Natural Bodybuilding Rules, Regulations And How To Get Ripped


Do you know how to get ripped the clean way? Most people don’t. If you’re like most, then you need to read this. Why? We give you all the details you need on natural bodybuilding.

There are a number of athletes across the world who make a conscious decision to compete naturally. This means that they aren’t allowed to use any performance-enhancing drugs, and they compete in a regulated federation against others who also choose not to use them.

If you’ve ever considered competing and you don’t want to use performance-enhancing drugs, then a natural federation is the right place for you. Of course, there are a number of things you really need to know.

What are they?

Rest easy. We’ve got you covered. We give you all the info you need to know about the rules of natural bodybuilding and how to get ripped the clean way.

You’re welcome!

Why Do People Choose Natural Bodybuilding?

In case you haven’t noticed, vanity plays a large part in the lives of bodybuilders. That’s not a bad thing. Vanity is sometimes the driving force for attaining an insane physique.

Who doesn’t want to walk around with a ripped body, perfect muscle tone, ripped abs and totally vascular?

When you see someone who obviously lifts and constantly works on their physique beyond the point of being average or just in good shape, they stand out. These people are easy on the eyes. And, others admire them.

There isn’t a large percentage of the population who attains the physical appearance of a bodybuilder. In fact, it’s quite the opposite in the United States at this point with the obesity epidemic.

Why do so few ever see their body at its full potential?

It’s very hard work. As a result, some choose to use steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in order to build their magnificent, chiseled physiques. The results are addicting. However, some choose not to.


For some, it could be a sense of pride. Larry Shaw, Naturally Fit Federation Professional Bodybuilder, competitor coach and sanctioned promoter for the NFF for two years, states, “I wanted to compete on a level playing field. I do not believe in putting unnatural supplements in my body. I will supplement with vitamins and protein but the rest is all hard work and dedication.”

Todd Rogers, PNBA and NFF Professional Bodybuilder, event promoter and judge, states, “I actually have competed in both tested and non-tested federations. However, as a natural athlete, I preferred competing among all natural athletes. When I first started competing I didn’t know there was a place for natural athletes to compete, a place where athletes could display their hard work and dedication to training without the aid of performance-enhancing substances on a level, fair playing ground.”

Others think about their long-term health. We’re talking beyond just their 20s and 30s. They think about what might happen to their bodies well into their 50s and 60s. When put into that perspective, the thought of using performance-enhancing drugs makes them feel leery of the side effects that might occur in their later years.

Does That Mean There Is No Supplementation Involved?

Absolutely not!

Competitors are allowed to take several over the counter (OTC) supplements.

For instance:

  • Creatine
  • Glutamine
  • Fat burners
  • Pre-workout
  • BCAAs
  • CLA


There are many others as well. You just need to educate yourself. Products like BCAAs, CLA, and glutamine can be bought anywhere without worry unless they’re a combo supplement. The best practice is to learn to read labels. You should also be sure to ask members of the federation questions if you’re uncertain about a product’s legality.

Natural federations make it clear that you must be aware of the products you buy over the counter.


Even though they’re OTC, some supplements contain substances that are on the banned list. It’s your responsibility to check the label against the banned list to ensure you are abiding by the federation’s drug-free policy.

Failure to educate yourself and unknowingly taking these products is no excuse when banned substances show up in your urinalysis. “I didn’t know,” isn’t going to work. You may win your class, be drug tested and then get disqualified from the federation. After months of training, diet and hard work, that would be a devastating blow.

Don’t run the risk!

There are supplement stores that fully commit to providing products that natural athletes can use. That means anything on any shelf in the store is legal in natural federations. Look around your town for such shops.

steroids and actors

These Are The Rules Of Competing Naturally

Shaw states, “There are differences in some of the natural federations, but most follow the World Anti-Doping Agency or WADA list. Our federation is a 7-year drug-free federation. Each competitor is polygraph tested every 90 days. Our Pros (that win cash prizes) and those amateurs that qualify for a Pro card are then subject to a required urinalysis at the completion of the show.”

Why have stringent rules? 

“WADA’s mission is to lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport.” This provides a platform for natural athletes to compete against one another.

The Banned Substances In Natural Bodybuilding

Each federation will supply a list of banned substances on their website. WADA classifies prohibited substances into three main categories. They are Steroids, stimulants and gene doping.

Here are the banned substances of the Naturally Fit Federation (2014):

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Testosterone/epitestosterone
  • Prescription hormone medication
  • FDA banned substances and illegal drugs
  • Prescription diuretics
  • Psychomotor stimulants
  • Muscle implants of any kind
  • Drugs used to deceive or pass a polygraph
  • Insulin
  • Prohormones
  • Clenbuterol, GHB, DNP (Dinitrophenol)
  • Growth hormones
  • Hormone antagonists and modulators
  • Aromatase inhibitors
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)
  • Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs)
  • Other anti-estrogenic substances
  • Agents modifying myostatin function(s)


By visiting their site, you can see more in-depth info about the bans and how they apply.

