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Weight Lifting is for You!

by Fred Hahn on July 13, 2011

Strong kid! :)

Strong kid! 🙂

The great body builders of yesteryear like Boyer Coe, Mike Mentzer, Arnold, Frank Zane, Robbie Robinson, Chris Dickerson, etc. were all hardcore weight lifters. But they were also hardcore drug users.

The lineup. All these men are on serious anabolic steroids

The lineup. All these men are on serious anabolic steroids

Many suggest that these people were physique icons and the pinnacle of the male physique. I strongly disagree. They certainly were not what one would call “the perfectly developed male.” If these juicers were the pinnacle of the male physique back then, what then is Jay Cutler (see below), the current Mr. Olympia (the top award in body building), considered?

Jay Cutler at perhaps over 300 pounds.

Jay Cutler at perhaps over 300 pounds.

All these men were drug takers and dealers more or less:

This is the male body on drugs.

This is the male body on drugs.

Has anyone seen the great and powerful Sergio Oliva, once known as The Myth today? Here you go:

The Myth in his late 60s.

The Myth in his late 60's.

Here’s what he once looked like:

Juiced to the max for his day

Juiced to the max for his day

As far as I can determine, he is not ill in the older picture of him above. He’s just aging normally without drug usage.

Many of the steroid taking body builders look terrible today. They relied so heavily on drugs that without them, why bother training at all. The drugs these people used were sort of like women who wear way, way too much makeup. It’s not really their face you’re looking at.

I used to admire these men. I dreamed of looking like Ken Waller – a fellow red head. I thought I even kind of looked like him. Here is a pic. I desperately wanted his physique:

Ken Waller. I had this poster in my room as a kid.

Ken Waller. I had this poster in my room as a kid.

I don’t admire them at all now and the steroid taking body builders today like Jay Cutler are taking even stronger drugs.

In my opinion, drug usage should be removed from the sport of pro body building. All contestants should be tested frequently and randomly if they want to hold a pro card.

Look at Steve Reeves a body builder who competed about 20 years before Arnold and his ilk:

Steve Reeves in the 50s. Drug free.

Steve Reeves in the 50's. Drug free.

With very good genetics, his physique is achievable without drug usage. By genetics I mean long muscle bellies, wide shoulders, narrow ribs, slim hip bones, etc. He was born with these traits (like his handsome face).

Your genetics are not something you can alter through exercise – of any kind even though the Winsor Pilates empire suggests you can. Winsor Pilates (and Pilates people in general) often suggest that by doing Pilates, you can have the long, lean muscles of a dancer. Don’t believe me? Listen to what Daisy Fuentes, the Winsor Pilates spokes model says at :33 seconds into this infomercial:

Pilates can give you the long lean muscles of a dancer? Ba-freaking-loney. No it can’t and no it won’t. Don’t you believe this nonsense for a second. It’s terribly misleading. For shame!

Here is the late Charles Atlas of kick sand in your face fame. He did not take drugs:

Charles Atlas

Charles Atlas

Here’s me. I too do not take drugs:

Me at about 175 pounds

Me a bit chunky at about 177 pounds

Now, why do I care about body builders and their drug usage?

Body building drugs continue to make weight lifting appear to the typical person to be something that only gross, muscle-head people do for exercise. The images they portray keeps many people from engaging in weight lifting. Weight lifting is, hands down, the single most effective form of exercise for improving general health and transforming your body. The stigma weight lifting has is, in my opinion, why Pilates and Yoga are so popular today.

I hear these things from new clients ALL THE TIME:

“Fred this training will bulk me up right? I don’t want muscles.”

“Fred I read that heavy weight lifting will make me tight and slow. Can we use really light weights instead?”

“I know its good to be strong so I’ll counter Slow Burn training by taking a Pilates or Yoga class after my Slow Burn class to loosen and tone.”

Makes me craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy!

So many people miss out on having a strong, lean body by defaulting to exercise programs that do next to nothing for them – or even hurt them. This is because in their minds eye when they think of weight lifting they see this:

Female body builder on serious drugs

Female body builder on serious drugs

Instead of seeing this:

These two women work for me at Serious Strength

These two women work for me at Serious Strength

Here’s my plea to all steroid taking lifters – please stop taking the drugs. You do the world of fitness a grave disservice.

Here’s my plea to all of you folks who are not yet engaged in a sound and safe weight lifting program – start now!

How? Try this: The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution: The Slow Motion Exercise That Will Change Your Body in 30 Minutes a Week (shameless plug for my book I know but I promise you that you will not be disappointed in your results).

As always, any questions, help, advice is gratis on me. Just shoot me an email at

In (drug free) strength for health!

I've been involved in exercise ever since I became a member of The Charles Atlas Club when I was 10 years old. In 1998, I founded and established Serious Strength on the Upper West Side of NYC. My clients include kids, seniors (and everyone in between), top CEOs, celebrities, bestselling authors, journalists and TV personalities.
my book. my Gym.

in Health/Fitness,strength training · 22 comments

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August 29, 2011 at 8:29 PM


Brandon Schult, DC July 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM


Do you remember the SNL skit “The All Drug Olympics”? I love that skit.

I totally agree that today’s society gets a very distorted image of what healthy and strong males and females look like.

As for bodybuilders, let the drugged athletes compete against one another. It’s their bodies. They should just be forced to disclose their drug use. Many top powerlifters (many of the Westside guys, at least) admit drug use and I respect their honesty.

But I do agree that we as a society idolize the physiques that are unnatural and cannot commonly be reproduced without artificial help or the physique is incredibly unique (fashion models) and then everyone wants their unique traits.

