is: if they’re natural, you can see a gap where one muscle stops and another starts lol. Otherwise it’s extraneous hormones.
It isn’t feasible to convert that much (see pics above) amino acid into muscle.
Andy | Fri October 29, 2010
Well, I found this on Kiyoshi Moody.
He maintains he’s always been 100% natural. Absolute mesomorph genetic carnival show of a man if that’s the case.
Anoop | Sat October 30, 2010
I have personally seen a few people who I thought was on drugs but who never really bothered taking even a protein powder or eating right. They are called genetic freaks! Imagine taking them and training hard & eating great for 20-25 years! Phillip is 39 yrs old!
And I took the best pics of these guys. There are shots where they look just ordinary. All these guys compete in either IFPA or WNBF which is drug-tested. If you give the right lighting, you can make people look a lot bigger and ripped.So I think these guys are legit.
And phillip just won the Yorton Cup 2010 which is probably the biggest natural bodybuilding contest.
Andy | Sat October 30, 2010
Yeah, I also found other pics where they did look a little more ‘normal’. Fair enough.
So frustrating. If only it was that easy for all of us!
Anoop | Sun October 31, 2010
Here is the youtube video of the Yorton cup 2010 with Riccardo:
Half those guys are on drugs.
stupid list. Anyone with paper thin skin and unusual sized muscles that naturals can’t develop are suspect.
TPT | Thu November 04, 2010
Anyone care for the IFBB?
Anoop | Thu November 04, 2010
Which half is drug-free??
Paper thin skin comes down to genetics and conditioning. Natural means they haven’t used any drugs; it doesn’t mean they cannot have superior genetics. All the above are genetic freaks! And these guys are still tiny compared to drugged bodybuilders.
What about IFBB? I think 99% of them are on drugs in IFBB.
TPT | Fri November 05, 2010
They all are on drugs of course. I still follow the IFBB like many others who have interests in bodybuilding. Not you?
Anoop | Sat November 06, 2010
I do follow them. I posted the link to the video of Mr. Olympia 2010 the very day on the forum. I sometimes listen to their radio shows on MD. Dorian is my favorite (Arnold too). He is indeed a thinking bodybuilder. I have both their books too.
Nice! Then you are ‘bodybuilder’ at heart. Dorion did change the way we train with implications to the everyday gym rat and clinic. Too bad science has not provided the evidence to back his, Menzter’s, and Jones’ theories.
Anyway, besides MD make sure to check out the forums for RXmuscle and AnabolicSociety. That’s what I do for break from academics.
Anoop | Wed November 10, 2010
I read Schwarzenegger’s biography and his big encyclopedia when I was 15 or 16. I think everyone into bodybuilding has been influenced by these guys. I usually check the pro bodybuilding scene every one in awhile.
And I saw this recent video of Dorian training Kai and it was funny how Dorian was telling Kait not to use mommentum and keep it tight and Kai still doesn’t get it. The way Dorian trained couple of sets is like someone else doing 4-5 sets.
Hope you registered in the forums TPT.
Kellie | Fri November 12, 2010
Thanks for this great list! I have been competing NPC figure for a little over a year and am ready to try out the natural orgs. They have such a stigma in the NPC, but I think they are a class act.
This inspires me to press forward and move to that natural stage.
anoop | Sat November 13, 2010
Thanks for the comment. And I never expected someone to get inspired by the article to compete in the nat org.
And I hope you registered in the forums. We need a female perspective!
Anoop | Mon November 15, 2010
An update: Martin Daniel took he overall and the heavy weight in the WNBF world. He is another beast!
WNBF world is one of the top natural competitions in the world. Cordova came second in Light weights with Brian Whittacre taking the Lightweight.
Anoop | Wed December 01, 2010
Thanks for the comment.
Not sure what you mean by “drug free testing”. The competition are either called “drug free” or “drug tested”. Drug free do not mean they are drug tested.
GH do not enhance muscle from what the studies show unless they are taking some crazy doses. And blood testing for GH is not that prevalent in natural bodybuilding because it is too expensive. It is mostly urine testing.
steven | Sun February 06, 2011
Can anyone tell me why Jay Cutler is the guest poser for NPC’s natural Ohio competition on March 20th? Is it just me or does it seem odd that Jay Cutler’s name would be used in association with anything that has the term “natural” in it? has anyone tried burn the fat, feed the muscle
Who lobbied for getting Cutler? Maybe it is linked to a sponsorship deal or maybe some people are just trying to kill natural bodybuilding.
‘Burn the fat, Feed the muscle’ is one of the first books I read about fitness/bodybuilding. There is some good info in the book (carb/cal cycling, goal setting, lifting heavy weights while dieting), but there are also a lot of myths written in the book. For instance: I read somewhere that the writer now also uses intermittent fasting even though he states in the book that 6 meals a day are needed to avoid the starvation response. People learn in time I guess.
