Layne Norton is a pretty popular dude in the bodybuilding realm, known for being ‘natural' and possessing a PhD in nutritional sciences and a BS in biochemistry.
Being jacked and a scientist is quite the combination when trying to gain the respect of the weight lifting community…compared to the 21 year old ‘bodybuilder', who eats clen, trens hard and preaches broscience for a living.
Layne's also insanely strong…to the point where he could probably join the Avengers and not look out of place (srs).
He's set a world record squat of 668lbs (303kg) at 205lbs (93kg). And smashed a US record when he deadlifted 323kg at 93kg bodyweight.
So, has he ever claimed he's natty?
Bodybuilding.com claims Layne Norton is natural on his author page on their website (1); and in the video below Layne says at 1.54:
“I've never really felt the need/desire to take steroids. I'm not in it to get famous”
…thus insinuating that he's a lifetime drug-free bodybuilder.
Here's the rest of his stats:
Height: 5ft 10
Contest Weight: 191-195lbs
Current Weight: 205lbs
Arms: 18 inches
Chest: 48 inches
Thighs: 27 inches
Calves: 17 inches
These are pretty monstrous measurements for any natty bodybuilder standing at just 5 ft 10 inches tall.
We know that Bodybuilding.com aren't the most trustworthy company around after lying about smuggling steroids into supplements (which they later pleaded guilty to in court) and were consequently sued for $7 million in 2012.
However, just because BB.com might not be a credible source when trying to work out whether someone's juicing or not, we can't assume Layne's on steroids because of this association.
So lets have a look at the evidence…
Layne's by no means a mass monster, so even if he is natty he isn't at the top of the gene pool when it comes to muscle hypertrophy.
Layne's size is possible for nattys to attain with years and years of hard work, combined with good genetics.
With the key part of that sentence being good genetics.
Nothing on his body indicates steroid-use to me. Some guys you can just look at and get a good idea of what he's taking, but not with Layne. His shoulders and traps are far from 3D and he's not ever seen looking particularly shredded or dry.
He also doesn't have a great deal of vascularity and doesn't possess a classic steroid gut, so there's definitely no signs of HGH here either.
However, some guys on the juice (if they're lucky), don't experience any external symptoms. These external symptoms usually give a steroid-user away. Such visual signs could be:
- Overdeveloped traps/shoulders
- Excessive vascularity
- Super dry
- Steroid gut
- Flushed skin
Many steroid-users will have at least a few of these, but some will slip through the net. Also some natty guys may even have one or two of these symptoms, so simply looking at a person's body isn't an accurate way of telling whether a person's on steroids or not.
The above picture demonstrates what Layne used to look like (presumably before he started lifting weights) and what he looks like today – a beast.
He looks to have gained a good 60lbs of muscle over the years.
We know that people who are naturally jacked, will have looked pretty swole even before they set foot in a gym. Just look at Chris Hemsworth and what he looked like before he started training for Thor. He was still very muscular beforehand and only gained 20lbs of muscle to play the Asgardian God.
Thus guys who are blessed with awesome genetics always tend to look big even before they start pumping iron. If they do start lifting, they'll only gain the same amount of muscle as the rest of us do.
In this before photo we can see Layne's genetics are very average.
To be as muscular as he is now, he'd need to have great genetics or he'd need to train/eat differently to everyone else on the planet (enabling him to make twice the gains). It's clear that although Layne's a smart guy, he doesn't claim to have come up with a new, revolutionary way to build muscle that nobody else in the world follows.
So the only way I can make sense of his 60lb muscle gain, is that he used steroids.
A newbie weight lifter will gain roughly 20lbs of muscle.
A steroid-user will typically gain 40-50lbs of muscle.
Now, these calculations are starting to add up and make sense.
Layne Norton has competed in IFPA and NGA bodybuilding competitions.
Both of these federations have drug testing protocols, however neither of these require you to be a lifetime drug-free bodybuilder.
The IFPA states the list of anabolic steroid substances that will disqualify an athlete on their website, but also state in brackets:
“Cannot have been used within seven years of contest date (1)”
The NGA also require you to be natural for 7 years prior to their competitions, with athletes having to unergo lie detectors and urine samples.
So, a person could be on a whole cocktail of steroids for 10 years straight, come off them, still look jacked; then later compete in a NGA or IFPA competition and be labelled as a ‘natural' bodybuilder. Interesting.
Also when Layne set a national record, deadlifting 668lbs, he was beating steroid-users in the process. Because the federation he competed with was the APF and on their official website they state:
“The APF does not drug test” (2).
So, if Layne IS natural, he would've been doing himself a disservice by competing against other steroid-users, as it wouldn't have been a level playing field. I find it very difficult to believe that Layne whooped some of the strongest juiced up guys in the country whilst being 100% natural.
Natural guys' strength levels are pathetic compared to someone on gear. To find a natural guy who is stronger than someone on steroids is one thing, but to find a natural guy who can deadlift more than any other juiced up guy in the country is another.
Layne hasn't competed in any bodybuilding shows that require you to be a lifetime natty. Plus he's gained a good 60+lbs of muscle since he started lifting, which is excessive for a natural bodybuilder.
I believe it's likely Layne Norton was juicing when he was younger, gained a load of size – then stopped.
He most likely worked hard to maintain most of the strength/size he gained, enabling him to compete in various bodybuilding/power-lifting competitions with great success (despite having average genetics).
This verdict is a similar one to Kris Gethin, who also competed in ‘natural' shows that don't require you to be a lifetime natty.
Although there's evidence to suggest Layne could have taken steroids, this doesn't take anything away from the fact he's an intelligent individual and someone most gym rats could learn a few things from. Also to look how he does today, with seemingly poor genetics, is a great achievement and testament to his hard-work in and out of tthe gym.
Steroids Likely to Have Taken
A few cycles of testosterone are enough to help someone gain 40 or so pounds, which is what Layne would've gained after he experienced his newbie gains.
Test is a very popular steroid for beginners and is one that doesn't cause a whole load of side effects. Thus making it hard to spot whether a guy is on test or has ever taken it.