Victor Martinez and the GI crew discuss the realities of gyno in bodybuilding, how to prevent it, and what to do if you have it
Gyno is a dreaded word in the bodybuilding industry. It’s a seemingly small change in the body that can completely transform the hard work put into sculpting a bodybuilding physique. At its best, it can make you feel embarrassed. At its worst, it can hurt your score during a competition. In the latest episode of the Generation Iron Podcast, Victor Martinez explains in great detail what gyno is, why it’s a problem in bodybuilding, and how to prevent it or catch it early to save your physique.
You’ve probably seen it before. A bodybuilder steps on stage but their chest looks off. They appear to have a form of sagging “man boobs.” In fact, you may even notice this in some of your friends who don’t exercise at all. This is different from ordinary fat on the chest from weight gain. This is gyno – and it can become an annoying problem to deal with especially for bodybuilders using steroids.
Gyno, or Gynecomastia, is swollen male breast tissue caused by a hormone imbalance. This can happen naturally in some people who eat an imbalanced diet. But it is also a known problem for bodybuilders who use PEDs to alter their hormones in order to improve their physiques.
This problem rarely is seen on the pro bodybuilding stage – but can be a very real issue that affects aspiring bodybuilders as they attempt to go pro and win big name shows. However, that doesn’t mean that pro bodybuilders are immune from this condition. Most recently, William Bonac was criticized for competing with gyno at the 2022 Arnold Classic. He addressed the issue and chronicled his process of reducing the condition.
So if steroids are often used by pro bodybuilders to achieve mass monster physiques but gyno can cause lower competitive scoring – how does one avoid this condition and succeed in the sport? Victor Martinez talks about this in great detail on the GI podcast. Let’s jump into it.
Why are bodybuilders susceptible to gyno?
Now that we understand how hormonal imbalances can cause gyno – why do bodybuilders seem to be at higher risk for suffering from it? As mentioned above, the use of steroids and other PEDs can alter a man’s hormones significantly and thus trigger the development of gyno.
More specifically, Victor Martinez explains how the use of steroids being processed by the body eventually leads to an increase in estrogen. This is what eventually leads to the growth of gyno.
The good news is that this does not affect everyone and is largely determined due to a person’s genetics. You can also detect gyno developing early to stop it from taking shape and causing a world of headache.
How to detect gyno early for bodybuilders
Victor Martinez has been in the bodybuilding industry for majority of his life. He’s been open about his own personal use of steroids in his pro bodybuilding career – and worked with and spent time with many other bodybuilders for many decades. Martinez uses this history of experience to help warn young bodybuilders about gyno and how to catch it early.
Martinez warns specifically of the “gyno itch.” He says that a bodybuilder developing gyno will start to notice that their nipple area is itchy. They may even find themselves mindlessly scratching their nipples throughout the day. Victor Martinez explains that if you notice this happening to you while using steroids – to take action now rather than hope for it to get better.
If you do not catch gyno early, eventually your nipple and chest area will swell and over time harden into a mass. Once that happens, there is very little you can do to fix it naturally and will require a surgery.
Many bodybuilders who may catch early warning signs don’t take action because they are enjoying the benefits of steroids too much. They secretly hope or convince themselves that the situation will pass. This is the wrong way to think and will only cost you more mental pain down the road.
What to do if you start developing gyno
So what do you do if you catch the early warning signs of gyno? It may sound frustrating but Victor Martinez states that the best way to fix the issue is to stop using steroids entirely. After taking the time to come down from the steroids – you then add each substance back into your protocol one at a time. This way you can isolate what substance is specifically reacting in your body and causing the gyno.
This is something that many aspiring bodybuilders don’t want to hear. It clearly puts a slow down on their progress. Martinez points out that slowing down to fix the problem early is much better than ignoring it and having gyno issues later. This will also hurt your physique – and become a much more costly fix when it requires surgery.
The use of estrogen blockers to prevent gyno: do they work?
Victor Martinez also discusses with the GI team about the use of estrogen blockers to help prevent gyno in bodybuilding. The basic concept is this – take steroids to build bigger muscle and then use an estrogen blocker substance to reduce the estrogen created after long term steroid use.
Martinez does agree that estrogen blockers can work – and that bodybuilders will use them to preemptively avoid gyno. But it’s also important to note that estrogen blockers can also reduce the effect of steroids. It’s a delicate balance. Victor Martinez recommends anyone who wants to try and use estrogen blockers should wait until at least five weeks after starting a steroid cycle.
Victor Martinez goes into great detail discussing gyno, what causes it, how to catch it early, and how to prevent it. There is far more detail than we can cover in this recap article. So make sure to watch the full Generation Iron Podcast episode above. Also make sure to check back every Tuesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.