Bodybuilders Who Took Things Way Too Far

We humans are never satisfied, never content to accept things the way they are. When it comes to our bodies, that counts double. It doesn't matter if you're a catwalk model or the archetypal couch potato — a million bucks says there's something about your body you'd be happy to change. But while, for most people, that desire is focused on health and fitness, but for other, let's say motivated people, the focus is squarely in big muscles at all costs, health be damned. This is the story of bodybuilders who took their quest for the perfect body way too far.

Trevor Smith

Trevor Smith never competed in any professional competitions, but despite this, he was well known and liked in the bodybuilding community. Rather than get on stage and flex in front of judges, Smith instead chose to coach, write articles, run his own bodybuilding business called Nuclear Nutrition, and create a workout regimen called Beyond Failure Training that ... sounds utterly terrifying. But the thing he's most famous for is simply being huge. Trevor Smith stood 6'1", and at his peak weighed over 400 pounds. Unfortunately, to get that big, he not only had to train excessively, but also reportedly used steroids. All that extra weight, and the damage done to his internal organs by years of steroid abuse, meant he was putting an excessive strain on his heart, and in 2004 he suffered a heart attack and died, at the age of 33.

Andreas Münzer

Steroids are pretty much a given if you want to get BIG in bodybuilding, but they're not the only medicine on the market. In order to achieve increased muscle definition, it's fairly common for bodybuilders to take diuretics, which according to Allmax, rids the taker's body of water and dehydrates it almost completely. This has the effect of shrinking the skin and tissues on the surface of the body, which pull tight around the muscles and turn giant men into giant anatomy displays. Andreas Münzer utilized this technique, but also went a step further and managed to reduce his body fat to almost nothing, resulting in never-before-seen levels of muscle definition.

While this technique may have played a part in his numerous competitive successes, it almost certainly played a part in his downfall. Under the constant onslaught of dangerous chemicals and an incredibly unhealthy diet regime, Münzer's organs started to fail, and in March 1996 he was admitted to the hospital with severe stomach pains. Doctors tried to operate to stop the bleeding that was causing the pain, but he suffered multiple organ failures and died. An autopsy revealed numerous physical abnormalities, including a diseased liver covered with large tumors, a heart swollen to almost twice the normal size, and shrunken testicles. But obviously, since none of that is visible even when wearing speedos, it probably didn't matter to him.

Sally McNeil

Sally McNeil was never much of a prize-winning bodybuilder — her highest achievement was winning a couple of Armed Services Physique Championships when she served in the Marine Corps. However, just because her steroid use didn't bring home the silverware, doesn't mean she didn't suffer the side effects — and in her case, they were severe. So much so, in fact, that on Valentine's Day 1995, she shot and killed her husband, fellow bodybuilder Ray McNeil.

During her trial, the defense tried claim that Sally was the victim of domestic abuse, and that she killed Ray in self-defense. Unfortunately for her, the prosecution, aided by her first husband serving as a star witness, presented evidence of a history of aggressive and violent outbursts, including threatening her first husband with a gun and smashing his car windows, getting maced by police officers who came to check on her children, attacking a spectator at a bodybuilding competition, and assaulting a police officer after she was asked to stop dancing on a bar table.

At the time of the murder, Sally McNeil was found to have steroids in her system, and her legal team even tried to use her "roid rage" as a defense, but it didn't work, because that's not even close to an excuse. She was sentenced to 19 years in prison for second-degree murder.

Chad Brothers

Drugs and exercise don't mix, and if you had any doubt about that, then just look at the case of bodybuilder Chad Brothers. Mr. Brothers fell off an elliptical machine at Gold's Gym in Colonie, NY, and reacted by going on a rampage, destroying gym and office equipment and attacking other customers.

When police arrived at the gym, Brothers assaulted them as well and was shot with a Taser. However, when an officer started to cuff him, he grabbed a Taser and fought back. A fight ensued, during which he was Tased twice more. He was finally restrained with the help of six other people, but it wasn't until he was being cuffed again that officers realized he had stopped breathing. Despite receiving CPR, he was later pronounced dead. As you likely surmised after reading about all these muscle-bound tragedies, he was later found to have had both steroids and PCP in his system on the day of his fatal one-man gym riot.

