Fitness influencers pull back the curtain on steroid use among bodybuilders
The once-taboo topic of anabolic steroid use in the fitness and bodybuilding communities has become its own internet content genre. “Natty or not” videos, in
The once-taboo topic of anabolic steroid use in the fitness and bodybuilding communities has become its own internet content genre.
“Natty or not” videos, in which people often speculate about who is “natty” (shorthand for natural) and who is using steroids (not), now routinely rack up millions of views on YouTube and TikTok, while hundreds of commentators a day debate on a dedicated subreddit that influencers and celebrities are using steroids to fuel their physiques. Podcaster Joe Rogan has recently touched on the topic, as has PewDiePie, one of the most followed people on YouTube.
The movement is championed by some notable names in bodybuilding who for years decried the secrecy around steroid use, which they say also misled people to have outsize expectations for their own fitness goals. But the videos have also started a discussion over whether they are breaking stigma and secrecy or normalizing a dangerous substance and unhealthy body standards.
“In a way it almost gets more people on the sauce,” M.K. Angeletti, the creator of the YouTube channel Revival Fitness, said of “Natty or Not” online content. “The baseline intention is good, but then you open a door that spirals out of control.”
Steroids have been a part of the fitness world for decades, with some research estimating as many as 4 million Americans having used some sort of “anabolic-androgenic steroid” to help build muscle despite the substances’ well-documented adverse health effects, including mental issues and possible damage to the liver and the kidneys. And while possession or sale of anabolic steroids without a prescription is illegal, a growing number of fitness influencers either talk openly or strongly imply that they aren’t “natty.”