Rich Piana Profile

Rich Piana's arm day

Rich Piana was not your average bodybuilding personality.

There are many different individuals in the fitness industry that illicit a specific reaction from fans. Whether that reaction is positive or negative, it’s born of a truth that is at times irrational and unexplained. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger is one such man that has the ability to evoke a number of emotional reactions from people all across the globe. Some may find him inspirational, the greatest professional bodybuilder to ever compete, a man who was able to explore many different arenas from sports to film to a government position. Much in that same vein, more current bodybuilding personalities evoke a very overwhelming reaction from fans, and one of those individuals no doubt is Rich Piana.

While Rich Piana may not have been an Arnold Schwarzenegger type of personality, but he would more than likely be the first man to admit that. He’d also admit that he’s not looking to be anything like the Austrian Oak. Rich Piana was a man who has played by his own rules throughout his entire life and has never looked to do otherwise, he was a man that told people how it was and no one could stop him. His blunt personality is perhaps what made the man one of the more recognizable figures in the bodybuilding and fitness community today. Fans across the globe may not cosign with everything he may say or promote, but Rich Piana was a man who loved and appreciated his supporters, but was also fine with having those who are against his opinions and ideologies.

Sadly, Rich passed away back in 2017, but throughout his life and even to this day he has a massive following for his knowledge of and honesty about the fitness industry, so who exactly was Rich Piana?

Full Name: Rich Piana (Men’s Bodybuilder)

Weight Height Date Of Birth
275-285 lbs 6’0″ 09/26/1970
Division Era Nationality
Bodybuilding 1990, 2000, 2010s,

Rich Piana Biography

To know someone, you have to first explore their past to bring about the truth of who they are today. If nothing else, Rich Piana was a man committed to muscle mass, dedicating himself to becoming one of the biggest humans to walk the earth. Beginning at the young age of 11, Rich Piana was bodybuilding. He first got into the endeavor through going to Gold’s Gym at the tender age of 6 with his mother, who was also a fitness freak, and watching her and the other athletically inclined individuals inhabiting the gym space.

The mass monsters that trained at Gold’s Gym filled the young Piana with awe and admiration, which would one day be translated into his life’s passion. You can say that the lifting culture has been ingrained within him in his more informative years and has held on ever since. Much in the same way a young person growing up around and constantly watching basketball could venture to become a professional NBA player, Piana would eventually establish a mission for himself: to become a professional bodybuilder like no other. But unfortunately, things don’t always turn out just as planned.

Lifting consistently since the age of 11 saw Rich Piana competing in amateur bodybuilding competitions as early as 15 years old. While he may not have crushed his competition in his early competitive years, he was able to get his feet wet and from there Piana would continue to pursue his dreams. He yearned to see more growth and development and as such, took to utilizing anabolic steroids and had done so ever since the age of 18.

Rich was always very open and honest about the drug usage when it came to the sport of bodybuilding, unlike many other athletes. Rich would even go in depth about his cycles, which is something you really do not see, as many fitness personalities do not want the younger generations copying their cycles and risking their health. Although his outspoken nature is one of the biggest reasons people respected him, it is also one of the reasons people criticized Rich Piana. Nevertheless, he told it like it was and preferred having no filter in regards to his anabolic substance use.

Competition History

With years of bodybuilding under his belt, Rich Piana would go on to compete in a great deal of amateur bodybuilding shows, but unfortunately never became an IFBB Pro. 2009 was his best year as a competitive bodybuilder as he picked up two big wins at NPC shows. Here is a list of Rich’s competitions:

Highest Title

  • NPC Mr. California Champion

Other Contests

  • 2009 Sacramento Pro – 1st
  • 2009 Border States Classic XXX Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships – 1st
  • 2009 Border States Classic XXX Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships – 1st
  • 2003 NPC USA Championships – 11th
  • 1999 NPC USA Championships – 7th

While Rich did good in his competitions, he eventually realized that his opportunity to compete as a pro bodybuilding was waining and he had decided to go another route. Not only was he able to become an actor and stunt person, Piana would go on to develop his own supplement and clothing brand, 5% Nutrition.

