Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nutritional Supplements for Classic Physique Building: The Truth!

(Photo Above: Pre-Roid Golden Age Magazines - Strength & Health August 1950 (top), Your Physique April 1950 (bottom))

In the modern, roid-based bodybuilding world of today, we are surrounded and bombarded with HYPE! If you pick up any modern muscle or fitness mag, almost 1/3 to 1/2 of the pages will be devoted to supplement ads! From the sheer quantity of all those ads (not to mention their sales pitches), one would think that the major activity of anyone interested in building muscle is learning about, buying, and taking the right supplements! In fact, one is bombarded so much by so many ads that psychologically one might begin to think that making any kind of significant gains is impossible without all those high-tech, cutting edge supplements!

Well...we've said it before and we will say it again - that is pure HYPE!

The history of the pre-roid Golden Age of Classic Physique Building (the 1940s and 50s) tells us the plain, simple truth - and here it is for all to see for yourselves! Take a look at the photos above. The top photo is the cover of Bob Hoffman's Strength & Health magazine August, 1950 issue. The bottom photo is the cover of Joe Weider's Your Physique magazine April 1950 issue. Just look at those physiques on the covers! Did they have cutting edge NO boosters? Did they have high-tech, thermogenic fat-burners? Did they have the latest "legal steroid" supplements that are so widely advertised in today's muscle mags? Did they even have decent protein powders? The plain and simple truth is NO!!!!!

That's right! In those two issues, which were typical for 1950 (right in the middle of the pre-roid Golden Age), there wasn't a single ad for anything that would pass for a modern, nutritional supplement!!! In the Strength & Health issue, there was ZERO nutritional supplement ads! In the Your Physique issue, there was one quaint ad for "Doc Tilney's VI-BE-ON" which was a B vitamin supplement "for the whole family" and an ad for "Doc Tilney's Peppermint Tea." That's it!

With this information, now the truth should become obvious to you. All those classic physiques on the covers of those two mags - those of Clancy Ross (Mr. America 1945), Alan Stephan (Mr. America 1946), Steve Reeves (Mr. America 1947), and George Eiferman (Mr. America 1948) - were ALL BUILT WITHOUT A SINGLE MODERN NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT!

And they weren't the only ones who built classic physiques in the pre-roid Golden Age without supplements! Just pick up any muscle mag from 1940-1950 and you will see plenty more who built fantastic physiques as well!

So, they weren't spending serious money on supplements were they? Well then, what were they doing? They were eating a high protein diet of real food with meats, dairy, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains on 3 meals a day in most cases (and perhaps a snack)!

Just remember that next time you are at the magazine counter and are flipping through the latest issues of MuscleMag, Flex, MD, Reps, IronMan, Planet Muscle, Muscle & Fitness, or any of the other junk that passes for "muscle mags" these days! These mags are loaded with HYPE (not to mention that most of the nutritional supplement ads actually feature steroid users) and you are paying for it and supporting it with your hard earned cash if you buy them!

The truth hits these modern, roid-based mags right in the pocket book (i.e., threatens their income from supplement company advertisements - which is how they make most of their money). This is why ALL of those mags stay as far away from the pre-roid Golden Age as possible and effectively pretend that none of this history exists!


P.S. For a free, 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder Zine (CPBzine) - a pdf "zine" (do-it-yourself magazine) patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid, Golden Age of Bodybuilding (the 1940s and 50s) - just email your name, the name of your city, state/province, and country to us at That's it! Any info you send us is confidential. We don't share info with anyone. So you won't get on any unwanted lists or receive any spam (not even from us)!


Ibrahim said...

Anthony, that was an important post & message. Nutrition plays a big role in bodybuilding and athletic performances. But when you look around at sites and other magazines which even don't support steroids and many supplements, they treat the subject nutrition like it is a riddle. When you look at todays diet approaches and compare it to for example Tony Sansone or Jack Lalanne (1950´s), you see that nowadays everything is made so complicated. Like calorie counting etc.

Johnny G said...

very good article about how the evolution of bodybuilding has changed from good looks and healthy life style - but where do we go from here - it has to be a individual change one person at a time - maybe those bygone days are gone for the most part, but getting a message out there is important - maybe we need to be more vocal at times - CPB can find a niche in the game of bodybuilding yet or should I say physical culture and not bodybuilding since I would not want to be defined as a bodybuilder but a physical culturist instead - Maybe by bring back old ideas will be a new beginning and it starts here @ CPB

Ibrahim said...

