Who Is Rich Piana?

Rich Piana was one of the most famous people in the fitness industry.

rich piana

He is known for having some of the biggest arms in the world, while most of his body was covered in tattoos.

Rich Piana was not your average bodybuilder, as he was not even an IFBB pro.

  • Rich did compete in bodybuilding shows previously, but was not successful. This is why he turned to Youtube. More on that in a bit.

Rich was very passionate about bodybuilding from a very young age.

His mom used to date bodybuilders and was in the fitness industry herself.

rich piana biceps

This is where Rich developed the belief that the outer shell of a person, and appearance is very important.

  • Rich Piana started competing at a very young age, in his early teens.

He was slowly progressing through the ranks, and eventually had to make a decision of his life. To keep competing or step away.

Should he become a professional, or stay amateur?

  • He chose a to compete and prepped for a show for an entire year.

His desire to win drove him to never keep a cardio session, a workout, and also to never skip one of the 12 meals a day that he usually has.

generation iron 2 rich piana

He invested all the money that he had into his diet and supplements.

He looked better than every before, and had the best showing of his life at the 1999 NPC USA Championships.

His back and legs were amazing during the show, and surprisingly, his arms at the time were his weak point. 

  • I guess that is what led him to really jack them up down the road, as you have probably seen.

The line up of that show was very tough, but Rich did manage to place 7th.

It was a good showing, but also the moment Rich decided to give up competing. 

It just didn’t make sense to him, to give up his whole life to the sport of bodybuilding, and not get anything in return.

Yes, we are talking about prize money. 

Rich Piana

People still need to live and pay their bills, and the sport was just taking too much from him, and not giving anything back.

That said, he never stopped training and enhancing his physique.

He earned a lot of money from acting in TV commercials, and doing similar acting gigs.

  • Rich tried anything and everything to make some money, including getting involved in the stock market.

How Did Rich Become Successful On Youtube?

Despite trying different steams of revenue, he was still not earning a great living, which was his goal at the end of the day.

rich piana youtube

Knowing that his arms were his weakness, it is reported that Rich took a trip to Mexico to to have surgery on his arms.

This was also news to a lot of people, who thought that he just injected synthol into his arms, and the beast was created.

  • Once he got his huge arm enhancement, he simply turned on the camera one day and started recording Youtube videos.

He never expected to get such a huge response, nor did he expect for the money to start rolling in like it did.

What Other Body Enhancements Did Rich Piana Have?

Once the big arms were in place, and full of who knows what chemicals, Rich decided to do the same with other body parts.

  • He did the same thing with his upper chest, his traps, shoulders,  forearms and his calves as well.

rich piana steroids

If you think about it, people don’t go to bodybuilding shows to see a natural bodybuilder that looks like them.

People go to shows to see freaks!

The same thing goes for Youtube.

Why listen to some skinny little twerp when you can have a real life incredible hulk telling you how to work out and eat?

It’s just a lot more entertaining!

His muscles didn’t look very natural after this but his most certainly had a very impressive physique that made him stand out.

rich piana diet

Another thing that was good about Rich Piana, is that he was a good speaker.

You can listen to him for hours, and he really knew how to keep your attention.

He was sponsored by a company called Mutant, and that was the first time he appeared on YouTube.

  • They made a whole series about him and people loved him!

Soon after he decided to move on, and start his own YouTube channel.

This was one of the biggest Youtube channels at the time.

Everybody wanted to see more about him and his lifestyle.


  • He was very knowledgable and really knew a lot when it came to training, nutrition and steroids.

He was very open and honest about every topic, including steroids, and people really appreciated that.

His success on Youtube led him to also have a very successful supplement company called “5%”.

How Did Rich Piana Die?

The cause of his death was not determined.

  • The autopsy showed a slew of problems inside of his body, but what caused his death is unknown.

What we do know, is that his girlfriend at the time called the ambulance and said that he hit his head.

rich piana girlfriend

She was panicking and kept saying that he was unconscious, and maybe fell down and hit his head.

