Is Layne Norton on Steroids or Natty? (Obvious Signs)

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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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.

Quick Summary

  • Layne Norton is not on steroids, as evidenced by his negative drug tests while competing in NGA and IFPA bodybuilding competitions.
  • Tough training, taking legal supplements, and embarking on a healthy diet are all it will take to build a body like Layne Norton's.
  • According to Power Lifting, Layne Norton set a world record by squatting 668 pounds and a US record with a 711-pound deadlift.
  • From my own experience in fitness, I respect Layne Norton's dedication to natural bodybuilding, as I know how hard it is without using any prohibited substances.

Does Layne Norton Take Steroids?

portrait image of layne norton

Layne Norton is a very outspoken bodybuilder when it comes to achieving muscle-building success without the help of steroids.

He has consistently advocated against the use of anabolic steroids and has competed in powerlifting competitions under the strict guidelines of drug testing, further indicating his commitment to a drug-free approach.

Layne's impressive physique is a result of his hard work and dedication to natural methods.

In several social media posts, he has claimed that he's one of the few lifetime natural bodybuilders.

Why Do People Believe That Layne Takes Steroids?

layne norton shirtless

While some question Norton's lean mass gains, others argue that, as a natural bodybuilder, he has achieved his physique without the use of anabolic steroids. Furthermore, discussions around his weight class are often part of the conversation.

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. According to a study published on the PubMed website, excessive vascularity is most notable in the arms and legs, where veins seem to be very pronounced and almost poking through the skin [1].

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

shirtless man showing his chest muscles

This is a problem that steroid users most often encounter, and according to a study in the Journal of Steroids & Hormonal Science, it causes men to develop soft breast tissue [2].

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

Drawing from my time in the gym, I've witnessed firsthand how some individuals bulk up incredibly fast, raising questions about steroid use. I remember a fellow gym-goer who gained significant muscle mass in just a month without altering his diet or training, which was quite startling.

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 [3]. 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

man pointing at his acne

According to a study in the International Wound Journal, steroid users can, in extreme cases, suffer from severe ulcerated acne [4]. 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 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 [5].

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 [6].

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 [7].

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


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Layne Norton, PhD (@biolayne)

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 pounds, 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?

hand holding a syringe

Yes, the transformation that Layne Norton has achieved is 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 macrodieting 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.

In my own training, I've learned the value of patience and tuning into my body's needs. Seeing Layne's approach, I started focusing on steady progress and listening to my body's signals.

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 [8].

Alternative Natural Bodybuilding Techniques

Natural bodybuilding relies on a combination of disciplined training, precise nutrition, and natural supplementation.

Here are the techniques Norton used to build muscle, enhance strength, and maintain a competitive edge:

  • Training regimens: Techniques such as periodization, where the training intensity and volume are systematically varied, are crucial. This not only aids in continual muscle development but also helps in avoiding plateaus and overtraining.
  • Natural supplements: Include whey protein, which aids in muscle recovery; branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which help in muscle building and repair; and creatine, known for enhancing strength and performance. Natural testosterone boosters, made from herbs and minerals, are also popular for promoting muscle growth.
  • Rest and recovery: This includes not only sufficient sleep, which is vital for muscle growth and repair, but also incorporating rest days into training schedules. Active recovery techniques, such as light cardio, yoga, or stretching, can also be beneficial.
  • Mindset and consistency: Without the rapid results that steroids can provide, natural bodybuilders must be patient, consistent, and mentally resilient. Norton set realistic goals, maintained a positive mindset, and stayed committed to a healthy lifestyle.

What Would It Take To Bulk Up Like Layne Norton?

plate of salad and a man using dumbbells

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 [9].

But it's also essential 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 [10].


white pills

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 plan.

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 [11].

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.

Tough Training

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 [12].

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.

I've also committed to at least five days of training each week. This personal commitment helps me appreciate the level of effort and consistency Layne must have maintained to reach his current form.

Was Layne Norton Tested For Steroids?

Yes, Norton would have had to comply with the 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 [13].

Now, that doesn't mean that he didn't have exposure to anabolic drugs at an earlier time in 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.


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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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