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Nutrition, Pharmacological and Training Strategies Adopted by Six Bodybuilders: Case Report and Critical Review

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The purpose of this study was to report and analyze the practices adopted by bodybuilders in light of scientific evidence and to propose evidence-based alternatives. Six (four male and two female) bodybuilders and their coaches were directly interviewed. According to the reports, the quantity of anabolic steroids used by the men was 500–750 mg/week during the bulking phase and 720–1160 mg during the cutting phase. The values for women were 400 and 740 mg, respectively. The participants also used ephedrine and hydrochlorothiazide during the cutting phase. Resistance training was designed to train each muscle once per week and all participants performed aerobic exercise in the fasted state in order to reduce body fat. During the bulking phase, bodybuilders ingested ~2.5 g of protein/kg of body weight. During the cutting phase, protein ingestion increased to ~3 g/kg and carbohydrate ingestion decreased by 10–20%. During all phases, fat ingestion corresponded to ~15% of the calories ingested. The supplements used were whey protein, chromium picolinate, omega 3 fatty acids, branched chain amino acids, poly-vitamins, glutamine and caffeine. The men also used creatine in the bulking phase. In general, the participants gained large amounts of fat-free mass during the bulking phase; however, much of that fat-free mass was lost during the cutting phase along with fat mass. Based on our analysis, we recommend an evidence-based approach by people involved in bodybuilding, with the adoption of a more balanced and less artificial diet. One important alert should be given for the combined use of anabolic steroids and stimulants, since both are independently associated with serious cardiovascular events. A special focus should be given to revisiting resistance training and avoiding fasted cardio in order to decrease the reliance on drugs and thus preserve bodybuilders' health and integrity.
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Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
- 51 -
Nutrition, pharmacological and training strategies adopted by six
bodybuilders: case report and critical review
Paulo Gentil (1), Claudio Andre Barbosa de Lira (1), Antonio Paoli (2), José
Alexandre Barbosa dos Santos (3), Roberto Deivide Teixeira da Silva (3), José
Romulo Pereira Junior (3), Edson Pereira da Silva (3), Rodrigo Ferro Magosso (4)
(1) College of Physical Education and Dance, Federal University of Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil;
(2) Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, Padova, Italy; (3) ENAF
Desenvolvimento Serviços Educacionais, Boa Vista, Brazil; (4) Post Graduation Program in
Movement Sciences, UNESP Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (CC BY-NC 4.0) which permits
any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to report and analyze the practices adopted by bodybuilders in
light of scientific evidence and to propose evidence-based alternatives. Six (four male and two
female) bodybuilders and their coaches were directly interviewed. According to the reports, the
quantity of anabolic steroids used by the men was 500750 mg/week during the bulking phase
and 7201160 mg during the cutting phase. The values for women were 400 and 740 mg,
respectively. The participants also used ephedrine and hydrochlorothiazide during the cutting
phase. Resistance training was designed to train each muscle once per week and all participants
performed aerobic exercise in the fasted state in order to reduce body fat. During the bulking
phase, bodybuilders ingested ~2.5 g of protein/kg of body weight. During the cutting phase,
protein ingestion increased to ~3 g/kg and carbohydrate ingestion decreased by 1020%.
During all phases, fat ingestion corresponded to ~15% of the calories ingested. The
supplements used were whey protein, chromium picolinate, omega 3 fatty acids, branched
chain amino acids, poly-vitamins, glutamine and caffeine. The men also used creatine in the
bulking phase. In general, the participants gained large amounts of fat-free mass during the
bulking phase; however, much of that fat-free mass was lost during the cutting phase along
with fat mass. Based on our analysis, we recommend an evidence-based approach by people
involved in bodybuilding, with the adoption of a more balanced and less artificial diet. One
important alert should be given for the combined use of anabolic steroids and stimulants, since
both are independently associated with serious cardiovascular events. A special focus should
be given to revisiting resistance training and avoiding fasted cardio in order to decrease the
reliance on drugs and thus preserve bodybuilders’ health and integrity.
Key Words: steroids, skeletal muscle hypertrophy, bodybuilding, resistance training
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
Bodybuilding differs from most sports because the
participant’s physique, rather than athletic performance,
is judged. The ultimate goal of bodybuilders is to
achieve a large muscle mass that is defined and
symmetrical. Often their training periods are divided
into bulking and cutting phases. The latter is
emphasized in the weeks before the competition and is
oriented for a decrease in body fat, while the first
comprises the noncompetitive phase and is oriented for
increasing muscle mass. To achieve their purposes,
bodybuilders utilize a combination of resistance
training, extreme diets, nutritional supplements and
drugs.1-3. However, many of these strategies are based
on common sense, rather than on scientific evidence,
which may impose considerable health risks with no
proven benefits.4 Many bodybuilding practices came to
light due to reported cases of deaths, injuries and/or
serious health problems occurring in bodybuilders.5-10
However, analysis of individual cases in clinical settings
usually lacks important details. It is interesting to note
that it has been reported that bodybuilders refuse to be
treated and/or do not comply with medical
recommendations, even in the presence of diagnosed
health problems,5,6 probably because they are convinced
that their current practices are vital for their success.
However, many practices may not be necessary or can
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
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be even counterproductive. Therefore, employing a
critical view of these practices and proposing an
evidence-based approach may help bodybuilders to
preserve their health while still achieving the desired
results. The purpose of this study is to report and
analyze the practices adopted by six bodybuilders (two
male Bodybuilders, two Men’s Physique competitors
and two women competing in the Wellness category) in
the light of scientific evidence in order to offer a critical
view and propose evidence-based alternatives for people
involved or willing to be involved with bodybuilding.
Material and Methods
Experimental procedures
Since this is an observational study, the researchers
were not responsible for the interventions. All data were
provided by the participants and their coaches after the
competition. Bodybuilders and their coaches were
requested to describe in detail all their practices
(training, diet, nutritional supplements and
pharmacological agents). When any doubt arose,
competitors/coaches were directly contacted to give
further details. This procedure was facilitated by the fact
that some authors of the present study were involved
with bodybuilding, either as coaches or athletes.
Participants
All participants were amateur bodybuilders competing
according to the standards of the International
Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB). The
participants were two male Bodybuilders in the same
category (MB1 and MB2), two Men’s Physique
competitors belonging to the same category (MP1 and
MP2) and two women competing in different Wellness
categories (W1 and W2). MB1 was 26 years old, had 10
years of experience with resistance training and was in
his second competition. The other participants were in
their first competitions; MB2 was 28 years old and had
10 years of experience with resistance training; MP1
and MP2 had 22 and 19 years, respectively, and both
had 2 years of experience with resistance training. W1
was 24 years old and had 4 years of experience with
resistance training. W2 was 35 years old with 11 years
of resistance training experience. All participants were
among the best of their categories in the competition
analyzed. MB1 won his category and was overall
champion. MB2 was second place. W1 placed second in
her category and W2 placed third. MP1 and MP2 were
fifth and third, respectively. Participants were fully
informed of the study aims and read and signed an
informed consent form authorizing the use of their data.
The study was approved by an Institutional Ethics
Committee and conformed to the principles outlined in
the Declaration of Helsinki.
Anthropometry and body composition
Body weight was determined with an electronic scale to
the nearest 0.1 kg with subjects barefoot and wearing
swim suits. Barefoot standing height was measured to
the nearest 0.1 cm with a stadiometer. Participants were
evaluated for body composition before and after the
bulking and cutting phases. Body composition was
assessed by an experienced examiner using a whole-
body tetrapolar bioimpedance analyzer (Inbody230,
Biospace, Seoul, Korea) with an eight-point tetrapolar
electrode system. The participants were oriented to
stand upright and to grasp the handles of the analyzer,
thereby providing contact with eight electrodes (two for
each foot and hand). Five segments (right and left arm,
trunk, right and left leg) were independently analyzed
using two different frequencies (20 and 100 kHz). The
input variables included the patients’ age, sex, height
and actual body weight. The percentage body fat was
computed through the proprietary algorithms, displayed
on the analyzer’s control panel and recorded.
All tests were performed in the morning (~8 a.m.).
