by Matt Weik
How many of us have been in a gym and see a guy with unusually large arms? I’m talking about arms that don’t match the rest of his body. I’ll raise my hand. Now how many of you lift heavier weights than the guy with the huge arms? I’ll raise my hand again. What gives? This jacked dude is lifting weights lighter than what my wife uses yet he has the arms of an Adonis. These days you have to wonder what people are using to attain a certain physique and look. The example of the guy with the huge arms, it could be a case of spot shooting an oil such as synthol into his biceps and/or triceps to make them bigger. Now mind you, it’s the oil making the muscle appear larger, the muscle itself hasn’t grown in the sense of new muscle growth. So the question becomes, is that considered “fitness”?
I’ll throw my hat in the ring on this one and give you my opinion. You might completely disagree with me and that’s fine but this is my opinion and I’m sticking to it. Anyone who uses oil or drugs to achieve a certain look I wouldn’t categorize as “fitness-minded”. Yes, I know you could make the case for EVERY professional bodybuilder out there these days. For the sake of this article, let’s stick to the general public. Professional bodybuilders are the rare exception to my opinion as they eat healthy, do cardio, and lift some heavy ass weights in the gym. However, everyone else should take a good hard look in the mirror and ask what they really want to achieve.
You could spend hours in the gym, week after week, and never look like a bodybuilder or physique competitor—those are the cold hard facts. Some people are just genetic freaks as well (which is a small percentage of the population). That said, we all hit the gym to improve our physiques. But at what point is it taking things to the extreme? My opinion, it’s when you start experimenting with oil/drugs. You’re not doing your body any good by injecting oil in your muscle to give it added size. You’re injecting a foreign substance that could actually do your body harm in both the short term and long. People who spot shoot are also pretty easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for/at.
Another group would be the steroid users. I have absolutely no issue with those who use steroids, in fact a little while back I had an article published on my stance regarding steroids (https://dev.ironmagazine.com/2016/anabolic-steroids-why-i-dont-care/). Regardless if I’m ok with those who use steroids, it still doesn’t change my view that overall I wouldn’t consider them “fitness-minded” people. As with any drug, there are negative side effects. And you need to be aware of those consequences before you decide to dabble in that scene. Something else you have to think about with steroids is the long-term effect. Look at many of the bodybuilders from the 90’s and early 2000’s who hung up their posing trunks. They are still lifting to this day but they are a fraction of the size they were years ago, mainly because they got off the juice. So now many of them walk around looking just like you and me. Was it worth it to them? Sure, they were on the pro stage a good portion of their life and it was exactly that—their life. But these days after being off the drugs, they are more focused on their “fitness”.
Keeping it real
For the general population, there’s no need to take things to the extreme. If you’re doing it for personal reasons, that’s your decision. If you’re doing it to pick up chicks, well, most chicks don’t dig bodybuilders. So you need to find a happy medium of where you want to take your physique. You have genetic limits as to how much muscle you can put on naturally. I recommend staying consistent with your training and nutrition and after a few years reevaluate where you are. If you feel you’ve hit your genetic limit, then consider fine-tuning things.
Once you hit your genetic limit and no matter what you do (naturally), you just can’t seem to add any more lean muscle mass, then I’d recommend focusing on dropping body fat (unless you’re a powerlifter). Take what you’ve already built and now add definition. Sculpt your midsection and get detailed cuts throughout your body. You don’t have to be the biggest guy around to turn heads, and you don’t need to walk around with striated glutes 365 days a year either, but work on pulling out the detail you’ve built over the years. You don’t have to go the route of using oil or drugs to keep progressing.
Never big enough
Many of the people using drugs and oil these days are suffering from bigorexia or muscle dysmorphia where they look in the mirror and they feel small when they really aren’t. They simply aren’t happy with the size and muscle mass they have and it ultimately becomes a disorder that plagues them. Don’t let it get to that point, be happy with your physique and if you have no plans of ever competing, stay natural. The negative side effects and consequences aren’t worth the risk. Be the best you that you can be. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else in the gym.
So the take home message from all of this is that fitness involves making healthy choices with your life. Proper nutrition and training fall under this umbrella. When you start taking drug/steroids and injecting foreign oil like synthol into your body, you aren’t focusing on the bigger picture—your health. Fitness is about building a better, healthier you. By “cheating” and enhancing your physique through chemistry, what do you learn and gain from it? Nothing. It’s artificial. Don’t take the easy way out and risk the negative side effects. Stick to your guns and do it the right way. Using oil and drugs is not what this industry is all about. In the end, you’ll feel better about yourself knowing that you put in the time and didn’t take any shortcuts.