Focus Physique
How to Build Muscle Naturally Without Supplements or Steroids

Bodybuilding with steroids isn’t considered natural bodybuilding. To build muscle naturally without steroids and to be considered a natural lifter, supplements or no supplements are allowed!

Truth is, there are MANY natural lifters that have successfully built truly amazing physiques! Unfortunately, some trainees get torn following the fitness industry when they find out that their favorite bodybuilder isn’t natural.

It’s important for aspiring bodybuilders to know that the process takes time. You have to enjoy the process and give it time because It won’t happen overnight! This is perhaps a reason aspiring bodybuilders believe steroids are the only way to great muscle gains.

Aside from steroids, we also have big names in the industry pushing supplements making them appear that they are the key to great muscle growth. This is also painting the wrong picture.

Supplements can offer a slight edge when properly used but you also have to weigh the pros and cons first to decide if they’re right for you! Even with proper supplementation they won’t drastically advance your progress.

If you need help deciding whether or not supplements are right for you, read this science-based, unbiased article I wrote a while back here.

My Bodybuilding Without Supplements Results

I personally haven’t taken a single supplement in over two years because I didn’t believe they were necessary for my goals. Since then I haven’t noticed any differences or slower progress compared to other lifters.

Here’s my bodybuilding without supplements results after two and a half years. I have been bodybuilding without supplements for a touch over two years! On the left I had about a month of consistent training along with always intermittently weight lifting and wrestling growing up.  The right photo was taken on 6/15/18.

Bodybuilding without supplements results
Two and a half year transformation.

The key to my transformation is that I train as a natural. Many trainees beat their body to a pulp because of a lack of understanding as to how the body adapts and recovers overtime.

Many training routines and training ideals originated from steroid users too. Even if you didn’t directly get your routine from Phil Heath, many bodybuilding routines and information isn’t tailored for the natural lifter.

Much of this started in Arnold Schwarzeneggers heyday. He promoted high rep, high volume workouts 5+ days a week. He too was on steroids so this worked great for him but it won’t be ideal to build muscle naturally.  

Throughout this article I’ll give you the fundamentals on how to build muscle naturally through my experience from training myself and others along with a science based approach.

It’s also good to keep in mind that training successfully as a natural isn’t some secret script. We just need a strong understanding of the fundamentals while putting them into practice.

This way, we can make great progress without any gray area because as naturals, we don’t have as much wiggle room as someone enhancing. Studies done on steroid users actually shows that you can build muscle without even working out!

Training Age

Training Age – The length of time someone has been training.

Someone’s training age makes a MASSIVE difference in the way you need to be training! Many trainees have a general understanding of training concepts such as progressive overload or exercise order which will also be explained later in the article, but overlook the importance of training for their training age.

This is especially important for someone that wants to build muscle naturally.

Below I have laid out some of the traits we see in lifters of the following stages.


Beginner lifters can train often and hard without becoming overtrained. This is because they haven’t built up an amount of strength yet to truly tax their recovery.

Perhaps the greatest thing about being a beginner is that you make rapid strength and size gains! I highly recommend three day a week full body workouts for beginners, to get one you can look here.

The key to full body workouts, especially to the beginners benefit is that you hit each muscle group 3 times a week while learning the essential compound lifts. Some full body routines call for many isolation exercises but I disagree with this method and generally find it less effective and not necessary.


The intermediate lifter now knows the basic compound exercises and has built a decent base of strength. Because of this the trainee now needs a larger stimulus to grow but at the same time his/her recovery is now slightly hindered too.

If your were following the full body routine, it’s now time to switch things up. A full body routine doesn’t allow for proper recovery or an adequate stimulus anymore for optimal growth.

The intermediate lifter will want to do some type of upper/lower split. This allows for a larger training stimulus while allowing for more recovery. The intermediate lifter is also ready to try out new exercises and stimulus’s.

I again recommend training three days per week in this stage of training.


The advanced lifter needs an even larger stimulus to grow and his/her recovery has become even more hindered. The advanced lifter is constantly walking on a thin line of optimally training and becoming over trained.

This means training needs to be focused in with proper programming. The advanced trainee needs to train at a minimum of 4 days per week. This is the only way he/she can create a workout with a large enough stimulus to grow optimally.

The workout days should be even more focused such as a split like chest and back or arms.

Proper Exercise Selection and Order

This is extremely important so that the natural lifter builds muscle optimally. These concepts are at the very basics of bodybuilding. In this section I will give you the raw fundamentals so that you can apply them to your training to build muscle naturally.

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced lifter you need to have compound, multi-joint exercises in your routine for maximum strength and muscle gains. These hit all the markers of hypertrophy.

Compound exercises generally should be placed at the beginning of your routine when you have the most energy.

Along with your compound exercises you will want to add in isolation exercises. For beginners this isn’t as important. The only isolation exercises a beginner should practically do if desired is arm exercises and calf exercises.

As an intermediate and advanced lifter, you will generally want isolation exercises placed after your compound exercises. They’re effective for an added stimulus to a specific muscle group.

An example of a more advanced shoulder and lats routine following these fundamentals may look like the following:

    • Military Press (Compound Exercise)
    • Pull Ups (Compound Exercise)
    • One Arm Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press (Compound Exercise)
    • One Lat Pulldowns (Compound Exercise)
    • Lateral Raises (Isolation Exercise)
  • Dumbbell Pullovers (Isolation Exercise)

Progressive Overload

Build muscle naturally and increase muscle mass without supplements by applying progressive overload.
Progressive overload drives progress.

Progressive overload is the driver of progress for all lifters! There are multiple forms of progressive overload including shorter rest periods, doing more reps, adding more weight, increasing training frequency etc.

The idea behind progressive overload is to do more than you have previously done. This is what triggers the body to adapt.

The simplest way and main way you will want to apply progressive overload is to lift more weight. This will also involve adding more reps . . . let me explain!

This is going to fluctuate based on your training age but let’s say you’re going to do barbell bench press in a 10-12 rep range and your previous bench press PR’s were 135 for 3 x 10.

When looking at your previous progress, you determine you won’t realistically get 140 for 3 x 10. This is when you work through the rep range. Potentially a good goal to set would be 135 for 3 x 12.

If you successfully hit 135 for 3 x 12, then the next time you would add weight and shoot for 140 for 3 x 10.

Build Muscle Naturally

This article has given you the fundamentals of how to build muscle naturally. In reality for the most part, how to build muscle naturally with or without supplements is generally the same as building muscle with steroids.

Like previously said, supplements offer a very slight edge when used properly and this is if you decide they are right for you. The biggest difference with steroids is that recovery is greatly improved. Someone enhancing can train with more volume and more often.

All of these fundamentals are inter-working to eliminate any gray area when building muscle as a natural.

Good luck my friends and give it time!

* This article is property of For questions contact us here.


Liked what you read? Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a post!

About Brennen Elboeck

I'm Brennen, the founder of I want to give hundreds of thousands of people science based, practical physique and life transforming information! To never miss a post or what's new make sure to sign up for our newsletter above!

Related Posts

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.