We all know that professional bodybuilders are some of the most muscular, lean, and powerful people on the planet. They eat, train, sleep, and use drugs to become the best in the world. This is a fact. When they are competing, only one thing matters – being the biggest and best onstage. However, once they leave the stage, a new set of challenges arises.
Loss of size
We all know they shrink. They’re eating less food. They’re training with less intensity. And they cut back on the drugs. It’s to be expected that they shed a lot of size. This can lead to mental anguish in some, although not in all cases.
Long term testosterone supplementation
After retirement, most professional bodybuilders remain on testosterone supplementation for the rest of their lives, as their body’s own natural testosterone production shuts down from the years of not operating due to the presence of synthetic hormones. This is a cost, both financially, and due to the side effects of artificial testosterone on the body.
Long term drug use
Aside from testosterone supplementation, many bodybuilders find themselves addicted to painkillers or over-the-counter pain relievers to eliminate daily joint and muscle pain that comes with years of heavy lifting.
Bone growth / acromegaly
When using growth hormone (GH), it’s not just the muscles that grow. Bone endings grow once again when using GH. You will not meet a top professional bodybuilder with small hands. They grow. As do the elbows, knees, and even skulls. It’s an accepted part of the sport that isn’t a huge deal when competing. However, when they lose muscle size, the lengthened bones will remain.
Human growth hormone has effects on internal organs as well. Just as skin, muscle, and bone grow – the organs grow as well. Scientists do not yet have conclusive findings as to the effects of enlarged heart, digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems on long term health. This generation of top bodybuilders, both amateur and professional, will be those test cases in the future.
Most of the men who competed from the 1960s to the 1980s are healthy men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s today. There are a few notable exceptions. However, many people are beginning to question the long term viability of TODAY’S professional bodybuilders, who use testosterone, human growth hormone, insulin, and other compounds that athletes of yesteryear had never heard of. Time will only tell if they end up happy and gray as their contemporaries of the past, or if the higher use will result in greater medical issues in the future.