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  #1  
Old 03-19-2009, 12:41 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Has modern bodybuilding been ruined by steroids? Can it be salvaged?

I've been meaning to write something about this because it has been bothering me for a while. I've seen Pumping Iron many times - it's been a great inspiration to me in my own life, as I am sure it has been for many other young men who are interested in developing their bodies. Every time I watch it I am in awe of not only the great bodybuilder's physiques but also their intense dedication to their art, and the incredible amount of positive energy they seem to be filled with. The thing that I like most about all of them is that their bodies are so well-proportioned. They all seem to have been dedicated to the ideal of the "natural" human form - trying to achieve what man is "supposed" to look like, just on a larger scale. None of their muscle groups look grotesquely large because they are all in proportion to each other. Some of them had some flaws, like Katz whose chest was too big for his arms and slightly too "wide" overall (this is probably simple genetics - he has a great build for a football guard, but not necessarily an exceptional bodybuilder.) But even Katz looked better than some of the guys who are at the top levels of bodybuilding now and for the past 10 or 15 years.

I see these guys now and I'm genuinely bothered by the way they look. There is no proportion to them anymore, not really. I guess you could say they are proportional for the "new" standard of bodybuilding that has been created by the overuse of steroids, but they are not proportional in any NATURAL sense of what a man's body is supposed to look like. I see guys now with gigantic bloated stomachs - they have six packs or even eight-packs, but the stomach protrudes like that of a pregnant woman. I see men with quads so ridiculously huge that their calves look like twigs, and guys with biceps and triceps so insanely swollen that their forearms are completely out of proportion. And these gigantic trapezius muscles that make their heads look tiny. This is getting totally out of hand.

I fully realize that steroids are not just "instant muscles" and that it takes an incredible amount of work to make the steroids enhance your muscle growth effectively. But what has been created by this overuse of steroids, is a culture of bodybuilding where sheer size is favored over proportion. All you need to do is take a look at any current contestants in the major bodybuilding competitions to see how mutated the sport has become since the days of Pumping Iron.

It bothers me very much. When I see the old photos of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Serge Nubret, and Ed Corney and other classic BB-ers, they look to me like Greek statues or paintings by Renaissance artists. They had such incredible proportion - and when you see pictures of them (in the book version of Pumping Iron) with regular clothes on, they don't even look that different from an average guy at first because the proportions are so perfect. When you take a minute and think about it, you realize that they are HUGE compared to the average man, but it's a matter of SCALE. Despite their huge muscular size they retained the proportions of the natural male physique. I fully realize that these guys took steroids, but they did not do it at anywhere near the level of the bodybuilders now, who use not only synthetic testosterone but also human growth hormone and "synthol" (which is essentially just oil which is injected straight into the muscles to puff up their size.)

But of course, today, it's all over. The big corporate sponsored bodybuilding events continue to award the prizes to whoever has the hugest, most steroid pumped body, and no longer care about proportion. Why does it go on? Why did the Weider brothers allow the physiques to get bloated with steroids? Why do the judges - many of whom are former BBers from the old eras - keep giving the prizes to these guys with unnatural physiques, these "mass monsters?" Instead of awarding them to the most proportional man?

Is anyone ever going to step in and blow the whistle and just yell, STOP! This is insane! Look at Pumping Iron! Look at those guys! That's the standard that we need to be aiming for here! There's no proportion anymore, and too much steroid abuse! Can someone be the "savior" of modern bodybuilding and "turn it around" so it goes back to the old days?

Or is it lost and completely unsalvageable?

Note: please don't bother responding by saying "I don't know, but all I can say is, I find bodybuilders' physiques to be totally disgusting" or "I don't see the appeal of those bodies" or whatever. This thread is primarily intended for those who already know about the history of bodybuilding.

Last edited by Argent Towers; 03-19-2009 at 12:42 AM..
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2009, 01:02 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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From what I'm aware, bodybuilding went unnatural right from the start of things (and I mean like the 50s and 60s.) I don't recall where I came across that information, but I can try to find cites if you're interested.

