Lately, I have been inundated with questions concerning one particular substance. I'll let you guess; it isn't Anavar, it isn't GH and no it isn't insulin. The substance in question is synthol. I find it shocking that so many young bodybuilders approach me with questions about synthol use. I really thought that synthol was something that had kind of fallen by the wayside in terms of popularity. Frankly, it concerns me because of what I have seen it do to me and others; it looks unimpressive and obvious. I would have thought that synthol use would have died off by now after years of lumpy questionable-looking muscles. Many people think that synthol use is necessary, especially in the professional ranks. It is my intention to outline the positives and negatives of synthol use. Here's a hint: The negatives far outweigh the positives (in my opinion).
All synthol products are, basically, a mixture of oil, lidocaine (in some case) and alcohol (as an anti-bacterial). It is primarily made up of oil that is absorbed at a slower rate than that used in anabolic steroids. It is used to add volume or fullness to smaller muscle groups, such as the biceps, triceps, and calves. Synthol sits in the muscle and stretches out a space within the muscle belly, making the muscle seem larger. When you break down the process, it is very similar to site injecting anabolics; the main difference is that the body takes a longer time to break down the oil. To be completely honest, there are some benefits to using it – albeit few and far between. On stage, having a bicep peak can definitely benefit your score as opposed to not having one. Using it in small quantities with low frequency can work quite well, if done properly. However, the whole practice is a tight rope walk that can wind up with you distorting your natural muscle shape and condition. Again, if done properly, it will not cause irritation and swelling, provided it is done in small quantities with low frequency.
Okay, on to the negatives:
1. In one of my previous articles, I posted a video with some idiot that was a huge bag of oil. That would be the biggest downfall or negative to synthol. People go off the deep end using it and think that it looks good when they look like a big bag of oil. It gives bodybuilders a bad name and these guys clearly need therapy or something to help them out.
2. Pain in the injection site. Synthol is a foreign substance sitting in the muscle, so some products contain lidocaine that acts as an anesthetic. However, it is very temporary in its pain numbing effects and the discomfort will invariably return. I always experienced what felt like muscle tightness and achiness, akin to what you would feel after a thrasher workout.
3. When you constantly are injecting oil into a muscle, it can cause encapsulation. This is where the body spawns a barrier around the oil as a natural defense system. This can cause infections, abscesses and throw your immune system out of whack.
4. Injecting synthol will cause the feeling of muscle tightness, as described in point number two. This can really affect your ability to train heavy and hard. The last thing a bodybuilder getting ready for a show needs is extra discomfort and pain in a muscle group adding to the pain and discomfort of dieting. The extra tightness can also make you more susceptible to muscle tears. This is how I got a slight tear in my left biceps (I could name at least a dozen other guys that I know that had the same issue)
In summation, if you do choose to use synthol, follow my recommendation to use it sparingly and infrequently. It is definitely better not to use it, but some of you stubborn bastards out there are going to use it no matter what I say. If you do choose to inject it, use it sparingly. Limit your use to contest time to help add fullness to certain areas. Try to limit its use to the biceps (and maybe triceps). And, yes, I did use synthol. And, yes, if I had to do it all over again, I would have never touched the stuff. I have a special note for Wayne Demilia before I wrap this up. Wayne, I wasn't using synthol in my delts at my pro debut in 2007; it was a bad abscess from some Winstrol. Get your shit straight!
All articles by Greg Kovacs have been edited and arranged by Jeff Pearce since April 2011. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions e-mail him at [email protected]