With well-known figures like Arnie always in the spotlight, it is no surprise that bodybuilding is as popular now as it has ever been. There are thousands of professional and amateur bodybuilders all over the world who dedicated their lives to sculpting their body into peak condition. However, as many dedicated, hardworking bodybuilders there are, there are also hundreds of thousands of fakes out there who get their results in a less than an ethical manner. Thanks to the use of anabolic steroids, synthol and even fake weights, there are plenty of fraudsters out there. What’s worse is that they are promoting their results on social media, inspiring a whole new generation of wannabee muscle men and women. Here are the top 10 most extreme fake bodybuilders.
10. Gregg Valentino
One name to hit headlines in the body building world, for all the wrong reasons, is Gregg Valentino. For more than 25 years, Valentino worked hard to become a trophy winning body builder and did it in the right way. However, between the years of 2008 and 2011, he was talked about a lot in the industry for his use of synthol. Synthol is a mixture of oil, alcohol and other harmful substances that is injected underneath the muscle to push it upwards so that it appears bigger. Valentino noticed guys half his age at his local gym were surpassing his lifting abilities and wanted to do something about it. He felt that nobody took him seriously. It was at this point that he began injecting synthol into his biceps. Alongside injecting, he also used equipoise and test propriate up to 3500mg a week. His arms ended up looking completely unnatural due to his anabolic steroid use. Ultimately, he paid the price when his biceps exploded when he punctured an abscess which became infected and led to major blood loss. Even more worrying is the fact that whilst synthol has always had a bad rep, especially in the bodybuilding world, it saw a boost in popularity after people saw the results achieved by Valentino.
9. Kirill Tereshin
This 21 year old hails from Pyatigorsk in Russia’s Stavropol Krai region, and has hit headlines multiple times in recent years and, much like Valentino, for all the wrong reasons. Although he once served in the army, once he left, he decided that he wanted to get into bodybuilding. However, he decided to go about it in the wrong way and began injecting synthol, like Valentino. In the space of just 10 days, Tereshin observed a massive increase in muscle diameter of 26cm. Compared to the rest of his body, his arms look totally out of proportion. We can’t imagine anyone favouring the Popeye look, but apparently they do. Terrifyingly, each time Tereshin would inject synthol into his bicep, he would come down with a fever of up to 40 degrees and feel like he was dying. Even more worrying is the fact that this didn’t encourage him to stop injecting this substance, which causes the muscles to form rocks within them. Not only do the results of synthol look ridiculous, but it has been shown that the oil can cause cysts, abscesses, muscle damage and even strokes.
8. Romario dos Santos Alves
This 27 year old has also hit the headlines recently for, you guessed it, his alarming use of synthol to achieve ridiculous biceps. According to Alves, he modelled his physique on The Incredible Hulk. He has freely admitted that he was addicted to injecting the oil and has since faced serious health issues because of this. At one point he was even faced with the possibility of a double amputation. Fortunately for him, it didn’t come to that but he still isn’t out of the woods yet in terms of long term damage. He became hooked on injecting synthol after he moved from his home town of Caldas Novas to Goiania, Brazil, where he was introduced to the oil at his local gym. He injected that much that his muscles started to solidify to the point where he could no longer get a needle in. Whilst you would think this would be a warning sign to stop, Alves instead decided to buy special needles that are designed to inject bulls with so that he could force it into his muscle. Sadly, he lost his job when he attempted suicide. He also came dangerously close to suffering from kidney failure. Fortunately, he has since turned things around and now has ambitions of becoming a professional bodybuilder but intends to stay clean, thankfully.
7. Brad Castleberry
To say that Brad Castleberry is one of the most hated fitness vloggers on YouTube is an understatement. Growing up with a father and grandfather who were very into fitness and the gym, Castleberry was destined to follow the same path. He got his first gym membership at the young age of 16 and entered his first professional bodybuilding competition at 19. However, he soon decided that professional bodybuilding was not for him. Since graduating from college, Castleberry has mainly focussed on weightlifting and building a huge following on YouTube. Unfortunately for him, it is the platform where he receives a lot of negative feedback, along with Instagram. In some instances, he has even been labelled as a disgrace to bodybuilding. Ouch. The controversy stems from accusations of using fake weights in his videos. Whilst many struggled to prove that this was the case, one YouTuber actually found a website where it is possible to purchase fake hexagonal weights, exactly like those used by Castleberry. There are also claims that this muscle man uses Photoshop to edit some of his Instagram posts to make it appear like he is lifting more than he is. He has always denied these claims, but by looking around online, it is clear to see that there is plenty of information to back them up.
6. Gracyanne Barbosa
Another fitness guru who has made a name for herself on social media is Gracyanne Barbosa. She is a Brazilian fitness model who has amassed an impressive 5.9 million followers on Instagram. Much like Castleberry, Barbosa has faced some harsh criticism over certain posts. However, from taking a look at her Instagram account, it is very easy to see why real bodybuilders have taken issue with her. Some of her posts depict her lifting ridiculous weights that given her frame would probably cause her to buckle in half. It is quite clear that she is using fake weights. As well as this, she is lifting without the help of a weight belt or even weightlifting shoes. In one video she claims to squat 495lbs. There have been numerous hate comments left for her, including one stating that people like her take the focus away from real powerlifters. We can definitely see why this is the case, especially when women in bodybuilding are not given much focus as it is. There are some incredible female bodybuilders out there who are not getting the recognition that they deserve because of people like this who have become famous through the use of social media and deception.