But assuming that to be so, the only difference is that the drugs and methods they have now are more advanced. Otherwise it's just more of the same and the golden age is really only the first generation way back when.
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2009, 01:05 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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I'm not necessarily saying the problem is that bodybuilding has become too unnatural - I don't expect anybody to be able to look like the Golden Age (1970s) bodybuilders without ANY help from steroids at all - what I'm saying is that the problem is that sheer mass is being favored over proportion. Proportion has gone straight out the window, and "mass monsters" rule now.
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2009, 01:19 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
I'm not necessarily saying the problem is that bodybuilding has become too unnatural - I don't expect anybody to be able to look like the Golden Age (1970s) bodybuilders without ANY help from steroids at all - what I'm saying is that the problem is that sheer mass is being favored over proportion. Proportion has gone straight out the window, and "mass monsters" rule now.
When all versions are faked and arbitrary, how do you define which proportions are better or worse? You might not like the current form that bodybuilders are shooting for, but to them they are going for a particular look that they think is ideal. They've only got X hours in a day to build--you can't just build up every muscle to the same extent--so they're still going to partition out those exercises to the ones that they think are ideal for them. The muscle mass is going to be larger and look outrageous to you, but I doubt that they aren't putting just as much effort and thought into their design as the guys in the old days. More likely they're putting in more effort and thought.
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  #5  
Old 03-19-2009, 03:12 AM
Toxylon Toxylon is offline
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I don't think modern competitive bodybuilding is going for any particular look, just maximal muscle mass throughout the body. I fully agree with AT about it's "unproportionality" - any man actually regularly moving heavy stuff with his bare hands will have forearms not much smaller than upper arms, while 40" thighs give a strong chicken vibe (and make one's dick look microscopic). But to the modern BB'er, "looking like an average guy with your clothes on" screams "pencil neck!". You need 20 lbs. traps to look freakish while walking down the street.

As long as getting bigger can be done, it will be done. In the light of the ongoing medical advances, I don't think we'll ever see a change in the mass monster ideal. That's what people want, unbelievable monsters, and the corporations selling supplements to hopefuls, sponsoring the contests and publishing the magazines, naturally embrace it: "look what post-workout powder XYZ does! steroids and hgh had nothing to do with the model's look". I think we will actually have guys that equal comic book super heroes before the trend changes. 400+ pounds of rippling muscle. "Most proportional" just doesn't have the zing. Also, Schwarzenegger, Nubre, Zane et al got just as big as they could, using all the knowledge and aid they had at the time. Many of the fans of true oldies BB'ing (c. 1890-1950) find even them too large and unproportional, tainted by steroid use.
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  #6  
Old 03-19-2009, 05:45 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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I think this might do better in The Game Room.
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  #7  
Old 03-19-2009, 08:14 AM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
More likely they're putting in more effort and thought.
Less thought, more steroids. When you're taking as many drugs as those guys do, you don't have to think at all.
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  #8  
Old 03-19-2009, 08:26 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Oh, they have to think a lot. They have to know exactly how much to take when you are on a "cycle" and exactly how much to work out, and how many calories to take in, when you're either on or off a cycle. They have it down to a very precise science. Bodybuilding is really more about diet and intake of various chemicals - the working out part is the easy part. The dieting part is the harder part.

Also I don't know if the Game Room is the right place for this thread. Bodybuilding isn't really a sport as most people here would think of it - the emphasis is completely on the individual, and not at all on the group. And there is no direct physical competition between contestants, except during a pose-off on stage.

The training half of bodybuilding is a science.

The posing half of bodybuilding is an art.

The end result of bodybuilding is a performance, not a sport. For this reason I ask that the thread be moved back to Cafe Society.

