Fitness and bodybuilders are increasingly discussing the use of anabolic steroids on the internet, which was once taboo.
People often speculate about who is “natty” (short for natural) and who is using steroids (not) in “Natty or not” videos that regularly rack up millions on YouTube and TikTok. In a dedicated subreddit, hundreds of commentators debate whether influencers and celebrities are taking steroids. YouTube star PewDiePie and podcaster Joe Rogan have recently discussed the topic.
Fitness has long used steroids, with some research estimating up to four million Americans have used “anabolic-androgenic steroids” to build muscle despite their well-documented adverse health effects, including mental health issues and liver and kidney damage.
Young people have to experience well-known body image issues due to social media and fitness influencers.
Jacob Mathiasmeier said, “I see a lot of bodybuilders on social media who look like they are on steroids but claim to be natural, so I don’t know what is realistically achievable as a young individual trying to get into fitness.”
Greg Doucette, a powerlifting world champion turned bodybuilder and fitness influencer, was one of the first fitness influencers to discuss his steroid use openly. Four years ago, Doucette started writing about fitness and opened up about his use of steroids.
Doucette said, “When I was very open about what I was doing, rather than people saying they hated me, people responded by saying how refreshing it was to see someone be honest.”
More than 670,000 views and 2,000 comments have been posted on the Doucette video Doucette posted in May. Only a tiny part of the scene focuses on steroids, but they can provoke intense debate. Li says he doesn’t use steroids.
Many “natty or not” videos feature people asking people whether they use steroids at gyms or fitness conventions. It’s pretty standard for people to say so.
Other influencers promote steroid use, often using slang to refer to the drugs.
The situation is not the same for everyone. Fitness brand Legion CEO Michael Matthews says the “fake natty” issue creates false expectations and encourages service.