THE SUPPLEMENT BOOM
Amino acids in their many forms (peptide-bonded, free-form, branch
chained, L-crystalline) were popular in the 80s, based on the notion
that certain isolated amino acids could stimulate the pituitary gland
to release growth hormone. Claims that the free-form amino acids arginine
and ornithine could help bodybuilders lose fat and gain muscle actually
led to a world-wide shortage of arginine and ornithine. I remember contributing
to that shortage. Others touted the amino acid lysine as a growth hormone
releaser. Lysine is plentiful in milk, which is what bodybuilders used
in the days before amino acid supplements.
Soy protein powder made a big comeback in the 1990s with enough market
hype to force the bodybuilding community to take another look. However,
soy has never been accepted as a quality protein by the bodybuilders
who knew anything about protein. Blair dumped it decades ago for the
higher quality from milk and eggs. Vince Gironda simply referred to
soy as "that s***!"
Carbohydrate loading was made easier with drinks like CarboPlex, containing
maltodextrin. Other products contained medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)
derived from coconut oil, to provide energy while bypassing the normal
fat-assimilating channels in the body.
It was almost impossible to keep up with the new ergogenic and anabolic
aids promoted in the magazines. They had bizarre names like Gamma Oryzanal,
Osterolwere, Dibencozide and Inosine. A product called Metabolol containing
glucose polymers, MCTs and various ergogenic agents became popular.
Completing products--with names like "Ultimate Orange"
and "Hot Stuff"--were promoted with clever and outlandish
marketing tactics. MORE ANABOLIC AIDS
During the 1980s, the world of competitive bodybuilding could be summed
up in one name--Lee Haney. Haney ruled the Mr. Olympia competition
from 1984 to 1991. He was followed by Dorian Yates, winner for six straight
years and then Ron Coleman who is the reigning Mr. Olympia in 2004.
These two men ushered in a big jump in size and hardness. To put the
size in perspective, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a huge athlete back in
the 70s competing at 235 pounds at 6 feet 2 inches. In the 2003 Mr.
Olympia contest, Ron Coleman stood under 6 feet and weighed 287 pounds--and
he was even leaner than Schwarzenegger!
Were these men better bodybuilders than Schwarzenegger and Haney?
Not necessarily, just more daring chemists. Two very anabolic compounds
had muscled their way to prominence in the pro ranks in a much bigger
way than ever before. These compounds were insulin and growth hormone.
Bodybuilders were using natural growth hormone from human cadavers and
rhesus monkeys back in the 1970s. However, with the introduction of
recombinant Human Growth Hormone in 1985, this product became more widely
available. Another anabolic compound was creatine monohydrate, a muscle-hydrating
substance. Whey protein came into prominence. Bodybuilders will ingest
just about anything in the quest to build muscles--powders, pills,
raw meat, blood, glands, and a whole assortment of esoteric concoctions
that have been slam-dunked for the sake of the gain.
Until the end of the 1980s, athletes sat on two distinct sides of
the line--those who took steroids and those who did not. As Nelson
Montana once stated, "Steroids do what all bodybuilders want --they
build muscle!" That distinct line became blurred in the 1990s
with the fall of the Berlin wall and the introduction of Eastern Block
performance enhancing compounds known as "pro-hormones."
In the mid-1990s, supplements of Androstenedione, Androstenediol, Norandrostenedione,
Norandrostenediol and DHEA appeared in the magazines. Originally deemed
safe alternatives to steroids, the same side effects that manifested
with steroids soon became apparent--male pattern baldness, prostrate
enlargement, acne, reduced libido, liver and kidney toxicity, and--every
bodybuilder's favorite--gynecomastia (***** tits).
As more side effects revealed themselves, more precursors (pro-hormones)
came on the scene to replace their predecessors. Baseball's Mark
McGuire helped the market in a big way. Bodybuilders started stacking
these hormones like regular anabolic steroids along with estrogen blockers,
growth hormone enhancers, cortisone inhibitors, stimulators (ephedra),
creatine, protein powders and, if there was any cash left, perhaps some
vitamins. The recommended diet today is high-carb, high-protein, and
low in fat--skim milk, egg whites, protein powders. . . anything
but real whole foods. It's no surprise that early natural bodybuilders,
such as LaLanne, Tanny, Gironda and Grimek, enjoyed good longevity in
the sport while the health of today's muscle stars is a huge question
mark. As five-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl recently remarked: "The
guy left standing on the stage today at the end of a bodybuilding show
is probably the guy in the arena who is closest to death."
It's unfortunate that today's young athletes who have
that genetic potential to excel in bodybuilding really have no choice
but to go down that pharmaceutical road if they want to achieve top
honors at the shows. A friend of mine and long time gym owner Marty
Hodgson stated to me, "We must remember it was in fact drugs that
played a significant role in building those comic book characteristics
that attracted us to the sport over the past 40 years. But those very
substances that help make the sport are the same ones that are, with
no doubt, destroying it." About the Author
Bodybuilder and trainer Randy Roach has followed most of the bodybuilding
diet trends over the past 30 years including methods not so embraced
in bodybuilding circles, such as complete vegan vegetarianism. During
his protein-drink phase he ate egg whites and discarded the yolks. He
has discovered that too many carbohydrates give him all sorts of problems.
Over the past 3 years he has migrated to a total raw diet. This includes
raw meat, dairy, eggs (especially the yolks), honey, green juices, and
some fruits with their seeds. Food for a typical day includes 1/4-1/2
pound raw chicken,1/2 pound raw beef, 1/4 pound raw liver, 16- 32 ounces
of raw milk, 2-3 ounces raw cream, 6-8 tablespoons raw honey, 32 ounces
raw green juice (celery, parsley, lemon, zucchini, honey, beets) and
This article is excerpted from his forthcoming book Muscle, Smoke
, available at http://prfit.com/history.htm