It will die a rapid death here in this section of the forum. Most of the discussion here is either about video and computer games, or "game threads." I think the topic of bodybuilding would go under very quickly here. I think there would be more people inclined to discuss it in the Cafe Society forum, especially since the OP is, in part, about Pumping Iron, which is a movie.
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  #9  
Old 03-19-2009, 08:27 AM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Originally Posted by ultrafilter View Post
When you're taking as many drugs as those guys do, you don't have to think at all.
Women too. Take a look at the natural tested competitors and the open FBBs. But before you point to the Fitness competitors, they also take steroids and diuretics to compete at that level.
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  #10  
Old 03-19-2009, 09:16 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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I don't really see much of a difference between Ahnold c. 1971 and current bodybuilders. He looked terrific - much like your "ideal physical specimen"- after he got out of bodybuilding (during the Commando/Predator period in the mid-80s, for example).
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  #11  
Old 03-19-2009, 09:29 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Ha! Look at Ronnie Coleman, Markus Ruhl, Jay Cutler, or Nasser El Sonbaty. These guys are FREAKS. That's not intended as a derisive term, that is what today's bodybuilding fans call them, as a COMPLIMENT. They're "Mass Monsters." That's what people want nowadays. (They also all have atrocious fake tans.)

Compare that to Arnold, Frank Zane, Serge Nubret, and my personal favorite, the underrated Ken Waller.

The first group of guys are MASS MONSTERS where size takes priority over any sense of proportion. The second group look merely like strong, healthy, well-built men with scaled-up, proportional physiques. Ken Waller, in particular, looked like a Greek statue. These guys had small waists, the perfect V-taper in their torsos, and thighs that were proportional to their calves. The guys now have very defined abdominals, but their stomachs are so HUGE that they stick out like a beer gut.

The guys now are so veiny, it's ridiculous, and they slather on the fake-tan to an absurd degree. The 70s bodybuilders looked much healthier.

Last edited by Argent Towers; 03-19-2009 at 09:30 AM..
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  #12  
Old 03-19-2009, 09:56 AM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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http://blogs.suntimes.com/sportspros...man_whose.html Yep, steroids can cause some true ugliness. Weightlifting is a very healthy thing to do and it has great benefits in cross training. Many oldsters are put on light weight training to offset osteoporosis . But like anything it can be overdone.
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  #13  
Old 03-19-2009, 09:59 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Ah, Gregg Valentino - I know that story quite well. (I used to frequent the bodybuilding.com forum.) That guy is not the norm among bodybuilders - he suffered quite obviously from a pathological mental condition, which I think he himself admitted. He inflated his biceps to inhuman proportions not because he thought it would help him win contests or improve his overall physique, but because he had a psychological compulsion to do it. It's a sad story, but eventually the guy came to his senses, and was able to write (pretty articulately) about his weird addiction to synthol and his obsession with blowing up his biceps.
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Old 03-19-2009, 10:53 AM
BMax BMax is offline
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Originally Posted by gonzomax View Post
http://blogs.suntimes.com/sportspros...man_whose.html Yep, steroids can cause some true ugliness. Weightlifting is a very healthy thing to do and it has great benefits in cross training. Many oldsters are put on light weight training to offset osteoporosis . But like anything it can be overdone.
Gregg Valentino's arms didn't get that ridiculous looking through weightlifting and steroids alone. He injected synthol, a neutral oil into them. In other words, those biceps aren't all muscle, there's a lot of oil in them too.

Take a look at these:
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=synthol&gbv=2
and compare them with any of the IFBB bodybuilders' photos linked to already. Bodybuilders, gymrats and fitness fans view those idiots with derision and revulsion.
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  #15  
Old 03-19-2009, 11:03 AM
PatriotGrrrl PatriotGrrrl is offline
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As I understand it, the stomachs are due to growth hormone, which makes the organs grow as well as the muscles.

I wonder if the relatively small forearms and calves are due to the use of machines? Moving free weights around uses muscles other than the ones specifically targeted.

