Can you reach a high level, whether Professional or top amateur status for years on end while still staying in ideal health?
That is not the easiest question to answer unfortunately. There are several things to consider when determining whether you have the proper “constitution” to endure some serious infliction regarding intense muscular damage chronically. Intense dieting practices which tests your mental fortitude and if too extreme can pose risks for health parameters. The ability to withstand pharmaceutical usage if you are partaking in that aspect of it (which most are).
All of these pieces to high level Bodybuilding need to be considered, and I strongly feel one’s genetic makeup can determine whether you can survive the extreme lifestyle. What I am going to say next will not have any real scientific evidence to support it, but I feel a family tree with a history of drug or alcohol abuse seems to somehow pass down strong constitutions to children, making them possess an innate ability to process drugs quickly and survive harsh bodily punishment.
I have witnessed some people abuse their bodies, whether with alcohol, hard drugs etc… and somehow endure and survive through situations most “straight-edge” people would keel over and die from. I am uncertain if the term Pharmacogenetics is the accurate word for this -- but it does mean certain people metabolize substances much faster than others, causing a better clearance rate and can handle more drugs without as much toxic accumulation.
On the flipside -- I have also witnessed personal friends of mine handle extremes poorly in regards to training, dieting, pharmaceuticals, etc...and they came from a clean cut, more straight and narrow family background. Meaning, I saw them struggle with tolerating a basic contest prep training and diet regimen, a basic water manipulation process, mild supplement protocol etc...Bodybuilding and genetics go hand in hand, and being not only genetically gifted structurally, but a forgiving metabolic rate, a strong mental focus and discipline, and the ability to respond well to and endure whatever chemistry you throw at it is imperative.
First things first -- you absolutely need to not be ignorant and cheap and disregard health insurance. Listen, if you are saving all your pennies for tons of food, supplements, multiple gym memberships, anabolics, growth hormone, and everything else under the sun -- do not say you cannot afford insurance!
We all believe we are invincible when we are 18-25 years old, and think “it won’t happen to me” or “out of sight , out of mind.” Trust me, if something hits the fan, and you need to go to the emergency room, and it turns out to be something significant, you don’t want to be starting a GoFundMe account…
Now let’s try to prevent having any major issues to begin with shall we? This means not only getting bloodwork done every 3-6 months by your Doctor via insurance, but seeking out more frequent blood work out of pocket via LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics. This is in my opinion mandatory if you are using hormonal assistance and are pushing the envelope. It’s relatively inexpensive and is anonymous and without appointment. You can get blood work done through www.privateMDlabs.com which goes through LabCorp. You can also get blood work through www.DirectLabs.com which goes through Quest.
You will also invest into a blood pressure monitor for at home use. I’d recommend an extra large cuff, and a standard cuff to get a nice average between the two. My goal is to be below 120/80 on both sizes to feel assured. This was my personal biggest regret coming up as I genetically had hypertension, and since you typically cannot feel the effects early on, the damage it can silently do to your heart and kidneys is not worth turning a blind eye to.
Next is to request from your Doctor a yearly echocardiogram and if you really want to be over the top -- a Cardiac CT Scan to check arterial health. We hear too many times Bodybuilders running into Heart or Kidney issues 90% of the time. For kidneys, keep an eye on Creatinine levels, eGFR values, BUN, and even more relevant to the weight training Bodybuilder -- Cystatin-C test!
I have done enough experimenting to know that certain over the counter supplements do have merit and work to keep you healthy. Here are some that have helped my blood work improve since incorporating them.
Curcumin -1600-2000 mg/day (inflammation, BP, cholesterol etc…)
D-Ribose - 20-40g a day (cardiac function)
MPA HeartSolve (olive leaf, grapeseed, bergamont, celery seed)
MPA CardioSolve (Ubiquinol, pycnogenol, arjuna)
Fish Oil - 6 grams (triglycerides, inflammation, blood sugar)
I really hope this message resonates with people, and if you want to keep doing this fitness thing for the long haul -- you need to really consider everything written in this article.