Was Reg Park a Natural Bodybuilder?

| by Truth Seeker |

Reg Park was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s idol and mentor. Due to the fact that he was an old-school bodybuilder, many people use him as an example of what can be achieved naturally without the usage of anabolic steroids. We are here to tell you that those people are wrong and need to get their information in check.

Were steroids available during Reg Park’s era?

Regardless of what your grandmother and the watered down articles say, anabolic steroids were first discovered in the early 30s and have been part of the human world ever since.

Back in 1935, Karoly Gyula David, E. Dingemanse, J. Freud and Ernst Laqueur presented a powerful hormone contained in the testes. The hormone was revealed in a paper entitled On Crystalline Male Hormone from Testicles (Testosterone)” published in May 1935 .

The chemical synthesis of testosterone became a reality in August 1835, when Butenandt and G. Hanisch published a paper describing “A Method for Preparing Testosterone from Cholesterol.”

Clinical trials on humans, involving either oral doses or injections of testosterone propionate, began as early as 1937.

Testosterone propionate is mentioned in a letter to the editor of Strength and Health magazine in 1938. This is the earliest known reference to an anabolic steroid in a U.S. Weightlifting or bodybuilding magazine.

Reg Park’s first bodybuilding contest was Mr. Britain in 1949 which he won.

Conclusion: Steroids were available 10 years prior to Reg Park’s debut on a bodybuilding stage.

Reg Park Was As Big As Arnold Schwarzenegger

Reg Park was as big, if not bigger on occasions, than Arnold Schwarzenegger who has admitted to steroid use in a video. In 1970, Arnold and Park competed together in NABBA Mr. Universe and took respectively first and second place.

Conclusion: Reg Park competed well against well-known steroid users in untested shows.

Reg Park Was The First Bodybuilder To Bench Press 500lbs

In April 1954, Reg Park became the first bodybuilder to bench press 500lbs.

What was his secret…

The most legendary powerlifter of all time, Ed Coan, lifted 584lbs on the bench press weighing 220lbs. Ed Coan was also an enhanced lifter and suffered a lifetime ban in the IPF powerlifting federation.

What are the chances that a lean bodybuilder will be able to bench press 500lbs at about 235-250lbs of bodyweight naturally when a legendary powerlifter like Ed Coan did ‘only’ 84 lbs more after a lifetime dedication and drug use?

Conclusion: Reg Park had an insane strength that makes people question his natural status.

Reg Park Was 235- 250lbs at 6’1”

The muscular development of Reg Park would win many bodybuilding competitions even today. True natural bodybuilders don’t weigh over 200lbs @ 6’1 when they are in a contest condition.

Conclusion: Reg Park was crazy big and strong, but there is a lot of information suggesting that he wasn’t a lifetime natural bodybuilder.

David K, Dingemanse E, Freud J, Laqueur L (1935). “Uber krystallinisches mannliches Hormon aus Hoden (Testosteron) wirksamer als aus harn oder aus Cholesterin bereitetes Androsteron”. Hoppe Seylers Z Physiol Chem 233 (5–6): 281.doi:10.1515/bchm2.1935.233.5-6.281.
Hoberman JM, Yesalis CE (1995). “The history of synthetic testosterone”.Scientific American 272 (2): 76–81. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0295-76.PMID 7817189.
Beyond Strong: Rip Reg Park”. Beyondstrong.typepad.com. 2007-11-23. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
A tribute by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Regpark.net. Retrieved 2012-09-19.

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  1. Justin

    I couldn’t agree more!! Look at him. He was on something.

