I’ve heard you talk about old school supplements before, and enjoyed hearing about them. Why does it seem though like more of them worked back then vs what we have today?
It seems that way because it really is that way. Let me explain what I mean by that.
There were 2 golden ages of legal, effective supplementation. You had the early to mid 90’s, and the late 90’s/early 2000’s.
The early to mid 90’s gave us things like ephedrine, GABA, quality Ecdy products like Retibol, Zebutol and Mesobolin, then meal replacements like the original Met-Rx and of course, creatine.
The second golden age of the late 90’s ushered in the era of pro-hormones, which worked for obvious reasons. The common denominator during these two periods was an influx of great minds, people who were doing real research and testing of natural (and not so natural) products.
Great Supplement Minds
Bill Phillips was more into making money, but in order to do so he employed guys like Dan Duchaine (and at one point, Pat Arnold) to come up with the next wonder products.
If you understand the history of both though, it’s a real study in making the best of a bad situation.
After Duchaine’s second stint in prison for dabbling in steroids and GHB, he was forced to develop “legitimate” products and legal supplementation. Given such, he came up with everything from Ultimate Orange to Whey Protein. He also wrote extensively about his version of a cycling ketogenic diet (BodyOpus, his last book) and (lesser known, but no less of a contribution) his body contract training system.
Pat Arnold had a similar, although decidedly less successful career. After the incredible hits he had with 1-AD and 6-OXO, PH’s were added to the Schedule III list, with Pat then doing time for his role in the BALCO scandal.
After emerging from prison, he never quite re-captured the magic with legal supplements. To be fair, the laws were a lot more restrictive than they were when Dan got out. But think about it: Neither men could dabble anymore in anything remotely resembling a hormone.
For whatever reason (there were probably several), Dan was the much more successful of the two. If I had to nail it down to a single thing though, it would be this: Pat is a great chemist, but a lousy salesman. He was also guilt, in my opinion, of doing too much research and not enough real world testing.
You saw this with his Ursolic Acid products. Early versions were nothing more than Ursolic Acid stuffed in capsules. Because he didn’t do much real world testing, we were all left to find out the hard way it had absolutely horrible bio-availability – and didn’t work.
He eventually got to a marginally effective transdermal version, but it’s not very cost effective and never really caught on.
Finally, I think Bruce Kneller aka Brock Strasser is the ultimate example of how great minds have been neutered in our business.
Bruce was at one point a research assistant of Duchaine’s, after a letter he wrote to the guru challenging one of his opinions struck Dan as brilliant. Like Duchaine and Arnold though, Bruce would do time for his role in running the Red Star of China underground steroid lab.
Today, Kneller runs Giant Sports Supplements. He is absolutely brilliant, but terrified to do anything more edgy than a well made whey protein and run of the mill pre-workout. Until guys like Kneller have free reign again, you can forget about any supplement renaissance.
I wish things were different…