You may not have heard the word Palumboism before, but you’d know it if you saw it: an enormously swole bodybuilder-type dude walking between the rows of weights in the gym, with massive arms, huge pecs, and… a big pot belly.
At a glance it makes no sense: how can somebody so jacked, with so much lean muscle, also be touting such a large belly? This, of course, is the bodybuilder’s curse: Palumboism.
Also charmingly known as HGH gut, roid gut, and bubble gut, Palumboism is a condition known only to bodybuilders. It is named after Dave ‘Jumbo’ Palumbo, a bodybuilder who competed in the 90’s and was the first known bodybuilder to find himself with a stomach which, in proportion to the rest of his body, seemed unnaturally bloated.
Since Dave Palumbo, it’s become an increasingly common trait of super-jacked bodybuilders. But what causes it?
What causes bubble gut?
When a bodybuilder is training hard and pushing their body to the limit, the muscles on either side of their torso—the obliques— grow thicker, which in turn makes it more difficult for bodybuilders to hold in their stomachs.
This can lead to the stomach appearing strangely bloated. It’s rare, and solely affects bodybuilders, particularly those who competed in the ’90s and 2000s, when the competition trend of the time was to be a ‘mass monster’ – to pack on so much muscle that the proportions of one’s body began to look warped.
The build-up of oblique muscle isn’t the only factor in bubble gut, however. While there is still research to be done, Health Research Policy have found certain factors which may be responsible for Palumboism/roid gut in bodybuilders. These are: a high calorie diet, the use of insulin, and the use of human growth hormone, otherwise known as HGH.
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Essentially, through the usage of steroids and pushing the body far beyond the levels of muscle that could be achieved through training and clean eating alone, changes can occur which are undesirable aesthetically.
It’s important to note, however, that the majority of the research so far into Palumboism has been anecdotal, rather than tested and proven in a lab.
How do you treat Palumboism?
As mentioned above, there’s little scientific research into Palumboism (the good ol’ HGH gut) beyond case studies from bodybuilders. It’s, for this reason, there’s little known about how to treat the condition, and doctors won’t have any specific course of medication for sufferers of the condition to take.
Logically, of course, there are a few lifestyle changes that would likely ease bubble gut/HGH gut/roid gut, whatever you prefer:
– Take a rest
Training hard in the gym every day can push your muscles into hypertrophy, a state where they are super tight and tense. By easing off, they will relax somewhat, and this may well have the desired effect of reducing any instances of roid gut.
– Stop taking steroids
This is probably quite an obvious one, but it’s still worth stating. If using insulin, HGH and steroids is causing your gut to swell to strange proportions… logic dictates that ceasing to use them will help it return to normal. And there are many, many reasons not to take steroids beyond this!
Of course, if you’re in any doubt whatsoever, go to see a doctor specialising in muscular conditions and get a professional opinion.
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Is it possible to prevent Palumboism?
It’s simple enough, really! For most athletes, gym-goers and bodybuilders, Palumboism won’t be an issue. It’s a rare condition, and only found in bodybuilders, particularly ones using steroids, HGH , and non-medically prescribed shots of insulin.
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If you avoid taking any of these, and you listen to your body and don’t push it far beyond its limits, chances are you’ll never have to worry about developing HGH gut/roid gut. The clue is in the name!
If you have already developed signs of Palumboism, again, lifestyle changes and the cessation of steroid abuse should see symptoms ease. But go to a doctor anyway, just to be safe!
What are the other side effects of misusing steroids?
The side effects of steroids misuse range from mild to potentially life-threatening. Side-effects vary depending on the substance. Some anabolic steroids come with a truly nasty list of side-effects, while others are somewhat milder by comparison. No steroid usage should be entered into lightly, and the legality of them varies.
While some side-effects of steroid, insulin and HGH usage are reversible through stopping their usage, others may be semi-permanent, or even last a lifetime. The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the following health consequences of abusing anabolic steroids:
These can include heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, and damage to your arteries.
These can include tumors and peliosis hepatis.
These can include terrible acne, jaundice, and cysts.
Hormonal problems in men
These can manifest in various ways, such as the shrinkage of the testicles, a lower amount of sperm produced, the development of breast tissue, and male-pattern baldness.
Hormonal problems in women
These can result in a decrease in breast size, the growth of unwanted body hair, coarse skin, and again, male-pattern baldness.
These can include aggression, mania, and delusions. More commonly known as ‘roid rage’.
In summary: What is bubble guts?
While there is little to no lab evidence into the condition, based on anecdotal evidence from bodybuilders from the 1990s to today, Palumboism is a rare condition in which a bodybuilder’s stomach takes on an unnaturally rounded, bloated shape.
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This is due to a combination of factors, which again are: extreme bodybuilding training, a high calorie diet, the use of HGH, steroids, and insulin.
In order to avoid this unfortunate condition, train healthy, and train clean.
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