Before anthropometric analysis, resting blood pressure
was measured via auscultation by an experienced
examiner after the participants had rested for 20 minutes
in a sitting position. Heart rate was measured using a
Polar A360 (Polar Electro Oy, Oulu, Finland).
Results
Participants were evaluated for body composition before
and after the bulking and cutting phases. For each
volunteer, the first date refers to the beginning of the
bulking phase, the second date is the end of the bulking
and beginning of the cutting phase and the third date
represents the end of the cutting phase (Table 1). During
the bulking phase, participants generally increased fat-
free mass without altering fat mass, with the exception
of MP2 whose fat-free mass did not change. The most
notable increase was in W2, who showed a 20%
increase in fat-free mass in only one month. All
participants lost large amounts of body fat during the
cutting phase, with a larger relative loss being achieved
by MB2 and MP1 who dropped their body fat
percentage by less than half during this period.
However, during the cutting phase, all competitors
besides MP1 lost fat-free mass, with the highest loss in
MB1 and W1, who lost almost 10% of his fat-free mass.
Their training routines are shown in Tables 2, 3 and, 4.
The participants aimed to train each muscle group once
a week with multiple sets of multi- and single-joint
exercises performed to volitional fatigue. During the
bulking phase, the male Bodybuilders and Wellness
competitors performed sets of 812 repetitions with 23
minutes of rest between sets. During the cutting phase,
the number of repetitions increased to 1215 and the
rest intervals dropped to 4560 seconds. The
participants also increased the time spent in fasted
cardio during the cutting phase. Men’s Physique
competitors trained with 815 repetitions and 5070
seconds of rest during both the bulking and cutting
phases. Regarding pharmacological agents, MB1 and
MB2 used 500 mg/week of testosterone enanthate, 200
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
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mg/week of boldenone and 150 mg/week of trenbolone
acetate during the bulking phase. During the cutting
phase, MB2 used 400 mg/week of testosterone
propionate, 200 mg/week of stanozolol and 160
mg/week of oxandrolone during the cutting phase. MB1
used the same combination as MB2 during the cutting
phase, but also added 400 mg/week of drostanolone
propionate. During the cutting phase there was also the
introduction of ephedrine (1545 mg/day) and
hydrochlorothiazide (50300 mg/day). Both MP1 and
MP2 used 500 mg/week of testosterone propionate
during the bulking phase. During the cutting phase, they
changed to 320 mg/week of testosterone enanthate, 420
mg/week of oxandrolone, 250 mg/day of caffeine, 15
mg/day of ephedrine and 120 mg/day of theophylline.
W1 and W2 used 200 mg/week of stanozolol and 200
mg/week of nandrolone decanoate in the bulking phase
and 200 mg/week of stanozolol, 100 mg/week of
testosterone propionate, 140 mg/week of oxandrolone
and 300 mg/week of drostanolone propionate during the
cutting phase. They also added ephedrine (1545
mg/day) and hydrochlorothiazide (50300 mg/day)
during the cutting phase. Nutritional supplements used
in the bulking phase were whey protein concentrate,
chromium picolinate, omega 3 fatty acids, branched
chain amino acids (BCAA), vitamin C, poly-vitamins,
glutamine and caffeine for both male Bodybuilders and
Wellness participants. Male participants also ingested
creatine monohydrate.
Discussion
This manuscript aimed to describe and analyze the
practices adopted by six bodybuilders of both sexes in
the light of scientific evidence. Data will be discussed
separately for pharmacological agents, training,
nutrition and supplements, as follows.
Pharmacological agents
MB1 and MB2 used 750 mg/week of anabolic steroids
during the bulking phase. During the cutting phase the
amount increased to 760 mg/week in MB2 and 1160
mg/week in MB1, which resulted in more than 105165
mg/day. Considering that the normal testosterone
production in men is 411 mg/day,11-14 the dosage is 9
Table 1. Characteristics of the subjects.
Date
(month-
day)
Height (cm)
Body
Weight (kg)
Fat free
mass (kg)
Body fat
(%)
Rest diastolic
blood pressure
(mmHg)
Rest heart
rate (bpm)
Male
bodybuilder 1
08-11
168.1
82.1
65.9
19.7
75
80
09-30
89.3
73.7
17.5
62
76
11-14
72.6
66.8
8.0
79
81
Male
bodybuilder 2
08-11
171.5
87.4
71.7
18.0
83
70
09-30
92
73.4
20.2
81
59
11-14
75.5
69.5
7.9
81
102
Wellness 1
08-11
148.3
51.4
39.5
23.2
77
76
09-30
57.6
45.8
20.4
76
86
11-14
53.7
46.4
13.5
80
89
Wellness 2
08-30
169.1
63
48.2
23.4
69
86
09-30
71.5
58.0
18.9
77
74
11-14
65.2
55.0
15.7
79
82
Men’s
Physique 1
08-18
190.0
94.3
80.5
14.6
72
74
09-26
99.9
87.7
12.2
65
84
11-14
92.2
87.6
5.0
72
62
Men’s
Physique 2
06-27
180.5
90.6
81.3
10.2
81
82
08-21
89.8
81.2
9.6
75
82
11-14
81.5
76.6
6.0
82
104
The first date is the beginning of the bulking phase, the second date is the end of the bulking and beginning of the cutting phase and the third
date is the last measurement made before the competition in the end of the cutting phase.
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
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41 times higher than the natural androgen production.
Although MP1 and MP2 were taller and heavier, the
amount of hormone used by them was lower than MB1
and MB2 during the bulking phase (500 mg/week), but
increased to 720 mg/week during the cutting phase. This
is probably due to the characteristics of their categories,
since Men’s Physique requires a less muscular body
than Bodybuilding. W1 and W2 used 400 mg/week of
steroids during the bulking phase and 740 mg/week
during the cutting phase, resulting in 57 and 105
Table 2. Resistance training during the bulking and cutting phases of men bodybuilders competitors
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Bulking
Chest (3 exercises,
with 10 sets in
total, 8-12 reps and
2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Anterior and
middle deltoids (3
exercises, with 8
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 2-3
minutes intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Back (3 exercises,
with 10 sets in
total, 8-12 reps and
2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Trapezius (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 2-3
minutes intervals
between sets)
Posterior deltoids
(1 exercise, with 4
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 2-3
minutes intervals
between sets)
45-60 minutes of
cardio
(bicycle/treadmill)
at moderate
intensity in the
fasted state
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Quadriceps (3
exercises, with 10
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 2-3
minutes intervals
between sets)
Hamstrings (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 2-3
minutes intervals
between sets)
Calves (2 exercises,
with 7 sets in total,
15-20 reps and 2-3
minutes intervals
between sets)
Biceps (3 exercises,
with 10 sets in
total, 8-12 reps and
2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Triceps (3
exercises, with 10
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 2-3
minutes intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
45-60 minutes of
cardio
(bicycle/treadmill)
at moderate
intensity in the
fasted state
Calves (2 exercises,
with 7 sets in total,
15-20 reps and 2-3
minutes intervals
between sets)
Cutting
Back (3 exercises,
with 10 sets in
total, 12-15 reps
and 45-60''
intervals between
sets)
Trapezius (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45-60''
intervals between
sets)
Posterior deltoids
(2 exercises, with 6
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45-60''
intervals between
sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 45-60''
intervals between
sets)
Chest (4 exercises,
with 10 sets in
total, 12-15 reps
and 45-60''
intervals between
sets)
Anterior and midle
deltoids (3
exercises, with 9
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45-60''
intervals between
sets)
Calves (2 exercises,
with 8 sets in total,
15-20 reps and 45-
60'' intervals
between sets)
2 hours of cardio in
the fasted state
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 45-60'' intervals
between sets
Quadriceps (3
exercises, with 11
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45-
60''intervals
between sets)
Hamstrings (2
exercises, with 8
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45-60''
intervals between
sets)
Hip adductors (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 12-15 reps
and 45-60''
intervals between
sets)
Calves (2 exercises,
with 8 sets in total,
15-20 reps and 45-
60'' intervals
between sets)
Biceps (3 exercises,
with 10 sets in
total, 8-12 reps and
45-60'' intervals
between sets)
Triceps (3
exercises, with 10
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 45-60''
between sets)
2 hours of cardio in
the fasted state
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 45-60'' intervals
between sets)
Calves (2 exercises,
with 7 sets in total,
15-20 reps and 45-
60'' intervals
between sets)
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
- 55 -
mg/day, respectively. Considering that women produce
0.20.4 mg testosterone/day,11,12,14,15 the amount of
androgen used was 142285 and 264528 times their
natural androgen production during the bulking and
cutting phases, respectively. The amount of androgen
used by the studied bodybuilders in both phases was
extremely high when compared with endogenous
production. This high dosage has already been reported
Table 3. Resistance training during the bulking and cutting phases of women wellness competitors
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Bulking
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 4
sets, 15-20 reps and