Anyway, I'd like to see bodybuilding competitions that required the participants to display some agility and athletic ability. I think that would tend to favor those who go for proportion over sheer mass. It would also weed out those who come onstage so hungry and dehydrated they're almost about to faint.
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  #16  
Old 03-19-2009, 01:17 PM
Least Original User Name Ever Least Original User Name Ever is offline
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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
Ha! Look at Ronnie Coleman, Markus Ruhl, Jay Cutler, or Nasser El Sonbaty. These guys are FREAKS. That's not intended as a derisive term, that is what today's bodybuilding fans call them, as a COMPLIMENT. They're "Mass Monsters." That's what people want nowadays. (They also all have atrocious fake tans.)

Compare that to Arnold, Frank Zane, Serge Nubret, and my personal favorite, the underrated Ken Waller.

The first group of guys are MASS MONSTERS where size takes priority over any sense of proportion. The second group look merely like strong, healthy, well-built men with scaled-up, proportional physiques. Ken Waller, in particular, looked like a Greek statue. These guys had small waists, the perfect V-taper in their torsos, and thighs that were proportional to their calves. The guys now have very defined abdominals, but their stomachs are so HUGE that they stick out like a beer gut.

The guys now are so veiny, it's ridiculous, and they slather on the fake-tan to an absurd degree. The 70s bodybuilders looked much healthier.

What is that, 280 on a tricep press for Nasser El Sonbaty? That's insane.

As a whole, though, I'm with you. I've leafed through bodybuilding magazines and websited just for the hell of it, but you've also got your cycle. These mass monsters get paid to endorse supplements and crap to push to people trying to get bigger, stronger, or "healthier".

Part of it is waxing poetic about the past and relative purity, but it seems to be more of a call for moderation than anything.
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  #17  
Old 03-19-2009, 01:23 PM
Toxylon Toxylon is offline
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Alongside machines, the use of straps is commonplace in BB'ing. Both take the grip out of the equation, leading to ever-increasing musculature outside the unstimulated forearm region. It may well be that typical forearm development stops well before the typical genetic size limit of lats, bis etc. is reached, dunno. But the fact is that many bber's wouldn't be able to hold on to the weights they deadlift, row, pull etc., were they to rely on their grip to do so. Mass rules over strength.

Calves are notoriously hard to build - I hear they're the bain of even many pros. Kinda makes evolutionary sense to keep the mass from increasing around the outer levers.
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:51 PM
Cuckoorex Cuckoorex is offline
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I blame Dorian Yates to some extent. Look at this; in 1985 he had a clean, well-proportioned "classical" look like the bodybuilders of yore...by the time he was winning Mr. Olympias he was entirely about being as huge as possible.
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:10 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Agh! I love how they put it: "Hope" and "Glory." "Hope" in 1985, when he has a classic proportional physique, and "Glory" in 1995 when he looks like a fucking disgusting bloated monster! And his face also looks like it's aged 30 years instead of 10.
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:07 AM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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It can be a trap. When you work out hard and long and you can not get the measurements other bodybuilders get, and you can get them with a few "harmless chemicals" the temptation is great. I will do it just a little while. Then ugliness follows.
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:21 AM
Stevo405398674 Stevo405398674 is offline
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Too Massive...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuckoorex View Post
I blame Dorian Yates to some extent. Look at this; in 1985 he had a clean, well-proportioned "classical" look like the bodybuilders of yore...by the time he was winning Mr. Olympias he was entirely about being as huge as possible.
Hey don't leave out the real monsters like Levrone, Gaspari and Nasser. They were the ones that started the real mess
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  #22  
Old 05-21-2010, 08:47 AM
Tom Scud Tom Scud is offline
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Steroids were bad enough, but when they let zombies start competing, things really went to hell.
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  #23  
Old 05-21-2010, 08:52 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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Zombies on steroids!

ETA: Damn you!

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 05-21-2010 at 08:53 AM..
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  #24  
Old 05-21-2010, 10:24 AM
PlainJain PlainJain is offline
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Originally Posted by Tours d'Argent View Post
I see these guys now and I'm genuinely bothered by the way they look.
Top level bodybuilding is a business. They wont win money or get sponsorship striving for "ideals" that make you happy. There were plenty of people who thought Arnold was too big in his days. It's all a matter of perspective... and business. Heck even Dave Draper was pushing it and that was before Arnold.