“Rich has been using steroids for about 30 years.”

One thing about steroids, they make your muscles bigger but they also make your heart bigger as well.

That is the downfall.

An enlarged heart can definitely cause major heart disease and also death of course.

Rich also used growth hormone, insulin, IGF1, etc…

  • After hitting his head supposedly, he was in a medically induced coma which kept him alive for a few days.

There is also a video on Youtube of his ex wife, Sarah Piana, who filmed him in some kind of half conscious state.

rich piana

He was shaking, babbling and saying that he doesn’t feel very good.

She seemed concerned but did not call an ambulance.

Some people thought that his insulin was very low.

  • This may have been the reason, but later, after he divorced this woman, he said that they were using a lot of recreational drugs.

“He divorced her because he realized that she was with him only because of money.”

All the drug usage enlarged his organs, and his heart wasn’t very healthy.

His body was a mess and he probably wouldn’t have lived a long life anyways.

What Is Rich Piana’s Workout Program?

Rich Piana was a big believer in heavy lifting when he started his bodybuilding journey.

He was a record holder in high school, in bench press, squat and deadlift.

  • His lifts were amazing.

He relied on heavy compound movements mainly, and they are the ones that built his physique.

rich piana workout

After watching Arnold barbell and dumbbell curling he was sure that this was the way to go.

  • Very soon he realized that the best way to grow arms is to train them with a crazy big number of reps and sets.

He noticed the best gains when he started training with volume.

After finally figuring out the way to grow some arms he tried that same thing with the rest of his body and had good results.

  • He use to say that high volume and pumping as much blood as possible into the muscle is better for you if you are on steroids.

rich piana workout

For natural lifters, progressive overload is the way to go.

In the later years of his life, he had synthol in his muscles, so it didn’t really matter what kind of training he did.

His knees were damaged so he did not train legs at all!

  • If he did, it was with either fake weights or only on pin loaded machines.

He did train his back but only with cables, and did not do deadlifts and heavy rows.

One of the things that also made him popular were his feeder workouts.

He would do 100 reps of curls with very light dumbbells every night before bed.

He would also alternate and do that for deltoids and triceps. Whatever he was trying to bring up at the moment.

What Was The Rich Piana Diet?

Rich Piana wasn’t a big carb lover.

He preferred a high fat low carb diet, because they it his body lean and not bloated.

There was also the creator of the Rich Piana Keto Diet.

  • It is similar to a keto diet, but you wouldn’t really get into ketosis.

rich piana diet

The main portion of your daily energy intake would be from fats, but the diet does allow some carbohydrates.

 Once again, when you are taking so many performance enhancing drugs, a lot of things work! 

Was Rich Piana Using Synthol?

Rich Piana has used synthol, yes. You would find it surprising, that every other professional bodybuilder has as well.

I won’t mention his name, but a top 3 bodybuilder in the world has said, that he doesn’t believe he knows one bodybuilder that has not used synthol.

Of course, this is in much smaller quantities, unlike the synthol freaks you have seen online.

  • Rich Piana’s arms, shoulders, traps, and upper chest were not full of synthol, even though they may seem like that to an uneducated eye.

“When you put synthol, or any kind of site enhancement oil into your muscles, it simply lifts them up.”

rich piana death

You need to inject it deep behind your muscles so it pushes the muscle out.

He heard stories of Flex Wheeler injecting 20cc’s of synthol an hour before every competition.

Rich tried this himself, and made his arms look like a complete disaster.
He never tried it again.

  • After some time, synthol gets dissolved and absorbed by your body.

It does not stay there for very long.

Why Do Rich Piana’s Muscles Look Weird?

It is because he has some form of silicone in the muscle.

He had a plastic surgery in Mexico, and after that, he didn’t even have to work out to maintain that look.

You can actually find some very rare pictures of Rich before the surgeries and synthol. It’s a much different picture.


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