Layne Norton has become one of the most renowned powerlifters in the bodybuilding industry. His remarkable body transformation and competitive results have drawn a lot of attention to possible steroid use.
But success like this should never be criticized without actual proof or even a reasonable amount of research.
So, our team at TotalShape got together and spent two weeks sifting through hours of interviews with him to see if we could determine whether he was a natural bodybuilder.
Here's what we found out.
- Because Layne Norton went through a massive transformation from his teens into his twenties, people automatically assumed he took steroids.
- He claims that he's managed to achieve everything entirely naturally, relying on the knowledge he attained through his Ph.D. degree in nutrition and experience working with many personal trainers.
- Taking a closer look at how his physique changed and the training approach he used did reveal some interesting things that could explain why people are suspicious.
Does Layne Norton Take Steroids?
Layne Norton is a very outspoken bodybuilder when it comes to achieving muscle-building success without the help of steroids.
In several social media posts, he has claimed that he's one of the few lifetime natural bodybuilders.
The main reason people have attacked this statement is that he has such a vast online following.
I find such attacks unjust because they are usually baseless and lacking in any well-researched evidence.
So, we spent a few weeks looking through all of his older social media posts and photos to see if we could find any proof that he's an anabolic steroid user.
Why Do People Believe That Layne Takes Steroids?
To answer this question, we took a closer look at some side effects that would indicate if Layne could have taken steroids.
1. Extreme Vascularity
This is one of the more common side effects that steroid users deal with. Excessive vascularity is most notable on the arms and legs, where veins seem to be very pronounced and almost poking through the skin .
If you look at photos of Layne showing off his muscles, then you could argue that those veins are indeed popping out.
But that is also a common effect of pumping muscles through lifting weights. Just like at bodybuilding shows, Layne would carefully plan any photos he posts online to show his muscle mass in the best possible light.
I find this is no solid evidence of using steroids.
2. Large Breast Tissue
This is a problem that steroid users most often encounter, and it basically causes men to develop soft breast tissue .
It's not a health issue as such, but it can cause excess fat to form around the pecs.
The result would be not so well-formed chest muscles, which can mess up a lot of work for bodybuilders.
Looking at Layne's transformation from early newbie gains to competitive stage photos, you can see that his chest is ripped, so I don’t believe that this has been an issue for him.
3. Fast Bulking Process
Muscle mass is one of the external symptoms that is the leading indicator of steroids. I've seen men bulk up within a month, even after not making any changes to their diet and training routine.
Achieving that through natural bodybuilding isn't realistic.
And with different combinations of steroids, it's possible to speed up that bulking process even more . At the same time, you need to look at early and total muscle development.
In both cases, it looks like Layne did bulk up quickly when he was in his late teens. And it seems like he piled on over 60 lbs of muscle weight. Both of those could suggest that he took some steroids in the first ten years of bulking, but we can’t be 100% certain.
4. Skin Conditions Like Acne
Steroid users can, in extreme cases, suffer from severe ulcerated acne . That's the kind of acne you can't hide or cover up, and it's also excruciating.
However, it's a condition that quickly reverses when you stop taking steroids.
Having looked through hundreds of photos of Layne over the years, I couldn't find any that showed a sudden increase in acne or even as much as flushed skin.
It's not the most accurate way to rule out steroids, but it could indicate that he might be natural.
5. Hair Loss
Layne is now in his 40s, and having a receding hairline would be perfectly normal. So we took a closer look at photos from when he was younger and bulked up the most.
I couldn't find any photos that showed potential for steroid-induced hair loss .
And since this is a common indicator of long-term steroid exposure, it might be another good reason to believe that Layne has not resorted to steroids.
Layne Norton's Body Transformation?
The best way to look at Layne's transformation is to compare photos from when he was about 17 or 18 to when he started competing as a powerlifter and bodybuilder in 2009 .
At that stage, he had bulked up a lot, but you're looking at about seven years of intense training.
With a combination of favorable genetics and the proper training, that is possible in a completely natural way .
Also, while he was ripped by the time he was 28, he wasn't big even by natural standards. He doesn't have those exploding shoulders and traps, which means he either doesn't have favorable genetics, or he didn't consume steroids or both.
