Palumboism is an affliction of the extreme atrophy of muscles– particularly the limbs- after an extended period of time on excessive AAS and GH. The term is also often associated with the irregular distribution of fat on the body called lipodystrophy. The name comes from Dave Palumbo, a man, who in his heyday, held his ground next to many of the greats. Dave was a sight to be seen; here we have a picture of Dennis James next to Dave Palumbo in the ’97 NPC nationals. You can see that Palumbo looks full and large. Later in Palumbo’s career, he came into another NPC show where the photo below was taken and the term Palumboism was born.
Here we see Palumbo with a massive gut, big waistline, shrunken pectorals and atrophied limbs; definitely far from the pleasing physique that we had seen in his earlier years. He lacks the arm size and shape that he used to have and no longer is able to control his stomach on stage.
One bodybuilder who exhibits an astonishing example of Palumboism is Greg Kovacs. Kovacs was once a mass monster; he sat around 345 lbs in the off-season and boasted incredible strength. Pictures of Kovacs emerged of him incline benching an impressive 575 lbs. The man was a beast, but due to excessive GH and AAS use we no longer see the appealing physique that Kovacs once brought to the stage. Kovacs also displays even more abnormal fat distribution in his obliques than Palumbo did. I would argue that Kovacs has the worst case of Palumboism himself, he just got lucky because Kovacsism doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Paul “Jurassic Paul” Dillet, from the 90’s, was an extremely accomplished bodybuilder. He dwarfed everyone; he even made Dorian Yates look small at the ’94 Olympia, Dillet actually had 30 lbs on Yates. Nobody nailed the crucifix pose better than this guy. However, his size and overuse of drugs took a toll…
In 2006, Dillet attempted a comeback at the Montreal Pro and it is clear that he no longer harnessed the sheer size that carried him to the top back in the 90’s. He had already experienced extreme atrophy of the arms and back. Back in 2012, a picture surfaced of Paul Dillet clearly off of all anabolics, GH, insulin and the like. He looks as though he had never picked up a weight in his life. However, what he did seem to maintain was the bodybuilder appetite and packed on that massive midsection.
I feel it is important to mention that no studies have been done on Palumboism and its actual causes are ‘technically’ unknown. Most of the information about the condition is purely speculation gathered from the bodybuilding community. However, we do know that the affliction has not always destroyed the physiques of bodybuilders. Take the golden era bodybuilders for example, even today some of them boast impressive physiques. One name in particular comes to mind: Frank Zane. Even today Zane has held on to an impressive physique. So, what are the differences between the golden era and now? Well, one difference is that, today, GH has helped bodybuilders reach the enormous size that they are able to obtain, while another major factor is insulin use. These two things coupled with an immense amount of food has allowed for a huge increase in the size of today’s bodybuilding athletes.
There are many other recent bodybuilders who may experience the fall to Palumboism who are not mentioned above, even including the great Ronnie Coleman perhaps?
Whatever the cause of this relatively recent phenomenon in bodybuilding, we can’t write off the amount of hard work and dedication in and out of the gym that these men put into their physiques. We just have to remember that all greats in the sport of bodybuilding will meet their end sooner or later…
– Kyle Nelson