I’m going to be up-front with you, as I wish someone had been with me when I started out. Then I could have avoided the lousy instruction that caused me enormous disappointment, and wasted years of my life.
Especially early on in my bodybuilding, I took particular notice of the workouts of champion bodybuilders that were published in magazines and books. But I paid a heavy price for that poor judgement.
“Train like a champion, to become a champion yourself” has been trumpeted by almost all bodybuilding and strength magazines, and by most trainers and gyms. It sells magazines, books, courses, food supplements, and gym equipment. Although it’s been a commercial success in some respects, it’s been disastrous for the bodybuilding masses.
The most influential books on muscle-building come from champion bodybuilders (or their ghostwriters), or from people who have been directly involved with big-name physiques.
When sizing up the contribution of modern-day champion bodybuilders, consider the following:
1. They are presented as role models for others to follow, with the implicit or explicit mantra of “train like a champion, to become a champion yourself.” Millions of typical bodybuilders tried exactly that, in good faith, but without success.
2. Food supplements are often claimed to make a major contribution to bodybuilding success. Millions of dollars have been made through selling overpriced food supplements that couldn’t deliver what the hyped-up claims promoted. Drug-fed genetic supermen often endorse food supplements. Many if not most bodybuilders believe that food supplements play a major role in the success of the men who provide the endorsements. That drugs are the big “supplement,” and food supplements themselves are insignificant in comparison, is kept quiet.
3. Many bodybuilders have discovered that the champion bodybuilders’ training methods do work to some degree if steroids are taken. Consequently the failure of those training methods to yield results for the masses indirectly encourages drug abuse.
4. The drug abuse has caused deaths, countless health problems, crime, jail terms, ruined relationships, and devastated families.
But there wasn’t a golden age of training instruction in the pre-steroids era. I have a library of training publications going back over 100 years. Training volume inappropriate for most bodybuilders, exercise techniques that cause problems for most bodybuilders, high-risk exercises, non-individualized training, and deceitful advertising, have been promoted to the masses for over a century. Modern-day big business, and drugs, have made matters worse.
The biggest champions of the bodybuilding world aren’t the drug-enhanced, genetically blessed, famous physiques. The biggest champions are the unsung heroes who applied years of dogged effort to build themselves up without using drugs, without seeking or finding publicity, and without divorcing themselves from the responsibilities of work and family life.
Food supplements are mass produced, consumed quickly, and need to be replenished often. They provide a huge potential for repeat sales, and the profit margin is large. A barbell set can last a lifetime, as can a book on training instruction, but a can of protein powder, for example, may last only a week or two.
Exaggerated claims, dishonest reporting, abuse of editorial responsibility, nonsense, and shameless lies, are used to produce demand for food supplements. Some food supplement companies publish bodybuilding magazines, or are intertwined with the publishers, and use those magazines to promote the supplements.
Ask gym members who have no vested interest in the sales of food supplements, or ask any of the genetic elite who are similarly unbiased, and you won’t find many who will tell you that they experienced much if any increase in their progress as a result of using food supplements. But many will tell you that the most obvious results they experienced were digestive tract discomfort, and hefty financial costs.
Conning the bodybuilding masses takes many forms. Here are six of them:
1. Some bodybuilders who have never used a given trainer’s program, endorse it and claim to have used it.
2. Some bodybuilders who have taken steroids for many years claim to be drug-free examples of what a certain coach’s training and food supplement regimen can do.
3. “Research” referred to by some people in the training world is fictitious, or factual but misrepresented.
4. Some people who have never used the touted food supplements, endorse them.
5. The benefits of bodybuilding food supplements are usually exaggerated, or made up.
6. Many advertisements are deceptive, especially before-and-after comparisons. Perhaps the featured individual was coming back after a long layoff, perhaps he’s genetically highly gifted (but detrained in the “before” shot), perhaps he was on steroids, perhaps the time period involved was much longer than reported, or perhaps there’s been extensive digital retouching of the photos.
Be on your guard!
Compare bodybuilding magazines from before and after the steroid era started. Come the late 1950s and early 1960s there was a jump in the standard of competitive bodybuilders—larger and harder-looking musculature. During the 1960s the change became pronounced, as drug use moved out of limited circles. Thereafter the caliber of physiques increased as bodybuilding drugs became more widespread and potent.
Some of today’s drug-enhanced women, who are also genetically highly gifted for bodybuilding, have more muscle than some of the pre-steroids elite male bodybuilders had. The effects of the androgenic drugs on women go beyond muscular development, and include deepening of the voice, acne, hirsutism, and hypertrophy of the clitoris. Along with the de-feminizing outward effects are internal changes that cause serious health problems, and affect mortality.
Bodybuilding drugs and related problems have done enormous damage—not only to individual users and their families, but to the public perception of muscle-building.
Furthermore, there’s the problem of drug-assisted training methods being presented as appropriate for drug-free bodybuilders. Sham training instruction has produced bodybuilding failure on an enormous scale.
The view that bodybuilding drugs are safe if used “properly,” is untrue. Bodybuilding drugs have dramatic effects on physiology, and produce serious negative side effects.
Some famous bodybuilders, and some drug “experts,” suffered premature deaths or serious health problems largely if not wholly because of their use of bodybuilding drugs. There’ll be further high-profile premature deaths with strong suspicions of drug involvement, but for each of them there are many no-profile premature deaths related to drug use, and extensive health, relationship, family, financial, or crime-related problems about which the public never hears.
This is an excerpt from Chapter 20 of BUILD MUSCLE, LOSE FAT, LOOK GREAT. Check out the entire 600+ pages of this extraordinary book, and it will help you no end to build muscle and improve your physique. For example, check out this book’s table of contents to discover the extent of the guidance provided in this bodybuilding guide.