  2. Eric Lahmy

    I am sorry but I don’t agree. To say that Reg Park was under steroids because he was so good is biased because he was not so good. When he was between 235 and 250, he was not on competition shape but training for bulk. For the three Mr Universe he won, he weighed respectively 230 (1951), 214 (1958) and 225 (1965). This is not an outrageous weight for a quite tall 6’1’’ man.
    Regarding the testosterone, it was isolated in 1935 by two German chemists. The experiments you speak of (since 1937) were conducted mainly in Germany and were followed by a handful of high level scientists (the isolation of testosterone was crowned by a Nobel Prize in chemistry). Nobody could see effects on muscle development because you had to train with weights to see such a thing. Everybody was looking in the direction of changes in mood (aggressiveness) and other things like sexuality behavior, hairs, baldness, etc, etc. It is said that testosterone was used on the soldiers by Germans (during the first World War, it was alcool who was given to soldiers)… Even if you could read an article on testosterone topics before 940, that does not mean something, some original minds have tried well before that date to eat some bulls testicles to enhance their masculinity or some juices or homogenate of virile glands of apes and other poor animals for the same purpose. These thoughts were well know on this time and as soon as 1920, Einstein wrote that all the wars in the world were provoked by too much testosterone in the male organism! The first use documented of testosterone was by Russian athletes in 1952 (with Vladimir Kuts who became the dominant runner in the world before 1956. Kuts erased all the world records of Emil Zatopek but paid the price: he died 48 years old at 48 in 1975, and Zatopek, who was a natural runner, older than him by 6 years, outlived Kuts by 25 years, dying 78. The “athletic” use of testosterone filtered in the USA only in 1955 when the Russian doctor of the weightlifting team boasted that the American should never win in front of Russians and finished by telling the word “testosterone” to doctor Zeller, the American weightlifting physician. One year after, Ciba developed the “Dianabol” a top-secret product given only to putters (track and field) and weightlifters, and to protect this secret, the Americans spoke of a new technique of training, the isometrics! Every time one US shot putter or weightlifter beat a record, it was thanks to isometrics!! But in 1956, one bodybuilder, having heard about what was behind isometrics, try to find the product, could not (bodybuilders were considered bullshit and did not have access to dianabol) and after an extensive research, found bolden, a veterinary product and in 1957 went from 95kg (209 pounds) to 105kg (231) for 5’9’’ height, 4 inches less than Reg Park, in some months of hard training. Bill Pearl was arguably the first Mr. Universe steroid user. And Reg Park was a drug-free bodybuilder.

    1. Svetoslav Bratovanov

      Very well done research. I am a chemist and lough anytime when I see claims that testosterone was used by Reeves and others in the 40’s. There was no such think. Reeves was as natural as you can get!

    2. Seb

      With a supra-physiological rate of testosterone in your blood stream, studies have shown that you gain muscle, even sitting on your couch.

    3. Testo Propionate

      Testosterone was already being prescribed medically to help with depression and treat “male climacteria” by the mid 1940s, also US weightlifters did experiment with it in the early 1940s also, John Grimek was one of the first to do it. Earliest mention of testosterone propionate for strenght/bodybuilding purposes was in a 1938 US strength magazine lmfao. It was already sold commercially in Germany in 1937 with the brand name “Testoviron”. And back then getting ahold of a pharmaceutical like that would have been incredibly easy if you really wanted to and if a US strength magazine mentioned it in 1938 that means people were already experimenting with it.

  3. Vesa

    Excactly. Besides rural england 1948, he got milk from his friends and extra food. There were no steroids. No need either. He ran 100 meters in 11 seconds, as a teenager. Also won 200m againts grown men. A natural gifted legend. I benched 160kg as a fat guy, with 8 months training. My dad military pressed 120kg, weighing 82kg. No prior lifting. But ten years working as a lumberjack. So please..open your mind a bit..

    1. Rob

      Drop the BS, your father didn’t military press 1.5 times his body weight by working as a lumberjack and you didn’t bench 160kg as a fat guy, and drop the rose colored glasses as well, Park was as natural as Arnold.

      1. Eric LAHMY

        Why do not believe somebody when he tells you what his father and himself were doing? You perhaps know better than himself? It is tiring to try to explain things to people who, being so “ungifted”, do not admit that they are gifted people. Reg Park trained, ate and slept well and was gifted and I believe him when he says he never took steroids, because he was too a family man, a good and decent man who never deceived anybody. And I believe Vesa when he tells me what he tells me about him and his father!

    2. buckfutter

      Testosterone Proprianate was developed in 1938. It was in common use in the southern California bodybuilding scene by the early 1940s.

      All the champions from the mid ’40s on were juiced.

