My childhood pretty much consisted of watching Jean-Claude Van Damme kicking people's asses.
…Usually Asian ones.
Kickboxer has got to be in my top 5 movies of all time.
Just in case you've been living under a rock for the last 30 years, JCVD's also starred in epic films such as: Universal Soldier, Street Fighter, Double Impact, Bloodsport and Timecop.
The general consensus is that Van Damme has natural-looking muscles. There's nothing freakish about his body…he doesn't have 18 inch arms at 3% body fat.
Here are JCVD's stats when he was in his prime:
Height: 5 ft 8
Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
Body fat: 7% (estimated)
Arm size: 16″ (estimated)
Fact: Van Damme was able to bench press 166kg at the age of 19 (1)
If Arnold inspires steroid-users across the world to try and look like him…Van Damme inspires the nattys.
However, just because Van Damme's body is attainable naturally, doesn't mean he IS natty. So let's see if the muscles from Brussels does have any signs of steroid-use.
Note: Although I am admittedly a fan of Van Damme, the evidence presented in this article and the final verdict will remain unbiased (as in all of my articles).
He's Still the Same Size
When guys come off steroids, their muscles shrink.
The most popular example of this is Arnie. Take a look at the picture below which compares Arnie in his prime vs post-steroids:
Follwoing this ‘after' photo, Arnie made a bit of a comeback and regined some of his muscle. However he still doesn't have anywhere near as much mass, compared to his Mr Olympia days.
Another common scenario when steroid-users lose a lot of mass is if they end up in prison.
In which case, they often come out scrawny.
…By their standards anyway.
This is mainly down to 2 reasons:
- They aren't getting enough calories in prison to maintain their weight, so they lose muscle mass.
- They aren't taking steroids anymore.
This is what happened to Victor Martinez, a Mr Olympia contestant, after he was found guilty of dealing drugs (GHB and butanediol); landing himself in prison without steroids for 7 months.
However, Van Damme still has a similar level of muscularity now, as he did 30 years ago in his prime. This is strong evidence that he's natty.
A lot of steroid-users will keep getting bigger and bigger, despite them not being ‘newbies' anymore.
This is because of anabolic steroids.
They'll grow bigger with each cycle, whether they've been training for years or not.
However, Van Damme has pretty much stayed the same size ever since he was 18.
What did JCVD look like at 18?
Not many people know that Van Damme competed as a bodybuilder long before appearing on our TV screens. In 1978, he was crowned Mr Belgium after winning a competition in Etterbeek at just 18 years of age.
As you can see, he's pretty much the same size there, as he is in his movies.
…Wish I looked like that at 18!
For those curious, I've found a copy of his former workout routine (2):
No Steroid Symptoms
Van Damme has never had any gyno, flushed skin or bloating.
In 2010 he was rumored to have suffered a minor heart attack (on the set of shooting Weapon). Many steroid-users experience a heart attack at some point in their lives, however he later denied this ever happening.
Those who have seen what Van Damme looks like today, will have noticed that he's aged a lot…especially in the face. Steroids can cause premature ageing, due to lower collagen levels. However, sun damage (3) and stress (4) are also major causes of accelerated ageing.
Van Damme was always extremely tanned in all of his movies. And tanned skin is caused by sun exposure/damage. Some reports suggest that sun damage is responsible for 80% of all our wrinkles (3).
JCVD's also suffered from depression and bipolar disorder since he was a teen, meaning he's obviously experienced more psychological pain/stress over the course of his life compared to a normal person.
Van Damme has amazing genetics. As soon as he started lifting weights as a teen, he got jacked!
He didn't spend a decade of his life bulking and cutting so he could get to that size…he simply picked up some dumbbells and his genetics took care of the rest.
If he wanted to become a world-class bodybuilder, he probably could've been (if he responded well to steroids).
Although JCVD has exceptional DNA when it comes to building muscle; he still worked his ass off to fulfill his genetic potential. In a typical day he would ride a bike through the woods for 2 hours, spar for an hour straight and then lift weights in the evening (5).
His physique should be the ultimate goal for nattys, even if you're not as genetically gifted as ‘the muscles from Brussels'. With years of hard work in the gym, combined with several bulks, this type of mass is attainable for anyone.
Do you think Van Damme's happy with this verdict?