How an Industry Scams the Public
by Master Chief
It’s not every day that a reasonably priced supplement comes across my desk. In fact, between the pre-workout mixes that provide little more than a sugar rush and the post-workout BCAA mixes that offer little more than a placebo effect of one’s muscles ‘recovering’, the entire supplement industry seems resigned to doing nothing other than re-inventing the wheel and spawning loose imitations of products we first saw back in the mid-80′s. But then again, other than producing a new color of a translucent plastic container, what else can an industry do when the entire business model is based on nothing but lies and fraud?
Readers of MuscleWeek already know that the entire supplement industry is based on one massive lie: TAKE THIS [USELESS OVERPRICED SUPPLEMENT] TO LOOK LIKE THIS [JUICED UP BODYBUILDER]. In reality, bodybuilders and fitness models use a combination of growth hormone, thyroid, clenbuterol and good old-fashioned steroids to build those physiques we see in the advertisements, with a touch of synthol in those hardgainer muscles like calves and rear delts. But don’t tell the gullible public about that — it’s a slippery slope and if you question their belief in supplements, they might start to have doubts about the existence of the tooth fairy, Santa, and even God himself.
The sad reality is that men have been manipulated into being suckers in the precise manner that the cosmetics industry created suckers out of millions of women by telling them this lie: USE THIS [OVERPRICED MAKEUP] TO LOOK LIKE THIS [PHOTOSHOPPED MODEL].
Nevermind that the $2 bottle of Maybelline mascara is made in the same lab and uses the identical ingredients as the $40 bottle of Lancome mascara. Americans associate price and packaging with quality. The more money you charge for that fancy box, the better it must be, right?
While women were spending their husband’s money in the 70′s on makeup and cigarettes and learning step-by-step how to objectify themselves by reading Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Vogue, men were obliviously blissful in their chubby bodies and all the better for it. Other than Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Palmer in a Jockey ad, there was little for men to aspire to (or worry about). Seriously, take a look at that guy and tell me we haven’t devolved into a culture of insecure, vain, emasculated sissies. Cheesy grin with no threat of danger? Check. Chest hair? Check. Tightie whities? Check. Do you really think Jim Palmer followed up with the photographer to check the proofs to make sure his stomach looked ‘tight’, to verify his muscles appeared ‘pumped’ or his ‘package’ looked impressive enough to prevent locker room teasing?
The ’80′s brought us Jon Bon Jovi and proved that body hair was still acceptable, smiling was still preferable to snarling, and it was okay to look like the heaviest object you ever lifted was a 16 ounce can of Budweiser. I never went backstage at a Bon Jovi concert, but something tells me that not having a six-pack or 20-inch guns wouldn’t have hurt Jon with the ladies.
Nowadays, men and women are bombarded by images of muscular actors, ripped singers, and brawny athletes. Gone are the days when an obese man like Refrigerator Perry could be an athletic icon or a chubster like John Wayne could be a sex symbol. We want our superstars (and husbands) to look like Brad Pitt in Troy, Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in anything. And just like a grown woman thinking that Victoria’s Secret bra modeled by Adriana Lima is going to cause her breasts to resemble those of a Victoria’s Secret model, grown men are now equally duped into believing that taking something called No-Xplode or Hemo-Rage is going to turn their beer bellies into six-packs.
Reality check: It doesn’t work that way (despite what your spouse responds when prodded). Bodybuilding supplements are an emotional placebo, making us believe that our workout or cardio session was more productive because of the additional ‘supplementation’. In reality, there is no objective way to measure their effectiveness. Most lifters simply try a few different brands and settle on the FLAVOR that they prefer, without regard for whether the supplement is actually providing any tangible benefits. To the gym rat, it doesn’t matter: The benefit is mental. The aspiring bodybuilder BELIEVES he is making progress.
And therein lies the rub: In the same manner that women feel fulfilled by purchasing cosmetics, buying supplements fills an identical need within the male psyche.
Thanks to the media marketing machine, the bodybuilding supplement scam is alive and well in 2013.