      1. joe santus

        There is ZERO evidence Test Prop was being used by Southern CA bodybuilders before 1954. No champion bodybuilders were using injectable nor oral testosterone in the 1940s.

        John Hoberman, who is critical of steroid use, author of the book “Testosterone Dreams” which documents the development of testosterone in the 1930s, admits that he actively looked for evidence of US bodybuilders using testosterone before 1954 but found NO evidence any were.

        Please provide sources supporting your claim about Test Prop use in the 1940s.

        1. Rob

          Some people want so hard to believe that their heroes were natural they’re willing to ignore reality. You’re like that wrestling fan saying “it’s still real to me damn it”

          1. Campis

            Some people want so hard to believe that there inferiority and mediocrity is someone elses fault…

  4. Steve

    Yes he lived in rural England, but his dad owned a gym and manufactured weights. You can’t tell me this guy wouldn’t have known about or had access to current developments in the field including steroids.

    1. Eric LAHMY

      Yes I tell you because they were not documented information on this, and NOBODY knew the effects of steroids on MUSCLE, only on behavior. There was no information, no Google, no Internet, the magazines were poor in stories and even in photos, and even those who knew at this time did not know this

  5. slorter

    Early pictures of him with Steve Reeve most likely natural but the ones with Arnold he was on the gear and so was Arnold!

  6. gilbert

    reg had a great work ethic and had genetics. mnay have used something but steroids are not that great as people think. i benched 430 clean and many were stronger than me on bench

  7. marlon

    “but steroids are not that great as people think”

    They are even better than people think.

    1. Rob

      Marlon is right, steroids change everything, if there’s anything close to a magic potion that is it. If they weren’t so great why do people take them? It makes me laugh when someone tries to make it sound like steroids are nothing special, you know, just like taking some protein powder or creatine. Anyone that tries to downplay the role steroids have is either a complete fool, very naive or is taking them himself and making excuses.

  8. Mathwiz

    Steroids aren’t all that great for strength sports. If you’re at your genetic max, you get about 20% stronger, while going up a weight class, resulting in 10% better performance for your class. So if you can bench 500, steroids make it possible for you to bench about 600. If you can deadlift 700, steroids will help you deadlift mid 800s. The difference between Reg Park and Ed Coan’s strength actually makes more sense under the hypothesis that Reg was natural than on steroids (given that Reg weighed more than Ed did after Ed used steroids): https://www.strongerbyscience.com/steroids-for-strength-sports/

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Good laugh.

  9. Vesa

    A few comments, if i may? Have you read about Reg Park? I have no reason for lying, i make no money or fame from this. But i have great respect for the Legend and saddens to read such dribel. Any normal man, let’s say weighing over 85kilos(187lbs) can bench at least 300lbs. With some training yes, and when i benched 160kg i weighed 122kg. A fat fucker=). Did 132.5kg in competition under 110kg class. Lost lot of strenght cutting because of no coach.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Benching 132.5kg at 110kg equals a 1.2 BW bench press. Achievable naturally.

      1. Andre

        achievable naturally ? are you fuckin kidding me ?? 132kg at 110 bodyweight is pathetic ! I am 90kg bench 150kg am 100% natural, so wtf are you even talking about ?! I know for a fact I am natural, but I guess according to you losers I am lying because it should be impossible, right ?

  10. Vesa

    I live in a farm, chop wood and carry rocks. I guess if you play video games and live on the couch it’s hard to lift stuff. But..then again if you weigh about 190lbs as a teenager before you touch weights..eat a lot of good food and work all day..planning on entering a masters powerlifitng competition, squat 180kg, bench 140kg and deadlift 220kg, under 110kg class. Totally achievable for a normal drug free person. If you dont believe it, start playing table tennis.

    1. Guy above is an idiot

      Shut up liar

      1. Michael Turner

        Firstly I’d like to point out a correction needed.
        I believe this article should say:
        “The chemical synthesis of testosterone became a reality in August 1935”
        whereas it currently incorrectly says 1835.

