Gaspari Nutrition

Ron Harris

Where I stand on Synthol use

After seeing yet another news story about a guy who injected his arms up to 29 inches, I felt compelled to give my own personal views on Synthol use.

First though, I need to clarify that 'Synthol' is an actual brand name of the first and most famous site enhancement oil, or SEO. It was really nothing more than sterilized MCT oil (medium chain triglyceride, made from coconut oil) with some lidocaine added to numb the area. It was sold in multi-use bottles with rubber stoppers, yet labeled as 'posing oil,' and the cost was roughly 200 dollars for a bottle from the mid 1990's on. It sold so well that eventually it became the word for all SEO's regardless of manufacturer, just as we tend to refer to all facial tissues as Kleenex and all cotton swabs as Q-tips. The only reason I even make this distinction is because when accused of using Synthol, most will deny it - and technically; unless they are using that particular brand name they aren't lying.

Being far from an expert on the subject, this is the basic idea. Synthol is injected into bodyparts that are lagging behind and that will not respond and grow even when the trainer is doing his best in the gym and using the usual steroids to grow. Yet it's most often injected into arms and shoulders, not so much because they are truly lagging; but out of the idea that those two bodyparts can never be too big for a bodybuilder. Supposedly, most pro bodybuilders site inject bodyparts with SEO's, yet do it so expertly that the target muscle groups only look fuller and retain their natural shape. I can't confirm or deny this. I can say, however, that I do know a few pros well enough that we have discussed that items they do and don't use in their drug protocols, and they have firmly denied using SEO's. They have no reason to lie to me, because I could really care less if they did.

Then you have the guys who go overboard, like the man in these photos from Brazil. Apparently it's quite common in Brazil, where they use cheaper oils that are far more likely to lead to infections. There have been reported arm amputations there and even some deaths. Why would anyone keep injecting crap in their arms until they looked so fake, so disgusting? I can only imagine it stems from deep-rooted insecurity, lack of self-esteem, and the need to be noticed and feel important. But why would a woman get breast implants that are each the size of a regulation NBA basketball? Why would a person have a series of facial surgeries to look like a cat, or a reptile? Only a psychiatrist could give you a good answer.

Another example of going way too far with SEO's is Moustafa Ismail, an Egyptian immigrant to the USA who had a brief run of publicity after the 2012 edition of the Guiness Book of World Records listed him as owning the world's largest biceps at 31 inches. To be clear, Mr. Ismail has arms that look very much the same as the Brazilian man in these photos who admits his arms are 100% the result of oil injections, yet he has steadfastly denied ever having injected them at all. He also claims he doesn't use steroids, and eats 7 pounds of meat every day. This resulted in a rash of bodybuilders, who instantly recognized how his arms came to be that way, contacting Guinness and demanding they remove his record.

I'm not sure whether they have done so or not. But I tell you this. I give a lot more credit to the Brazilian guy who admitted what he was doing instead of insulting our intelligence. There are plenty of mainstream people who are totally ignorant about SEO use and simply assume Synthol muscles are the result of using steroids. It never occurs to them that what they are seeing is really nothing more than an implant, done 3 cc's at a time over the course of hundreds or even thousands of repeated injections into the same area.

So here's my stance. If anyone wants to use SEO's, that's their choice. But if you keep going and going until the muscles you have been injecting take on grotesque, lumpy shapes and dimensions that defy what is possible even with great genetics and massive steroid use, don't go around taking credit for them like you worked for your 30-inch arms. You bought them, just like women buy breast implants. You might be able to fool the ignorant masses out there, but you aren't fooling those of us who know what's up. And if you ever choose to compete, and yes, I have seen some stupid looking oil-filled shoulders and arms on stage, don't be upset when you are placed dead last by judges who also know what's going on. The argument can be made that 'anything goes' in a sport where steroids, GH, thyroid meds, and other drugs are widely used. My retort is that even when using steroids, you still have to train to develop the muscle. Theoretically, you could take a guy built like a twig and inject him with enough oil in every bodypart until he was as 'big' as the average Mr. Olympia competitor!

As for me, my arms have been a weak point since I started training over 30 years ago. Everything else on me either grew fairly steadily or at least eventually caught up. Some bodyparts responded much better than others, namely my chest, traps, quads, and delts. I was even accused a couple times of having Synthol in my delts! The easy comeback to that was, if I was going to use Synthol, why would I leave my arms too small and put it somewhere like my delts that would only make my arms look even worse by comparison?!?

I chose to try my best to build my arms rather than load them up with oil, even though I have never had them over 18.5 inches. Within a couple months of SEO use, the 20-inch holy grail measurement I have wished for and aspired to for decades would be mine at last, and I could keep going to 21, 22, 25, even 30 if I were so inclined. But I won't do it. Not only am I personally against having 'fake' muscles, but nobody really knows the long-term effects SEO use will have. How much regret would I have if I died and left my kids without a father because I just had to have huge arms? I don't make my living competing as a bodybuilder, so having lagging arms is nothing more than a mild disappointment I can live with. Obviously I take a lot of pride in my appearance or else I wouldn't have been bodybuilding all these years, but I have my own limits as to what I will and will not do to look better. And for me, Synthol is out of the question.

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