Victor and the GI team break the natural status of The Rock, Zack Efron, Jeff Seid, Simeon Panda and more.
The useless or not debate has been discussed as long as bodybuilding culture went mainstream. But with the recent revelations of the Liver King steroid scandal, many bodybuilder and celebrity names have resurfaced questioning their natural status. That’s why for this week Generation Iron podcast episode we decided to play a fun game of guessing whether a physique is natural or enhanced with steroids. Victor Martinez and the GI crew review a list of names alongside body photos for celebrities and pro bodybuilders alike. Who is natty and who is not? Let’s try to find out!
Before we get into a breakdown of some of the likes or dislikes, we want to make it clear that these statements are all speculation. Unless a specific person undergoes rigorous and consistent drug testing, it is impossible to truly prove who is on steroids. Victor Martinez is a professional bodybuilder who has used steroids throughout his career – and has known many professional bodybuilders who also use it. With that in mind, he uses his past experience and instinct to evaluate the photos and give his best guess.
The comments in this video are not accusations or value judgments about the individuals mentioned. Instead, it’s a fun way to explore the complicated realities of steroid use, not just in bodybuilding, but in all professional sports and even cultures outside of athletics. Let’s jump in.
Natty or Not Celebrities: The Rock, Zack Efron and Hugh Jackman
The 1980s was a great time for bodybuilding physiques in action movies. This was largely due to the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger alongside many other action stars who became known for their incredible mass monster physiques. Today we don’t have the same level of massive monster size – but the superhero era of action movies spawned many new stars with sculpted physiques.
Most notable lately are Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman. All three have been in the news recently for their powerful physiques. The Rock recently starred in Black Adam, Hugh Jackman returns to his role as Wolverine, and Efron has significantly increased his physique for an upcoming wrestling movie role.
In all three cases, the actors have denied using steroids in the past. Hugh Jackman recently claimed that his physique was achieved “the old-fashioned way” – and that he wouldn’t risk his health even for his deep passion for acting. But do the physiques tell a different story?
Victor Martinez believes in all three cases that these actors must have been on steroids at some point. The harsh deadlines and significantly altered transformations these actors go through for a role are nearly impossible to accomplish naturally. Zack Efron, in particular, has grown so huge so quickly that it seems unlikely that he wasn’t helped with PEDs.
The GI team all agree – and while there is no proof – there are no clear signs or evidence that would point to a clear signal that natural means have achieved this superhero physique.
Do the most popular natural athletes actually use steroids?
In addition to the celebrity mentions, Victor Martinez and the GI crew also look at a wide variety of physiques from bodybuilders from different divisions. In most cases, these athletes have claimed to be completely natural. Are there holes in their claims?
The most notable names that have been put forward are Jeff Seid, Chef Rush and the extremely young bodybuilder Tristyn Lee – who in his teens gained quite a reputation for his shredded body.
This is where things get a little more unpredictable. Victor Martinez believes that the general public is far too quick to claim that an athlete has improved. For Jeff Seid, Martinez is split 50/50. When discussing smaller divisions – you don’t have the 300lb monster size to make things so clear. Seid could very well be on steroids, but it’s also plausible that he got his physique naturally.
The same can be said for Chef Rush, the team is split here on this call. Victor Martinez thinks that with his military background, dedication to 1,000 pushups a day, and blessed genetics, his massive arms could be all natural. Ehsan disagrees – thinking the sheer size is just too unrealistic for a completely natural individual.
When it comes to teen bodybuilder phenom Tristyn Lee, things get more exciting. Half the team believes he’s so young it’s possible he’s natural. That same logic is used by Victor Martinez and Ehsan as proof that he should use some form of PEDs. They just don’t believe that such a young child can be so broken.
This brings up the topic of steroid use in teens. Vlad is surprised to learn how supposedly common it is these days compared to previous decades. Ehsan and Victor explain that the media and also the internet has completely changed the perception of teen steroid use. Access is easier through the web and social media. Victor himself admits that many teenagers have wondered if it is smart for them to start using steroids at a young age. It may not be an epidemic, but it is a reality in today’s world.
The purpose of the like it or not game is just that – a fun way to talk about some of the most outstanding physiques in bodybuilding and beyond. The speculation about the natural status of an individual can never yield real truths. Although in some cases, like Liver King, the continued denial of steroid use can lead to some dark secrets being leaked.
If nothing leaks and no evidence can be obtained throughout a person’s lifetime, then there is no fundamental truth behind the speculation about PED use and abuse. But it’s a game we all play – and one that helps to bust and prove certain myths about these powerful substances.
You can watch the full episode of the Generation Iron podcast above. And don’t forget to check back every Tuesday for new episodes on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.