It is uncommon, but in my opinion the act of suppressing drugs just makes them more sought-after (like telling a teenager not to do something) and creates an “underground” movement and creative ways to trick the system (like current testing of professional and Olympic athletes). The current scenario is unfortunate, but education and providing realistic goals is all we can do as fitness and health professionals to get people to their optimal physiques.

In health,

Brandon Schult, DC July 13, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Interesting article:

I you all may enjoy it. Very interesting that protein was increased and CHO decreased, but fat kept relatively low as well. They state tumor growth induction of a high fat diet. Thoughts on this and on the abstract as a whole?

In health,

Fred Hahn July 13, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Yes I saw a conference of this at the NMS yearly symposium. works in humans too if calories and protein are kept low and fat high.

Stephanie O. July 13, 2011 at 3:40 PM

I see the name Charles Atlas and I get this song stuck in my head….

…Thanks Fred.

Seán July 13, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Great post. I idolized these guys too. I loved watching Pumping Iron, and I thought that that level could be achieved based on hard work. I never got into it hardcore, but I was severely disappointed in the baseball world. My brother even says that they are messing around with stem-cells. I don’t know if the genie can be put back into the bottle. I guess there was a sort of innocence which has been lost, and people have not only a distorted view of success in these fields (practically impossible to achieve naturally), but also a distorted view is perpetuated by the users. I am so disgusted with baseball I don’t even care about it as a sport anymore. I consider it just as distasteful as porn and fake boobs. Luckily with people like you we can have appropriate and realistic conceptions and goals about weight lifting and improving athletic performance if that is our goal. Where did integrity go?

Sonny July 13, 2011 at 8:21 PM

Wow what a powerful blog; one of the best I’ve seen on any subject anywhere. This should be mandatory reading for EVERYONE involved in weight training. I know personally I’ve been tempted at times to take them but for one reason or another never did and nowdays at almost 40 have never looked back. I’ve been happy with my progress and I’m happy to say “Slowburn” for me has been the best way I ever trained and no Fred doesn’t know me from Adam. Everything I learned about Slowburn I got from the book and I train in a place so primitive you wouldn’t believe it and all I have access to is free weights. Still with careful attention to diet I’ve gotten my bodyfat down to lower 5’s/upper 4’s for the summer along with enough size for me (5’10, around 185). Take it from me, unless you’re going to compete in these freak shows, stay away from the drugs..they’re not going to help. If I can modestly say I have more hardness than most guys on their contest day and I walk around like this all the time, well in the summer anyway lol. I only say that because I don’t think I’m anything special, anybody can do it if they want.

Fred Hahn July 13, 2011 at 8:34 PM

Agreed Sean.

Thanks Sonny!

Tim July 14, 2011 at 1:28 AM

I fully agree with you Fred. These guys today are just a bunch of addicts. Frank Zane was the ultimate physique to me, and he still looks awesome at almost 70!!! He competed at 185 lbs and won the Olympia 3 times at that weight, and at 5’9″ is the same height as Jay Cutler who has competed around 300lbs as you pictured!!! There is just no comparison in who has the superior body!!! The natural physique is much more superior…I doubt Cutler will live to see 70!!


Tauno July 14, 2011 at 6:45 AM

Thank you for the article, I absolutely agree! Did Mike Mentzer also use drugs? Because he has been a kind of role model in HIT circles, I thought he was clean. How much of his results can then be attributed to his training methods and how much to drugs?

Fred Hahn July 14, 2011 at 8:19 AM

Tauno – Mike used steroids – they all did in his era. He also has amazing genetics. His training methods has not a thing to do with his development. People with exceptional genetics who take drugs can train any way they want to and get great results.

Fred Hahn July 14, 2011 at 8:31 AM


Truth is Frank Zane took drugs too. He got up to around 210 a few times and then yes, cut weight for the shredded look. But he took drugs too. Take a look:

And he’s taking something these days as well. You can’t look like this at his age unless your taking something:

EN July 14, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Great doc about steroids use on youtube – Bigger Stronger Faster

Chris July 15, 2011 at 2:39 AM

Fred , the timing of your post couldn’t have come sooner!…….Goes to show you that with so many people desperate to “get in shape” have succumbed to the many hucksters that have overpopulated our media (PX90, Cross-Fit, Plyometrics, functional training etc.). Bodybuilders are just another example culture of “win at all costs”……which has nothing do with fitness, wellness and mental well being…Keep up the good work!

Fred Hahn July 15, 2011 at 6:58 AM

Thanks Chris. So glad you feel that way about my work.

mark July 15, 2011 at 8:43 AM

Amen to that Fred, amen

rob July 18, 2011 at 8:46 AM

There are a few guys at my gym who are clearly juicing, my view is I’m too freaking old to take drugs, lol.

Angel July 20, 2011 at 9:21 AM

I would like to point out that most women think the “juiced” physiques are gross and freakish, not attractive – and I’m one of them. I know, however, that most men pursue those physiques for reasons other than impressing the ladies. If it really was all about sex, men would aspire to look like Steve Reeves.

D. July 20, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Fred, I came across this article about a power lifter in the UK, in his 80s, still putting the younger generation to shame. He looks pretty good today, was absolutely gorgeous at the age of 21.

Fred Hahn July 20, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Yes D. And you can see he was not juicing. It is strange how the pecs go as we age.

jay rhine August 22, 2011 at 7:51 AM

Like all of you, I would never take steroids. However at age 57 I am thinking about testosterone under a doctor’s supervision, to improve my energy and other possible benefits. Have any of you tried T.?

Fred Hahn August 22, 2011 at 8:11 AM

If it is low, there is no reason not to take it so long as the doctor you go to knows what he’s giving you. I had to take it for a few months in order to get my levels up for my knee surgery. You heal better if T is higher I’m told. However, it made no difference in my strength or muscle mass. None.

I did heal well from the surgery however!

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