Conditioning has always been a staple of the sport, though some believe the practice has put athletes in harm’s way. Recently, Milos Sarcev and Rich Gaspari discussed the ‘cost’ of dryness in bodybuilding and the dangers of dehydration/diuretics.
Rich Gaspari, who made headlines as a bodybuilder in the 1980s-90s, achieved a spectacular level of conditioning competing against elite talents like Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, and Shawn Ray. Recently, Lee Haney appeared in a Muscular Development video, where he urged the sport to move away from dry conditioning. He reasoned that the practice has become dangerous as athletes are dying as a result of dehydration and diuretic use.
Unlike the eight-time Mr. Olympia, Rich Gaspari believes dryness has fallen by the wayside in the Men’s Open division. He compared the backs of Dorian Yates and the reigning Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan recently. Overall, he thought ‘The Persian Wolf’ lacked the same level of detail as his predecessor. After the dispute, Gaspari called for dryness to return to the sport.
In a later podcast appearance, Gaspari claimed Open competitors are overusing drugs instead of utilizing quality training. Moreover, he suggested that a successful bodybuilding career is highly dependent on one’s diet.
In the latest, The Menace podcast with Dennis James, Milos Sarcev and Rich Gaspari took a closer look at the dangers of dehydration, diuretics, and dry conditioning.
Rich Gaspari to Milos Sarcev on the ‘Cost’ of Dehydration: ‘The Dryness I Attained Was Never from Harsh Diuretics’
Sarcev explained that coaches and athletes are under pressure to use diuretics to achieve a dryer physique on stage.
“This question is also for Rich because Rich was known — you were the first one that came so dry, shredded, glutes, all this shit right. Lee Haney in Muscular Development podcast, it was a thumbnail with this: ‘judges should stop rewarding dryness’ because he started talking about the dangers of dehydration. This is what I wanted to touch on because it’s a really important thing.
For us coaches, if our athletes need to be dryer, what can we do, what can we do, oh give him a little bit more diuretics, right. Now, so you’re better if you give them and he’s dry, you’re a better coach because your athlete is dry, you know what you’re doing,” Milos Sarcev said.
Given Gaspari’s consistent ability to enter shows shredded and dry, Sarcev asked him about the costs of achieving that level of conditioning.
“Risking dehydration, dangerous dehydration right, then it comes with now, okay, who is responsible here? For me, the dryness that Samson displayed even on Friday, should be sufficient. But on Saturday, Dennis scared the fu** out of me, I said, ‘okay,’ man I was dead on that table. I didn’t even enjoy the dinner. He spoiled my dinner. But Rich – okay, you were known for this, how do you see that? This extra dryness, we are all impressed with that extra dryness, but what does it cost you, what kind of risk really is,” asked Milos Sarcev.
Gaspari shared that harsh diuretics weren’t a part of his drying-out process for bodybuilding contests.
“I’ll be honest, a lot of people thought I took harsh diuretics, but the dryness I attained was never from taking harsh diuretics. I never took Lasix. I had taken Thiazide, cut water, you know, a day before the show, but I was already two weeks out from a show and then slowly filled myself back up. You know, slowly with carbs. I never really depleted either Milos. I always felt I should just go into the show – I had that, I guess the genetics to be dry like that and hard. I never had to do any harsh diuretics.
I agree with you, these coaches try to make these guys dry. So, the answer is giving them diuretics but then it pulls all the water from the muscle, and they don’t look any better. They actually look softer than being dryer. Whatever you did with Samson, to me he looked dry,” Gaspari explained.
Keeping up with the sport since retirement, Gaspari often compares different bodybuilding eras. He believes athletes use many of the same compounds from the 1990s, but dosages are much higher than what was used during his time on stage.
Former Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout also has strong feelings about excessive diuretic use. He used Ronnie Coleman’s 2001 diuretic ‘health scare’ as an example of why athletes should tread lightly when it comes to dehydration.