In that edition of this column I publicly confronted MuscleTech and issued a challenge for them to clean up their advertising campaign. I challenged MuscleTech to, at least, put out advertising material that respected the intelligence of the consumer, even if they wanted to continue to produce overpriced supplements of questionable quality with little scientific backing.
As a member of the bodybuilding community in general, and as a writer in the industry in particular, I found it unacceptable that no one had challenged MuscleTech to take public account for its blatantly shameful and insulting practices. Although MuscleTech was afforded the opportunity to defend itself and respond, it chose to remain silent for reasons known only to it.
In the time that has elapsed since that edition of this column, Muscle Techs advertising campaigns have improved considerably. They have signed a number of IFBB professionals to promote their products, and my sources in the industry inform me that the advertising manager responsible for the published material in question is no longer in their employ. I also have wind that they are currently working on a number of new products, to be released shortly.
When a company strives to improve, and even if this improvement is seen only in the advertising used to promote products, the consumer always wins.
In times past, MuscleTech included bodybuilding information in its promotional material. Thus, even if the consumer chose to not purchase their products, they could still derive some benefit from the material. MuscleTech has since returned to the practice of including efficacious bodybuilding information in its promotional material. For their marked improvement in advertising, they deserve praise.
As a writer and worker in the industry, one of my chief responsibilities is to serve as an industry watchdog. Like the philosophers and intellectuals who serve to guard the values of a culture, writers in this industry ought to strive always to guard the integrity of the lifestyle, and do what is best for the consumer. I do.
My duty is to you the reader, consumer and fellow athlete. In this protective capacity, I will continue to blow the whistle on companies who use underhanded tactics to do violence against the consumer.
It is true that I have taken heat for this practice before, being contacted and threatened by corporate lawyers; but the solution, to me, is simple: the companies in question can clean up their practices, or they can sit, trying to hide like cockroaches in the dark, while I run them into the ground, exposing them in a very public manner. The choice is theirs to make; which they choose is of little consequence to me. My integrity to do what is right is my guide. It always will be.
To those of you who live the lifestyle, I salute you. I also challenge you to never forget your debt to your brothers and sisters of iron. Never forget who and what you are, and set an example always by your behaviour. Be honest, be forthright, and always do the right thing. Use integrity as your guide, and the lifestyle will help you to develop the muscles of character and long life, too.
Is it true that some protein products don't meet label claim? If so, how do they get away with it?
Yes, it is true that not all products on the market meet label claims. While this practice is dishonest, there is not much that the consumer can do. When I say this, I am not implying that consumers are powerless. On the contrary, consumer habits will make, or break, even the richest of companies.
Consumers can do little to MAKE a company manufacture a product that delivers on its promises. However, if a company makes a shoddy product, consumers can send the company to financial ruin by avoiding their products, and telling everyone they know to do the same.
I remember a reader once wrote to me claiming that a protein powder he had purchased contained dead bugs. After looking at the photographs he mailed to me, I contacted the company on his behalf and told them of the problem. I managed to strong-arm my way past the receptionist, and I spoke to one of the executives who was initially reluctant to replace the product.
After informing the executive who I was, and after I "convinced" him that I was going to make it a personal mission to use my various public forums to discredit his company in public for as long as it took to get a refund, or for his company to go under, the executive said that the customer would cheerfully be sent a bug-free replacement.
This example illustrates the point that some companies cheap out on the quality control and manufacturing processes to save a buck. In these situations, the only loser is the consumer.
These companies will charge you more for their products, but the old adage still holds true: You get what you pay for. If you want quality, it is going to cost you.
These companies are giants because they focus on delivering a superior product each and every time. They spare no expense to make sure that you get what you pay for. Go with them and you will never lose.
I am new to bodybuilding and I want to try the new ephedra free hydroxycut. How does it compare to some of these other fat-burners?
Prior to the ephedra ban, Hydroxycut was one of the most effective fat loss supplements of all time! With the new legislation, manufacturers have developed ephedra-free products, to offer consumers a "safe alternative." It should be noted that prior to the abuse of ephedra, ephedra was used in Asia for thousands of years, with no problems.
With the creation of these ephedra alternatives, we find the market flooded by substandard products. Simply, it is my view that ephedra-free anything is crap. The creation of ephedra-free products is nothing more that manufactures attempting to hold onto market share, as well as playing to the current political situation.
Consumers will often reason that "something is better than nothing" when it comes to fat loss. In part this is true, and in part these products play into the desire for a quick-fix.
Given that the average weight loss seen on ephedra-free products is eight pounds in eight weeks (most of which is water weight lost in the first week), a more effective approach would be nutritional planning and an exercise regimen.
I don't wish to single out ephedra-free Hydroxycut only, because with few exceptions ephedra-free products leave much to be desired. A noted exception is Hot-Rox by Biotest.
From having used a variety of ephedra-free products (Xenadrine EFX, Ephedra-free Hydroxycut, Biotest Hot-Rox), Hot-Rox is the most effective when used in conjunction with diet and exercise.
Eugene Sandow, one of the fathers of bodybuilding, did not use ephedra-free anything, and yet he had a physique worthy of respect and admiration, even by todays standards.
