The difference between what is natural and what is not is getting blury. Is a someone who takes protein powder natural? What about creatine? What about good old vitamins?
Natural is a term used to describe contests where everyone is on a level playing field and substances which are illegal are not allowed. In a literal sense a natural bodybuilder is one that:
- Doen’t have a competitive advantage over anyone.
- Hasn’t broken the law to get to your current shape.
In a broader sense, natural bodybuilding involves fitness techniques that maximise the bodies natural development in addition to using ‘natural’ herbal supplements and vitamins which aid the body rather than poisoning it.
How are Athletes Tested?
Natural bodybuilding organizations not only help to give athletes tips and training advice, but they also help to oversee bodybuilder competitions to make sure that athletes abide by the natural bodybuilding rules.
The American Bodybuilding Association, or ABA, and the other governing bodies test athletes so that they can compete in a level playing field. The tests come in the form of a polygraph, blood tests or urine tests, depending on the organization. The results are normally vaild for upto two months before additional testing is required.
Judging Natural Bodybuilders
Natural bodybuilding competitions are judged on certain criteria which examines the participants different required poses. One of the major criteria in natural bodybuilding is symmetry, where the judges compare different parts of the body with each other to see if the muscle proportions are balanced.
For instance, they will compare the width of the chest to the width of the thighs, the deltoid muscles to the calves and the hips to the sweep of the back. Presentation is also judged in natural bodybuilding competitions where the judges look at how the athlete moves from pose to pose as well as how they do the poses. Athletes should hold the poses so that it shows their muscles to their best advantage.
Shaun Clarida: My 2006 INBF World Natural Bodybuilding Championship Routine
The size and shape of the muscles, checking the size against the bone structure of the individual as well as whether the muscles are pleasing to the eye and uniformly developed. Finally, the separation and definition of the muscles is judged in natural bodybuilding competitions. This means that there should be clear cuts in between the muscles and between the muscle groups.
The poses for the athletes usually start with all the athletes coming out and standing in front of the judges. In this part of the competition, the athletes will stand semi-relaxed and turn to the right until the judges have seen all sides of the person’s body.
Once this is done, athletes perform their poses individually and as the judges ask them to perform they begin executing the ten mandatory poses that show all the different muscle groups of the body. In the last section of the natural bodybuilding competition is a standard part where the natural bodybuilder performs a 90 second routine that shows off any particular sill or talents they might have, like endurance or pose.