For me "physical culture" sounds better, too. Because if you say bodybuilding everybody connect you to mainstream garbage.

Classic physique building and physical culture are fine. It would be great idea to put some athletic subjects on the site, too.
Not to much but a little or some.
The physical culturists and old bodybuilders did many athletic and strongman feats.
Many thinks come to my mind, Reg Parks Taxi lift, Steve Reeves 2 mile (i believe) unofficial record in a short time in the 50´s, Elwood Holbrook bent press, Jack Lalanne, Marvin Eder "2man support dip", George Hackenschmidt could still jump over back of a chair in his 80´s and also John Grimek says in a interview that he tried to outjump everybody.

This stuff is not familiar with bodybuilding anymore. So this could be another easy way to find a niche or maybe whole "NEW" way of expression.

Nils said...

Love this post, I have been working hard for 5 months in order to get that golden age look. So far I actually look pretty dang good. (I follow the old charles atlas course)

I got sucked into supplements half way through, and I can say that none of them produced great results. The only one that made a noticeable difference after a few weeks was creatine.

Save your money and just eat right ;)

Christian Doig said...

Hey CPB guys! It was time for yet another good post already! Your blog and zine are just great, such an inspiration, and I can't thank you enough for helping me, among so many people who will be more and more, choosing the right path.

I still have some interest in the theme of Charles Atlas and his famous dynamic tension, and you sure would make the very most of it! Regards from PerĂº, and see you later.

UK Steve said...


One thing I have noticed is that the supplements from this era are essentially extracts of real food. Steve Reeves used to use powdered eggs and milk in his power shakes, Brewers Yeast, Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly were all popular. These are essentially natural products in a preserved or concentrated form.

Modern supplements are produced in a lab - so the average person has a much lesser chance of knowing what they are actually consuming. If you used powdered eggs and milk - you know exactly what you are getting - as you could jut go out and buy fresh milk and eggs instead. If you use 'whey' how do you actually know what your consuming and what effect it will have on your health? You can't go out and buy half a pound of fresh 'whey', people have not been consuming concentrated / isolated products like this for long so essentially you are making yourself an experiment.

'Natural supplements' tend to be less expensive too I have found.


Ibrahim said...

Steve you made a really good point here. Actually some of the "natural"
products are very healthy.
Like Brewers Yeast it has many B vitamins and it prevents constipation. And bee pollen is another great source of energy, which is not so cheap as far as i know.

On quote from Marvin Eder: A lot of these shows now honor men who built up their muscles with the use of chemicals. And just to be facetious I said to a friend of mine, "Why don't they have a show called Mr. Chemical."

Hey, and a very interesting interview you´ll find when you google "former Blair protein owner". The site that has the interview called palmierbodybuilding i think.

Johnny G said...

UK Steve, you really brought up a great point about being really natural - In the film Bigger, Stronger, Faster they expose some of the BS that what is in supplements - I wonder here in the states if we can get all the natural ingredients to make a true natural protein drink like the former greats - The biggest problem is when you go to a so called natural grocery store and read the product labels I get so discourage because I can not understand what all the additional chemicals that are included in the product - It seems almost everyone has sold out to corporate - guess we all have to start from ground zero and make our own

Anonymous said...

Agreed with UK Steve. One of my regular supplements is dessicated liver tabs.
Not so sure about the raw eggs thing though! I'll stick to eating plenty of the cooked variety -yolks and all.

I've tried other "modern" supps and all of them worked a little at first then nothing.

I'll stick to what worked for the golden age guys who I hope to resemble some day!

Looking forward to the Spring issue!!

- CPB (Blog and Zine) - said...

Hi Everyone,

Just a note about Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly, and Brewer's Yeast - these are great for your overall health (providing vitamins and other healthy nutrients), but these are not really going to "build muscle." So really, it is quite impressive to realize what great, classic physiques could (and still can) be built with just real food (basically)!

I should also mention something about Steve Reeves Power (homemade protein) Drink. We know that he advocates it in his book "Building the Classic Physique" and that he made his own protein powder from powdered eggs, powdered milk, and powdered soy (all foods). But we don't really know for sure when he started to do this.

