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Steven Cao: Steroids or Natural?

Steven Cao is a 22 year old bodybuilder and social media icon. He’s got a colossal following on Instagram (342k fans), helping him land sponsorship deals with Gym Shark and BPI Sports supplements. He also has a strong fan base on YouTube with over 85k subscribers.

…it’s fair to say plenty of people are ‘mirin Steven Cao’s aesthetics.

Cao’s v-taper is something that you’re likely to save, print and blu tack to your bedroom wall. It sure is a sight to behold – combining huge lats with a tiny waist.

steven cao v taper

After he posted this picture of his back on Instagram, it left fans wondering whether Steven Cao was actually half man/half bird.

…But his stats suggest he is human after all.

Steven Cao’s stats:

Height: 5 ft 10

Weight: 179lbs (1)

Body fat: 4-6%

Steven Cao looks like he could be Chul Soon’s cool, natty younger brother.

So, is Steven Cao natural? Or is he a prime example of someone who’s combined hard-work with steroids to get where he is today?

Lets find out.

legal steroids

Steven Cao Doesn’t Claim Natural

Usually guys who ARE natural like to make a big point of it. They usually do this by either:

  • Hashtagging ‘natty’ on their social media posts (Mike O’Hearn is the king of this)
  • Writing something like “100% natural” or “lifetime drug-free athlete” in the about page on their website.
  • Adding it in the description box on their social media accounts.

Steven Cao doesn’t claim natty anywhere on social media or his website. 

Some guys who are natural won’t always make a big song and dance of it, as some brahs happen to slip through the net and don’t get accused of taking roids every hour of the day – by every troll alive. In this case there wouldn’t be much motivation for them to convince people they’re drug-free.

However, in Steven Cao’s case, he does get numerous steroid accusations online.

Lets just say the needle emoji (with blood spurting out of it) makes a fair few appearances on his Instagram posts.

…Or pretty much every time he uploads a new pic.

needle emoji

So, if he’s being accused of taking steroids and hasn’t come out saying he’s natural; this already is a bit of a warning sign. However, just because he’s staying quiet doesn’t mean he IS juicing, so lets take a sneek peek at the rest of the evidence.

Body Composition

There’s nothing that stands out as artificial on Steven’s body.

The only thing that’s a bit different, is his insane vascularity at just 22 years old. Usually younger people have thick/supple skin because their collagen production is at its peak. Steroids on the other hand can make a person more veiny, as they increase muscle fullness and cause thinning of the skin.

However, it is possible for a young person to naturally have thinner skin due to their genetic make up.

Ultimately, vascularity alone is a weak case for Steven Cao being on steroids. However, it’s worth knowing that I’ve never analysed someone with this level of vascularity at such a young age – who was natural.

steven cao steroids

Gains Timeline

This is by far the most reliable way to spot someone on steroids. And luckily we’ve been able to find several photos of Steven Cao over the years (way back when he was 16).

We can see Steven’s epic transformation (below) from a video he uploaded on his YouTube channel.

steven cao transformation

Going by the notes he gave during the transformation video, the first pic of him on the left is at 16 years old.

He states in the video:

“So I joined the gym to start weight training when I turned 16”.

Then he posts the before picture.

This clearly means that in the picture he would’ve already experienced his newbie gains, hence how he’s already in pretty good shape for a teen.

If he stayed at a similar size to what he looked like at 16, this would’ve been typical gains of a natty bodybuilder. This is because they experience almost all of their muscle gains during the ‘newbie period’, where there muscles adapt to the new stimulus. After this, even the most gifted of nattys fail to make significant gains.

However, Steven Cao looks to have gained a further 40-50lbs of lean muscle, as well as reducing his body fat percentage drastically over 5 years. Coincidentally, taking steroids adds approximately 50lbs to your frame.

There doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation for where this extra 50lbs came from, without it being the result of steroid-use.

Steven Cao may have an explanation of his own, which he shares in the YouTube video:

“18 years old was when I finally learned how to train. I started to become more serious and efficient with my training”.

So, maybe his workouts/nutrition improved massively at this time, hence his awesome muscle gains?

This wouldn’t make sense either. You might not have a clue about what you’re doing in the gym, but if you’re regularly lifting weights – your body’s going to blow up regardless (as it’s not used to such training). There’s a reason why so many people have awesome  ‘newbie gains’…and it’s not because they’re all experts, but because they were NEWBIES aka beginners.

So my guess is he started juicing when he was 18, but later become more knowledgeable and dedicated, hence how he was able to diet down and get shredded.


I believe Steven Cao may have strategically waited until he was 18 (an adult) to start taking steroids.

He experienced his newbie gains, then almost 2 years later blew up again when he turned 18. This isn’t a normal gains timeline for a natural bodybuilder.

As Steven does have a somewhat natural-looking physique and doesn’t appear to be holding much water, I believe he could’ve taken testosterone to pack on the extra 40-50lbs of muscle. This would make sense as test doesn’t cause many side effects which can be seen from the naked eye. Testosterone also has good fat-burning properties which would’ve helped him get more ripped (as he’s seen today).

Note: for those who think you can look like Steven Cao by taking a cycle or two of testosterone – you’re mistaken. His physique cannot be attained by taking a specific steroid; but instead by working like a trojan in the gym and tracking macros religiously over several years.

…THEN if you throw in a world-class steroid like testosterone, you’ve got a recipe for a world-class physique.



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Ernst Peibst

Ernst Peibst has spent over 3,000 hours researching anabolic steroids and PED's. He's also dedicated the last 7 years educating people about their effects, with hundreds of thousands of people reading his articles. He's studied countless science papers, read several expert books and has consulted some of the finest doctors in the world - on the topic of steroids.

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