The program does work, but you don’t need to follow al the rules/myths for succes.
Anoop | Tue February 08, 2011
They have different meanings. Competitions can be drug free or drug tested. Drug testing in NPC is random and it could be urine or polygraph. Most can get through it.
Even IFBB has a doping policy in their rule book. check this: http://www.ifbb.com/amarules/IFBBRulebook_2006-2007Edition.pdf
Hi Anoop, I am a natural competitor for OCB. I’m just curious to know if you’ve ever competed before.
Do you think Dave Goodin is natural? He’s a former WNBF pro, who is now an IFBB pro. I believe he is a lifetime natural bodybuilder.
Anoop | Sat October 08, 2011
Great to hear! Nope. I would like to one day.
I think he is natural. There are natural bodybuilders who are way bigger than him. And I don’t know anyone would keep lying about being natural for over 20 years you know.
very interesting post indeed, consider it bookmarked
None of these lifters gained the bodies they have naturally. If they are just genetically gifted as some claim, then why is it that there are no examples of this sort of muscular development prior to the creation of steroids. There have always been strong men and bodybuilders, but none of these men (Charles Atlas for example) ever looked this good. Some would have you believe it is all due to increased knowledge in the field of resistance training. That is laughable considering that there is no uniformity in training protocols or diets. In the late eighties, the diet recommendations were completely different than today, but the lifters were just as big and lean back then. Drugs are the only explanation, and if you think that so called “natural competitions” don’t involve either former or current users, you are ignoring the obvious fact that there is no empirical evidence to show that this sort of development is possible without drugs. When ever you see a body that seems to good to be true, in Hollywood, in sports, in the Olympics, ... inevitably we find out eventually it is. My experience of lifting for 20 years with good genetics has convinced me that like my peers from before the mid 1940’s a body like the ones showcased above are impossible without many cycles of steroids. Just think of how long it takes bodybuilders to achieve their bodies with massive amounts of drugs, then tell me these guys above did something comparable without them. The natural competitions should be called “currently natural” at best.
Anoop | Wed December 28, 2011
Simple answer: Low body fat levels.
Take Steve Reeves or Reg park and have them compete at today’s competition and they will have no choice but to come ripped with striated glutes.
Mind you, the lbm of these bodybulders are more or less the same compared to Reeves or Reg Park. The only thing that changed is body fat levels.
Usually when people lose body fat, they look bigger and more muscular. Looks can be deceptive.
Thanks for the response Anoop, but Steve Reeves and Reg Park were not as big as they were until steroids were already available. In those early days of the 1940’s and 1950’s, steroids were not widely available, but they were available. The Germans were using them in the 1930’s, and the US and Russia were using them shortly after that. Reeves claims to have used only vitamin B shots. He was obviously willing to inject what he thought would help him, which makes it hard to believe he would pass up anabolic steroids.
Here is an interesting blog from a Hollywood insider it mentions Reeves: http://www.alivenotdead.com/stefandelong/CELLULOID-STEROID-profile-504162.html
Charles Atlas never looked like Steve Reeves or Reg Park, yet he would have certainly known as much about fitness and nutrition as Reeves and Park. In order to convince me, you would need to provide a physique from prior to the 1940’s that looked anything like the ones today. The evidence is just not there, and if it were possible to do that naturally there would/should be countless examples from the distant past.
After all, the ancient Greeks understood the concept of progressive resistance. Even ancient art doesn’t depict the gods as being as big and ripped as these men today because it would have been so far removed from what was seen as man’s normal physique.
The fact is that gaining mass and having 6% body fat are not compatible goals. While I have seen peer reviewed research that shows a low carb diet can help reduce body fat while maintaining lean mass, the gains in lean mass in these studies are either negative (a loss of lean mass) or extremely modest. These studies are also rarely conducted on trained individuals which have usually reached a plateau.
I have no problem with the use of steroids, but it is harmful to portray drug users as natural. That leads to countless disappointed and frustrated lifters who end up with negative body image when their results in the gym don’t match what they see on TV and in the magazines. They should hold themselves up to a different standard. There is a great documentary called Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger which shows some of the disappointment that exists. I personally hate when someone looks at a fitness model or celebrity who doesn’t look ridiculously big and says, “They look natural.” In almost all cases they aren’t. You don’t need to be super big to have earned your body with steroids. The commitment and dedication to have a body simply like the statue of David (the renaissance version of the perfect male form) is incredible, and very few would ever achieve that naturally. However, these days every bar around the world is full of people who eat junk, don’t rest properly, train inconsistently, and look at least that good (usually better). Just watch an episode of the Jersey shore…
I love your site, but I think it is unlikely that any of these “natural” lifters did not use steroids in the past. In fact, they probably have accomplished very little of their amazing bodies without them. They still have done something only a small number of people could ever do, but they shouldn’t be able to claim they did it all naturally.
