Lou Ferrigno is one of the all-time greats of bodybuilding. The film that originally put bodybuilding on the map as a sport was of course the legendary Pumping Iron. That film had two starts: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.
In the film, Arnie went up against Lou to compete for the Mr Olympia title and won. The way the documentary was presented, it was made to look as though Lou was completely isolated from the bodybuilding scene; training alone with his Father while Arnie lived it up at Venice Beach.
What was also made clear though, was that Ferrigno was a formidable opponent. He was massive, dedicated and intense and he was coming for Arnie. After Arnie’s departure, he would eventually go on to enjoy a successful career in the sport and then in television playing the Incredible Hulk .
But did he use steroids?
Lou and Steroids
Lou Ferrigno has openly admitted to using steroids in an interview from 1988. In that interview he explains how he was using steroids to compete and this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows their bodybuilding. Today all serious competitors are using a large plethora of steroids and there’s no way you can compete without them.
Back then though, during the ‘golden age’ of bodybuilding, steroids were a relatively new thing. At this point steroid use wasn’t as rife but it was nevertheless still common practice. This is partly down to the simple fact that in those days, the dangers surrounding steroid use were not as well understood.
So Lou would have used steroids in order to keep up with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger but he wouldn’t have approached the use of someone like Ronnie Coleman.
Opinions About Steroids
What’s also interesting about Lou and steroids though is his opinions on the subject matter. Lou has gone on record as saying that he doesn’t support the use of steroids in bodybuilding and he doesn’t think that it should be allowed to continue.
While he did ‘experiment’ with steroids during his own career, he claims that steroids (and politics) were two of the key factors that led to his eventual retirement from the sport. He said he didn’t like the negative effects that steroids had on his health and that it should be encouraged – especially as children look up to bodybuilders. He stated that bodybuilding was physically one of the safest sports on the planet but steroids undermined that fact severely.
He said all this in the same 1988 interview, which means we can safely presume that he would have stopped using them by that time. Does this mean that he had already stopped using them when he started playing the hulk?
If so, then this is a very impressive feat considering the huge size he maintained during that series. What’s key to keep in mind though is that bodybuilders who once used steroids can still benefit from some additional muscle mass long after they stop.