To address the OP directly yes, it's over regarding the golden age ideals. The sport has moved on to a new ideal. As mentioned above folks like Dorian Yates started the beginning of the end. For me personally Zane '77 was the high point. It was never the same after that.
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  #25  
Old 05-28-2010, 03:06 PM
Chicagojeff Chicagojeff is offline
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Originally Posted by Tours d'Argent View Post
Ha! Look at Ronnie Coleman, Markus Ruhl, Jay Cutler, or Nasser El Sonbaty. These guys are FREAKS. That's not intended as a derisive term, that is what today's bodybuilding fans call them, as a COMPLIMENT. They're "Mass Monsters." That's what people want nowadays. (They also all have atrocious fake tans.)

Compare that to Arnold, Frank Zane, Serge Nubret, and my personal favorite, the underrated Ken Waller.

The first group of guys are MASS MONSTERS where size takes priority over any sense of proportion. The second group look merely like strong, healthy, well-built men with scaled-up, proportional physiques. Ken Waller, in particular, looked like a Greek statue. These guys had small waists, the perfect V-taper in their torsos, and thighs that were proportional to their calves. The guys now have very defined abdominals, but their stomachs are so HUGE that they stick out like a beer gut.

The guys now are so veiny, it's ridiculous, and they slather on the fake-tan to an absurd degree. The 70s bodybuilders looked much healthier.

Got to this discussion late.. I too love what I would consider the golden age of bodybuilding (Arnold.. Franco.. Zane.. Mentzer) and I would point to the reign of Dorian Yates into Ronnie Coleman as to when sheer mass wins out. I respect Kai Greene and Branch Warren.. but I wouldn't want to look or aspire to either of them. Dexter Jackson is the only person competing today that I can stand to really look at and study. While the use of chemicals still require a great deal of work and planning.. I think when Joe Weider passes on perhaps the art will come back to something more proportional. I remember when everyone was clamoring about Tom Platz.. and I thought he looked ridiculous.. Good note on Ken Waller..
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  #26  
Old 05-28-2010, 03:22 PM
MOIDALIZE MOIDALIZE is online now
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I think Greg Valentino said in an interview once that his motivation for pumping his arms to ridiculous size was similar to the motivations of those who get tattooed from head to toe or get a couple hundred piercings in their face. I suppose the circus freak aspect is somewhat interesting, but aesthetics are just as important to bodybuilding as growing your muscles to their absolute limit.
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  #27  
Old 05-29-2010, 03:58 PM
BMax BMax is offline
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There were mass monsters in the early days, although they didn't have the 'muscle bound' look of Ruhl, Coleman or Cutler. The second Mr. Olympia, Sergio "The Myth" Oliva was enormous for his time, as was Bill Pearl. Although Pearl claimed that he only once tried anabolic steroids and didn't like the way they made him feel, and his last year of competition he was a vegetarian. There's no doubt that professional bodybuilders of the Pumping Iron era used steroids, and back then people complained that they didn't like the look of modern bodybuilders, preferring the earlier look of Steve Reeves, Mickey Hargitay, Clancy Ross, John Grimek. Just as Arnold, Zane, Nubret, Columbo and Draper were one-upping the heroes they grew up with, today's professional bodybuilders are trying to outdo yesterday's genetic freaks (Pearl, Oliva, Arnold, Mentzer, etc.) and end up with career-ending injuries, like Dorian Yates tearing his biceps.

I don't think that pro BB will ever come back from the mass monsters. Even with mandatory pre-competition steroid testing they'll still juice during training and only stop long enough to pee clean for a show.

Last edited by BMax; 05-29-2010 at 03:59 PM.. Reason: fixed coding error
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  #28  
Old 06-12-2010, 06:46 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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How does this thread have 27 posts and 25,300 views? Is this the winner for biggest view-to-response ratio in all time?
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