Jeff Nippard compared the results of natural bodybuilding vs steroid use in his recent video. Steroids or Performance Enhancing Drugs are often associated with heightened abilities and faster gains when coupled with training. However, a vast majority of the general populace are unaware of the extent to which they can alter the outcome of training.
Jeff Nippard is a renowned fitness expert from Canada. He is one of the foremost figures in the YouTube fitness community and is known for creating science-based content to educate fitness enthusiasts. As a result of this, he has amassed 3.8 million followers on YouTube.
The 32-year-old is an accomplished natural bodybuilder and powerlifter. He held the 2012 Mr. Junior Canada title and also had the Canadian national record for bench press in his name. As a coach, Nippard has trained several bodybuilders and powerlifters to achieve their goals.
In recent months, Jeff Nippard has done an in-depth study of minimalist training principles, formulating a training plan based on them. He is a student of bodybuilding and has offered guidance to the fitness community on topics like common nutrition mistakes, sustainable weight management strategies and metabolism-boosting methods.
Steroid use is one of the most debated topics in the fitness industry. While the risks associated with them are pretty much out in the open, an unbelievably large number of fitness enthusiasts and professionals lean into them for all practical purposes.
In his recent video, Jeff Nippard broke down the potential of natural bodybuilding, the impact of steroid use, and the risks associated with them to educate the fitness community about the topic. So let’s see if our opinion about steroids and natural bodybuilding changes in any way after understanding his arguments.
Jeff Nippard explains the possibilities and limits of natural bodybuilding
Jeff Nippard first covered the potential of natural bodybuilding and explained how much growth you can achieve without leaning into steroids. Nippard is the former Junior Mr. Canada title holder and also held the Canadian national record for bench press as a natural powerlifter. He has trained naturally for over 15 years. He believes that he is not an absolutely elite example of a natural bodybuilder. However, Nippard’s growth is a good benchmark to assume how much progress an individual can naturally achieve.
At 5ft-5in tall, Jeff Nippard weighs between 73 kg (160 lbs) lean and 82 kg (180 lbs) bulky. Most of the muscle growth in the 32-year-old’s training journey came in the first five years when he gained nearly 20 lbs of lean muscle mass. The growth slowed down considerably in the next decade as the Canadian put on a total of 7.5 lbs of lean muscle mass over the next decade or so.
“Every natural lifter doing most things right will experience a similar growth curve, with faster growth at the beginning and slower growth as they approach their so-called natural genetic ceiling.”
Nippard cited the study ‘Fat Free Mass Index in Users and Nonusers of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids’ to back his claim and added:
“Men tend to max out their natural potential after gaining 20 to 40 lbs (9 to 18 kg) of muscle mass. Women tend to max out their natural potential after gaining 12 to 24 lbs of muscle mass.”
How can you reach the natural potential?
It is essential to remain consistent with training and diet for years or even decades to max out the natural potential. Regular and intense training to failure, exercise variety, and sufficient volume (5 to 15 sets per week, per body part) is a good ballpark to define consistent training. According to Nippard, staying in moderate caloric surplus and eating enough protein – approximately 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight – will almost certainly get you close to the natural potential.
Read also: Best Natural Bodybuilders
Steroids can push the growth to unthinkable extent after natural ceiling is reached
A 20 to 40-lb muscle gain is not ordinary by any means. However, is it possible to push these frontiers and gain a little more with advanced diet and training strategies? Yes. But in most cases, that extra gain will be marginal according to Nippard. Natural bodybuilders like Alberto Nunes, Jeff Alberts, and Alex Leonidas are some examples of natural bodybuilders that came really close to maximizing their natural potential. But steroids can make leaps in terms of muscle and strength gain.
Nippard referred to the study ‘The Effects of Supraphysiologic Doses of Testosterone on Muscle Size and Strength in Normal Men’ that was conducted in 1996 to put the effect of steroids in perspective. The study divided its subjects into four groups and results were measured after a 10-week period.
Two of these groups were natural individuals. The first group neither took steroids nor trained. They showed no muscle growth, which was the expected outcome. Subjects that trained but did not take steroids gained 4.4 lbs of muscle on average.
However, there was a massive difference in the subjects that received a 600 mg weekly dose of steroids. Subjects that took steroids and trained experienced a massive 13.4 lbs or 3 times more muscle gain. The most surprising results were produced in the group that did not train but received steroids. They gained an average of 7 lbs of lean muscle in the same period. To put it in perspective, it’s over 1.5 times more than the group that trained naturally!
An industry expert’s insights on the impact of steroid use on bodybuilding
Nippard consulted a famous anabolic steroids expert to determine if the 600 mg dose given in this study was high, low, or moderate according to modern-day bodybuilding standards. The expert, who chose to maintain anonymity in this video, explained:
“That’s entry level bodybuilder cycle territory I would say. Then to represent what could be seen at a professional level in the very competitive ranks, you see upwards of, at minimum oftentimes, 1000 mg per week but as high as 4000 to 5000 mg per week.”
This conversation determined that there is a direct correlation between the dosage and muscle gain. Nippard referred to a follow-up study conducted in 2001. It revealed that on average, subjects on higher doses experienced a significantly higher muscle gain and vice versa without training. On average, those on high doses of steroids gained nearly 1 pound of muscle each week during a 20-week period over which the study was conducted.
“This isn’t the highest responder. This is the average. Think about that. I might put on one pound of muscle in the next year if I’m lucky as a late stage natural. These guys put on 1 pound of muscle per week by taking 600 mg of test.”
Shaun Clarida and Chris Bumstead – pushing the boundaries after maxing out natural potential
Clarida maxed out his potential naturally before starting the use of steroids. As a natural, Shaun Clarida weighed 130 lbs. After enhancing his physique with steroids, he was able to add nearly 60 lbs (27 kg) of muscle mass.
Things were a little different for Bumstead who was much taller at 6ft-1in. He gained 55 lbs (2 kg) naturally and weighed approximately 225 lbs at the peak of his natural abilities. However, steroids helped him gain another 40 lbs (18 kg).
According to Nippard, genetics play a big role in the body’s response to steroids. Bumstead might be one of the individuals that do not need heavy doses as most of his growth happened naturally. He was then able to add a little bit of extra muscle mass after starting with steroids.
Steroids do produce miraculous results when it comes to performance and muscle gain. But is it really worth it to inject these substances into your body for fast gains? Regular steroid use is associated with a well-established risk of blood clots, heart attacks, artery damage, and stroke.
Is there a ‘safer’ way of using steroids? Jeff Nippard answers
You can mitigate the risks associated with steroids when you use them under the strict supervision of a medical team. However, Nippard feels that it is still a gamble and can bring a plethora of health issues anyway.
The 32-year-old is clear about his stance on steroid use. He is not against it and doesn’t promote it either. But if folks choose to take them anyway, here is what he advises:
“I think it will be smart to at least max out your natural potential first. This will force you to understand your body and force you to learn how to pull the training and nutrition levers most effectively for your physique.”
The Canadian feels that this knowledge will empower people to make an informed decision whether to use steroids or not.
“But of course if your goal is to maximize health, it’d be smart to stay natural unless a medical professional recommends hormonal treatment,” Nippard added.
To conclude, Jeff Nippard suggests seeking training advice based on its value. According to him, quality of advice is more important than how the person looks. After all, the amount of muscle a person carries is not the best indicator of the quality of their training.
You can watch the full video below, courtesy of Jeff Nippard’s personal YouTube channel: