Victor Martinez gets real about the biggest causes of health scare risks before a bodybuilding competition

Professional bodybuilding is an extreme sport. Due to this, there are certain risks that bodybuilders take as they push their bodies to the next level in attempt to become a champion. Hardcore training can risk serious injury. Dehydration during competition have caused athlete to faint. And a well understood culture of steroid and PED use can have long term risks to the heart, liver, and kidneys. This week on the Generation Iron Podcast, Victor Martinez gets honest about two near-death experiences from his bodybuilding career and discusses the causes behind the most dangerous health scares during bodybuilding prep.

During the 2021 and 2022 bodybuilding seasons, the sport fell into a very tragic time. A large number of both amateur and professional bodybuilding athletes passed away due to health complications. Most notable were Olympia champion Shawn Rhoden and pro competitor George Peterson. While these deaths in bodybuilding were all unrelated – it created a surge in the bodybuilding industry asking for more emphasis on health in the sport. Many of these athletes passed away far too young.

As of 2023, things have slowed down thankfully. But the risks involved with competitive bodybuilding still remain. There’s no way around the fact that pro bodybuilding is an extreme sport. It often involves banned substances and pushing the body to levels the average human being would not typically reach.

That’s why Victor Martinez has decided to open up about his personal health scares that he experienced during his competitive career in bodybuilding. He uses this as a spring board to talk about the most common situations that could lead to sudden health risks.

Specifically, this conversation discusses more about bodybuilding prep. About the sudden situations that occur that can lead to a bodybuilding fainting or worse – needing to go to the hospital for emergency care. Let’s jump into it.

Disclaimer: Generation Iron team are not medical professionals and are not advising for or against the use of any performance enhancing drugs, rather stating the facts surrounding these substances.


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The dangers of losing water weight and diuretics before a bodybuilding competition

Victor Martinez shares two different stories upon which he almost had a serious medical emergency. The first involves diuretics and dropping water weight before a competition. Unfortunately, this issue is one that is still prevalent in bodybuilding today.

In order to look as conditioned as possible on stage – many athletes turn to diuretic drugs to drop water weight fast. This can lead to serious consequences if not dosed correctly. There have been situations in the past of a bodybuilder fainting on stage due to it. Or also dropping out of a show and requiring medical attention.

Victor Martinez is one such bodybuilder who ran into a serious issue. While he ultimately recovered, Martinez recalls dropping too much water too fast. He suddenly found himself with shallow breathing and a feeling like he was “going to die.”

The story is all too similar to one that Ronnie Coleman shared during the Ronnie Coleman: The King documentary. A sense of extreme lethargy, foggy headedness, and shallow breathing.

Edwin Mejia Jr. asks Victor Martinez to help explain what the sensation of “feeling like you are going to die” actually feels like. It’s such an ephemeral concept for those who haven’t found themselves in that situation. Martinez describes it as such: “You are standing up. You are awake. But your limbs and body are numb.”

In essence, it is like the moments just before passing out. But in this case, it is ongoing. A slower onset of this feeling due to the dropped water and the reaction to the diuretics.

In extreme cases, this can lead to a medical emergency and possibly even death. But the sad truth is that more bodybuilders experience this only to survive – and continue forward competing.

Victor Martinez details his near-death experience after using IGF-1 incorrectly

Later in the podcast discussion, Victor Martinez reveals that he almost died after using IGF-1. Short for insulin-like growth factor-1, this substance is popular in bodybuilding due to its ability to help grow high quality muscle fast. It’s also extremely dangerous – especially if used incorrectly.

Martinez goes into detail about his experience. He took the IGF-1 substance focusing more on the GH benefits rather than the insulin. He didn’t have enough carbs in his system before taking it – which led to an immediate reaction.

Nearly passing out, Martinez “went to sleep” and found himself chewing on his own tongue. He eventually dragged himself into his kitchen, grabbed a half gallon of orange juice, and drank the entire carton. By consuming the sugar (carbs), he was able to escape the insulin shock.

The risks behind insulin and IGF-1 have been discussed at length in the bodybuilding industry. Victor Martinez was one such pro bodybuilder to actually experience the sudden and dangerous side effect of using the substance incorrectly. He was lucky to survive.

While using these drugs correctly helps avoid this kind of issue, every individual is different and a doctor is not the one treating these substances to the bodybuilder. There is always risk of unexpected error. The end result can be swift and extremely dangerous.

Wrap Up

Victor Martinez is not a doctor. He also understands that bodybuilders will always take risks – he did those risks himself. That’s why he is sharing these stories. Not as medical advice but as anecdotes to bring to light the reality of the dark side of drug use in bodybuilding. It’s easy to look at statistics and assume you won’t be one of the unlucky numbers. But it does happen and big names in the sport like Martinez know this first hand.

You can watch Victor Martinez discuss about his health scares in more detail by watching the latest episode of the Generation Iron Podcast above. Don’t forget to check back every Tuesday for new episodes of the podcast only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever you download podcasts.

Jacob Ladon
Jacob Ladon is a staff writer and former amateur bodybuilder. He has been passionate about bodybuilding since he was 15 years old and discovered the joys of training in the gym. He reports and comments on all bodybuilding related matters.