1-2 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Quadriceps (3
exercises, with 10
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 1-2
minutes intervals
between sets)
Hip adductors (1
exercise, with 3 sets
in total, 8-12 reps
and 1-2 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Calves (1 exercise,
with 4 sets in total,
8-12 reps and 1-2
minutes intervals
between sets)
Chest (2 exercises,
with 7 sets in total,
8-12 reps and 1-2
minutes intervals
between sets)
Anterior and midle
deltoids (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 1- 2
minutes intervals
between sets)
Triceps (2
exercises, with 5
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 1-2
minutes intervals
between sets)
60 minutes of cardio
(bicycle/treadmill)
at moderate
intensity in the
fasted state
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Hamstrings (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 1-2 minute
intervals between
sets)
Gluteus (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 8-12
reps and 1-2 minute
intervals between
sets)
Calves (2 exercises,
with 6 sets in total,
15-20 reps and 1-2
minute intervals
between sets)
Back (2 exercises,
with 6 sets in total,
8-12 reps and 1-2
minute intervals
between sets)
Trapezius (1
exercise, with 3 sets
in total, 8-12 reps
and 1-2 minute
intervals between
sets)
Biceps (2 exercises,
with 6 sets in total,
8-12 reps and 1-2
minute intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
60 minutes of cardio
(bicycle/treadmill)
at moderate
intensity in the
fasted state
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 2-3 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Cutting
Quadriceps (4
exercises, with 12
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45"-60”
intervals between
sets)
Hip adductors (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 12-15 reps
and 45"-60”
intervals between
sets)
Calves (1 exercise,
with 8 sets in total,
15-20 reps and 45"-
60” intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (2
exercises, with 8
sets in total, 15-20
reps and 45"-60”
intervals between
sets)
Chest (2 exercises,
with 7 sets in total,
12-15 reps and 45"-
60” intervals
between sets)
Anterior and
middle deltoids (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45"-60”
intervals between
sets)
Triceps (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45"-60”
between sets)
2 hours of cardio
(bicycle/treadmill)
at moderate
intensity in the
fasted state
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 12-15 reps
and 45"-60”
intervals between
sets)
Gluteus (3
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 12-15
reps and 45"-60”
intervals between
sets)
Hamstrings (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 15-20
reps and 45"-60”
intervals between
sets)
Calves (2 exercises,
with 6 sets in total,
15-20 reps and 45"-
60” intervals
between sets)
Back (2 exercises,
with 7 sets in total,
12-15 reps and 1-2
minute intervals
between sets)
Trapezius (1
exercise, with 3 sets
in total, 12-15 reps
and 1-2 minute
intervals between
sets)
Biceps (2 exercises,
with 6 sets in total,
12-15 reps and 1-2
minute intervals
between sets)
Abdomen (2
exercises, with 8
sets in total, 15-20
reps and 1-2 minute
intervals between
sets)
2 hours of cardio
(bicycle/treadmill)
at moderate
intensity in the
fasted state
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 1-2 minutes
intervals between
sets)
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
- 56 -
in the literature.16 The hormone dosage during the
cutting phase increased in all competitors, except for
MB2. This might be related to the alleged effects of
testosterone in promoting fat loss17-19 and also to
counteract muscle catabolism that usually accompanies
extreme fat loss strategies. However, this strategy did
Table 4. Resistance training during the bulking and cutting phases of men’s physique competitors
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Bulking
Chest (3 exercises,
with 9 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Anterior and medial
deltoids (2
exercises, with 4
sets in total, 8-15
reps and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Calves (1 exercise,
with 4 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Quadriceps (3
exercises, with 9
sets in total, 8-15
reps and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Hamstrings (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 8-15 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Back (3 exercises,
with 9 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Rest
Biceps (2 exercises,
with 6 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Triceps (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 8-15
reps and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Calves (1 exercise,
with 4 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Quadriceps (3
exercises, with 9
sets in total, 8-15
reps and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Hamstrings (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 8-15 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Cutting
Chest (3 exercises,
with 9 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Anterior and medial
deltoids (2
exercises, with 4
sets in total, 8-15
reps and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Calves (1 exercise,
with 4 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Quadriceps (3
exercises, with 9
sets in total, 8-15
reps and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Hamstrings (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 8-15 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Back (3 exercises,
with 9 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Rest
Biceps (2 exercises,
with 6 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Triceps (2
exercises, with 6
sets in total, 8-15
reps and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Calves (1 exercise,
with 4 sets in total,
8-15 reps and 50"-
70' intervals
between sets)
Abdominals (1
exercise, with 8 sets
in total, 15-20 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Quadriceps (3
exercises, with 9
sets in total, 8-15
reps and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Hamstrings (1
exercise, with 4 sets
in total, 8-15 reps
and 50"-70'
intervals between
sets)
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
- 57 -
not seem to be effective, since most of the participants,
lost fat-free mass during the cutting phase, which is in
accordance with other studies that also demonstrated
that use of anabolic steroids was not able to generate
positive changes in body composition.20,21 The
participants also changed the type of anabolic steroid
used from the bulking to cutting phases. In the bulking
phase, the participants commonly used testosterone
enanthate, boldenone, nandrolone undecanoate and
trenbolone. In the cutting phase, the drugs of choice
were propionate, stanozolol, propionate drostanolone
and oxandrolone. However, there was an exception for
the Men’s Physique participants who used testosterone
propionate during the bulking phase and enanthate
during the cutting phase. Indeed, it has been
demonstrated that athletes typically use anabolic
steroids in a “stacking” regimen, which means the use
of different drugs simultaneously in order to increase
the potency of each drug.22 Drug choice was based on
the belief that some drugs would result in greater fat
loss than others. However, this practice is not supported
by the literature. Previous studies have shown that
endogenous testosterone per se may be associated with
fat loss.17,18 However, some studies reported no
reduction in body fat with anabolic steroid use20,21 while
others reported reductions in body fat in healthy
people19, 23, 24, the obese25 and clinical settings,26-28
irrespective of the drugs used. If we consider that
testosterone acts in the adipose tissue through androgen
receptors,29-31 it is not plausible to believe that different
drugs would result in different effects in body fat or
muscle accretion, since they will act on the same
receptor.30 Additionally, the use of large amounts of
anabolic steroids may increase its conversion to
estrogen, which may have a negative impact on fat loss.
Although recent studies reported that testosterone
aromatization may not influence body composition at
therapeutic doses,32 its effects at higher doses are
unkonwn. The effects of androgens on the
cardiovascular system are widely studied and
recognized. Briefly, misuse of androgens can cause
myocardial infarctions, alterations in serum lipids
(decreased HDL and increased LDL), elevation in blood
pressure and increased risk of thrombosis (for review
see Hoffman et al.22). In the present study, all
participants showed resting systolic blood pressure
values higher than optimal in at least one of the three
measurements performed. MB1, MB2 and MP2 showed
blood pressure values that characterized hypertension at
some time.33 Although blood exams were not available,
all participants reported that their HDL values were
suboptimal in previous exams. It is important to stress
that both higher blood pressure and low HDL are
associated with cardiovascular events caused by
anabolic steroids.34 Even though no participant had
reported any serious cardiovascular events in the past,
these altered values could expose them to an increased
risk. Moreover, the literature provides many cases of
serious cardiovascular events associated with anabolic
steroid abuse in bodybuilders.6,35-37 The increased
cardiovascular risk associated with steroid use seems to
be undeniable.6,38 Additionally, many studies confirm
that the abuse of anabolic substances produces profound
and partly irreversible changes in various organs and
systems, and that these changes tend to be related to the
type, duration and amount of anabolic steroids used.