In the articles written during the Golden Age at the time of Steve's competitive years (1946-1950), none of the articles that mentioned his diet said anything about his Power Drink. Also, we know that Steve built his classic physique during his high school years. Later on (I'm not sure exactly when), he got a blender. So it could well be that he built his physique BEFORE he got a blender and developed his Protein Drink! In that case, his protein power drink would have been something he used to maintain (not build) his physique!

Bottom line: Maybe the money so many people spend on modern supplements thinking they are necessary to "build muscle" is better spent in buying a gym membership or even building a home gym and eating good, wholesome food (organic if possible)!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Nils said...

Supplements are just to "supplement" your diet, I mainly use protein drinks, because with my regular diet I would not be getting enough protein to gain a lot of muscle.

I went through a lot of school for a biotech major (Note: I changed my major the semester before I graduated..) so I know a small bit about the ingredients in a lot of things.

I have seen Bigger stronger faster, and they make a great point, a lot of supplement industries are just ripping people off.

I found a whey protein brand at Wal mart that is actually better then anything I have found elsewhere, it's only 15$ for 2 lbs of the stuff, and i'm seeing good results.

I don't think supplements will make or break a good body, but I do think that the right ones can slightly speed up the process.

Or at least help you out when your diet needs some, well, supplementation.

Anyone here heard about dessicated liver tablets? Apparently it was big with some of these guys, a lot of body builders I have talked to have recommended them.

Johnny G said...

right on Anthony - keep to the basics - train hard & eat right

Ibrahim said...

Anthony, the wrote many important facts. I think these infos of Steve Reeves diet when starting with barbell training, Gironda's diet before his heavy supplement diet etc. will be a secret or not known ever.
The sad this is that people (including myself) sometimes forget to be patient and just to enjoy life. I think in this era of "everyday improving technology" we want that every goal is reached in the shortest time or way. Like building 10-20 lbs muscle in 4 weeks.

If you have only a given time like 30-45 mins for a workout, thats fine because you can still have a great, intense and maybe better workout.

People don´t want to hear "hard work" and the most are discouraged and they have no motivation (just remembering me when i started).
I think we often forget about the long term goals, thats why the most people trust or believe in supplements and quick sales pitches.

Johnny G said...

to Ibrahim, you are right about people looking for faster solutions to obtain a great physique in the shortest period of time - even the Golden Era started to look into supplements to speed up the recovery time after a tough workout - Mankind has always looked for a faster solutions for doing tasks(not a better), if this wasn't true we would have never to discover the wheel - The problem is that when our health is in jeopardy and that reflects on our physiques - Obession to create a Classic Physique over night is not going to happen - I feel the creator of this website (Anthony) is more in tuned with a healthier mindset then the former greats(Anthony might be the New Physical Culturist Guru) - I feel the reason Anthony understands better then the Golden Era men is because he has seen both sides of the coin and understands the perils if we continue to go down this road of being impetuous - The former champs were never given all the options that are facing us and I am glad that this site is available (even if I do stir the pot to much) - So I say HERE HERE to our Guru Anthony & and Hear Hear to what he has to say!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been using liver tablets for a couple months now, and yes I have seen a change but nothing dramatic. The biggest change is my energy level.
Gironda recommended them so as to keep a steady flow of protein in your system. I get mine from Vitamin Shoppe. Just be sure to get Argentine Liver. and no they don't taste bad. Not to me at least!

- CPB (Blog and Zine) - said...

Hi Everyone,

Johnny G - Well, thanks for the kind words! But I am certainly no guru! :) I'm just thankful that there are people who find this site and CPBzine useful! And if young people who find out the truth about building a natural, classic physique are turned away from steroids because of what they see and find here, then that makes it all worth while all the more!

Jeffrey - Liver tablets are one of those supplements that is basically a concentrated form of food (much like powdered eggs or milk). As a meat, it has protein and other nutrients like vitamins and even creatine. if your diet is lacking in B vitamins or protein, then liver tablets might help.

There have been some incredible claims about the effect of liver tablets over the years. Vince once claimed that he added an inch to his arm just by taking liver tablets and doing nothing extra in his workout. However, I'm sure that if most people tried that, they wouldn't see that kind of result. But you might notice an increase in your energy and stamina (due to the extra B vitamins).