So to answer your question: anyone that is hawking ephedra-free as the latest and greatest way to lose body fat is attempting to sell you high-priced snake oil in pill form. It's nothing but placebo.
Go with Hot-Rox if you want an ephedra-free that actually works as it claims.
King Kamali used to talk smack in all of the magazines and on his website, but lately he's toned things down. Why do you think this is?
King Kamali is, without a doubt, an incredibly talented and skilled athlete who has worked hard to gain national recognition and pro status.
Because of his hard work and perseverance, there isn't anyone out there who can take away from him the fact that he has a championship physique driven by a formidable intelligence.
I admire King, for his ability to use psychology to manage his image, but his behaviour has generated controversy. Kamali has said in times past that publicity is publicity; so long as people are talking of him, at least they are talking. This is a good attitude to have, because it can help one to stay focused in tough times. Lets face it, even if you are Ronnie Coleman, some arm-chair critics somewhere are going to be trashing you. It is inevitable.
Problems arise, however, when people speak negatively of you all of the time. It is ok to have people who hate you; but it is necessary, as a counterbalancing force, to have those who love you. In Kamalis case, people began to speak of him in predominantly negative ways, and this trend became a pattern.
Creating controversy to help establish yourself as a name is a good image management move, but it is necessary to follow up by delivering a physique of the same strength of your statements. This is especially true if your strategy to get noticed has been to talk down other established athletes like Craig Titus, Ronnie Coleman, Dennis James or Chris Cormier.
Kamali has failed to deliver and has been unremarkable with his placings in bodybuilding competitions. This has led to the wrong kind of negative publicity: scorn.
It is one thing to create a firestorm to get people to notice you. It is one thing to bark loud to make people dislike you. But the problem is that you have to deliver at some point. If you don't, then you run the risk of falling into irrelevance.
It seems that no one is talking about Kamali these days, and if they are it is only as an example of how not to go about making a name for yourself in bodybuilding.
I think Kamali stopped tough-talking when he found that his plans failed to materialize as he had hoped.
But Kamali is intelligent and resilient, so I wouldn't count him out yet. Perhaps he is laying low, waiting to strike, like a cobra (his nickname) when the time is right. Let's hope he does some damage in the future.
I was going to buy some steroids from a guy at my gym, but then I read Muscular Development Magazine and saw an advertisement for legal alternatives. The thing is, they have similar names to some of the gear that my friend is selling, and they are much cheaper. The ad was signed by Jeff Summers. Do you know anything about these products? Are they legit?
The line between prescription anabolics and over the counter supplements is fading. These days consumers have access to powerful prohormones that did not exist only two years ago. The products that you mention have names like Equi-bolan, Maxteron and Derma-Gain, and they are made by Impact Nutrition.
Here is what I can tell you about the products based on my knowledge of them. The company manufacturing the products is claiming that the product Maxteron acts as an aromatase antagonist. It does this by "competing for the aromatase receptor." The claims for Maxteron continue by stating that due to its action on the aromatase receptor "none of it (testosterone) will ever be converted to estrogen."
From a biochemical perspective that a substance can bind to aromatase enzyme is well known. Androgens are converted to oestrogen simply by desaturating the ring A of the steroid. But that a substance can bind to the aromatase receptor and thereby cause no testosterone in the body to be converted, is false and obviously ridiculous.
The degree to which aromatase will be active in the presence of an antagonist will depend on the binding affinity of the antagonist. The greater the binding affinity, the greater the antagonist will serve to inactivate the enzyme.
At present time there is only one over the counter substance with a total binding affinity to aromatase: 6-oxo by ErgoPharm. This product is known as a "suicide inhibitor" because once it binds to the enzyme, it can not be removed. It is irreversible. Aside from 6-oxo, all other suicide inhibitors are available only with a doctors prescription.
So not only is the claim that Maxteron performs this function false, but if it were true the company making these products would be illegally distributing controlled drugs. Don't think that it would take the US FDA long to crack down hard on Impact Nutrition if this were the case. Besides, estrogen is necessary for many functions, and without it one would not survive for very long. So the elimination of all estrogen, even if it were possible, would not be ideal.
Maxteron is also supposed to increase endogenous testosterone levels by acting as an antagonist to serum binding proteins. But this claim has not been substantiated in research. This would lead me to conclude that Maxteron uses an andro-dione prohormones in conjunction with high concentrations of a semi-strong aromatase antagonist like chrysin.
The next product, Equi-Bolan, is so named after the drugs Equipoise and Primabolan. Eqipoise and Primabolin are used by bodybuilders pre-contest so that they can dial in the condition needed to win. Often, drastic reductions in bodyfat are noted, and muscles become hard and full.
But reductions in bodyfat occur because of a number of conditions: low estrogen levels, high testosterone levels or caloric reduction.
If Equi-Bolan is genuine and aims to emulate these hardcore drugs, it is somewhat confusing why the company states "…any possible estrogen build-up from Equi-bolan…" Equipoise and Primabolan are noted for drastically decreasing estrogen levels.
