Victor Martinez talks about the dangers of buying growth hormone on the black market, fasting in bodybuilding, and how to prevent bubble guts
In a recent episode of the Generation Iron Podcast, hosts Victor Martinez, Edwin Mejia Jr., and Vlad Yudin delved into some intriguing topics related to bodybuilding. This week, Victor Martinez details the differences between farm grade and lab-made Chinese growth hormone (GH) to the contentious issue of fasting and the infamous “bubble gut.” While controversial, the conversation will hopefully also be enlightening for those in the bodybuilding industry and even beyond to general fitness.
Victor Martinez hopes to help clear the air when it comes to popular online trends in bodybuilding and fitness. Which is Martinez and the GI crew hone in on three major topics this week. Buying growth hormone on the black market, popular intermittent fasting trends, and fact vs fiction of distended stomaches. All three of these topics have constant information online – some of which true, many of which false.
While Victor Martinez is not a medical professional – he does use his personal experience to help clear the air about the realities of these three aspects in bodybuilding and fitness. Let’s dive in.
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Chinese vs. US Grade GH
A fan question set the tone, asking about the disparity between farm-grade GH and lab-made GH from China. Victor Martinez, a seasoned bodybuilder, had a clear stance on the matter. He acknowledged that Chinese GH was initially of good quality for the first three years but took a significant quality dip later on. According to Victor, this decline was likely driven by profit motives as Chinese GH gained popularity in the US and other countries. His advice? Steer clear of Chinese grade GH. “No way, Jose,” he declared.
Victor advocated for US grade GH but urged caution when sourcing it from the black market. He warned against repackaged and potentially lower quality products. He emphasized the importance of knowing your source, recommending purchasing from individuals with valid prescriptions. However, he cautioned against suspiciously abundant prescription claims, as GH prescriptions are limited in the United States.
The Dangers of GH and Health Precautions
Victor didn’t mince words about the dangers of GH and similar substances. He stressed the need for thorough health assessments, including bloodwork, before venturing into these realms. Victor’s bottom line: unless you aspire to be a champion pro bodybuilder, avoid excessive use of these drugs.
It should also be noted that all of the advice that Victor Martinez provides in this conversation is not medical advice. Ultimately, using PEDs such as growth hormone has been documented to lead to serious adverse health effects in the long term. Generation Iron does not condone the use of illegal substances – but is dedicated to open conversation about the reality of these substances and their use within the fitness industry.
Fasting in Bodybuilding
Shifting gears, in light of Alex Eubank’s recent hospitalization after a 48-hour fast, the podcast addressed fasting in bodybuilding. Victor’s stance was clear: fasting isn’t a necessity for bodybuilders who meticulously manage their diet and nutrition throughout their journeys. He advocated fasting only in cases of severe stomach issues when other dietary adjustments fail.
Victor revealed that he personally seldom engaged in long-term fasts, having only experimented with a 48-hour fast once. Instead, he preferred intermittent fasting, such as 14 or 16-hour windows without eating. These were brief deviations from his usual three-meal routine. Victor reiterated that for dedicated bodybuilders and health-conscious individuals, fasting should only be a resort to address gut health issues.
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The Enigma of Distended Stomachs In Bodybuilding
One of the most debated topics in bodybuilding is the so-called “bubble gut“ or distended stomach. Edwin inquired whether GH injections caused this issue. Victor firmly disagreed, citing his own experience and that of many pro bodybuilders who used GH without encountering stomach distention.
He attributed the problem to the colossal quantities of food bodybuilders consume. Depending on individual genetics, the stomach can only accommodate and process so much. The inevitable result, Victor argued, was stomach distention and bloating. This phenomenon is colloquially referred to as “Palumboism,” named after the bodybuilder Dave Palumbo, who notably competed with a pronounced distended stomach.
The Impact of Camera Angles
The hosts shed light on how camera angles influenced perceptions of distended stomachs. During competitions, judges primarily assess what’s directly in front of them. When bodybuilders perform back poses, their stomachs are concealed, allowing them to relax. However, modern camera angles sometimes capture these relaxed moments, contributing to the “bubble gut” myth.
While serious examples of massive bloated stomaches can certainly be an issue, today’s world of constant content and immediate updates have shown bodybuilding competitions in a way that was not possible in eras past.
Of course, this is just one piece of the problem. Many have noted that the increased size of Men’s Open bodybuilding over the years contributes to distended stomaches. As Victor mentioned earlier – the most weight you need to gain the more food you need to eat. Even if your body can pack on 300 pounds of muscle, your stomach can only handle so much food.
The Case Phil Heath & Bubble Gut Criticisms
The podcast also touched on Phil Heath, a former Mr. Olympia who faced criticism for a slightly distended stomach in his later career. Before putting a hold (possibly permanently) on his competitive career, fans often contributed “bubble gut” issues as the reason he ultimately lost the Mr. Olympia in 2018. When Phil Heath competed again for his final Mr. Olympia competition, he placed third.
Heath has been open about the criticism and attributed this to hernia surgery. Victor Martinez sees this as an unfortunate but valid excuse. Hernia surgery can not only permanently change the physical appearance of an individuals abdominal wall, it can also lead to a distended stomach during the recovery process.
Many feel that Phil Heath was not fully recovered from the hernia surgery during his final Mr. Olympia appearance. Some believe that he could make a comeback now that he is further removed from the surgery and possibly win another Sandow trophy.
Preventing Distended Stomachs
The discussion concluded with advice on preventing distended stomachs. Victor emphasized not overeating or force-feeding to achieve a certain weight, as this can disrupt digestion and lead to bloating. He also recommended avoiding energy drinks and pre-workout supplements, opting for coffee or espresso for energy instead.
Ultimately, distended stomaches are caused by not paying attention to your body and adjusting your diet accordingly. Force feeding and “dirty bulking” can both contribute to “bubble gut.” A bodybuilder’s job is to perfect the physique from top to bottom. If you have a bloated stomach in effort to seek out a mass monster 300+ pound physique, then you are failing in your ultimate goal, despite the size.
In the world of bodybuilding, where aesthetics are paramount, these insights from the Generation Iron Podcast offer a fresh perspective on GH, fasting, and the enigmatic “bubble gut.” Ultimately, the key takeaway is that a balanced, thoughtful approach to nutrition and health should be the cornerstone of any bodybuilder’s journey.
You can watch the full episode of the Generation Iron Podcast above. And don’t forget to check back every Tuesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.