When I was in my twenties, I lost lots of money to the fraudulent bodybuilding supplement companies of the time. That was in the late eighties and early nineties. The scam products that were in the vanguard of product-claim sensationalism and outright BS would have to be ‘Cybergenics’ (very scientific sounding) and another one with the simple yet none-the-less corny moniker of ‘Hot Stuff.’
The latter of these products isn’t around anymore. You know what that means? It means every friggin’ muscle building, fat burning, body improving, physique enhancing claim that the jerks who created and marketed that product made was a bold-faced lie; nothing less. If not, it’d likely still be present in some shape or form. But it’s vanished, along with dozens of other products and companies of the time who also pumped out shovel-loads of BS.
What about Cybergenics? It can still be found in deep corners of the Internet, a mere shadow of what it was in its hyped-up heyday.
The companies that gave us those products have been replaced with a new crop of BS artists. Yet it’s still the same basic formula: Give the products really scientific sounding names, plaster magazines with ads featuring bodybuilders with enough drugs pumping through their systems to make Tony Montana want a piece of the action, and imply (or state explicitly) that the bodybuilder pictured obtained his or her results by using the “scientific” product.
At least the 1990s trend of depicting guys in lab coats holding the product in one hand and a test tube in the other seems to have died out. That’s good; the lab-coated, test-tube holding scientist thing was almost nauseating.
So how do you protect yourself? What’s the first indication that ‘bodybuilding supplement scams’ are staring you in the face?
Here’s one way to detect bodybuilding supplement scams: If you’re on a bodybuilding supplement scam mailing list, notice how one product is purported to be the miracle that will put 20 pounds of muscle on you. Then a few weeks or months later, it’s a different product; something newer or better. Well, what happened to the first product? If it had been even one-tenth as good as the claims that had been made for it – there’d be no need to introduce ANY new products. I’ve seen ads on websites in which one supplement after another is listed as having these “steroid-like effects.” Yet if even one of them had that effect, there’d be no need for any of the rest of them.
If something could really put twenty pounds of muscle on someone, there’d be a short supply of it within weeks or even days – the company marketing it would be an overnight success – and every other ‘bodybuilding supplement scams’ company would be out of business – bottom line.
Here’s a more direct way to detect bodybuilding supplement scams: When an ad claims you can gain 10, 20, 30 or more “pounds of muscle” in a matter of weeks, its authors are probably willing to unload “beachfront property in Montana” on you. Consider this: A second-place runner-up to the Mr. Olympia contest confessed to me and a group of onlookers that he was only capable of gaining two pounds of muscle per year. He said that when he was younger and new to steroids, he gained up to ten pounds of muscle in a year. Now at the whopping age of twenty-eight or so, he was “lucky” if he gained two pounds in twelve month’s time.
I have no doubt that a person can gain twenty pounds of “something” in a matter of weeks. Water and fat are easily accumulated and shed within the timeframes of days and weeks. Yet muscle requires a two-step process for the gaining; breakdown/recuperation… breakdown/recuperation… on and on. The very nature of the process of successful muscle building is time consuming, even if we find ways to slightly accelerate the recuperation phase of the equation – which is what our steroid-taking Mr. Olympia runner-up mentioned above did with drugs.
Here’s a bit of “supplemental advice” to go along with detection of bodybuilding supplement scams: measure your muscle building success by your muscle’s performance – NOT by pounds of weight added to your body within weeks. I made the mistake of doing the latter and it made me into a food-addicted fat boy rather quickly. When you’ve got a muscle building formula that’s effective, many gains in strength will precede any gains in muscular body weight.
Alerting you of bodybuilding supplement scams and how to detect them is by no means meant to imply that “all bodybuilding supplements are worthless”, as so many ‘bodybuilding routine’ marketers do. Some of my clients and I obtain enormous workout performance benefits from certain types of creatine, for example. I also love some protein supplements and meal replacement product to keep my eating on the right track while being extremely busy.
Bottom line: We don’t need regulators to come in and protect us from ourselves in the face of bodybuilding supplement scams. We just need to dowse our emotional yearnings with a bit of common-sense objective thinking when confronted with wild claims.