Natty or not? How to spot a fake natty?

This article will take you 4 minutes to read. Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section, they will be answered!

Fake natty: an annoying trend?

It is good to remind that people do what they want with their body. The problem is what happens when people aren’t honest and upfront about their methods, and they ruin the expectations of other people. In bodybuilding and the fitness industry, this usually means using drugs while telling people you’re natural.


The environment we live in can be highly influential for someone to decide to take steroids. I won’t deny it: I can see the appeal – these individuals can get so much wrong and still look great or get it right and achieve superhuman physiques in short times.

Steroids aren’t the problem: it’s lying about it, so people don’t get an informed view of reality and their own choices. Right now, you should go on your Instagram account and type the #naturalbodybuilding. You will see that half of the people there are not so natural.


We’ve built a whole ecosystem of competitions, publications, and culture for those who are natural. It’s horrible to see that some people will still come into this culture and take steroids, ruining the whole point, because they can’t compete naturally – and refuse to go into untested federations!

What’s wrong with that?

Taking performance-enhancing drugs is one thing which is fine, but using it to your advantage to sell goods, not so much. It’s also a bad idea for influencing younger bodybuilders who have not matured or simply have very little experience.


The last thing we want are influential younger physique fans who are influenced towards using exogenous hormones. I shouldn’t have to remind you that steroids cause serious health problems – and especially in these younger individuals who have limited training experience, or may not even have adult hormonal systems yet!
So first, let’s recap…

What’s a fake natty?

If you don’t know what a fake natty is, it simply is someone who pretends to be a natural bodybuilder while actually using steroids. The fake natural is not that obvious to spot – which is why they are called fake naturals; they hide their use and present as naturals. That is one bad trend in the fitness industry!

The fake naturals are playing at the border of natural/non natural and it is hard to say where they stand. They’re not as enormous as full open-weight bodybuilders so most people don’t understand that they’re on steroids. They have physiques that “look natural”.

In a way, fake natty physiques are sometimes achievable so that’s not much of an issue. The real issue is that fake naturals do not always have the best advice to give, as their experiences don’t reflect the lives and needs of natural bodybuilders.

If you go on Instagram, there will be a lot of gurus giving you exercises variations which make no sense – or trying to shill products that they didn’t use, promising that it will help impressionable kids get their unnatural physiques.

The reasons for that is that performance-enhancing drugs can cover a lot of mistakes made and still give results. This is why we see individuals with poor diets and training habits with great physiques – because they don’t have to deal with the consequences that natural trainees would if they acted the same way.

Fake natty right?

If you are getting started in the world of fitness, you don’t want to be fooled by a fake natty!
This article isn’t super serious – take it with humour! I’m not asking for these people to be locked up – I’m just here to let you know that you should be sceptical in your dealings with the fitness industry, and not take everyone at face value.


So…let’s learn how to spot a fake natural! Let’s gooo.

Spotting the fake natty?

#1- They are as big as the best natural bodybuilders out there, but their shape is 3d rounded

Their size is the same as most of the big natural bodybuilders out there but their physique is looking like “the classic” enhanced physique. Their shoulders look pretty unnatural just like their traps and it’s all pretty rounded. 

These muscles are more sensitive to PEDs because they are very androgen sensitive. This is why men naturally have bigger delts and traps than women, because they grow in response to testosterone – and PEDs trigger that growth response in these muscles, particularly.

traps and shoulders get huge from using PEDs

It might be harder to spot on pictures, but in real life, these guys look huge when you get closer to them at the gym when they wear a tank top for example. When wearing a normal shirt, it is different, they just look “more normal”, because that 3D look is then hidden.

What I mean by that is that I think this is because this 3D shape is not as visible anymore and the massive pump PEDs can give while training is gone.

Simply put, there is a superhuman appearance associated with these fake naturals that isn’t seen even in the best drug-tested bodybuilders. If they look like the world-level bodybuilding competitor, then why aren’t they competing with them? Why do their traps and delts “look better”?


It’s steroids.

#2 They usually do the bro-training stuff

Maybe they are just not very strong for their size, so they won’t go next to some 19 years old student who lifts twice as much after only training for 2 years! Basically, their workout is mostly about getting some good old pump good old fluff!


We all love that kind of stuff, but it is how we finish a session – it shouldn’t be the whole workout. Studies show us that steroid users can make significant gains with much smaller efforts and lower volume, so watch how someone trains.

It’s fine if they have lighter days here and there – we all need to recover – but if they never do a lot of hard work, they shouldn’t look like hard-workers.

#3 They have huge shoulders, traps, back, but their arms are lacking.

If you see someone with huge shoulders, traps, chest but are seriously lacking arms, for example, that is questionable.


The “steroid muscles” like traps, upper chest, shoulders will respond well thanks to the high amount of androgen receptors without having to do much, not the case for arms, for example.


Disproportionate trap and delt gains speak to steroid use, because these are the areas that get bigger based off of the testosterone levels involved in PEDs.

#4 Gynecomastia

Now, it’s important to acknowledge that some natural bodybuilders (and more than we can think of) have gynecomastia. But in most cases, it will be for enhanced athletes.


If the previous factors described above are showing AND there is also signs of gynecomastia, then this is a good sign that the person is a fake natty (or not natural).


Don’t rush to think that everyone with gyno is on steroids – many people have pubertal gynecomastia – but if it’s combined with other points on this list, there’s a good chance that it’s the result of PED use.

gynecomastia fake natural

#5 Bad skin and redness

Most fake natties will start having some issues with their skin. It shows some spots and redness on the skin, and usually associated with unusual acne positions.


Again, we all have different skin, and some people are just struggling with acne. However, rapidly developing uncharacteristic acne – especially highly-concentrated blemishes around the delts and traps – is associated with steroid use.


Those using harder drugs – like trenbolone – will also have a reddening of the skin. These are pretty easy to spot, as you don’t usually see this in natural athletes.

redness steroids
dick skin steroids

#6 They wear gymshark

Calm down, it’s a joke.


The fact is simple: gymshark is represented by many fake natty fitness models. They don’t compete because they’re on drugs, and their aesthetics and financial wellbeing depend on being shredded to the bone 24/7, 365 days a year.

Most of the people who are representing major fitness labels that aren’t associated with a sport or a pre-existing social media following are worth scepticism.


Gymshark is one example, but let’s not be prejudiced: if they represent a company because of their physique, you should eye them with suspicion and take what they say with a grain of salt.

#7 Rapid muscle growth

You were following some individual but this person has recently blown-up like a balloon without specific change to his program or diet?


That rings the bell that something is not quite right! Performance enhancing-drugs can help develop muscles much quicker!

The amount you can achieve as a natural is great, but even the best trainees are going to change slowly. The only exceptions are those coming back from injury or illness, and those on steroids.

#8 They are selling terrible products

Most people who use steroids on social media are looking to recoup some of their costs. They may be using their physique as a marketing tool – and often that involves selling terrible products that they’ve never used because they get paid a commission.


For some reason, it’s often keto diet programs or vegan trends which are used to justify these. The science is pretty clear: there are no direct benefits to muscle growth with keto or veganism – in fact, they’re both pretty bad for muscle growth and strength.


If someone who appears to be huge tells you it is thanks to his calorie deficit keto diet… they’re lying to you.

#9 Eyes are popping out and angry look

Some steroids cause changes around the face. For example, trenbolone will redden the skin and change the appearance of the eyes. It also sucks up subcutaneous water, which can leave a very gaunt facial appearance.


In the opposite direction, durabolin and decadurabolin can lead to water retention – which will show up in the face. If they’ve gained a ton of muscle and they have “moon face”, it could be due to PEDs.

#10 They start balding

In most cases, if they are 20 years old and looking pretty damn big and already start balding, you might want to think they are taking something. The increased intake of exogenous hormones spikes DHT in the body, which leads to male pattern baldness.


If you notice someone in their 20s with thinning hair, it’s entirely possible this is due to PEDs. This is of course, if you can spot other factors as described in this article, not everyone balding is using something!


Rather, look for the combination of this change with other tell-tale signs like acne development and rapid muscle gains.

#11 They can party much more than you and their diet is quite dirty!

You see that on instagram they are out every single weekend and see them eating, drinking, and living like shit.
This is what we see most often: many fake natties take steroids not to become more than is humanly possible, but to look good while living like fratboys.
Enjoy what you want, and live how you like, but remember that it’s pretty obvious you’re on gear when you look like a Greek god, but your diet consists of McDonalds, drinks at the club, and hung-over grease foods.
Don’t trust these people: they’re using steroids as a crutch for their poor discipline.

#12 … lean all year around!

In most cases that’s also why someone might decide to start taking something. Because it’s easier to look good at all times during the year. Some of them will surely bulk up the normal way if they want to improve the best they can. But a lot of fake natties will just stay super lean all year around.


You can be shredded and large for a very short period of time when you’re preparing for a shoot or competition, for example. However, maintaining a competition-ready physique all year round tells us that someone has some “chemical support” to their physique!