The effects of major concern are those on the liver,
cardiovascular and reproductive systems, and on the
psychological status of anabolic-androgenic steroid
users.20,39-42 Certainly not all effects occur in all persons,
nor are the effects necessarily obvious.22 In addition to
dosage, one must consider the duration of use to arrive
at a total exposure. In this sense, the use in bodybuilding
seems to be particularly alarming since it combines
large doses and long periods of use.38,42 Although it is
recommended to not exaggerate the medical risks
associated with anabolic steroids,22 it is important to
emphasize that an attitude of personal invulnerability to
their adverse effects is certainly misguided.41
Bodybuilders usually rely on individual cases of steroid
users that did not develop health problems to suggest
that steroid use may be safe; however, one must know
the difference between increased risk and certainty of
the occurrence of an event. The use of ephedrine and
diuretics in the cutting phase may also impose an
imminent risk to the bodybuilders’ health. Ephedrine
misuse has been associated with serious cardiovascular
events43,44 and diuretics have been anecdotally
associated with the death of some bodybuilders and
their misuse is associated with health problems.45,46
Dehydration could have a negative impact on muscle
metabolism without positively affecting fat metabolism,
since there seems to be a close relationship between
cellular hydration and nitrogen balance.47 In addition,
previous studies have reported that hypo-osmolality is
associated with increased lipolysis and decreased
protein breakdown.48,49 Therefore, diuretic use may not
be only hazardous to the bodybuilders’ health, but also
counterproductive to their objectives.
Training
Resistance training
All participants split training sessions in order to train
each muscle group every week. Although a recent
review suggests that a higher training frequency may
result in higher muscle hypertrophy,50 there are studies
in which trained participants obtained significant results
with this type of routine.51 Moreover, Ahtiainen et al.52
reported that trained men were only able to repeat a
training session 6-7 days after performing nine sets of
lower body exercise. Therefore, training one muscle
group every week seems to be supported by the current
literature. One criticism regarding the splitting routine
involves exercise choice, since it did not consider that
shoulder and upper limb muscles are highly involved in
multi-joint upper body exercise.53-56 Additionally,
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
- 58 -
previous studies have shown that gains in elbow flexor
muscle size and strength were similar for subjects that
performed elbow flexions or lat pull-downs.57
Moreover, other studies showed that the addition of
single-joint exercises did not increase the gains in
muscle size and strength in untrained58 or trained
subjects.59 A counterpoint to this argument can be made
with the study of Soares et al.60 in which upper limb
muscles recovered faster after seated rows than during
isolated elbow flexions. Probably, the difference may be
related to the exercise used, since the ratio of activation
of latissimus dorsi to biceps during seated rows is
higher than during lat pull-downs,61 which could have
led to lower elbow flexor damage in the study of Soares
et al.60 Considering that testosterone increases muscle
recovery,62 protein synthesis63 and satellite cell
activity,64, 65 the accretion of isolated exercises would
have difficulty in inducing a state of overtraining in
bodybuilders using anabolic steroids. However,
testosterone may impair tendon adaptation to resistance
training66 and anabolic steroids users showed a
markedly increased risk of tendon ruptures, particularly
in the upper-body.67 This is particularly interesting,
because upper body tendon rupture are not common
among people that do not have a history of anabolic
steroid use. In a cross-sectional cohort study, Kanayama
et al.67 reported that the hazard ratio for a first ruptured
tendon in anabolic steroid users versus nonusers was
9.0, and upper body tendon ruptures occurred in 17% of
the anabolic steroid users, while none occurred in
nonusers. The unnecessary and excessive use of isolated
exercises may cause excessive strain in upper body
tendons, thus aggravating the problem. The empirical
evidence is that all participants of our study had a
history of joint pains and one participant had a severe
shoulder injury prior to the preparation period.
Therefore, considering that isolated exercises bring
little, if any, benefit for muscle size and strength and
that upper body tendons are particularly vulnerable in
anabolic steroid users, it would be advisable to decrease
the volume of upper body isolated exercise. During the
cutting phase, male Bodybuilder and Wellness
competitors increased the number of repetitions
performed and decreased the time intervals between
sets. Men’s Physique participants kept their training
routines with high repetitions and short rest intervals
between sets during the whole period, since their
purpose was not to promote large increases in muscle
mass. Although the use of high repetition and low
workloads for acquiring muscle definition is a common
practice,3 previous studies have shown that exercises
performed with a lower number of repetitions and
higher workloads are more efficient than high repetition,
high volume training in elevating metabolism68 and
promoting fat loss69,70 Additionally, considering that low
carbohydrate ingestion during the cutting phase may
compromise exercise performance,71 using low
repetition with high load and long rest intervals during
this phase may be advantageous, since this type of
training rely less on the glycolytic system.72,73 We noted
with caution the use of isolated knee adductions for
women. According to the participants, the exercise was
included to induce specific hypertrophy of the hip
adductors and modify the shape of the thighs. Although
there is evidence that a training program composed only
of leg press and knee extension promotes significant
hypertrophy of the hip adductors,74 the use of isolated
exercises may be granted if there is a need to bring
specific adaptations for this muscle group. However, it
is important to note that women are more prone to
develop patellofemoral problems than men and this
incidence may be related to weakness of the
posterolateral complex.75,76 Therefore, the use of
isolated knee adductions may create an imbalance in the
hip joint and increase the probability of developing knee
injuries. Therefore, our suggestion is to avoid isolated
hip adduction or, if it is necessary for aesthetical
reasons, it is recommended to introduce exercises for
hip abductors and external hip rotators to prevent
patellofemoral problems, as previously used in the
studies of Fukuda et al.77,78
Aerobic training
Male Bodybuilders and Wellness competitors
performed 4560 minutes of aerobic exercise in the
fasted state 2 days per week in the bulking phase. In the
cutting phase weekly frequency was kept constant but
the duration of each session increased to 2 hours. Men’s
Physique competitors did not perform aerobic exercise
in the bulking phase, but added 40 minutes of fasted
aerobic exercise in the cutting phase. Although the
participants reported that performing exercise in the
fasted stated is a common practice among bodybuilders,
a previous study showed that it brings no benefit in
terms of fat loss79 and can even negatively impact
energy expenditure and fat metabolism.80 Probably, this
negative effect on metabolism was offset by the use of
large doses of ephedrine and caffeine, which have been
shown to increase metabolism and fat oxidation.81, 82
Based on the current body of scientific evidence, it is
highly advisable to discourage the performance of
fasted aerobic exercise in order to prevent negative
alterations in metabolism and reduce the need for
thermogenic ingestion. Thus, the participants could have
equivalent results while decreasing the amount of drugs
used. Additionally, the performance of high volumes of
aerobic exercise has a negative impact on muscle
hypertrophy.83 The loss of fat-free mass even with an
increase in anabolic steroid use during the cutting phase
may be evidence for that phenomenon. Considering that
the higher the exercise intensity, the higher the fat
loss83,84 and that some studies suggest that the effect of
regular low-intensity aerobic exercise on body fat is
negligible,85 it would be recommended to reduce the
volume of aerobic exercise and increase its intensity.
Another strategy to prevent muscle loss would be to
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
- 59 -
prefer cycling to running, since the latter may have a
more negative interaction with resistance training83, 85
Taken together, high intensity interval training on the
cycle ergometer would be preferable to long duration
and low-intensity running for both losing fat and
preserving fat-free mass.
Nutrition
Unfortunately, it was not possible to retrieve detailed
nutritional plans because the participants’ diets
constantly changed according to their perceptions; i.e.
carbohydrate ingestion increased if they felt that they
were losing too much fat-free mass and decreased in
order to reduce body fat. In general, their bulking diets
were hypercaloric, high protein (2.5 g of protein per kg
of body mass, with each meal containing 0.33 to 0.55 g
of protein per kg of body weight) and low fat (~15% of
calories coming from fat). The major sources of
carbohydrate were rice, potatoes, bread and oatmeal.