Gregg Valentino

Gregg Valentino is notable for two things: holding the record for the biggest arms, and being possibly the most hated man in the bodybuilding community, according to Elite Fitness. The reason being that, unlike most professional bulkers, Valentino didn't try to bulk his whole body evenly — rather, he focused on his arms, making him look like a cartoon character to serious bodybuilders. While he managed to get pretty big while training naturally, it wasn't until he started using testosterone, steroids, and synthol (a type of oil used to add bulk), that his arms grew to an unbelievable 27 inches.

He must have liked what he saw (even though seemingly no one else did), because all that flexing in front of a mirror seemingly distracted him from observing the basic rules of hygiene. Valentino was so busy injecting that he stopped changing needles, instead reusing needles and not bothering to sterilize them. This (along with getting hit in the arm by a baseball bat) resulted in a very disgusting abscess in one of his arms, but he liked looking at his arms so much, he filmed himself trying to drain the wound in his own bathroom, rather than go to the doctor. When that inevitably failed to achieve anything besides making his bathroom look like the scene of a brutal murder, he gave in and went to the hospital, where the doctor had to slice open his arm to clean out the abscess. This left him with a large scar across his bicep, and a distinctly asymmetrical appearance.

Moustafa Ismail

Moustafa Ismail is an Egyptian bodybuilder who walks in the footsteps of Gregg Valentino by focusing his efforts almost entirely on his arms. Legs, those things we walk on? So overrated. Unfortunately, although he set a new world record with his biceps measuring an almost-alien 31 inches, he was later investigated for using less-than-natural means to achieve it. As a result, any mention of his record was quietly removed from the Guinness World Records' official website. Among bodybuilders, it's widely believed that he's a serious user of synthetic oils that artificially bulk his biceps, a claim that he denies. Either way, there's enough meat in those arms to keep a starving family full for several days, though if the rumors are true, the FDA probably wouldn't approve any of it for human consumption.

Romario dos Santos Alves

Romario dos Santos Alves could be described as a bodybuilder, though like with Moustafa Ismail it's not really a case of building anything, so much as blowing up a balloon. That's because, instead of spending untold hours lifting weights and chugging protein shakes, Romario dos Santos Alves just injects his muscles with "synthol," a special oil that artificially enlarges them.

Unfortunately for the wannabe human Hulk, his addiction to artificial muscles has come with a not-totally-surprising price tag — his health. Alves's addiction was starting to cause him pain, and toxins from the oils were putting his kidneys at risk, but despite what would be an obvious red flag to anybody else, Alves ignored the fact that his muscles were becoming too hard to inject using regular needles. Instead of calling it quits, he went out and bought veterinary needles — the kind they use on bulls — and kept right on pumping. Eventually his muscles became so hard, and the pain so unbearable, that doctors warned the only option left might be the amputation of both arms.

Luckily for Alves, it didn't come to that, and he now claims to be a reformed character ... in mind, if not yet in body.

Greg Kovacs

Hailing from Niagara Falls, Canada, Greg Kovacs was a professional bodybuilder of remarkable dimensions. He measured well over 6 feet tall, and weighed anywhere from 330 pounds for competitions, to over 400 pounds in the off-season. You may not be surprised to hear that he was a heavy user of steroids, hormones, and probably a few other things, and this contributed to his massive weight gain. As you can see in the video above, he was huge, physically dominating his competitors and making them look like children in comparison. But like Trevor Smith, all that extra weight (and almost certainly high doses of drugs) did his health no good at all, leaving him dead from a heart attack in 2013, at the age of 44.

Dean Wharmby

Dean Wharmby was a 39-year-old English bodybuilder who used steroids. At his peak, he had an impressive physique, topping out at 240 pounds of muscle. However, it didn't take long for the debt to come due, and it did so in the form of liver cancer. He was diagnosed with liver tumors in 2010 and by 2015, when he died, he had gone from muscle-bound behemoth to a bed-bound shadow of his former self. At the inquest into his death, the blame for his death was laid squarely at the feet of the steroids.

Ruben Arzu

According to police in Colton, California, a 300-pound bodybuilder called Ruben Arzu may have been under the influence of steroids (and other drugs) when he was found sitting naked on the porch of a couple returning from a party in 2011. Understandably scared, the couple confronted Arzu and attempted to call the police, but were brutally attacked and badly injured. The man received severe head trauma in the beating, and the woman was reportedly thrown around by Arzu, causing facial injuries.

When police arrived, it took four officers with stun guns and four sets of handcuffs to restrain Arzu, so you know there was way more than just a couple of beers in his system. He was arrested on suspicions of attempted homicide.