Natural bodybuilder Brandon Lirio gets transparent about the health risks in bodybuilding

Brandon Lirio may not be an “enhanced” bodybuilder competing in untested leagues – but he does still believe that bodybuilding as a whole is dangerous. This is not an attempt to dissuade others from entering the sport. Far from it. In fact, Lirio wants to encourage those with a passion for weightlifting to engage with the competitive bodybuilding world. However, it’s important that the realities of the sport are made transparent. In the latest episode of the U-Natty States Of America Podcast, Brandon Lirio explains why bodybuilding is unhealthy despite being a part of the fitness world.

In the mainstream culture, when people hear the world bodybuilder they think of weightlifters. Weightlifting is often associated with strength, fitness, and health. This, in general, is true. To be physically fit and strong helps with longevity throughout life. It’s also true that a pleasing physique is the result of a healthy diet removed from snacking and greasy processed foods.

But when we talk about the sport of bodybuilding – the mass monsters and the muscular athletes who look like Arnold Schwarzenegger (and often times today much bigger than him) – what started as fitness transforms into something else that can be less healthy than you imagine.

Brandon Lirio understands that – and he’s not just speaking of steroids and PEDs that do damage to your organs. He believes that bodybuilding on a competitive level is an obsession. And like most obsessions, it can become unhealthy both physically and mentally.

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Bodybuilding is an extreme sport with risks

Brandon Lirio compares pro bodybuilding to any other form of professional sports. Just like the NFL, NBA, or pro soccer leagues – bodybuilding on a pro level is extreme. It encourages athletes to try and achieve greatness above all others. The goal is to win – and many athletes will do whatever is necessary to achieve victory (and perhaps even historical greatness).

When speaking of bodybuilding specifically, Brandon Lirio opens up about how far this pushes the human body closer to a breaking point. He points out the recent injuries of Hafthor Bjornsson and Charles Griffen. These are the kind of injuries that happen when you push your body to the farthest limit. For some, an injury like that will affect the rest of their life.

But it goes beyond just weightlifting injuries. Bodybuilding also requires cycles between the off-season and contest prep. This often includes fluctuations of weight across dozens upon dozens of pounds. Not only that – but during contest prep, a bodybuilder will bring their body to a point of depletion in order to appear dry and shredded. By the time of the competition day, they are so dehydrated that they occasionally collapse backstage (and sometimes while even on stage).

Brandon Lirio himself recalls a day where, during contest prep, he ended up nearly collasping on a day where he was walking far longer than usual. Because his body was more active from travel and walking for 3-4 hours – it threw off his calorie burning for that day. He was already dieting into depletion. It almost made him pass out.

Long term effects of the bodybuilding lifestyle

Brandon Lirio also discusses the long term health effects from bodybuilding on an extreme level. It goes without saying that years of cycling steroids and other PEDs will enlarge your heart and damage your vital organs such as the liver and kidneys. But beyond that – the constant cycle of bulking and dieting can also have a negative effect.

Lirio explains how he has known many bodybuilding women who ultimately develop Amenorrhea – which is when their menstrual cycle stops due to low body fat percentage and displaced hormones in the body. This is just one example of how the body reacts to extreme competition in bodybuilding over the long term.

Understanding the risk vs reward of bodybuilding

While this all might sound like scare tactics or negativity towards pro bodybuilding, that’s not Brandon Lirio’s intention. In fact, Lirio encourages those interested and passionate about weightlifting to enter the bodybuilding community. The truth is that majority of those who love bodybuilding will do so as healthy as possible.

But what Brandon Lirio wants to make clear is how far this obsession can take you. If you choose to try and take it to a risky level, or even lose sight of playing it safe due to tunnel vision propelled by passion – that the results can be very dangerous.

There are many competitive bodybuilders who know the risks and choose to still push the limits within bodybuilding. There’s nothing wrong with that. An individual should be able to do with their life however they please so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. But Brandon Lirio wants to help be transparent about the full extent of those risks. Do you know what risks you are really signing up for? You only live one life after all.

That’s, ultimately, what Brandon Lirio wants to speak on the unhealthy aspects of bodybuilding. The sport is often lumped into fitness as a whole – which is seen as a positive thing in society. That’s generally true – but just like any extreme sport, at a certain level it requires pushing limits that can lead to dangerous outcomes.

Wrap up

You can watch Brandon Lirio go into full detail about the health risks in competitive and professional bodybuildings in the latest U-Natty States Of America above. Don’t forget to check back every Wednesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.