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The Decline and Fall of Bodybuilding
Rome, they say, wasn't built in a day, and it didn't fall in a day either. Bodybuilding, in comparison, has had a much shorter trajectory. Although it has been around for some time, bodybuilding didn't hit the mainstream consciousness until Arnold popularized the sport in the 1970's. Arnold was the right guy at the right time, and bodybuilding took off big time.
Gyms sprouted up everywhere with everything from Nautilus equipment to stair climbing machines. Bodybuilder's were including in the first few World's Strongest Men competitions and covered nationally on television as the upward trajectory of the sport seemed secure. But then everything fell apart.
The dark side of the sport emerged as the physiques became ever more outlandish. Gone were the stylish builds of a Frank Zane, a Lee Labrada or a Serge Nubret, replaced by ever bigger bulk monsters. And the drug abuse issue that the bulk monsters engaged in surfaced. People became cognizant that drugs were being used to put on size, and that those drugs could be deadly. Even elements such as diuretics were employed in a way that could kill the body.
Some of the bodybuilding's top stars died suddenly at a very young age, as did professional wrestlers and football players. Several of the World's Strongest Men also passed away suddenly at a very young age as well, all from suspected steroid or other related chemical use.
And not too much later the drugs cropped up in major sports such as baseball. Outrage grew when it was discovered that baseball players and track athletes were cheating to obtain records. And in the back of everyone's mind was the source group, the initial users – bodybuilding's community.
To make things worse, new forms of artificial size support emerged, such as insulin, and synthol use became more prevalent. This finally pushed everything over the edge and turned the outsized bodybuilders into comical figures. Kids today seach Bing.com for pictures of synthol builds for a good laugh. Want a 30-inch arm? Add a little more synthol and you have it.
These guys were massive balls of liquid that could hardly walk across a stage without breathing difficulty. Many started to realize that all that muscle and chemical mass wasn't really athletic at all. Even Arnold pointed out the absurdity of bulked up grown men covered in oil and posing in mini trunks on a stage.
During this time frame women's bodybuilding died a quick death, and it appears that the men's version is headed down the same path. In fact new forms of physique competition are emerging that sidestep the mass bodybuilders approach altogether and focus more on an athletic build. The mainline bodybuilding world is slipping back into the shadows from where it emerged a few decades ago.
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