Dietary protein usually came from chicken, lean red
meat, egg whites and whey protein concentrate. As
competition approached, the competitors increased their
protein ingestion to ~3 g/kg of body weight and
decreased carbohydrate ingestion by 1020%. Their
fruit and vegetable ingestion was extremely low and
their sources of vitamins and minerals seemed to be
mainly nutritional supplements. The combination of
high protein, low fiber and high vitamin ingestion seems
to be common among bodybuilders, and has been
previously linked to health problems, especially in the
gastrointestinal system.5 It is important to note that the
literature recommends the ingestion of 1.2 to 2 g of
protein per kg of body weight for strength athletes86-88
and there seems to be no benefit in increasing ingestion
above this level.82 Moreover, previous studies suggested
that the maximum amount of protein needed to increase
muscle anabolism is around 0.25 g/kg,89, 90 which is less
than the actual amount ingested by the participants. This
extra amount of protein is probably oxidized or
eliminated by urea, as suggested by Witard et al.90
Recent research shows that a higher protein intake (1.8
vs. 0.85 g/kg) seems to add no benefit in novice
athletes.91 Therefore, the practice of increased protein
intake, also popular in commercial gyms,92, 93 is not
substantiated by the current literature. During the
cutting phase, participants increased their protein intake,
as previously reported 1,2, 94 The benefits of high-protein
diets on weight loss have been highlighted by Leidy et
al.95 Phillips & Van Loon71 recommended increasing
protein intake to 1.8 to 2.7 g/kg in order to optimize the
ratio of fat-to-lean tissue mass loss during
hypoenergetic periods. Additionally, Helms et al.96
suggested that 2.3-3.1 g/kg FFM is appropriate for lean,
resistance-trained athletes in hypoenergetic conditions.
However, it is important to note that, among the studies
used to support high-protein diets in the mentioned
reviews, only two used protein intakes over 2 g/kg97,98
and only one compared the effects of different protein
intakes.98 However, in this study the low protein group
ingested only 1 g/kg of protein, which is below the
recommended values. The results of meta-analyses
indicate that the quantity of protein necessary to
promote weight management and preserve lean mass
lies somewhere between 1.2 and 1.6 g/kg.99-101
Therefore, it is important that people involved with
bodybuilding become aware that high protein intakes
are not obligatory to preserve lean mass while losing fat.
This can be particularly valuable for people who do not
tolerate severe restrictions in carbohydrate or fat.
Nutritional supplements
Supplements most frequently used for participants of
both sexes were concentrated whey protein, chromium
picolinate, omega 3 fatty acids, BCAA, poly-vitamins,
glutamine and caffeine. Regarding protein
supplementation almost all subjects used whey protein.
This is not a surprise considering that the most studied
type of protein supplementation during resistance
training is whey protein in its various forms. On the
other hand, the greater part of the data available till now
seems to suggest that there is no advantage in assuming
whey protein compared to other types of protein.102 As
suggested by a recent meta-analysis the use of whey
protein supplementation concomitant with resistance
training results in no benefit when compared to other
types of protein.103 In general, studies comparing protein
from different sources have found no significant
differences or conflicting results. Thus, even though
body builders seem to prefer whey protein as a protein
source for supplementation, there is no convincing data
at the moment that could support the hypothesis of a
greater muscle mass growth using whey protein over
another high-quality source.102 The male bodybuilders
analyzed, but not the women, also used creatine in the
bulking phase. Several studies have suggested a positive
effect of creatine supplementation on muscle strength,
power and lean body mass.104-106 Specifically for
bodybuilders, the benefits of creatine may be related to
the increased capacity for repeating high intensity
efforts,106 which can increase training performance and
result in muscle size gains. Creatine supplementation
has also been associated with increased anabolic
signaling107,108 reduced myostastin levels,109 increased
satellite cell activity, augmented myonuclei number110
and increased IGF mRNA111 which can be related to
greater increases in muscle size as compared to
placebo.107,112 However, creatine supplementation is
associated with body water retention,113 which may be
counterproductive during the cutting phase. This
explains why the bodybuilders suspended its use in the
weeks before competition and why it was not used by
the women. Caffeine was used in order to increase fat
loss, due to its supposedly thermogenic effect. However,
previous studies reported that caffeine alone offers no
benefits over a placebo in thermogenesis114,115 and fat
loss.116,117 The only evidence for a positive effect of
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Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
- 60 -
caffeine on body composition seems to be when
combined with ephedrine. Ephedrine’s thermogenic
effects are probably mediated by an increase in
intracellular concentrations of cAMP. However, cAMP
is broken down by the enzyme phosphodiesterase, and
there is also some evidence that adenosine released from
the cells in response to sympathetic stimulation can
inhibit the release of beta-receptor agonists and/or act
on specific receptors to inhibit the accumulation of
cAMP.118 Methylxanthines, in particular caffeine, have
the ability to inhibit both the effects of adenosine and
phosphodiesterase resulting in an increased thermogenic
effect when caffeine is combined with ephedrine as
compared to ephedrine alone.116-118 On the other hand,
previous studies suggested that the concomitant
ingestion of caffeine and creatine may counteract the
beneficial effects of creatine in muscle
performance.119,120 Therefore, due to the poor evidence
for a positive effect of caffeine on body composition
and the negative interaction with creatine, as well as the
side effects associated with caffeine abuse,121
bodybuilders should be conscious about its use,
particularly because its effect seems to be relevant only
when combined with ephedrine, which is also
potentially hazardous to health. Although chromium
picolinate was used with the purpose to induce fat loss
and decrease carbohydrate craving, previous studies
found no benefits of chromium picolinate
supplementation in inducing fat loss108,122,123 and
appetite control.123 However, a previous study suggested
that chromium picolinate was beneficial in a
subpopulation of patients with high carbohydrate
craving, suggesting it may be beneficial for patients
with atypical depression who also have severe
carbohydrate craving,124 which may be the case in some
bodybuilders. It is important to note that the safe dose of
chromium was not established and the amount used by
the participants was significantly above the
recommended upper limit, which could have a negative
health impact.108,122,123 BCAA are commonly used to
increase muscle anabolism, increase recovery and
prevent catabolism. Previous studies have shown that
BCAA may improve anabolic profile after resistance
training when compared to a placebo,125,126 however, its
effects were only seen when BCAA intake was
compared to fasting. Considering that the participants
already had high protein ingestion coming from animal
sources and whey protein supplementation, BCAA
would hardly bring any benefit for bodybuilders, as
shown in previous studies evaluating anabolic
signaling127,128 and changes in fat free mass in response
to resistance training.129 Moreover, its effect in
preserving fat free mass is also questionable.130
Glutamine, reported to be used for avoiding catabolism
and increasing recovery, is another supplement of
questionable applicability in bodybuilding. A previous
study reported no advantages in muscle performance,
body composition or protein degradation when
glutamine was combined with resistance training,131 and
a recent review concluded that glutamine was associated
with an improvement in the perception of muscle
weakness, but did not improve muscle strength
recovery.132 Bodybuilders reported using omega 3 fatty
acids for cardiovascular protection. Although there is
evidence that ingestion of food rich in omega 3 may
bring health benefits, the evidence for its
supplementation is controversial.133-135 However,
considering that there is no evidence for adverse events
associated with omega 3 supplementation and that the
participants’ diets were poor in omega 3,
supplementation may be warranted.
Overall analysis
It is important to highlight the body composition results
obtained in the present study. Although the competitors
used large amounts of anabolic steroids and nutritional
supplements in order to improve body composition
during all the periods analyzed, their fat-free mass did
not change substantially from the beginning to the end
of the study. Even in the presence of supra-
physiological doses of testosterone, most of them lost
fat-free mass during the cutting phase, which suggests a
state of overtraining and/or undernutrition derived from
mistakes in training, nutrition and/or recovery.