        Secondly, from all I’ve read bodybuilders were not using or even aware of testosterone propionate in the 1940’s.
        John Grimek was first given testosterone injections in late 1954.
        He was given this due to connections with the USA Olympic Weightlifting team. That stuff was cutting edge back then, it’s unlikely any other bodybuilders were aware of, or had access to testosterone injections before then.
        John Grimek was also one of the first bodybuilders using steroids in the form of Dianabol in the late 1950’s, again due to his work with the USA Olympic Weightlifting team.
        Bill Pearl said he first ever used steroids in the form of Nilevar in 1957 where he did a 12 week cycle and gained about 25 lbs of muscle.
        I read Larry Scott first used Dianabol in 1963.
        These top bodybuilders first began using steroids in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

        It seems very, very unlikely that Reg Park was using any anabolic drugs prior to the mid 50’s.
        Although looking at his physique, it’s hard to believe it’s attainable naturally, I think he won the genetics lottery.

        There are several genes that dictate your genetic potential for muscle growth. Those who can grow more naturally, will grow even more so when using steroids as they have more sensitivity to their own natural testosterone, and that same increased sensitivity to synthetic anabolic hormones such as steroids, SARMs etc.
        This is due to genes for increased androgen receptors sensitivity.
        Another gene found in over 90% of champion bodybuilders is 2 copies of a gene for fast twitch muscle. It allows notable increases in strength over people who only have 1 or 0 copies of this beneficial gene.
        When you then take into account being born with a greater than average number of muscle cells, and a higher proportion of fast Twitch muscle fibres, when all the stars align effectively, you get someone like Reg Park.

        Now, did he take steroids in the late 50’s or 60’s or 70’s?
        I don’t know, but you can be almost certain he didn’t in the 40’s, and he had already built an incredible physique then.
        Don’t get me wrong, nowadays, people of Reg Park’s muscularity are almost all steroid users. But for a very select few, who have all the genes for maximum muscular potential, and who then have the dedication and drive to eat and train religiously as a way of life, and are fortunate enough not to become injured, for that fraction of a percentage, Reg Park’s physique is naturally achievable.

        But for 99%+ people will have to use steroids and train regularly to come close to building a physique anything like his. But let’s say you can get to 85% of what he achieved, that’s still a damn fine physique, and if you can do that without steroids in 4-5 years hard work, get cracking, stay dedicated to the hard work and diet, and get what you want without sticking a needle in your ass or taking pills.

        I perhaps have a more optimistic perspective of what’s possible than some here, as I believe I am somewhat genetically gifted.
        I had lifted weights on and off from being about 13, trained in competitive Judo from being 8 and had a standout physique from being VERY young.
        At age 20 I decided to give up computer games and dedicated myself to weightlifting and the diet to go with it.
        After 3 and a half years, I’d gained 45 lbs of solid muscle. My measurements were;
        Calf: 16.5”
        Thigh: 24.75”
        Waist: 32”
        Chest: 47.5”
        Bicep: 17”
        Forearm: 14.5”
        Neck: 17.5”
        (5 foot 11, 196lbs, 12% bodyfat)

        Muscle gain had slowed a lot at that point, I expected to gain perhaps 7lbs of muscle over the next 2 years.
        It was at this point I began considering doing a mild steroid cycle.
        I figured one cycle of Anavar would have given me the 7 lbs of muscle I wanted while helping me get leaner.
        Coincidentally, I had an argument with my boss about pay around this time and I was given a drugs test, not the standard one we usually do for Cocaine, Ecstasy, Weed, etc. But one that tested for over 30 drugs including steroids.
        My initial thought was that my boss was trying to catch me out and fire me for a failed drugs test.
        It was enough to scare me away from taking steroids, later that year I injured my back and I wasn’t able to seriously train for over 4 years.
        I’m back training again now, still steroid free, I’ve built 25.5 inch thighs now and will be attempting to build 18 inch biceps drug free soon. Though whether I have the genetics to get there is yet to be seen.
        You don’t know until you try!
        My advice to anyone trying to build a muscular physique naturally is train full body 2-3 times per week, focus on Squat Deadlift, Bar Rows, Weighted Pull Ups, Weighted Chest Dips, Bench Press, Overhead Press.

