Is Chul Soon Natural or on Steroids? (What We Discovered)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: May 10, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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Hwang Chul Soon, a renowned South Korean bodybuilder, stands out as one of the nation's most distinguished figures in his field, sparking widespread speculations of steroid use.

As a health and fitness coach, I delved deep into Chul Soon's story, spending weeks researching his past achievements to unravel the truth behind these speculations.

So, is his impressive physique a testament to his dedication and excellent genes, or a different thing entirely?

Read on and find out. The truth might surprise you.

Does Chul Soon Take Steroids?

Chul Soon has claimed to be a natural bodybuilder for his entire career and looking at some of the photos from his peak performance days, I must say I understand the skepticism.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by CHUL SOON 🌎 (@chul_soon)

I thought that some of his professional photos had to be photoshopped until I watched some videos and interviews with him working out.

He has massive shoulders and traps, and his deltoids look like cannonballs. But just maintaining a colossal physique isn’t proof on its own.

Let's take a look at the evidence for the Chul Soon natural vs steroid user.

Why Do Many People Believe Chul Takes Steroids?

portrait image of chul soon

I broke this section down into 5 of the most common effects that bodybuilders on anabolic steroids have often gotta deal with.

1. Extreme Vascularity

Based on research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), taking steroids and human growth hormone regularly will eventually lead to excessive vein prominence even when not working out [1].

It's one of the effects that bodybuilders seek out because they want to have that pumped look even when going about their daily lives.

Looking at photos of him in public and at the beach, you do see a lot of veins popping up. At the same time, I don't believe these influencers ever publish photos without preparation, and he likely lifts some weights or does push-ups before he gets someone to snap a few pictures.

As far as Chul Soon natural vs steroid evidence is concerned, I would rate this as weak proof.

2. Large Breast Tissue

man's breast

Gynecomastia is a common effect of long-term use of steroids, and it's essentially where men start to develop breast tissue [2].

Some people mistake huge pecs with this phenomenon, and you have to be careful not to draw wrong conclusions.

Chul Soon has some of the largest chest muscles in the bodybuilding world and works them very hard.

But I wouldn't say that he has suffered from softer breast tissue, which is common with long-term anabolic drug use.

3. Fast Bulking Process

Let's face it, achieving more muscle mass in less time is the one reason so many athletes decide that using steroids is their best option

A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows the effects of anabolic steroids on the muscle cells of strength-trained athletes [3].

Chul says that he didn't start lifting weights until about 20. He was skinny but athletic, which was probably a positive point to start.

And he didn't start competing until 2009 when he was 26, so that wouldn't be a particularly short time frame.

Related Article: How To Use Mass Gainers

4. Skin Conditions Like Acne

man touching his face acne

A study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) linked steroids to severe acne outbreaks, especially in men who had this problem in their teens [4].

This steroid-induced acne is often why people stop taking drugs, as it can seriously mess up your appearance.

From what I've seen in all the available photos, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that he's had any type of skin condition.

If anything, his skin looks remarkably smooth and clean.

5. Hair Loss

This is another side effect that is very common with some of the most commonly used steroids. Basically, body hair growth can increase while the bushy stuff on top of your head starts to fall out.

And one thing you have to say about Chul is that he looks like he still has a full head of very thick hair.

So, based on multiple common giveaways of anabolic drug use, it doesn't seem clear that Chul has been taking banned substances.

Chul Soon's Body Transformation?

Two images of Chul Soon

Hwang Chul Soon has a fascinating background to his reasons for becoming a bodybuilder.

He has mentioned in interviews that it all came from a motivation to earn more respect from people he thought were looking down on him because he was skinny.

So, when he was 20, he decided to start working out.

Initially, he would spend many hours every day at the gym, which gave him a sound basis with newbie-muscles.

But he quickly figured out that the quality of training mattered a lot more than quantity.

Since then, he's progressed to working with professional strength coaches, and they ultimately got him to the stage where he could compete in natural pro bodybuilding events.

"When I turned 20 I had a very thin body and weighed only 57kg (125lb). I was treated with disrespect. People looked down at me in situations like if I was returning goods to a store, or helping someone or speaking to strangers."

- Chul Soon

Chul Soon's Stats And Accomplishments

  • Born: September 1, 1983
  • Height: 5'10"
  • Weight: 225 lbs

His height to weight ratio for his maximum competitive weight explains how his upper body is so bulked up. It almost looks like a 3D effect.

But all you need to do is watch some videos of him to understand that those are all real muscles.

Chul Soon's major accomplishment was winning the Musclemania Universe Natural Pro competition in 2016. He first entered this competition in 2009 and gradually got bigger and stronger to become a winner.

And because this is an event where there is stringent drug testing, it would indicate that he hasn't dabbled in steroid use.

Was Chul Soon's Transformation Possible Without Steroids?

injection

I've been a lifetime supporter of natural bodybuilding and have worked with many amateurs and professionals who achieved natural muscle mass.

If Chul had achieved what he did in 2 years or less, then I would have been a lot more suspicious.

But looking at all the Chul Soon natural vs steroid evidence, I have to say that with the proper diet and training plan, it's possible to achieve that level of muscle building without using steroids.

The problem is that most people aren't willing to commit 7 years or more without being tempted to trigger those androgen receptors with drugs.

What Would It Take To Bulk Up Like Chul Soon?

healthy living banner

In my years of training and coaching, I've learned that building a physique like Chul Soon's requires a focus on two key areas. Here's my take on what it really takes

Diet And Supplements

First, you need to make sure that you tailor your diet to your metabolism. You will need to focus on a lot more calories from healthy carbs and protein, and fine-tuning it will require the help of a dietitian.

Depending on how much time you spend at the gym, you could need anywhere from 20% to 150% more calories than your basal metabolic rate.

And while it's possible to get practically all the nutrients you need from the food you eat, it's a much better idea to top up specific macro and micronutrients with supplements. You can check our articles about the best whey protein powders on the market.

This also includes testosterone boosting supplements that use only natural and legal ingredients.

Tough Training

Natural bodybuilding training is a lot tougher and more time-consuming, and it's the main reason so many bodybuilders give up or resort to steroid use.

To achieve the level of muscle-building like Chul Soon, you'd have to plan to be training for at least seven years without any significant disruptions. That's seven years of training 5 to 6 times a week for up to 2 hours.

Was Chul Soon Tested For Steroid Use?

syringe

Yes, Chul soon would have been subjected to multiple rounds of drug testing for the events that he competed in.

The Musclemania Universe competition is an event for natural bodybuilders, and there are stringent rules for drug use. In all the years of competing, ranking in the top 5, and then winning 2016, he was never disqualified for a failed drug test.

FAQs

Does Chul Soon Still Compete in Bodybuilding Events?

Chul Soon doesn't seem to be competing in bodybuilding events anymore. He has switched to building a large social media following and focusing on his family, but he is still as ripped as ever.

Does Chul Soon Have Health Issues Due to Steroids?

No, there is no evidence that Chul Soon has health issues due to steroids. Significant issues like ulcerated skin or organ failure would have very obvious physical appearance effects, and he still looks extremely fit and healthy.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12500264/
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/gynecomastia
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10589853/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1633755/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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