Hark! Listen here
Science gone too far!
Andy Shernoff - The Dictators
And so was life in 1977. One of my favorite bands, The Dictators, wrote a fun and simple song for the masses. Fast forward to 2006, I hear the song again and, to me, the song remains the same, but a different meaning comes to life now.
The song is easy to follow along and it was actually quite prophethetic. Has science gone too far? In the bodybuilding world, we are pretty damn close. In this article, I examine the song "Science Gone To Far" and reflect on the lyrics and our world today.
Locked In The Laboratory
Locked in the laboratory for fifteen years, with thirst and desire, and it looks like everything has backfired. Kind of sounds like most of us. We toil away in the gym year after year. Many of us have plenty of thirst and desire to better ourselves through science, experimentation and great costs. We take all the concoctions that come out on the market, and train with the latest 'scientific' techniques and end up just a little better than when we started.
We may need to go back to square one. Why do I believe this - look at what has happened in 20 years. We have an overabundance of "scientific" evidence of how to grow bigger muscles, lose weight faster and more efficiently and look and feel younger.
However, with all the science and new products, both over-the-counter and by prescription, have they really worked at getting us better? Do they work for sustained improvement? To a limited extent they have worked for many individuals, for both those with average and above average genetics.
Looking at today's bodies we see that, at every level of competition (amateur to professional), they have become more muscular and ripped through the years. Has this increase in human performance and development been a giant leap in those years?
We have Mr. Olympia competitors on stage near 300 pounds with 2% bodyfat levels. Thirty years ago 230 pounds was a heavyweight, today it is a lightweight for top amateurs. In this area of development, the bar has been raised significantly.
We must also look at our society as a whole. And it is with the public that we see a problem. We now have surveys of the fittest and fattest cities to live in and colleges to attend. As a society we have embraced a lifestyle that is inactive and we have obesity steadily rising.
We acknowledge the trend in being overweight by putting the obese on television and see if they can lose weight better than others who are overweight. And it not just adults, it's our kids as well. We have pills and remedies for many diseases but we still haven't come up with the scientific solution to building and maintaining health, strength and leanness for the masses.
As It Grows And Grows And Grows...
It held the key to understand
all of the secrets stored in man
now it will ravage all in its path
as it grows! as it grows!
as it grows and grows and grows and grows
Interesting verse as it portends finding the key to unlocking man's secrets to growth. We had one of the secrets around for years, anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids were fashionable in the '70s and are still used today as the "gold-standard" for enhancing performance and physical growth.
Science has unlocked many other secrets and many use these secrets. Victor Conti gave us "The cream and the clear" as medicinal products for athletic recovery. And I'm sure there are other products out there that have similar properties.
The boom we had in pro-hormones and pro-steroids prior to recent legislation banning them was evidence that science was developing solutions to muscle building and helping the masses grow and grow and grow.
We are also on the verge of breakthroughs in gene therapy that offers hope for diabetics, AIDS patients and sufferers of other diseases. But you can guarantee that controversy will follow if some of these products end up in the hands of athletes as well.
In animal husbandry, we have seen 'Myostatin' inhibition. The most noted animal with myostatin inhibition is a cattle breed called the Belgium Blue. Classified as the Piedmontese cattle strain, the defective myostatin gene enables the breed to display muscularity beyond belief. The breed is often referred to as the monster cow. Some countries have bans or restrictions on the breed.
By chance, in 2004 a boy was born in Germany that displayed myostatin inhibition. The Press refers to him as "Superboy" because he is significantly more muscular and stronger than his peers. It will be interesting to watch his growth and development over the years.
Are humans next for this gene therapy? There are no myostatin inhibiting drugs on the market, yet. But there is significant research ongoing in the field with human trials addressing muscular dystrophy. You can be sure that as science companies unlock secrets, and make a profit, they will market them to the public. Athletes provide a captive audience for these products as a potential means to enhance performance.
Although there hasn't been a myostatin-inhibition drug developed yet, that hasn't stopped some of our ingenious supplement companies from marketing a "myostatin blocker" to the public. This delves into a 21st century problem, psuedo-science. Psuedo-science is a merger of some real science with a lot of other falsehoods with the intent to fool the public and promote an agenda.
Looking at the supplement industry, there has been a lot of merging of psuedo-science with over-the-counter products that make promises, but don't quite deliver like the gold-standard items (anabolic steroids). What we have coming from science are some breakthroughs that do provide health benefit.
View Creatine Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
The myostatin-blocker is one product on the other spectrum - something that has a sound scientific basis, but hasn't been developed yet. And all those supplements that have names that are misspelling of real anabolic steroids - psuedo-science.
There are other supplements and products that are a mystery to me. For example - one of the most recent bodybuilding secret potions is advertised to "immediately increase your strength by 10.5%." When I read it, my only response was - Really?
I always thought it was the good nutrition, training and recovery that provided those results, just not at the pace that this new product can deliver. Guess I wasted a bunch of years by never knowing that someday a legal product would deliver results that quickly.
I also wonder how they get those results. I tend to get a little better from workout session to workout session, but there are a lot of variables that contribute to that.
Beyond my nutritional status for the day I also have to consider whether or not I busted my hump at work, whether the wife and kids are stressing me out that day, if I got 6, let alone 8 hours of sleep, the previous night, how stiff I feel on the day, and even whether or not the sun was shining.
Humans are not rats and there are a lot of "things" that affect us on a daily basis. I just don't know how they account for all these variables in the research they do for these types of products.
I'm not against the supplements companies. Many provide great products and service. Additionally, they help and support the sport to a great extent. What I am tired of is the sensationalism of the advertising programs and the psuedo-science. Let's tone it down a bit and get more realistic.
A World Gone Haywire
Don't let it die
its molecular structure is one of a kind
It's a world gone haywire
radiation only added the fuel to the fire
Where should we, with science, go from here? We can't, and society will not, let the momentum die on scientific advances. But we can't kill, injure or scam our athletes and the public in the process. We need some balance with what will improve our athletes and what can help the public. And we have to consider those that train and those who don't.
We have seen some of the crossover products in the past few years. Everyone, from athletes to couch potatoes, now consumes energy drinks. Many of the best thermogenic products have transitioned from the bodybuilding world to mainstream dieters. Other products may have advertising that is a bit shady (natural male enhancement comes to mind) but the sensationalism does bring valid supplements to light for more people.
View Fat Burners Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
We have Congress and many others recently jumping on the anti-steroid bandwagon. But as mentioned, there are more and better products being developed that offer quantum leaps forward in human development and performance. There are many benefits to testosterone, human growth hormone and other products such as myostatin inhibitor that are envisioned down the road.
My concern is not that adults will have to make hard choices to use them outside their intended purpose, but that we could seriously jeopardize people's health if the performance enhancement envelop is pushed too far. It is an ethical decision that people need to make.
Personally, I am at a point where I'm not that bothered with the latest products on the market. I get some samples at the shows I attend and try some other products that companies provide for testing or marketing. The industry will continue to make some scientific breakthrough with legitimate over-the-counter products. But we will also have to wade through the psuedo-science products that are advertised beside them.
I'll continue to keep my supplement buffet in balance with a few basics such a multivitamins and creatine and on occasion get a more exotic supplement to try out. Why, because in the end the basics are really your best friend and provide consistent and reliable results. And that is how you really continue to grow and grow and grow.
And with the last line of the song, for me, radiation is a good thing. It pays for the roof over my head and just maybe, we can mutate into being better human beings.
Hope you and enjoyed my thoughts and someday get to hear the song.