Thursday, May 7, 2009

Classic Physique Building Supplements - Simple and Safe!

(Above Photo: Classic Physique Building Champ Jack Delinger - Mr. Western America 1948, Mr. America 1949, Mr. Universe - Pro 1956)

By now, everyone has heard about the recent recall of 14 Hydroxycut products. Apparently, according to the F.D.A. (Federal Drug Administration in the U.S.A.), there were 23 cases of liver damage and 1 reported death in association with the use of some of the Hydroxycut products. In light of this, the company responsible for Hydroxycut agreed to recall the 14 products.

What is Hydroxycut? Without going into a lot of biochemical detail, it is a modern, high-tech, "fat-burning" supplement which (according to their ads) blocks certain cell receptor sites to manipulate levels of enzymes and hormones to increase thermogenesis and fat-burning. Their ads are presented and couched in "scientific" terms (with pictures of intracellular molecular interactions) and the product is endorsed by several Mr. Olympias. In fact, the wording of some of the ads seems to make Hydroxycut responsible for bodybuilding competitors' victories. For example, one of their ads makes the following claim: "This [hydroxycut] formula is responsible for countless pro victories, and it's used by millions all over the world."

One might say that the reported cases of liver damage (and 1 death) represent a rarity, a small percentage of all hydroxycut users. Perhaps. On the other hand, how many hydroxycut users have liver damage and simply don't know it yet? Whatever the case turns out to be, we will leave the details of all this to be sorted out by the appropriate individuals, agencies, and companies involved.

Our point in drawing your attention to this is a simple one. The best physiques of the pre-roid, Golden Age (1940s and 50s) were built WITHOUT ANY SUPPLEMENTS whatsoever! Yes, that's right! That's the truth! Steve Reeves, Clancy Ross, George Eiferman, Jack Delinger (see photo above), Armand Tanny, and countless others all built their physiques even BEFORE protein powder was invented (let alone all the other supplements which followed)! They were all champions in the first half of the Golden Age (1940-50). Protein powder didn't come onto the scene until 1950-51. And during the first half of the Golden Age (before the Golden Age mags started to sell vitamins), there were plenty of articles in the muscle mags saying that you could get all the vitamins you needed from a good diet (they were big on recommending lots of fruits and vegetables!).

During the second half of the Golden Age (1950-59), protein powder and vitamins became the major supplements. The first protein powders were soy-based and were not of good quality. In the late 1950s, milk-and-egg protein (a very good protein powder) became available. To round out the supplements of the late 1950s we can add dessicated liver tablets, brewer's yeast, wheat germ oil, and gelatin. But clearly you can see that these late Golden Age supplements were not responsible for the classic physiques of the Golden Age champs (who had built their physiques earlier - before even these later supplements appeared). Even so, the Golden Age supplements are safe and simple! No need to worry about some unforeseen side-effects.

So how does a classic physique builder think about supplements? Start with a simple multivitamin. Why? It is good to be sure that you aren't suffering from any deficiency (given the poor quality of today's foods and diets). Also, muscle building might require higher levels of certain vitamins than you would normally need. Then, if you have trouble eating (because of your appetite or because of your schedule), think about using a basic protein powder supplement - so that together with your food, you are getting about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, classic physique builders use protein powders for convenience (not out of necessity)! But if you get enough protein in your regular diet, then you don't need protein powder! It's as simple as that! If you want to try wheat germ oil, brewer's yeast, or liver tablets - that's fine, but don't expect these to make a dramatic difference.

So don't be fooled by modern, high-tech supplements that appear to be backed by "science" and endorsements! Science is only as good as the "scientist" behind it and scientists are people and people make mistakes all the time. NO Boosters, pump enhancers, HGH stimulators, fat-burners, creatine, "legal steroids", etc, - all promoted by modern supplement companies - were not needed by any classic physique builder of the Golden Age! If they didn't need it, neither do we. That should be a relief to you and your pocketbook!

For classic physique builders, the "tried and true" is the "Golden Path to a Golden Age Physique." The Golden Age champs had their own approach to "science." They had their hypotheses about muscle building, they tested their hypotheses (ideas), collected their data (their own responses), analyzed their results (did it work or not), and either rejected, modified, or accepted their hypotheses! That's empirical science! That's how the muscle building knowledge of the Golden Age was obtained. They may not have known all the minute details of the biochemical pathways involved, but their physiques showed the results of their science! Now, that's something you can believe in!

We are happy to note that most Golden Age champs lived a long and healthy life. That is another good endorsement for their approach. Let's follow their example and keep it simple and safe!


P.S. For a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a pdf zine patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid, Golden Age - just send your name, the name of your city (not your address), state (or province), and country to The info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share our info with anyone, so you won't get on any lists and you won't get any automated, unwanted email (even from us!).


Luis said...

very good article. all these new super-supplements are just garbage.
like you say just keep it simple and safe.

jonny said...

i read about Hydroxycut very scary i wonder how many more will be found to be unsafe. best just to get your nutrition from food much safer

Ibrahim said...

food is the best choice. But its unbeatable if you can purchase organically food. But i think all the supplements mentioned in the article are "natural". So i think it does not matter if you are cristian or muslim or jewish or buddist, if you change somethings naturality you´ll pay the price.
That´s a fact. I think supplements like protein powder should be used when you have a really busy schedule. But if you have time it can happen with just food. Look at the oldtimers. They had secrets, yeah, and their secrets were experimenting. I experienced that i get no constipation when i eat an apple in my supper meal.
Flax seeds are another wonderfool food choice. I like to talk about diet and almost everyday i do some research in the net, of course with training ideas, too.

Fantastic article!!!

- CPB - said...

Hi Everyone,

Ibrahim makes an interesting point about the Golden Age champs "experimenting"! Yes...that's what they did! That's how they found out what works and what doesn't (even if they didn't know all the biochemical details of why something worked or didn't work).

Regarding constipation (which can be experienced by those on high-protein diets) - keep your fruit, vegetable, and water intake up. That should do it. If it doesn't, then you can try dates! Eating a couple dates a day really works. If you need something else, then try organic low-fat yogurt with active culture (probiotics). All of these (either singly or in combination - see what works for you) can clear up constipation really well (assuming that there is no underlying medical condition - if so, then see your physician)!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Casey Butt said...

Well, it turns out that Hydroxycut was effective at something - liver damage. I found it was useless for fat loss when I tried it years ago.

Speaking of experimentation, the years have taught me that the only supplements worth the money are vitamins/minerals, milk and egg protein powders (whey based powders simply don't "work" as well) and desiccated liver. And these supplements are only particularly helpful when dieting hard to lean out (and therefore not taking in enough nutrients through food). For the majority of trainees trying to build up, even these supplements are not necessary.