"I've never really felt the need/desire to take steroids. I'm not in it to get famous."
- Layne Norton
Layne Norton's Stats And Accomplishments
- Born: December 15, 1981
- Height: 5'10"
- Weight: 205 lbs
As you can see from those stats, he has quite a massive build with his contest weight.
He has participated in several bodybuilding competitions, but his best achievements have come through his powerlifting records.
He set a world record by squatting 668 lbs, which is an impressive amount. He also set a US record for the deadlift with a total of 711 pounds .
Now, some people would argue that he must have used some steroids because competing as a natural powerlifter wouldn't give you much of a chance in a world where drug use is so common. But since he hasn't been banned or excluded for testing positive, I'd be hesitant to come to that conclusion.
Is Layne Norton's Transformation Possible Without Drugs?
Yes, the transformation that Layne Norton has achieved would be possible without anabolic drugs.
It's not like he achieved what he did in one or two years.
This was something that he both studied and put into action with a rigorous approach to macro dieting and an extreme exercise routine.
And the thing that stands out for me is that he took his time and listened to his body as he grew stronger.
And you can see the effect of this on his competitive powerlifting results where every year, he gradually improved without sudden spikes in his ability to lift more .
What Would It Take To Bulk Up Like Layne Norton?
You need to combine three main ingredients into years of hard work. It's not so much that he did things differently than everyone else, but more a case of having found the right combination for his body.
Norton has a significant educational background in nutrition and will most certainly fully understand the importance of his diet. And it's a lot more than just making sure you eat enough calories to bulk up .
But it's essential also to consider the right macro profile and a long list of micronutrients that athletes require. The problem is that people's genetics and metabolic rates influence the ideal combination of macro and micronutrients .
Planning to be a natural bodybuilder doesn't mean that you can't take natural supplements.
In fact, taking supplements to help you with various phases of bulking and cutting will be an essential part of your diet plans.
And instead of taking steroids, people like Norton often rely on natural testosterone boosters.
These contain herbs, minerals, and amino acids that encourage your body to release more testosterone .
The effect is a lot slower than what medical steroids achieve, which would be in line with how Norton seems to have achieved his results.
Having looked at Norton's early body changes, I would say that he probably has good genetics, but not those great ones where people bulk up seemingly by just looking at a set of weights .
But, based on my experience, getting to that level of athletic body composition will require at least five training days a week. And you'll need to do that for several years without any significant disruptions.
It's usually a lack of dedication that makes people fail.
Was Layne Norton Tested For Steroids?
Yes, Norton would have had to comply with drug testing protocols of the NGA or IFPA.
If Norton used steroids within about seven years of competing in IFPA and NGA, it would have likely led to a positive result .
Now, that doesn't mean that he didn't have exposure to anabolic drugs at an earlier time of his career, but these organizations have some pretty stringent rules making sure that there's a level playing field.
What Does Layne Norton Have a PH.D. In?
Layne Norton has a PhD in nutritional sciences. He first got a degree in biochemistry and then later went to the University of Illinois for his Ph.D. That gives him a lot of direct insight into how to achieve the best nutritional balance for his athletic performance.
Does Layne Norton Have Health Issues Due to Steroids?
No, as far as I can tell, Layne Norton doesn't have health issues from steroid use. He claims to be a drug-free bodybuilder, and issues like organ failure, acne, or steroid gut bloating would have resulted in obvious signs.
Final Verdict: Is Norton Natty Or Not?
Having seen men that abused anabolic drugs, I can spot if someone’s physique is a result of steroids or natural means. Based on all available evidence, I came to the conclusion that Layne Norton is natural.
The amount of muscle he built up over many years is possible with the right genetics and supplement stack, which is where his Ph.D. would certainly come in handy.
It’s possible for amateurs to use the same diet and training approach with years of dedication to achieve that physique. For anyone who wants to achieve natural gains and speed up the process a bit, I recommend trying these natural and legal steroid alternatives.
It’s based on legal and natural ingredients that seem to have given my clients and me a good boost of testosterone and overall physical and mental performance at the gym.
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