Now....we might ask, "Do we need a steady flow of protein in our system?" Perhaps not...after all, the CPB trainers of the Golden Age were able to build their physiques just fine on 3 or 4 meals a day (without a constant flow of protein in their systems). So this idea is great for supplement manufacturers who are trying to sell their supplements. But it might not be required (or even good) for your body.

There is much about today's "conventional wisdom" from supplements to workout frequency that we should question. And our main question should be "Who is this good for - the supplement companies or fitness clubs or me?" More in the next post!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Johnny G said...

Recovery is a key to building a Classic Physique - It has been years since I seen Frank Calta(he had a gym in New Cumberland,Pa outside Harrisburg about 5 miles where I am from) - He lives in the Tampa area and has a couple of gyms - His training method was called (Rotation for Recuperation) - If you Google Frank Calta and add (Rotation for Recuperation) his workout program is on a website called Iron Age Forum- Not a lot of sets, but a darn good program - I really hope some of you click on it - A fair amount of rest in between workouts to recover properly - Frank Calta knows his stuff - Mike mentzer used Frank's program - Mike lived in Ephrata, Pa this side of Reading, Pa about 40 minute drive - Him and brother Ray use to come up to Frank's gym and learned from one of the best mentors, so did Pete & Marty Vranicar who bought Frank's gym after awhile - I am ramblin to much - So all have a great weekend

Nils said...

I can see how liver tablets would be helpful, mainly just to supply protein in my life.

I understand that Steve Reeves didn't use protein shakes while building his physique.

But I come from a family that is more or less healthy oriented, my parents are after skinny lean bodies (Ever since my dad decided to lose his large gut over 14 years ago) we eat a good supply of food, but I believe that I just don't get a good amount of protein for the exercise I am doing.

This blog has just made me realize a lot though, I don't think I will be buying any new supplements, and I won't try to start counting calories (something a friend told me to do, however, his goals are to be "freakishly large" fine by me, just not my goal)

Instead I am focusing on eating what I think is healthy, I come from a biotech background so I am actually pro GMO's and things, but the main thing is to stay away from all of that fast food stuff, it does horrible things to my body!

So far for the last 2 months of following this I have gained about 1 pound per week (mainly muscle, although I have a small stomach that has appeared, funnily enough it's now disappearing into abs.)

I was going to start counting calories until I found this blog, and now instead of buying supplements, or counting calories, I am following the advise here, and seeing great results!

Andrew said...

I'm so happy to have found this site,
I was beginning to think that perhaps I was alone in my views regarding many, if not all the issues raised here.

Everything I've read so far aligns near perfectly with my own thoughts on the state of physical development training , I hate to refer to it as "body-building" because these days it holds so many negative connotations relating to aesthetics, the application of valid(sane) training principles and the integrity of the popular magazines/supplement manufacturers and the deluge of miss information they disseminate in order to further their own agendas.

It saddens me that today's youngsters have to rely on the volume training based routines that are touted in the popular magazines.
If they don't follow them, they are ridiculed by their brainwashed gym peers.

The way I see it the muscle magazines sell on content, if they were to reprint the same basic training and nutrition advice month in month out they would soon go out of business, the same with the champions training course that used to be sold in the 70's/80's they had more to do with Product differentiation then training efficacy.
Unfortunately training at it's most effective is also at it's most basic, and that doesn't sell many magazines.

It's hardly a wonder PED's are so widely used these days in an effort to overcome the massive overstraining loads this kind of training imposes, in fact many now believe it's almost impossible to build muscle without them, and in fairness using modern methods that's quite close to the truth.

In the name of progress bodybuilding has thrown out the ideals of proportion, symmetry and a healthy active lifestyle and replaced them with a freakish display of pure muscle mass and extreame muscular definition/vascularity and all plethora of pharmaceuticals that go along with it.

How ironic that the once coveted ideal of emulating the statues depicting the Greek heroes of legend has been replace by a preference to emulated the grotesque monsters of myth.

All the best with the site, I've heard it said the Future is often Rooted in the Past ... we can but hope.

- CPB (Blog and Zine) - said...

Hi Andrew,

Welcome to CPB! I'm glad you found us and hope that you will free to comment on any of our past and future posts! We believe that our readers' comments really enrich the site and benefit everyone!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)