Bodybuilders seem to risk their health in order to
increase fat-free mass and then risk their health again to
lose fat, but end up losing most of the fat-free mass
previously acquired. Maybe it would be more
reasonable to gain smaller amounts of muscle mass
while minimizing fat gain and then adopt strategies to
lose body fat while preserving lean mass. This would
virtually extinguish the traditional bulking and cutting
phases and promote less aggressive variations in body
composition, in addition to decreasing reliance on
anabolic steroids and stimulants. The analysis of
bodybuilding practices in light of the scientific body of
evidence allowed us to find many practices that could
negatively impact bodybuilders’ health and/or have no
potential benefits. With regard to joint problems, the
combination of high volumes of upper limb exercises
with anabolic steroid abuse may predispose
bodybuilders to tendon ruptures. As for cardiovascular
risks, the combination of anabolic steroids and
stimulants is particularly alarming, since both are
independently associated with serious cardiovascular
events. In the case of the women, the massive doses of
anabolic steroids were surprising. The bodybuilders
analyzed relied on a monotonous diet, poor in fiber,
vitamins and minerals, associated with the massive use
of supplements that have no potential benefits, which
may result in health problems and elevated costs. Based
on these findings, we recommend the adoption of an
evidence-based approach by bodybuilders with a more
balanced and less artificial diet. With regard to training,
special focus should be given to decreasing training
volume, revisiting exercise choice and avoiding fasted
Strategies adopted by six bodybuilders: a case report
Eur J Transl Myol 27 (1): 51-66
- 61 -
cardio in order to decrease the reliance on drugs and
thus preserve bodybuilders’ health and integrity.
The present study has some important limitations. The
small number of subjects does not allow generalization,
so we cannot confirm if the procedures described here
are adopted by the majority of bodybuilders. However,
due to the experience of the researchers as coaches
and/or athletes along with the reports of the participants,
we have strong empirical evidence to believe that many
competitors, as well as the general public that take
bodybuilders as models, adopt many of the procedures
described here. We opted to analyze a small number of
subjects in order to gain more detail and retrieve reliable
data. Another limitation is that, because of the
retrospective characteristic of the study, we were not
able to ask for complementary exams or perform
specific assessments that would help to clarify many
issues, especially regarding health risks. Finally, it is
undeniable that the practices adopted by the participants
of the study were somehow successful, as they were
well ranked in their categories. This apparent success
may lead to the fallacy known as “cum hoc ergo propter
hoc”, and attribute their success to some of their
practices. However, there are many intervenient factors,
such as drug abuse and genetics, that have to be
considered and, more importantly, one must question if
their results could have been better if adopting
alternative practices. The question that remains is:
would they have better results if they adopted a
scientific-based approach? Or would they have the same
results, but with fewer health risks? Answering these
questions is beyond the scope of this study; however,
based on a critical analysis and the available literature,
we suggest that many practices described here should be
avoided or even abolished. Future research aiming to
test the use of evidence-based alternatives in
bodybuilding preparation is granted.
Author’s contributions
each author contributed in equal part to the manuscript.
Acknowledgments
We would like to thank all the participants of the study
and their coaches for consenting to provide the data.
Conflict of Interest
The authors submit no conflict of interest regarding the
publication of this article.
Corresponding Author
Paulo Gentil, Faculdade de Educação Física e Dança,
Universidade Federal de Goiás Avenida Esperança
s/n, Campus Samambaia Goiânia, 74690-900, Brazil.
Phone: +59 62 35211085.
E-mail: paulogentil@hotmail.com
E-mails of coAuthors
Claudio Andre Barbosa de Lira:
andre.claudio@gmail.com
Antonio Paoli: antonio.paoli@unipd.it
José Alexandre Barbosa dos Santos:
xandre2.0@hotmail.com
Roberto Deivide Teixeira da Silva:
roberto_silvabm@hotmail.com
José Romulo Pereira Junior:
educadorfisico_2010@yahoo.com.br
Edson Pereira da Silva: mister_edi@hotmail.com
Rodrigo Ferro Magosso: rmagosso@hotmail.com
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... This aspect distinguishes the present study from the vast literature with bodybuilders, where athletes of one or another sport were studied (Gentil et al., 2017;Cyrino et al., 2002), and most only with male athletes (Mert et al., 2018;Kim, 2018;Mitchell et al., 2017;Hackett et al., 2013). Although most studies do not mention the athletes' modality, it is possible to deduce that they are athletes in the Men's Bodybuilding modality. ...
... The mean age of the sample was consistent with data previously reported (Ribeiro et al., 2016;Cyrino et al., 2002Cyrino et al., , 2008Maestá et al., 2000). The participants' BW and its heterogeneity were like those reported (Gentil et al., 2017;Cyrino et al., 2002;van der Ploeg et al., 2001;Maestá et al., 2000). The HT of the sample resembles, on average, the values of the Brazilian population reported by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE, 2010). ...
... However, we should keep in mind that the result obtained with the BMI, by itself, does not reflect the health condition of these individuals (Weir and Jan, 2021). Previous studies (Gentil et al., 2017;Cyrino et al., 2008;van der Ploeg et al., 2001) have shown that bodybuilding athletes of both sexes, even in the off-season, have a percentage of fat within acceptable levels for health. ...
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Preparation in bodybuilding involves high-intensity workouts and drastic feeding strategies. Little is known about health risks. Athletes (n=510, 59.8% male) were evaluated about health aspects, anthropometry, and blood pressure (BP). Chronic diseases were reported by 6,6%, but 88.9% of them did not treat; 1.9% reported hypertension, with 15.7% having high BP; and 52.5% reported the use of prohibited drugs in the last 6 months. Body mass index was 26.2±2.5 for man and 22.3±2.2 Kg/m2 for woman. Men had lower monitoring than women by physical education professionals, nutritionists, and physicians (p<0.01). Athletes are exposed to health risks factors such as lack of knowledge about diseases, high use of prohibited substances and less monitoring by professionals among men.
... Bodybuilders generally employ different nutritional strategies [36] during specific phases of training, such as bulking (calorie excess to increase muscle mass) or cutting (pre-competition calorie reduction to reduce body fat and increase muscle definition) [1,37]. Although carbohydrates are the main macronutrient manipulated in the week(s) prior to competition, high protein consumption is maintained [36]. ...
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... The remaining eight confirmed a positive history of AAS use, although only four detailed specific quantities, type and duration of usage ( Table 1). The training phase may also affect the AAS strategy employed [37]. ...
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Bodybuilders routinely engage in many dietary and other practices purported to be harmful to kidney health. The development of acute kidney injury, focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS) and nephrocalcinosis may be particular risks. There is little evidence that high protein diets and moderate creatine supplementation pose risks to individuals with normal kidney function though long-term high protein intake in those with underlying impairment of kidney function is inadvisable. The links between anabolic androgenic steroid use and FSGS are stronger, and there are undoubted dangers of nephrocalcinosis in those taking high doses of vitamins A, D and E. Dehydrating practices including diuretic misuse, and NSAID use also carry potential risks. It is difficult to predict the effects of multiple practices carried out in concert. Investigations into sub-clinical kidney damage associated with these practices have rarely been undertaken. Future re-search is warranted to identify clinical and subclinical harm associated with individual practices and combinations to enable appropriate and timely advice
... The duration of each phase varies according to each athlete's needs. The off-season phase is when calorie intake is high and the load is higher in resistance training and lower in aerobic training, seeking to increase muscle mass volume [2,3]. In the pre-contest phase, the athletes considerably reduce their calorie intake, more repetitions are used in weight training, and the weekly volume of cardiovascular training doubles or triples. ...
... In the pre-contest phase, the athletes considerably reduce their calorie intake, more repetitions are used in weight training, and the weekly volume of cardiovascular training doubles or triples. The aim in these weeks that precede the competition is to reduce body fat so that muscles are more defined, without reducing the muscle mass achieved [2,3]. ...
... Some of the strategies used are based on common sense, rather than scientific evidence, which can cause considerable risks to health. However, the athletes are convinced that such practices are essential for obtaining ultimate success [2,4,5]. In this search for the perfect body, the importance of hormones in the muscle-building process is undeniable. ...
