Weird Fake Bodybuilders

Lots of bodybuilders do weird things to fake their way to the top. Let's find out about the most unusual bodybuilders in the world.


Half sport and half art, bodybuilding sees giant, oiled-up demi-gods and goddesses flexing hard on stages around the world. It’s a competition dedicated to determining which of them looks the biggest and best without an ounce of body fat. Getting to those sizes takes years of hard work and dedication by the bucketload.

But for those who want all gain and no pain, there are a few under-the-table options that provide quick results that can also have disastrous consequences. So, let’s take a look at synthol bodybuilders and some of the weirdest fake bodybuilders ever.

Romario Dos Santos Alves

How far would you go in a bid to be the real-life Hulk? If you’re Romario Dos Santos Alves, this mad bid for a giant body will almost cost you both of your arms! The Brazilian started training to become a bodybuilder when he was in his teens, but at the age of 22, a couple of his bodybuilding bros introduced him to Synthol.

injection Synthol muscles

This substance is a toxic mixture of alcohol, oil and painkillers, and when injected directly into the muscles, gives them an enlarged appearance. Romario claims that the results quickly became addictive, and he started injecting regularly into his biceps, triceps and traps.

But as you can imagine, substances like this don’t stay fluid forever. It slowly began to congeal in Romario’s arms, forcing the muscle to harden and become rock-like as his biceps measured in at a giant 25 inches!

Romario Dos Santos Alves fake muscles

Despite being in constant pain, losing his job and getting abused out on the street, Romario continued injecting. It wasn’t until he visited a doctor who said they may need to amputate both of his arms did the severity of what he’d done hit home. Fortunately, Romario has since stopped using Synthol, but the only thing this wannabe-hulk will ever get to smash again are those rocks in his arms.

Brazilian Hulk Brothers

Working out is more fun if you find someone to do it with you. Unfortunately, substance abuse appears to work on the same mechanic. Tony Geraldo and Alvaro Pereira are more commonly known throughout their city of Rio De Janeiro as ‘The Hulk Brothers’.

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Since the age of 15, they’ve been regularly injecting their muscles with a substance known as Potenay B12, a mephentermine-based multi-vitamin drug usually given to sick horses. When injected into the muscle, it acts as a stimulant, driving unprecedented levels of growth when combined with exercise.

Alongside stimulant use the two gents claim to work out together for four hours a day and eat up to 6000 calories each. I find that hard to believe considering they don’t tend to lift particularly impressive weights on their social media, and any muscle they do have has evacuated their chest.

brazilian hulk brothers

Their resulting 28-inch and 25-inch biceps have been a point of concern for doctors, who have insisted they stop injecting as their skin cannot stretch to accommodate any more muscle growth. They might be known as the ‘Hulk’ brothers but it does look like the Michelin Man and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man got together for a workout session.

Brad Castleberry

Fitness influencers will do just about anything to get a handful more subscribers, including faking their content. Brad Castleberry is an ex-footballer, bodybuilder and powerlifter who has over 1 million followers on Instagram from mainly posting photos of his gargantuan form and video clips of his impossible-looking workouts.

But internet sleuths are claiming that Brad is faking the amount of weight he’s using in his videos in a bid to get more social media followers. The main criticism comes when comparing old videos to recent posts which show no improvement, despite a clear increase in muscle mass. Like this 2018 video of him deadlifting 630lbs, which is impressive until you see his first video in 2007 showing him deadlifting 675lbs.

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9 years and he’s gotten bigger but somehow worse? That seems strange. Or the video below of him squatting a supposed 765lbs.

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Aside from the fact that his spotter may be doing a lot of the lifting, that would put this record up there as a powerlifting world record for his weight class under drug testing rules. And yet, Castleberry can’t be found in any of the listings. Not only that, the bar doesn’t seem to be bending as much as it should.

Look at 8-time Mr Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman squatting just 35 lbs less in the video below, and you can see the bar is bouncing like a slinky.

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There’s no doubt Brad’s an incredible athlete, but in my books, you can’t spell incredible without ‘credible’.

Gracyanne Barbosa

On the topic of fake weights, it’s obviously not just guys trying to show off at the gym. Gracyanne Barbosa is a bodybuilder and Instagram model who, like Castleberry, has come under fire for the supposed use of fake weights in her viral videos. A video posted to her Instagram in 2017 shows Gracyanne squatting ten 45lbs plates.

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Without wearing any kind of professional equipment, or even breaking a sweat, she effortlessly squats 10 reps of 450lbs. That’s unbelievable, especially when you compare her to the female power-lifting champion of the time, Wei Ling, squatting a similar amount and clearly showing that the struggle of just one of these reps is real.

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Looking back at Gracyanne’s video, you’d certainly expect the bar to be bending under all that weight, even just a little, but it couldn’t be straighter than a redneck at NASCAR. But that’s not the only fake thing about this Instagram model; photos from 2013 have emerged of Gracyanne’s unique looking behind; I suppose that’s one way to inflate your assets.

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Arlindo De Souza

Some people get into bodybuilding to achieve their ideal body shape, but for Arlindo de Souza that ideal shape was a croissant. Also known as "Montanha" or ‘The Mountain’ in his home country of Brazil, Arlindo is famous not only for his super-human shape, but also for openly admitting to Synthol abuse.