5% Nutrition

Founded in 2014, 5% Nutrition is a very well known, well respected brand in the fitness industry, for more than just being associated with the late Rich Piana. 5% is known for having quality products ranging from creatine and protein to joggers and beanies. All of their supplements are 3rd party tested and pretty effective.

Diet Regimen

“Once, I put on 25kg (55lb) in only 5 days after a show! I am a machine that can eat! I usually can fit in a tub of ice cream most days!” This was a quote from Rich Piana, who did not follow a strict diet plan when he was not on stage, but still managed to look great year round. Despite his massive size, Rich said he didn’t like to torture himself by eating 10 or more meals per day. Rich ate what he felt his body wanted and needed.

Do not let his “care-free” approach fool you, because it was not really care-free. Rich still kept a mindful approach to his food choices, meaning he would eat healthy and nutritious foods most of the time. However, he had a cheat meal here and there to calm his cravings.


Believe it or not, Rich Piana was a big advocate of food rather than supplements. His love for food over the supplements is part of the reason why he created 5% Nutrition, which sold food-based products.

Rich also did not drink a standard whey protein shake. Instead, he consumed his own post-workout meal shake which consisted of powdered sweet potatoes, blueberries etc. Also to help with recovery, Rich drank his own BCAA supplement.

Training Regimen

While he did indeed move some heavy weight, Rich Piana was a firm believer in utilizing higher volume. A lot of his workouts included about 5 exercises per muscle group, with 5 sets of around 10-15 reps.

Then, there was the infamous 8 hour arm workout. Yes, 8 hours of just arms! It was said that this workout would add an inch to your arms, and was a day filled up protein shakes, meals, and lots of sets and reps.

Rich Piana’s Steroid Usage

This is where Rich Piana has been able to separate himself from the average internet bodybuilding personality, and the reason many say he died.

Rather than hide the truth about his anabolic steroid use, Piana had preferred to embrace the truth and share his experiences with the world, up front and unfiltered. As Piana put it, there weren’t many resources for him to to use when he was growing up. He believed his forthcoming attitude and willingness to expose the deep, dark secrets of steroid use could in fact become a helpful resource for other young bodybuilders. Piana was looking to change the fitness and bodybuilding industry just a little bit at a time. Rather than adopting the usual reclusive personality of a bodybuilder, Rich Piana had instead decided to shine a spotlight on himself as a means of reaching the masses in a way that even professional bodybuilders have been unable to do.

Rich Piana’s Death

Sadly, on August 7, 2017 Rich Piana collapsed in his own home while receiving a haircut from his partner, Chanel Jansen. After immediately dialing 911, Jansen began CPR on Rich Piana until the paramedics showed up about 10 minutes later and were able to restore his heartbeat, but his brain had already suffered due to the lack of oxygen. Rich was placed in a medically induced coma for two weeks to try and reduce brain swelling, before being declared dead on August 25, 2017.

Jansen had said that Rich was experiencing odd symptoms leading up to his death, such as shortness of breath and nausea. After his death, an autopsy of Rich revealed “significant heart disease” and that his heart and liver weighed over twice the average amount for an adult male, which is a side effect of certain drugs such as human growth hormone (HGH), which some speculate is the reason he died. Some also say that insulin was his cause of death.

Despite the autopsy, there was no toxicology analysis, and all specimens needed for that process were discarded. Ultimately, Rich Piana’s cause of death was ruled inconclusive.

Rich Piana Chronicles

Stream or download Rich Piana Chronicles on Amazon Prime Video.

You can also check out the movie that Generation Iron with Rich Piana, The Rich Piana Chronicles, detailing his life. This is the official story of Rich Piana’s life, chronicling the final year he was alive. It is partly a tribute to the late bodybuilder, an intimate look at a man who left a permanent mark on the fitness industry. The Rich Piana Chronicles are unfiltered, uncensored, and in his own words.

Rich Piana Wrap Up

With an industry like bodybuilding, a world shrouded in mystery to many of the fans, Rich Piana was a breath of fresh air. To this day, he has a massive following on social media and some may love him, some may hate him, but either way he was always looking to find and share the truth how he viewed it.

What are your thoughts on the late Rich Piana?

Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.