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Bodybuilding involves athletes performing a series of poses/postures on the stage so that they can be classified according to their best esthetic and physical appearance during the competition. In the weeks prior to the target competition, the athletes subject themselves to restrictive diets and different physical training methods, as well as using dietary supplementation and, in some cases, anabolic steroids, to reduce body fat to low levels and maintain or increase muscle mass. On the other hand, it is known that physical training is a potent stimulator for releasing the components of the GH/IGF-I axis that are directly linked to the anabolic process. Based on these assumptions, this study aimed to verify the kinetics of IGF-I and of its binding protein IGFBP-3 in female bodybuilders. Serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 concentrations were recorded before and after standardized training sessions at two different times: in the initial phase (phase 1) and in the final phase of the pre-contest (phase 2) of a 12-week training season. It was possible to conclude that there was a significant reduction in serum IGF-I values at the end of the pre-contest phase that preceded the athletes' participation in a competition. With relation to the serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 values measured before and after the standardized training session, it was only possible to verify significant changes in the IGF-I values in the initial phase of the pre-contest. It seems reasonable to suggest that the caloric restriction used by bodybuilders may be related to the decrease in IGF-I values verified at the end of the pre-contest phase.
... Additionally, many bodybuilders seek to enhance their peak week physique by manipulating water intake [7,15], but the risk-to-reward ratio is not well understood. Recent observational data from members of our group (currently in revision) [10] demonstrated that water manipulation implemented by physique athletes led to significant or severe dehydration (urine specific gravity (USG) 1.021-1.030) ...
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Background: The purpose of this case study was to implement an evidence-based dietary approach to peaking for a bodybuilding competition and monitor its impact on body composition, muscle thickness (MT), intra-to-extra-cellular fluid shifts, subcutaneous thickness (ST), and hydration status. Secondarily, to document any adverse events of this peak week approach in a small, controlled setting. Methods Dietary practices were recorded, and laboratory testing was conducted throughout peak week, including competition morning. Assessments included: dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) for body composition, B-mode ultrasound for MT and ST, bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) for total body water (TBW)/intracellular water (ICW)/extracellular water (ECW), and raw BIS data (i.e., resistance, reactance, and phase angle), urine specific gravity (USG) for hydration status, and subjective fullness. Sequential dietary manipulations were made (i.e., CHO depletion/fat loading, CHO/water loading, and a refinement phase) with specific physiological goals. This was reflected in changes observed across all assessments throughout the peak week. Results: From the carbohydrate-depleted state (three days out) to competition day, we observed increases in lean body mass, MT, TBW (primarily ICW), and subjective fullness. Kendall's Tau B revealed a strong relationship between carbohydrate intake and ∑MT (τ = 0.733, p = 0.056). Additionally, novel ST data demonstrated a 10% reduction for the summation of all seven sites, with some drastic changes in specific regions (e.g., −43% for triceps ST) from three days out to competition day. Conclusions: These data suggest that the prototypical goals of bodybuilders' peak week (i.e., increasing muscle fullness, decreasing subcutaneous thickness) to enhance their aesthetics/muscularity presented can be achieved with a drug-free protocol involving dietary manipulations.
... This is because things are constantly evolving, and when the unit's requirements, capabilities, and conditions change over time, the model may no longer be effective. Therefore, as the time spent on the model increases, new models need to be continuously tested, and sometimes new models are created [18]. ...
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Fitness and bodybuilding are becoming the trend of the development of sports projects today, not only to bring health to the exercisers, but also to keep the body in good condition. However, due to the wrong attitudes and methods of exercisers, they often have negative effects on exercisers, such as sprains, strains, and tendon strains. This article is based on data mining technology to realize the research of exercise injury prevention methods, so firstly, it introduces the steps and applications of data mining technology and highlights the cluster analysis method in data mining technology. Then it discusses the injury factors of fitness and bodybuilding and outlines the best measures to prevent exercise injury. At the same time, the C4.5 algorithm was introduced to realize the processing of the data set, and the effectiveness of preventive measures was proved by investigating the damage of fitness and bodybuilding exercises in 15 clubs in a certain city. The results of the study show that the number of people who exercise more than 3 times a week accounts for 65.6% of the total number of people, which shows that exercisers in a city’s fitness club exercise more frequently each week.
... With respect to the studies' abstracts, 51 of the reviewed studies were chosen to be potentially relevant for data analysis. The full texts of these articles were then screened; 36 of these studies (Greene et al. 2018;Helms et al. 2015b;Mero et al. 2010;Newton et al. 1993;Sawyer et al. 2013;Tinsley et al. 2017;Trabelsi et al. 2013Trabelsi et al. , 2012Vargas et al. 2018;Walberg-Rankin et al. 1993;Waldman et al. 2018;Kleiner et al. 1990;Bamman et al. 1993;Hickson et al. 1990;Withers et al. 1997;Wilson et al. 2017;Chatterton et al. 2017;Durguerian et al. 2016;Murphy and Koehler 2020;Gentil et al. 2017;Steen 1991;Manore et al. 1993;Too et al. 1998;Moro et al. 2016;Areta et al. 2014;Kysel et al. 2020;Philpott et al. 2019;Huovinen et al. 2015;Antonio et al. 2019;Bazyler et al. 2018;Mäestu et al. 2008Mäestu et al. , 2010Dudgeon et al. 2016;Mettler et al. 2010;Rossow et al. 2013;Syed-Abdul et al. 2019) were excluded from analysis for various reasons. Thus, 15 studies were used for qualitative analysis. ...
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Many sports employ caloric restriction (CR) to reduce athletes' body mass. During these phases, resistance training (RT) volume is often reduced to accommodate recovery demands. Since RT volume is a well-known anabolic stimulus, this review investigates whether a higher training volume helps to spare lean mass during CR. A total of 15 studies met inclusion criteria. The extracted data allowed calculation of total tonnage lifted (repetitions × sets × intensity load) or weekly sets per muscle group for only 4 of the 15 studies, with RT volume being highly dependent on the examined muscle group as well as weekly training frequency per muscle group. Studies involving high RT volume programs (≥ 10 weekly sets per muscle group) revealed low-to-no (mostly female) lean mass loss. Additionally, studies increasing RT volume during CR over time appeared to demonstrate no-to-low lean mass loss when compared to studies reducing RT volume. Since data regarding RT variables applied were incomplete in most of the included studies, evidence is insufficient to conclude that a higher RT volume is better suited to spare lean mass during CR, although data seem to favor higher volumes in female athletes during CR. Moreover, the data appear to suggest that increasing RT volume during CR over time might be more effective in ameliorating CR-induced atrophy in both male and female resistance-trained athletes when compared to studies reducing RT volume. The effects of CR on lean mass sparing seem to be mediated by training experience, pre-diet volume, and energy deficit, with, on average, women tending to spare more lean mass than men. Potential explanatory mechanisms for enhanced lean mass sparing include a preserved endocrine milieu as well as heightened anabolic signaling.
... Although the overall sample size in our study (n = 158) was substantially larger than previous cross-sectional studies in this population (n = 26 [11]; n = 14 [28], the small number of participants competing in Women's Fitness and Physique divisions meant that it was not possible to analyse the differences between every division. However, it must be acknowledged that athletes competing in Women's Fitness, Wellness and Physique divisions are more likely to engage with prohibited substances given the expectations to achieve less FM and greater LBM [48][49][50]. Moreover, RWLQ used in this study was primarily developed for combat sports athletes, and thus may lack specificity for aesthetic sports. ...
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Little is known about weight loss practices and eating behaviours in female physique athletes. This study investigated the weight loss history, practices, and key influences during the pre-competition period in a large cohort of female physique athletes stratified by division and experience level. Eating attitudes and behaviours were assessed to identify whether athletes were at risk of developing an eating disorder. Using a cross-sectional research design, female physique athletes ( n = 158) were recruited and completed an anonymous online self-reported survey consisting of two validated questionnaires: Rapid Weight Loss Questionnaire and Eating Attitudes Test-26. Irrespective of division or experience, female physique athletes used a combination of weight loss practices during the pre-competition phase. Gradual dieting (94%), food restriction (64%) and excessive exercise (84%), followed by body water manipulation via water loading (73%) were the most commonly used methods. Overall, 37% of female physique athletes were considered at risk of developing an eating disorder. Additionally, 42% of female physique athletes used two pathogenic weight control methods with 34% of Figure novice athletes indicating binge eating once a week or more. The coach (89%) and another athlete (73%) were identified as key influences on athletes’ dieting practices and weight loss. The prevalence of athletes identified with disordered eating symptoms and engaging in pathogenic weight control methods is concerning. In future, female physique athletes should seek advice from registered nutritionists to optimise weight management practices and minimise the risk of developing an eating disorder.