5. Arlindo De Souza
Another so called weight lifter from, you guessed it, Brazil. Arlindo De Souza claims to have the biggest biceps in the country at an impressive 19 inches around. However, from reading information about this hulk of a man, it is clear that he is unable to lift more than average. His appearance is unsurprisingly a product of synthol use. Nicknamed ‘The Mountain’, De Souza comes from Olinda in Brazil’s Pernambuco state. Before the use of synthol, he had been using a cocktail of things including horse vitamins, steroids and hormones. He was introduced to synthol at his local gym where he was told by a member if he injected it into his biceps he would grow in days. Worryingly, he went ahead despite one of his friends passing away as a result of injecting synthol. This didn’t stop him though, and he reached grotesque proportions. Not surprisingly, doctors have refused to operate on him unless it is a medical emergency because they claim that he has done it to himself. He is a popular figure in his home town, but has complained before about people making fun of him because of his appearance. Although there are plenty of people who make fun of him because of his enormous muscles, there are plenty of people who will stop and talk to him and admire them. He has also proven to be very popular with tourists in the area who want to pose for pictures with him. He might be interesting to look at, but the medical issues that he has faced and will continue to face for the rest of his life are terrifying.
4. Edouard ‘Spyk’ Gheur
This 52 year old lives in East Sussex, UK. This is one ex-bodybuilder who has stated himself that in reality, he should be dead thanks to 15 years of abusing steroids. His story took a terrifying turn when his aorta exploded out of nowhere. He had come back from the gym and was cooking dinner when he claims he felt like he had been stabbed in the heart. Fortunately, paramedics were able to get his heart restarted by administering adrenaline, but his medical woes were far from over. After emergency surgery, he went into a coma for six weeks and doctors even considered the possibility of having to amputate his legs. He states that he started taking steroids at the age of 15 to bulk up. After his medical emergency, he had to learn to walk again thanks to damage to his brain. He also dropped 10 stone after he stopped using the performance enhancing drugs. Yikes. He now uses his story as a warning to other men and women who may be considering taking steroids in a bid to get bigger. Hopefully his tale will scare some enough to make them think twice.
3. Vladir Segato
Yet another Brazilian Hulk wannabee is Vladir Segato, this time hailing from Sao Paulo. He began injecting synthol around five years ago and has now made his biceps grow to a staggering 23 inches from just 12 inches. Locally, he is nicknamed ‘The Monster’. Segato joined a gym in the hopes of building muscle, but wasn’t happy with the results that he was achieving from exercise alone. It is then that he discovered the use of synthol and was very happy with the results that he ended up with. Worryingly, Segato claims that he still wants to get bigger, even though his biceps are currently at 60cm. He wasn’t always a Hulk of a man. During his younger years, people would taunt him for being skinny due to his drug use. He has had several close calls in his life due to his use of synthol and anabolic steroids. He ended up in hospital for several days after injecting a cocktail of anabolic steroids, but unfortunately, his numerous health scares have yet to put him off.
2. Curtis Leffler
Curtis Leffler was a professional bodybuilder who had made a successful career for himself. However, claims from another deceased bodybuilder, Rich Piana state that it was the use of steroids and synthol that killed this man mountain. He stated that he did whatever it took to stay in the sport. Although there has yet to be any evidence or proof of the allegations that have been made, Piana stated in an interview that Leffler was actually taking synthol when he died. He stated that he was injecting the substance into his calf muscle when he hit an artery, causing it to explode which ultimately cost him his life. Terrifying stories like this are exactly why professional bodybuilders all need to be aware of the dangers of this horrible substance.
1. Tyler Cooke
Tyler Cooke is a 21 year old British professional bodybuilder with some seriously impressive gains going on. Upon first glance at his Instagram account, everything seems legitimate enough. However, the young bodybuilder has faced criticism from some claiming that the images that he uploads to his Instagram account are Photoshopped. Cooke started off his journey to become a professional bodybuilder at the very young age of 15. He has reacted very well to the people trolling him over his Instagram account and has talked people through his routines and daily calorie intake. Of course, there is no telling whether someone is being deceptive. Although this is the case, Cooke has always vehemently denied all allegations of altering any images or taking any substances to bulk his appearance.
Although a lot of these body builders have gone to extraordinary lengths to get to their desired size, it is important to remember that a lot of them started off their fitness journey’s with good intentions. Many of them have trained for decades before even considering taking any performance enhancing drugs. However, these types of drugs are rife within the industry.
There are so many problems that come with taking things like anabolic steroids. The health risks alone are terrifying. Even more terrifying is the fact that synthol is so prevalent in countries like Brazil. There are thousands of men and women using this toxic substance to boost their biceps and calves. When you look at the results of their injecting, it is hard to understand why they would want to take this route. Not only do they look totally out of proportion, but it is also very obvious that their gains are a product of injecting rubbish into their body. We can definitely see why things like this would anger genuine bodybuilders.
To add insult to injury, the body building gurus who end up uploading videos and pictures to Instagram who are clearly using fake weights are causing an embarrassment to the industry. The trouble is that big brands are sponsoring them to produce this content which is why they do it. They are getting paid thousands of dollars to do so.