By Mario Strong

I am a natural-for-life bodybuilder! Some prefer the term physical culturist. I have never used steroids, growth hormones, diuretics, or any drug – illegal or prescribed – for the purposes of building muscle, getting ripped, or gaining strength; and I never will. In fact, I have never used drugs to get high, drank alcohol to get a buzz, or smoked cigarettes to look cool. My main reasons for bodybuilding are health and vitality. The cosmetic side of the sport is secondary to me. Sure, I like having baseball size biceps and superhuman strength. However, for me there is the bigger picture, one that is grander and long lasting. For decades, I have poured thousands of gallons of sweat at the gym and have followed a natural bodybuilding lifestyle with several main goals in mind. Those goals are the quest of vibrant health, fitness, muscle, strength, and longevity. These are the goals I have strived to achieve since I first picked up a barbell, and they remain like a fire within my heart that still rages today as I continue on my life’s journey.

It has been many decades since my father first showed me how to lift weights. Like all new trainees, my working knowledge on the subject of weight training was very limited in those early days of my muscle-building career. Through the years, I studied and applied different theories related to physiology and nutrition to my bodybuilding regimen. Over time, it became clear that all my efforts brought valuable gains and rewards my way. Eventually, my knowledge on the subject of physical culture peaked and I began to teach others the benefits of living a natural and healthy lifestyle. I was, and remain someone who practices what he preaches. I am a representation of my practice, and I motivate others to aim toward a healthier way of life.

Through my involvement in the sport of bodybuilding, I have made many good friends as well as a few archenemies along the way. I have been a gym owner, trainer, competitor, judge, author, promoter, and just about everything else related to this wonderful sport. I have had the pleasure to workout with some of the biggest names in bodybuilding and have judged those that have judged me. I have trained thousands of students and have learned that each and every one is unique with different needs and goals to meet. I have traveled the country to participate in physique competitions and have enjoyed meeting the many faces of bodybuilding. I have learned much over the decades and have lived the very words that I preach. For the most part my memories in bodybuilding are ones that I cherish: they bring a smile to my face whenever I reflect upon them. 

As I look to what has changed over the last fifty years in bodybuilding, I sometimes relish the days of true Guts and Glory, when camaraderie existed among the bodybuilders and when there was hope that our sport would one day become a recognized Olympic sport. That hope has long vanished because of the greed and egos of those unable to see the truth of their ill-gotten gains. Outside the natural bodybuilding movement, the sport has become nothing more than a sick lie. Today, the forefathers of physical culture must be turning in their graves, because the enormous anabolic cloud that has darkened the sport of bodybuilding rains with the blood of those too weak to escape its deadly grip. Some people recognize the term natural bodybuilder as describing someone who does not take steroids, growth hormones, or diuretics for the purpose of building muscle and gaining strength. In my eyes, it goes even further than that. I believe that a natural bodybuilder is one that not only shuns muscle-enhancing drugs, but also follows a lifestyle that brings him somewhat closer to nature. We are all from this earth and it is paramount that natural bodybuilders make a conscious effort to attain radiant health by means of living a healthy lifestyle through the proper application of nutrition, exercise, rest, and positive thinking. It is mostly through these basic key factors that optimum health and fitness can ever be realized.