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Bodybuilding is a competitive endeavor where a combination of muscle size, symmetry, “conditioning” (low body fat levels), and stage presentation are judged. Success in bodybuilding requires that competitors achieve their peak physique during the day of competition. To this end, competitors have been reported to employ various peaking interventions during the final days leading to competition. Commonly reported peaking strategies include altering exercise and nutritional regimens, including manipulation of macronutrient, water, and electrolyte intake, as well as consumption of various dietary supplements. The primary goals for these interventions are to maximize muscle glycogen content, minimize subcutaneous water, and reduce the risk abdominal bloating to bring about a more aesthetically pleasing physique. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of evidence to support the commonly reported practices employed by bodybuilders during peak week. Hence, the purpose of this article is to critically review the current literature as to the scientific support for pre-contest peaking protocols most commonly employed by bodybuilders and provide evidence-based recommendations as safe and effective strategies on the topic.
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The purpose of this paper was to systematically review the current literature and elucidate the effects of total weekly resistance training (RT) volume on changes in measures of muscle mass via meta-regression. The final analysis comprised 34 treatment groups from 15 studies. Outcomes for weekly sets as a continuous variable showed a significant effect of volume on changes in muscle size (P = 0.002). Each additional set was associated with an increase in effect size (ES) of 0.023 corresponding to an increase in the percentage gain by 0.37%. Outcomes for weekly sets categorised as lower or higher within each study showed a significant effect of volume on changes in muscle size (P = 0.03); the ES difference between higher and lower volumes was 0.241, which equated to a percentage gain difference of 3.9%. Outcomes for weekly sets as a three-level categorical variable (<5, 5-9 and 10+ per muscle) showed a trend for an effect of weekly sets (P = 0.074). The findings indicate a graded dose-response relationship whereby increases in RT volume produce greater gains in muscle hypertrophy.
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Background Creatine is the most widely used supplementation to increase performance in strength; however, the most recent meta-analysis focused specifically on supplementation responses in muscles of the lower limbs without regard to upper limbs. Objective We aimed to systematically review the effect of creatine supplementation on upper limb strength performance. Methods We conducted a systematic review and meta-analyses of all randomized controlled trials comparing creatine supplementation with a placebo, with strength performance measured in exercises shorter than 3 min in duration. The search strategy used the keywords ‘creatine’, ‘supplementation’, and ‘performance’. Independent variables were age, sex and level of physical activity at baseline, while dependent variables were creatine loading, total dose, duration, time interval between baseline (T0) and the end of the supplementation (T1), and any training during supplementation. We conducted three meta-analyses: at T0 and T1, and on changes between T0 and T1. Each meta-analysis was stratified within upper limb muscle groups. Results We included 53 studies (563 individuals in the creatine supplementation group and 575 controls). Results did not differ at T0, while, at T1, the effect size (ES) for bench press and chest press were 0.265 (95 % CI 0.132–0.398; p < 0.001) and 0.677 (95 % CI 0.149–1.206; p = 0.012), respectively. Overall, pectoral ES was 0.289 (95 % CI 0.160–0.419; p = 0.000), and global upper limb ES was 0.317 (95 % CI 0.185–0.449; p < 0.001). Meta-analysis of changes between T0 and T1 gave similar results. The meta-regression showed no link with characteristics of population or supplementation, demonstrating the efficacy of creatine independently of all listed conditions. Conclusion Creatine supplementation is effective in upper limb strength performance for exercise with a duration of less than 3 min, independent of population characteristics, training protocols, and supplementary doses or duration.
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J Int Soc Sports Nutr 13:1-015-0112-9, 2016 describe the efficacy of branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation and resistance training for maintaining lean body mass during a calorie-restricted diet, and claim that this occurs with concurrent losses in fat mass. However, the reported results appear to be at odds with the data presented on changes in fat mass. This letter discusses the issues with the paper.
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This narrative review aims to summarize the recent findings on the adjuvant application of creatine supplementation in the management of age-related deficits in skeletal muscle, bone and brain metabolism in older individuals. Most studies suggest that creatine supplementation can improve lean mass and muscle function in older populations. Importantly, creatine in conjunction with resistance training can result in greater adaptations in skeletal muscle than training alone. The beneficial effect of creatine upon lean mass and muscle function appears to be applicable to older individuals regardless of sex, fitness or health status, although studies with very old (>90 years old) and severely frail individuals remain scarce. Furthermore, there is evidence that creatine may affect the bone remodeling process; however, the effects of creatine on bone accretion are inconsistent. Additional human clinical trials are needed using larger sample sizes, longer durations of resistance training (>52 weeks), and further evaluation of bone mineral, bone geometry and microarchitecture properties. Finally, a number of studies suggest that creatine supplementation improves cognitive processing under resting and various stressed conditions. However, few data are available on older adults, and the findings are discordant. Future studies should focus on older adults and possibly frail elders or those who have already experienced an age-associated cognitive decline.
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Introduction: It has been argued in current studies that anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are misused by a great number of bodybuilders and athletes. However, there is diverse and often conflicting scientific data on the cardiac and metabolic complications caused by the misuse of AAS. There may be various reasons for myocardial infarction (MI) with normal coronary arteries. However, for the majority of patients, the exact cause is still unknown. Case report: A 32 year-old male who was complaining about severe chest pain was admitted to our emergency department. He had been taking methenolone acetate 200 mg weekly for a period of three years for body building. His cardiac markers were significantly elevated and electrocardiogram (ECG) showed peaked T waves in all derivations, which did not show ST elevation or depression. Both right and left coronary artery systems were found to be completely normal as a result of the angiogram. Conclusion: The purpose of this study is to show that AAS induced MI can be encountered with normal coronary arteries during acute coronary syndrome.
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We describe a case report of a 30-year-old bodybuilder suffering acute myocardial infarction (AMI). He had been taking stanozolol and testosterone for two months. The coronary angiogram showed high thrombotic burden in the left anterior descending artery without underlying atherosclerosis. Few case reports of AMI in athletes taking anabolic androgenic steroids (AASs) have been reported so far. AAS-related AMI is possibly underreported in the medical literature due to the desire of the affected individuals to hide AAS use. Physicians should always consider the possibility of AAS abuse in the context of a young athlete suffering AMI. AASs can predispose to AMI through the acceleration of coronary atherosclerosis. Additionally, thrombosis without underlying atherosclerosis or vasospasm is highly possible to cause AMI in AAS users. Complications after AMI may be more frequent in AAS users.
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Recently it has been suggested that cell volume alterations may represent a new principle of metabolic control. In vivo studies in humans studying metabolic effects of alterations in extracellular osmolality have not been performed vet. To investigate the effects of acute hyper- and hypoosmolality on whole body protein metabolism leucine kinetics were determined in 10 postabsorptive normal male subjects three times. Hyperosmolality was induced by fluid restriction and additional NaCl 2-5% iv (W/V); hypoosomolality by i.v. administration of a synthetic analog of vasopressin (Minirin) and liberal water drinking and infusion of NaCl (0.4%). Whole body protein kinetics, measured using the 1-13C-leucine infusion technique, demonstrated that leucine flux (a parameter of protein breakdown) decreased under hypoosmolal conditions (p<0.02 vs control). Leucine oxidation - a parameter of irreversible catabolism decreased in the hypoosmolality group (-16%, p<0.005 vs control) and remained unchanged in the hyperosmolality group (+4%) and the control group (+9%). Plasma concentrations of insulin and glucose were lower in the hypoosmolality group (p<0.05 or less vs control). Plasma glycerol and acetoacetic acid levels were higher under hypoosmolal conditions (p<0.05 or less vs control). Indirect calorimetry demonstrated that utilization of fat was increased and that of protein and glucose decreased under hypoosmolal conditions (p<0.05 or less vs control). It is concluded that acute hypoosmolality exerts a protein sparing effect with increased utilization of fat and decreased utilization of glucose, a condition resembling that during prolonged starvation.