T Nation

Other Unhealthy Habits of Bodybuilders


So it seems bodybuilders have a bad reputation in some circles - as drinkers, taking recreational drugs and other unhealthy habits

Simple question, is there something about bodybuilding that correlates with that? My view is possibly, for those to come to BB to build a suit of armor vs the world, and maybe those who support there expenses with unsavory activities

finally, i knew mike mentzer smoked - but i when i saw a vid once of him basically chain smoking i didn't know how much of a bad habit it was!

any other observations?

Maybe natural BBing has less of a bad rap?


I don't think this is a very good question. You can replace "bodybuilders" with "men" or even "people" and ask the same questions.

Bodybuilders are people too, and people are diverse. Some live stoically clean lives, some don't.


Yes it might be nothing, there's lots of tell-all stories about BBing but it may not be any more frequent than any other subset of people

I think there may be a higher correlation in this subculture just from all those tales, but as you say it may be nothing really


It's simple. People's initial and natural reaction to seeing bodybuilders is one of "Wow those guys must be the healthiest eating people on earth". Therefore, when people find out that often they smoke, drink, do drugs, etc (like the average population, as LoRez brought up), they feel disillusioned, and are wont to swing to the other side of the spectrum in their opinion of them aka "Omg I thought bodybuilders were supposed to be the pinnacle of health, but it turns out they're just like everyone else and nasty".


The representatives of the sport are the Pros, who choose to use large amounts of injectable hormones that they know, most likely will do short and potentially long-term damage to their personal health. Throw in the legal status of such drugs and it is not a far jump to this person using whatever recreational substances also.

A person who makes the decision to inject these types and amounts of hormones despite them knowing that it has a very good chance of negatively impacting their health is pretty much the definition of a drug addict.

Smoking, drinking, drugs or other forms of abuse is really no surprise.


Yes I think that's right when focussing on the pros and top amateurs

Something about the way of life, the legalities, the secrecy and the low earnings of most that drive some deep into shady parts


I don't see anything even close to this being true in my personal experience. I know many bodybuilders (3 of them are pro, 2 are female pro's), and I also know many "juice heads" who have absolutely zero true dedication to the sport. It's the latter that are involved with rec drugs, partying, hitting the club every weekend and yet still call themselves "bodybuilders" but most don't even compete except maybe for a show here or there if that. The proper dedicated people I know, who are also the successful ones don't want anything to do with rec drugs or partying.

Also, saying that people who are willing to do whatever it takes to be competitive in their sport (i.e, take large amounts of hormones,etc) are basically "abus[ive] addicts" is crap. I've put more compounds into my body through a needle than most, in aims of achieving success in the sport, yet I've never smoked weed, done ANY recreational drugs whatsoever and I drink a few beers once a year on new years exclusively.


One can use one of many reasons as self-justification of these actions, most drug users do.

Only do this much....
Never do this....
Few times...

Not a knock against you or anyone else. Just an observation related to the original topic.

Jumping out of an airplane is probably not the safest thing to do either, but someone people just cannot just enough of it and keep going back for more. They cannot stop.


This is close to the truth.

You have to think of the personality type that is typically drawn to weightroom.

Not necessarily drug addicts, but certainly stimulus addicts, and hand follows foot most of the time.

edit: *some of the time


I've known many bodybuilders both pro, amateur, and "bro." There's one trait they all had in common to one degree or another...addictive mindset / behavior. Let's face it, that's what it takes to reach goals in any strength or physique endeavor. Think about how mentally invested you need to be to inject black market chemicals into your body? It's not a stretch to think this addictive behavior couldn't also be applied to other parts of their lives.

As stated above, this can apply to any businessman, athlete, person...not just bodybuilders. It's just more polarizing seeing a "health advocate" doing it.


Good point on the high contrast health vs. illegal drugs and the mental investment needed to take that step.


Plenty of pro and amateur Bbers party and many pros are addicted to narcs and stims to cut the the pain and issues from being so big then stim up to be able to function in the gym.


I read about this too but maybe it's a minority, though it does seem prevalent in those 'insider' reports, I don't know though


Even if it is a minority it gives the whole bbing community a bad name.

Just like the idiots who race around on crotch rockets and do retarded shit and die. Makes everyone think they are death machines. When in reality they are pretty safe


I've also noticed a great deal of flakiness, lying, and mooching.