Before You Step On Stage, You Should Know

Federations such as the NFF require that you’re drug-free for seven years before you can compete naturally. To ensure their policies have merit, you must undergo a polygraph before you’re allowed on stage. Yes, you need to take a lie detector test. Both amateur and pro competitors must have currently passed their test.

There’s only one possible exemption.

What’s that?

You could be exempt with a drug waiver from your doctor. Even still, there are some substances that won’t be allowed with that waiver. If you’re unsure whether or not you qualify, you should have your waiver approved at least 30 days before the show through the federation.

This Is What Happens When You Step Off Stage

If you win your class, you’ll be given a urinalysis right away. If you fail the urine test, you’ll be disqualified from the event and will be banned from the federation for seven years. At least, that’s the case with the NFF. Other federations may have a life-long ban. Get familiar with the rules and regulations of each federation that you plan to compete in.

This Is How To Train In Natural Bodybuilding And Compete Clean

Amazing physiques are attainable the clean way!

Shaw stated, “Be patient because muscle growth takes time. Fall in love with the process, create good habits, and over time the consistency will yield greater results than any enhancement or accelerator.”

Pros and amateurs alike usually train with a coach and have a nutritionist. After all, there’s so much to learn about the sport that it’s best to learn from a seasoned veteran.

Rogers states, “My advice would be to find a good trainer/nutritionist to help guide you and avoid the potholes of trying to figure it all out. Proper nutrition along with a good training program is key to success.”

Resistance training five or six days per week is a must. You’ll need to lift using heavy compound lifts and use isometric training. By working at hypertrophy rep ranges, you will achieve hypertrophy, as the name suggests. Of course, the rep range that you should be using is 6 to 12 reps per set.

Training to failure should also be part of your program. That means you will stop counting reps and won’t stop a set until a controlled repetition is no longer possible. Training looks different for everyone depending on each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to build the coveted X shape.

Here are other things to consider in your training:

  • Always give maximal effort in the gym. Don’t forget your goals and why you are there.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Place extra focus on your weak areas. And, yes, we get that those are the days you likely hate the most, but you have to do it.
  • Never take two days off in a row.
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone when lifting or hire a coach who will.
  • Keep track of your training and progress. Be sure to take measurements every four to six weeks. Use photos and a journal.

Nutrition Is Key

Alexandra Rigia, NFF, and IFPA Professional Bikini competitor, said her best diet advice is to eat and eat clean. She added, “There is definitely a difference between dirty bulking and clean bulking. Eat enough to build, but eat the right things. Yes, I use a protein powder in my diet at times, but for the most part, my mindset is: If God didn’t make it, then I probably shouldn’t be eating it.”

Nutrition can be tricky.


It’s partly because nutrition will be different for every person depending on whether you need to grow or lose weight. Bodybuilders’ diets are very calculated and they’re manipulated throughout the prep periods. It’s best to hire a nutritionist or a coach who is qualified to both train you and create meal plans.

That way you learn what works for you.

Make sure when choosing a coach that you look for someone who has trained and competed for several years. Examine their success and the success of their clients.

Here are some other things to consider concerning nutrition:

  • Your calorie intake may go up to 4,000 calories per day to grow (for men).
  • A cutting phase is a very calculated meal plan designed just for you.
  • Your diet must consist of all clean, nutrient-dense foods.
  • It’s important to keep a food log or journal and write not only the foods you eat, but also how your body responds and how you feel. (For example, does broccoli make you bloated? If you have too many carbs you may feel fatigued/sleepy.)

Here Are A Few More Tips

We get it: All of this might be a lot to take in. No one said it would be easy. Here are a few tips that successful natural athletes would want you to know and follow:

  • Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
  • Always have protein shakes with you.
  • If you always do the same thing, you’ll always get the same results. This could be good or bad. Poor diet and lax training equals no results. A perfect diet and intense training equals consistent positive results. Don’t forget it!
  • After each 12 to 16 week period of training, take one week off for your body to recoup.
  • Allow for two rest days each week to fully recover. Just be sure those days aren’t back-to-back.
  • Change up your lifting routines every three to four weeks.


Competing naturally is a very gratifying and rewarding experience. It’ll take immense dedication and perseverance. But, it’s very attainable. When you step on the stage, you’ll know that your results have truly come from your own sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears (all four will happen).

Now that you know the rules of natural bodybuilding and that it’s possible to get ripped the clean way, what are you waiting for?

By Sarah Chadwell, CPT.

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Gym Junkies Founder & Editor in Chief at Gym Junkies LLC
I’m Terry and I’m here to help you achieve your fitness goals. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want with the proper guidance. Through my extensive fitness blog, top fitness videos, leading workout supplements, and top selling eBooks, I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My passion is helping people all around the world change their lives for the better.
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