What Does Natty Mean in Fitness? Why Being Natural is Best!!!

by Josh | Last Updated:  July 15, 2020
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When you enter the fitness world you will hear a lot of different new terminology that may confuse you at first. One of the most thrown around in gyms and especially online on places like YouTube is “natty”.

So what does natty mean anyway? “Natty” is slang or shorthand for natural or non-enhanced. It is meant to mean that you strength train without the benefit of additional exogenous hormones (typically steroids) and only take legal supplements that don’t directly alter your hormone levels.

This has gained steam a lot in the last few years as there have been a great deal of exposed people in the “fitness” world who sold people on their looks. Unfortunately, they didn’t see fit to tell those same clients how they got their look and that it wasn’t on the same fitness plans they sell.

What Does “Half Natty” Mean?

Researching the topic of “half natty” has led me to an understanding that this term is used primarily on bodybuilders who have been putting in time and past the newbie gains.

This typically is about 5+ years of consistently putting in the hard work and time and that they are showing an abnormally incredible physique. Many accuse these people of taking steroids or having cycled with steroids before but without any evidence.

Getting to this peak level of physique isn’t for the unwilled as it takes an amazing dedication and willpower to consistently put in workouts with good form and weight along with maintaining a motivation and determination for years to decades.

A half natty will use everything at their disposal to look larger, from images, to tanning, to lighting, pre pump, and even oiled down to gain a fake 5-10 pounds on camera.

The bodybuilding community has clung onto this half-natty phrase specifically to describe bodybuilders who look to have used performance enhancing drugs but have also never been caught.

Half Natty Use of Enhancements in Images

This “half natty” is much more influenced by doing all the prep work to look incredible, meaning you take time to do a good tan, get high quality lighting for your pictures, getting a pump on prior and use those to push you to look more ripped then you actually are.

Beneficial Lighting can help you look bigger and leaner, woman lifting with spot lighting - post on What Does Natty Mean in Fitness
Beneficial Lighting can help you look bigger and leaner

It is basically a form of using the tanning and lighting to your benefit to look like you have more bulk and hence, un-naturally, large. Doing these other little things can help provide you better images and get you noticed more without using enhancers.

Is Taking Creatine Still Considered Natty?

Creatine occurs naturally in the world in all red meats and is therefor is something which would be difficult to positively test for as it can be high or low based on your diet alone.

Many may argue with you about the natty status with any supplement, though, if it’s approved by the International Olympic Committee, World Anti Doping Association and the NSCA, then you’re still natty. Creatine is approved by all three agencies for use in athletes.

What Is a Fake Natty?

This has grown out of the issues recently in the online world, especially YouTube and Instagram, the people who claim to be “influencers” and really are 99% bull just to sell products.

A fake natty is someone who claims to be 100% natty and without any chemical use like steroids or other non-natural methods. These people typically want to sell you something based on their image which wouldn’t sell if it was known they didn’t use.

Since the supplements industry is worth billions and they want their cut in the market they find this massive style of mis-truth bearable to ensure their own financial gains.

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How to Find Your Genetic Potential

There are many ways people have posted online to find what your specific genetic potential may be. This number tells you about at peak level without steroids or similar drugs what your upper limit to muscle potential is going to be.

This can help when you are gaining muscle mass to know what to expect and possibly how long it will take to reach this number. This will take years to decades of continuous hard work and diligence.

FFMI Method

This method is a much better version and much more helpful and meaningful than the BMI that has mass use in the medical world. Instead of just covering height and weight it takes into account far more details

First you will want to calculate your fat-free mass:

FFM: (bodyweight(in kg) x (100 – bodyfat percentage in %)) / 100 

Then you can use this value to calculate your Fat-free Mass Index:

FFMI: FFM / (height(in cm) x height(in cm)) + 6.3 x (1.8 – height(in cm))

The reason why I like the FFMI as a calculation is that it was used in a study at McLean Hospital on bodybuilders. They had some pretty crazy results from their study which yielded the following information.

The bodybuilders they tested who don’t or didn’t take anabolic steroids seemed to cap out at a 25 value on the FFMI. Whereas the steroid users could typically blow past this mark by a large amount.

This study has led to an understanding that with the FFMI a natural limit of around 25 to maybe 27 is the best a natty bodybuilder can get with the body just powering itself with its own hormones.

To push past this limit you have to start adding in additional hormones like anabolic steroids to push your body past its own physical limits and would give you a way to easily detect non-natural bodybuilders without the time and tests.

Martin Berkhan Method

The master of the Leangains method and website and one of the first to positively speak about IF, or intermittent fasting. Martin is an amazing teacher and if you haven’t ever checked out his site you should go check it out!

Unlike many others calculations his is based off actual competitors and in the 4-5 BF% range. This is a simple calculation to accomplish versus others which give less specific numbers in real weight.

The first time I heard about genetic potential it was while reading Martin’s book, I was not able to put it down and read it in two days. I then proceeded to read it again and dig into his information to try and grow my understanding.

Final Thoughts on What Natty Means In Fitness

I understand why everyone, even cheaters, want to be called natural as they feel it is a badge of honor, regardless of how they reach that point. This is why when people claim to be natty that the fitness community will sometimes tear into them.

Personally if you choose to do steroids, I don’t care, it is your body and your choice. I do worry that in ten to twenty years the damage it may have done to you will make you change your mind, please take time to read up on long term side effects and at least be knowledgable.

I do ask that you be transparent with people as it is very important to let them know if they are buying a fitness program or nutrition program through you that you are honest and up front, you would be amazed at how receptive people can be if not lied to.

I grew up in a home where most our days were spent inside, and sports were not a family priority. I did play soccer and baseball as a kid, but the older I got, the more I lost interest. To regain my health, I decided to adhere to the three tenets of health and longevity. I hope you will join me, by making it your purpose to live as long and well as possible.