Tanget: but I find it the opposite in college. I just get straight ripped most of the time for not drinking, going out to eat and stuff of the sort because of my passion in bodybuilding.


Ryan, I'm pretty confident that you know your statement not to be true. In fact, I know that on another particular forum you post on, that the abuse/addiction is quite rampant, you contributed to that exact thread the subject was being discussed.

Face it, being different is bad in this society, especially when that "different" is not a "special snowflake" kind of different, but an attempt at merely improving oneself/being healthy. Society is addicted to handouts and quick and easy, so when people take the long, hard road, they get crap for it. One because you make the lazy look bad and two because you're different from the societal norm.

That being said, bodybuilding isn't healthy. Period. Let's for a moment ignore the professional IFBB folks who use illegal substances.. because they're illegal. Consider that the bulk have openly admitted to addiction, either to the drugs themselves or the image they are trying to achieve, quitting isn't an option. Then let's consider that many bodybuilders get big because they have the opposite of anorexia, they can never be big enough. Its a type of OCD (and its called like body dismorphia or something), again, not healthy - any type of OCD is unhealthy.

Next, let's consider the process of dieting down to extremely low bodyfat. Whether you use diuretics, drugs, or simply slowly starve your body - yes that is what you're doing, there is a reason your body can not sustain that level - its not healthy for it. Hence why people pass out, have complications, etc.

Consider that there are many natural federations even today, who utilize illegal substances, they just don't get caught. There was a recent popular fitness model who was "natural" that got caught during a test and had his win handed to second place. So again, barring illegal substances, you're surrounded by a community of chronic liars at the most or steeped in severe denial at the least. Natural bodybuilders at 230 lbs, yet every scientific and anecdotal model points to that weight as impossible in competition condition (save for a guy at 6'8"). We aren't producing super-humans these days, sorry.

Now lets look at the diet. Yes, bodybuilders are healthy, we eat veggies, protein, lower carbs (or at least healthy ones), watch our fat intake and only eat "the good stuff." All sounds dandy. Except, now we weigh the food, watch our macros, and obsess over cheating. Again, OCD, not good.

Let's talk about the gym. You have your try-hards, your gym rats, your bro's, your hardcores, and then you have the guys/gals who actually compete (again we won't touch on which use and don't use because its a mix across the board). You'll see anything from 2 days a week all the way up to 6-7 days a week, sometimes twice a day. Its great to exercise but at what point does it no longer because a "part" of your life and instead takes it over?

This is what people see. To the dedicated, those who want to improve, this is normal, acceptable, even commendable. To the lay-person, its unhealthy. Obsession is unhealthy, whether it be truly detrimental to your health or not. This is how society views things. The fact that you've chosen a "better" path does not matter to them. You are out of the norm, you're pushing your bounds, and you're not conforming to what they expect. This is strange and thus to them, its unhealthy.

So the choice you need to make is, where do you see yourself in life and what are your goals? Are you willing to sacrifice normalcy, being perceived as a "typical" guy, or do you have to "fit in?" Are you strong enough as a person to sit there and eat lean steak and rice out of a tupperware container and drink water or a diet beverage while your buddies and/or family enjoy beer and Sweet Iced Tea? Are you willing to spend an hour to an hour and a half lifting 4-5 days a week after work, then go home and be a responsible father/husband/son? Is this how you want to spend your life? That isn't even the most hardcore person that's your typical dedicated bodybuilder/gym enthusiast. Can you sustain that life, and is it worth it for what you give up?

It doesn't matter what society deems as healthy or unhealthy. For the sake of sanity, society fell off the horse a long time ago. The decision lies with you and where you place your goals for whats acceptable and worthwhile.



I have to say that I dont see the negative correlation between some drug use and gains in strength or size, obviously addiction is an issue though. After smoking weed I can feel focused and more calm, allowing me to approach the weights with a very different and productive mindset.

Not to mention though the amazing effects that acid can have on a person's personality and mind frame, for me at least it alleviated all doubts I had about myself and made me look at the world in a new light, as a side effect of the spiritual psychadelic nature of the drug. I do think that a healthy attitude towards drugs is possible and in moderation they are not (at least what I take) detrimental to my health. However I never drink or smoke tobacco so I dont know how to comment on these.


This is a very well thought out post with many good points. It is very refreshing to discuss something other than set/reps/carbs when it comes to bodybuilding.