I argeed with most of the points you made untill you mentioned the statue of David as a body that only very few can ever achieve naturally. I know many people that look close to that, are natural and don’t train that much at all.
I do agree however with your ‘Jersey Shore’ argument. They imbody what is wrong with the mentality of many people. Also, many people do have an unrealistic view of the effectiveness of natural bodybuilding, like women who think they will develop into a man/woman as soon as they use somewhat heavier weights, which has been created by media depicting drugged-up female bodybuilder en strength athletes.
Too say ‘David’ is hard to achieve is a bit too negative though.
You are right about the David comment.
I only meant that the statue of David has such an ideal chest-to-waist ratio that a person would need to watch their diet to keep their waist that lean, and they’d need to lift to keep their chest, back, and shoulders wide. As men age, staying lean can be a challenge and most of the guys taking steroids at the local bar or gym would become soft in the middle from their diet and lifestyle without drugs. I doubt most of them would have the discipline to achieve their bodies naturally—not to mention maintain that level of fitness for the long haul.
I do agree with you that the David build is totally obtainable with dedication, and certainly anyone who obtains that outward appearance naturally and maintains it would be very healthy and strong for life.
If you have a chance look up images of Sig Klein, Otto Arco, and a guy named Sandow. They all were bodybuilders before the era of roids, and you can find pictures of them from the 1920’s. Since the pics are from prior to the 30’s and 40’s when steroids first made the scene, you can be sure that at least that level of muscularity is possible naturally. They are much closer to David than to Arnold or Cutler. It’s also to see how the ones still lifting into the 40’s and 50’s suddenly start to look akin to our current bodybuilders—even though by then they should have been past their primes.
Those are much better examples IMO and they all have very low body fat percentages. So you could say you just gave a solid contra-argument to Anoops low body fat argument.
There is a factor that you did not take into account, though.
Bodybuilding specifically (for appearance only) has become more popular than when Sandow and others were around. So way more people are doing it and thanks to the development of social media (like internet) al lot more bodybuilders with good-extreme genetics become known to the public. Thanks to this larger pool there could also be more genetic freaks in the top natural bodybuilding competitions than before.
So the top natural bodybuilders of today may not all be former drug users. Although there are probably are quite a few who are and a large group of people will never look impressive with their shirt still on without steroids.
Anoop | Sun January 01, 2012
As you wrote, Euegene Sandow, Sigmun Klein, Saxon are all pre-1940’s, if you think that is the ‘cut off’. Looking at the back shot of Sigmund Klein, it is amazing! n those years, it was all strong man training. Not many gave too much emphasis to bodybulding. I have my doubts about Reg Park. He looks as big as Arnold in pics where they are next to each other.
And you have to understand the bodybuilders I have shown are the exceptions. Most people cannot come close these. And most of them are training and eating right for almost 20 years! I have worked in 4-5 different gyms and I have seen some natties (blacks mostly) who are just exceptional! And take a look at Braden Sowle interview. I have seen him grow the last 4 years. He goes to school. And why go that far I feel if I train hard and eat right, I can look pretty damn good. My brother who hasn’t even lifted 10% of what I did looks like a natural bodybuilder!
And most of these guys looks so impressive in that low body fat percentage. Take a look at Layne Norton in his off season and he is just a chubby guy. Look at his you tube video in his off seeason and nobody will ever guess how he looks on stage. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcDPGd0eRYI&feature=fvwrel) Take a look at him stage and he looks totally ripped (and bigger).
And most of these natural bodybuilders like Layne, Phillip Ricardo & Brain whittaker have full time jobs. Riccardo is an active Mariner. Layne and Brian has a Ph.D. Bodybuilding is just a hobby. They don’t make any money out of bodybuilding than lose. Natural competitions pays in peanuts if you win. Most of these train and eat right because for the passion for the sport.
Essie Smyth | Sun January 29, 2012
Wow! They’re so big. If I were to choose a man to be with, I won’t choose someone like them. That’s too much already. All hard.
You may be right, after all there is no way to really know (unless you can prove to yourself by earning one of these bodies truly naturally). However, I am still skeptical. My background is in mathematics and statistics, but I have also trained for almost 20 years. I look great, especially for my age, but I don’t look anything like the men claiming to be all natural.
Allow me to present some reasons why I am so skeptical:
Real natural lifters find that putting on lot’s of weight means getting fat in the midsection, which then needs to be dieted away, but that usually leads to a decrease in lean mass and strength. Two steps forward, 1.5 steps back (if you are lucky). For people who love to stay fit and want the challenge, it is worth the struggle, but it is not realistic to expect that any large number of people (probably no one) will be able to ever come anywhere near these guys without at least some drug use.
Don’t you agree that some of the guys competing in natural competitions either have once used drugs or currently dabble for a leg up? Unless you assume that drug use is non-existent in natural competitions, it means that the really natural guys would be left to compete against these guys without ever earning muscle with drugs. So this would pit natural genetics against drugs, that’s a hard fight to win. This is like looking at a chicken that can grow to full size for slaughter in 32 days because of hormones and looking at one next to it who is as big after a similar time frame and saying, maybe that other chic is natural…
You mentioned these so called natural lifters above have trained and eaten right for 20 years, but they have looked 95% as good as they do now within a much shorter time. Look at the kid in the interview you said you have watched grow. He didn’t take twenty years to look that good. What makes you believe he did all of that naturally—because he told you he did? No one admits (or very few admit)to using steroids because they are afraid to have people say that all of their hard work had nothing to do with their build. They know that it still took tremendous work and discipline to build their bodies, but in truth the results would be very different without steroids.
Also, you argue that these lifters would not use drugs because there is no money to be gained by it. That doesn’t stop millions of people from using steroids. Money is not the main motivation. It can be anything, but mostly it is the competitive spirit—look at Olympic athletes. We know they use, and it is not about the money. Again these so called natural lifters may not currently use or they may not always use, but they almost certainly have. In fact, anyone who loves lifting and strives to be as big and strong as possible has contemplated using and often has if the opportunity has arisen. It’s hard to imagine that any of these guys have some serious aversions to drugs that would prevent use on moral grounds. They probably take anything they can to gain some edge aside from steroids, so I doubt temporary usage of the most useful supplement would be beyond them. Everyone knows that the health risks are minimal for short term use (in spite what the fear mongers say).
The lifter from before 1920 did not just perform strongmen workouts, and those routines weren’t so different from what the guys in the 1930’s and 40’s did. Yet the lifters like Steve Reeves looked much more like Arnold than the names I mentioned. That’s too much difference in such a short time frame—lifting styles did not change overnight, but the availability of drugs did.
Speaking of strong men, the lifting that has been widely performed for long before the era of roids has been Olympic lifts. Here are some of the world records for these lifts in the 1920’s:
Press 1924 248 lbs
Snatch 1926 278.3 lbs
Clean and Jerk 1925 355.3 lbs
Today’s supposed natural body builders post videos where they are squatting or dead lifting over 600 pounds (they don’t usually show olympic lifts, but one can speculate they would lift more than the numbers presented above). The fact is that to be elite at many many sports today esp bodybuilding of any stripe it takes steroids.
Anoop | Fri February 03, 2012
Thanks for commenting, Dane.
1. These guys are exceptions and not the norm. I don’t expect the majority to even come close to these guys.
2. I do agree that some of them used to use drugs and are now just cherry picking natural competitions. Even the people who compete in these hows know that very well. The emphasis should be on “some” here.
3. When I say look at him, he is nowhere close to these monsters. I guess the highest he has ever got his second at some amateur level competitions. Looking good and winning pro level natural competitions are totally different. And when you are a natural, just after 5 years, you growth potential is almost hitting zero.
4. I agree with the money aspect. In my personal opinion , most of these guys aren’t in it for the money or the fame. They just love lifting and love competing. I can seriously see myself dong this if I stopped reading so much
5. Do you seriously natural lifters cannot hit 600lbs in deadlift? We have atleast a couple of 20 year old kids in my gym who weigh around 170 hitting 500lbs deadlift. So I think when it comes to strength, you are way off.
Thanks for the good discussion, Dane.
Protein Shakes | Mon February 13, 2012
Very hard to belive their really natural ...
SEO Nottingham | Tue April 03, 2012
Wow! I totally impressed to see that body builders. Really their body constructions very exceptional workouts results indeed. Thanks!
Colin Shedwick | Wed May 02, 2012
The picture of cutler puts things into perspective. That guy has put muscles on his muscles. Each to their own but I prefer the natural route. The other images show what can be done with hard work and the correct nutrition.
You missed Rob Hope of the UK, The sest Natural Physique ever! Period. Google and find the info. You will see i am correct.
Anoop | Thu May 17, 2012
Thanks for the suggestion. I have seen him before. Doe he even compete now?
Dr. Ken Erickson | Thu January 17, 2013
Jay Cutler (not natural) REALLY puts natural body building in perspective. SCARY!
Yours in Health,
Anonymous | Sun November 24, 2013
Guys check out this vid. Skip to about 3:00. Jay cutler obviously isn’t natural but this guy definitely looks natty and he admits to taking steroids. Made me question a lot of those “natural” bodybuilders including the ones pictured here.
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