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He didn’t really need to admit it though, I think we can all tell from those arms. Ever heard of leg day? Clearly not. According to Arlindo, he started bodybuilding and injecting around the age of 21, which over the years has developed his biceps into 29-inch mounds. But now, Arlindo is suffering from the consequences of repeatedly pumping his muscles with oil.

arlindo de souza brazilian popeye

Because the threat to his health has been repeatedly self-inflicted, doctors have reportedly refused to operate on him unless it’s a medical emergency. This is a wake-up call seeing as his friend Paulinho died from complications resulting from Synthol abuse. He has reportedly stopped using it since then, but the damage is already done.

Egyptian Popeye

Substance abuse for aesthetic gain is a fine line as just a little too much can tip you over into looking obviously fake. But even when the jig is up, some people just refuse to admit the truth. Like Moustafa Ismail, once known around the world as ‘Egyptian Popeye’. Moustafa stood out for one main bulging feature: his arms.

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Unlike the rest of his average body, the biceps and triceps on this man looked like they could barely be contained and measured in at a staggering 31 inches in circumference. In 2012, the Guinness Book of World Records entered him in as having the largest upper arms in the world! But clear drug use like this shouldn’t be glorified, should it?

Well, according to Moustafa back in 2012, this is an all-natural gun show. Either he thought the rest of the world was blind, or he was delusional enough to believe that the rest of his body matched up in proportion to those bizarre camel-hump arms. Since having the title rescinded amid this obvious drug use controversy, Moustafa disappeared from the public eye in 2016.

Egyptian Popeye Moustafa Ismail

Nataliya Kuznetzova

It takes a lot of work and commitment to get swole, but if you’re a lady reaching for those muscle-bound heights it’s even harder thanks to natural elements like hormones and body structure. But if you remove those barriers using drugs, anything is possible, just ask Nataliya Kuznetzova; this Russian bodybuilder measures 5 ft 7 and weighs 225 lbs. For context, that’s the same competing weight as Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Nataliya Kuznetsova

She claims to hold world titles for ladies arm-wrestling, as well as records for the bench press and deadlift, although the details here are vague as she’s been incredibly open with journalists about her use of anabolic steroids and oestrogen blockers.

Oestrogen is a universally present hormone associated with more feminine physical development, but its presence can also affect muscle growth. Blocking the hormone altogether and taking steroids is more likely to give you a stronger, male-coded physique and a more baritone voice.

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While Nataliya’s development is incredibly impressive, it’s definitely not natural and is hardly fair to other female competitors in her categories playing by the rules. It should be mentioned that she’s also a fan of plastic surgery, which fuels the question of what implants she had for a more muscular, aesthetic gain.

Gregg Valentino

Not injecting yourself with potentially dangerous, unknown substances seems like an obvious decision, but if you ever needed a warning against it, then Gregg Valentino is your man. The once bodybuilder became famous for injecting steroids like Testosterone Propionate and Equiposie directly into his arms, transforming his 21-inch biceps into 28-inch rocks of flesh.

Gregg Valentino bodybuilder steroid use

He also injected many other parts of his body with the substances and became something of a poster boy for steroid use gone wrong. But being incredibly irresponsible with the needles saw Gregg give himself a bicep infection.

After developing a haematoma in one of his arms, Gregg attempted to self-operate. When the pain became too much Gregg was admitted to hospital where his arm ‘burst’. Although doctors were able to save most of the muscle, an obvious dent in his arm served as a severe reminder for this man of steel and steroids never to dabble in drugs again.

Valdir Segato

We’ve established that nothing good comes from injecting your muscles with Synthol, but some people still believe that bigger is always better. Valdir Segato is one of these people. Discovering Synthol 4 years ago, this Sao Paolo citizen went out of his way to gain a balloon animal physique.

Valdir Segato fake muscles

He’s injected Synthol into his upper arms, back, and chest in an effort to make himself look like the ultimate gym bro. But unlike many others, he’s incredibly proud of his Synthol use, even changing his Instagram handle to ‘Valdir_Synthol_’ temporarily.

In his youth, Valdir revealed he was once a stick-thin teen and drug addict, leading to the nickname ‘skinny dog’. But during his mid 50’s, his addiction to injecting Synthol meant his doctors were worried about potential nerve damage, disfigurement, stroke and heart attacks. Sadly, Valdir passed away on July 2022.

Kirill Tereshin, The Russian Popeye

MMA fighters follow some of the most intense, grueling fitness regimes on the face of the planet, and most of them have the body to prove it. Although Kirill Tereshin attempted to fast track this training, with disastrously freaky results. Also known as ‘Russian Popeye’, he has injected more than three liters of Synthol into each of his arms.

Kirill Tereshin russian popeye

The size of his weirdly known ‘bazooka arms’ increased by over 10 inches in just ten days, and at their peak, these mutated muscles reached a huge 24 inches. Finding internet fame in his bizarre appearance, Kirill began training for his very first MMA fight against Oleg Mongol. But having arms heavy with oil didn’t weigh in his favour and he lost in under a minute.

In a bid to show how hard he was, he also tried his hand at the international slapping championship in 2019, where he failed spectacularly and almost had all the oil knocked out of him like a soaked sponge.

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But by the end of 2019, the pain growing in Kirill’s arms was unbearable and he elected to have surgery to remove the damage he’d injected. 6 liters of the petroleum jelly-like substance needs to be removed from his arms, which will take over 4 surgeries to complete. That was a weird flex buddy.

If you were amazed by these weird fake bodybuilders who made some questionable choices, you might also want to read our articles about people with 0% body fat and about people you don't want to mess with. Thanks for reading.

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