Using an andro-dione hormone that increases estrogen levels and achieves, potentially, the opposite results of the drugs that this supplement seeks to emulate makes no sense.
As a final note on its products, the company seems to be sending mixed messages. In company literature it is stated:
"…You'd still be taking a "double stack" that is as potent as practically anything you can get legally."
Two paragraphs down in the same literature, it is stated:
"The final nail in the coffin for never using prescription anabolics again is Derma-Gain."
So first we see the company stating that its products are equal to other products on the market, making them on par with the current status quo, and then we see them claiming that their products make prescription anabolics obsolete.
Mr. Jeff Summers is the front man for this company, and an advertisement authored by him states "…My name is Jeff Summers. Maybe you have seen some of my hardcore interviews in the top bodybuilding magazines…."
First of all, to my knowledge, Jeff Summers has not had editorial content published in any credible bodybuilding magazine for at least several years. He does create his own magazine / newsletter titled Anabolic Insider, but it is hardly a top seller and is not, to my knowledge, available for sale to the general public.
He has placed many advertisements in magazines in the past several years, and in one of these advertisements he was being interviewed by "another" person. The interview was regarding his products. I will leave it to the readers intelligence to determine the authenticity of the "interview."
As if the previously mentioned interview weren't suspect in itself, in one advertisement Mr. Summers claims to have developed transdermal prohormone delivery technology. The paragraph is as follows:
"…the first compounds in my stack… you put it directly on the muscle you train… this has nothing to do with dangerous "site injections" which have become common lately… The method I'm talking about allows the individual muscle to grow "within its natural shape" only a lot bigger. I'll prove that my new concept works… I'd like to think I have a great bodybuilding intellect and after thinking about the "pros and cons" of site injections (mostly the "cons") I came up with a solution that's a lot better."
It should be noted that site injections are not a recent development but have been a common practice for decades. This aside, after making this claim, several paragraphs later in the same advertisement Mr. Summers identifies the real source of transdermal technology:
"Legendary steroid expert Dan Duchaine first introduced this concept to the bodybuilding community back in the early 90's… Dan… basically… invented the blueprint… and then used special skin penetrating substances to deliver them into the blood system…"
That Mr. Summers would try to take credit for transdermal prohormone delivery technology is clearly disturbing and is an attempt to mislead the consumer.
It should be noted that Mr. Summers is the alleged author of a book titled "Steroids 101." I have no information on this publication and can not provide it a fair evaluation.
At this time little is known currently about the actions of prohormones in the body. As with many supplements, little to no scientific studies have been performed. It follows, then, that all statements concerning these products are speculative, and by taking these products you are playing Russian roulette with your health.
Despite his "many hours of medical research" Mr. Summers is still unpublished in scientific literature and is unable to provide to the consumer any scientific study that supports the claim that his products are as efficacious as prescription anabolics, or that they work as advertised. So what did this medical research consist of? Mr. Summers isn't telling.
From this brief sketch of his products and his claims as per the advertising issued by Impact Nutrition, serious concerns are raised about both Mr. Summers and the products in question.
But here is the bottom line: Prohormones will not deliver the same kind of results are prescription anabolics. Period. End of story. And anyone who says they will is trying to sell you a bill of goods.
I hope that you can help me. After powerlifting for years I find that one side of my body is stronger than the other. I was pretty big, but I have since lost weight and I want to get into bodybuilding. How do I correct this problem?
Two years ago I was in the same situation as you are now. I bulked up to a massive 270lbs for football and started to powerlift. I am currently down to a leaner 215lbs and am once again lifting like a bodybuilder. You can find my progress in Twelve Weeks to a Lean Physique.
When one adds a lot of body weight, it can obscure ones true muscularity by not only putting fat on top of muscle, but also by expanding intra-muscular fat cells. This can give the illusion of size and can cause one to think that one is more muscular than one actually is. It is only once body fat levels have been brought into check that one can gain an appreciation for the size, shape and quality of lean muscle mass.
Bodybuilders need constant feedback from the mirror in order to make adjustments and therefore perpetuate success. When it is discovered that one side of the body is more developed or co-ordinated than the other, using dumbbells to correct this problem is always best. Be careful to not train the weaker side differently than the strong side as this can lead to injury.
Say, for example, that you are left handed and that you find that your left deltoid stronger and more developed than your right. In this situation I would recommend doing seated alternating dumbbell presses, with an emphasis on power generation and speed at the bottom of the movement. Do this for five sets of four repetitions, with heavy weight, making special effort to avoid the use of ancillary muscles.
Volume training may also be the answer to your situation. After doing power lifting and then HIT and then volume training, I am of the conviction that the mind-muscle connection can be achieved and maintained ONLY through volume training. If a muscle is weak or under-developed this is a sign that it is not contracting fully or frequently enough.
Volume training is not incompatible with my previous recommendation of heavy dumbbell work. Do one exercise with heavy weight at the end of your workouts, and do the rest using lower weights and high reps. Eat clean, stay lean, and good luck!
Come back next month to see YOUR questions answered! From steroids to supplements to sexuality, workouts to weight loss and more, the answers you want are here!
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