MODERN-DAY OLYMPIA ANABOLIC STACK VS. THE ‘90S
Muscular Development|December 2020
Purists wish to trace modern-day bodybuilding to the sport’s roots of the 1960s, but it could easily be argued that modern bodybuilding branched away from classic bodybuilding in the 1990s, deviating to extremes in size and form that bring to mind caricatures or comic book drawings.
Daniel Gwartney, M.D.

Historical precedent may be the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome, as the public was distracted from the failings of government with evermore extravagant “bread and circuses.” Warrior versus warrior duels were replaced with mob battles, exotic slaves and prisoners of war from foreign lands, and even predatory animals.

Once the boundaries of reality have been broken, it is impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. The trend that began in the 1990s has escalated, with bodybuilders developing physiques of such extreme that they bear little resemblance to the classic icons. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously decried this path, voicing his displeasure some years ago.1 The road to this state includes the application of scientifically designed nutrition and training programs, as well as a year-round persistence in the use of a cadre of physique-enhancing drugs. Of course, anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are a foundation component of the drug protocols. However, other drugs used in combination have developed muscle growth and fat loss effects that are like “steroids on steroids.”

Gradual Increase in BMI

Prior to the 1990s, bodybuilders depended upon drugs used clinically, basically those one could buy from a pharmacy if one had a prescription, or the back of a warehouse/locker room if one didn’t. The classic physiques were muscular and well shaped, though lacking in the extremes of definition and size seen later. About 1991-1992, professional bodybuilders experienced a “gap up” in mass. The nearly three decades prior to this point exhibited a gradual increase in BMI (body mass index) from a respectable 26-28 range in the 1960s to 28-30 by 1990.2 This was achieved by a progressive increase in AAS dose and cycle duration, with the advent of early estrogen receptor antagonists (e.g., tamoxifen/ Nolvadex) and more reliable post-cycle therapy. Focusing on hypertrophy rather than traditional power training also played a role, as well as a better understanding of nutrition. Within two years (1991-1992), professional bodybuilders catapulted upward in BMI to approximately 32 or greater, and exhibited less subcutaneous fat. That short two-year period compressed as much enhancement (well, augmentation) as 30 years of improvements in diet, training, sponsorship, travel and drug enhancement. This was not due to whey protein, cable workouts, genetic driftor cosmic radiation during an IFBB-hosted spaceflight. This was nearly exclusively the result of new drug regimens that immediately penetrated the bodybuilding culture.

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