        Invest in a few lessons from a well qualified strength and conditioning coach on how to squat, bench and deadlift properly.
        Drink plenty of milk alongside a healthy diet.
        Get plenty of sleep.
        Get weighed every morning.
        Be consistent and dedicated.
        Most guys can build around 40lbs of muscle naturally, a lucky few will build 50lbs, and perhaps the occasional freak will build >60lbs. Even those who aren’t training optimally or don’t have the greatest genes will be able to build 30lbs with consistent strength training if they are eating enough calories and protein.
        Aim to get stronger and stronger if you’re natural. Learn about linear progression training to start, then weekly periodisation training, then undulating training once you’ve trained for 3+ years.

        For most people, if you’re considered taking steroids, it’s not your body that really needs improving, it’s probably your self esteem.

        1. Testosterone Propionate

          Testosterone propionate already became available commercially in 1937 in Germany under the brand name Testoviron, in 1938 in a US strength magazine mentioned the availability of testosterone propionate, that means people were already thinking of and likely experimenting with it already. If you knew this drug existed there would have been no problems getting ahold of it. And no Grimek was one of the first to use testosterone propionate, definitely way before 1954. The difference in his peak natty physique from 1935 where he was already quite big and EXTREMELY STRONG and what he further achieved in the 1940s would be impossible without steroids.

    2. Joe

      The most obvious indicator of lies on the internet is making a big laundry list of all your lifts (all of which happen to end in a zero – no one ever benches 145 kg) complete with your body stats, all without a single picture.

      It’s a pattern I’ve grown to recognize on this site’s comment section: a bodybuilder/fitness model is called out, a bunch of barely coherent children make grandiose claims about how their lifts are as good if not better and that they’ve never touched a single steroid in their whole life…and then post no photographic evidence.

      I understand the mentality because I used to have it too. I used to think that if I could lie about my own achievements, I could manifest reality. In actuality, I was just running from it. I grew up, so maybe there’s hope for you too.

  11. Mark

    Reg was 100% natural I grew up around his gyms in South Africa plus my dad was a personal friend of his .
    He actually resigned from competive body building because of the drugs influence becoming more influential, which he refused to be part of.
    He was an incredibly strong man, exceptionally disciplined and out of this world genetics.!

    1. Rob

      Park was natural because your father was friends with him, oh well, that settles it then, you convinced me.

  12. Chocolate starfish

    A lot of logical fallacies for one post. You going for some kind of record?

    You make assumptions based on what? Very dodgy deductive reasoning.

  13. Andre

    It’s obviously a bunch of low test losers who will accuse anyone stronger or bigger than them of taking steroids. These people spend all their time training, they eat healthy, have great genetics and will power. Unlike you lazy whiny losers with low test. Of course it seems impossible to a couch potato loser who doesnt even lift seriously lol. It’s like saying all of the nba must be juiced because I play basketball on my freetime and I am nowhere near their level. You could train all your life and would still lose in a 100m sprint to some random african dude who’s never actually trained for it. Now take that random ass african, train him his entire life and sure the results he reaches will appear supernatural to a low test western loser

    1. Joe

      ”It’s like saying all of the nba must be juiced because I play basketball on my freetime and I am nowhere near their level.”

      Bahahaha!!! Kid, you got a lot of growin’ up to do.

  14. Gordon Cooper

    Priopionate oil suspension testosterone was available by 1937. Amphetamines were as common as candy by WWII.

    Whether or not Park used all of these available substances, others certainly did though their use goes unrecorded. That this isn’t recorded in the magazines isn’t surprising. The magazines were about a natural life, not a chemical one. They generally didn’t discuss homosexuality or women lifters either.

    1. Testosterone Propionate

      And even then Testo Propionate was mentioned in a US strength magazine in 1938, after it had become commercially available in Germany the year before in 1937 under the brand name “Testoviron”. 🙂 This means that people were likely already experimenting with it for muscle/strength building purposes by 1938. Getting ahold of testosterone back then would likely have been incredibly easy if you really knew about it and just spent some effort in doing so. And by the mid 1940s testosterone was already being prescribed to treat depression and “male climacteria” that is low testosterone from aging.

  15. Christopher Hall

    I still dont know. Maybe he didnt “take” steroids. Maybe it was in their Milk in the 1950s

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