Serge Nubret, aka the black panther, is undoubtedly one of bodybuilding’s all-time greats. Not only did Serge have superhuman-like genetics, but he also had exceptional knowledge when it came to building muscle tissue.
He was decades ahead of his time, implementing several controversial and effective training methodologies with great success. These include: intermittent fasting, spot reduction, high volume workouts and light weights/high reps.
Serge had one of the most aesthetic physiques to ever grace the Mr Olympia stage. He gained many fans as a result of his aesthetic classic physique, competing in Mr Universe and Mr Olympia competitions throughout the 60’s and 70’s; alongside Arnold and Lou Ferrigno in bodybuilding’s golden era.
Many people reading this will assume Serge was definitely taking steroids, due to Arnold and others from this generation admitting to being on the juice.
Many people watched Pumping Iron and were impressed with Serge’s physique, however what many don’t know is that he’d stopped training 12 weeks prior to the competition (losing 12lbs of lean muscle), due to Weider supposedly telling him there would be no competition for him. This then enabled Arnold to successfully make his comeback and retain his title. Mr Olympia politics, eh?
Serge is a very modest bodybuilder, taking the time out to give back to the bodybuilding community via the most popular forum online on bodybuilding.com. Despite many people initially failing to believe it was him, the moderators verified that it was in fact Nubret posting (and not some troll).
During this Q&A, controversy stirred when Serge came out and said that he got jacked without steroids. He said:
“Back then we didn’t know about those products (steroids). In 1960 I won my first international contest. I competed with a 20 inches arm, without anything. So from that I know that it is possible to have a fantastic physique naturally”.
Thus, Serge is claiming to be natural, at least up until 1960, which by this point he was YOKED, with 20 inch pythons for arms.
This may also indicate that Serge DID take steroids after 1960, as he only specifies being natty during this time period.
Serge’s genetics are among the best ever seen in bodybuilding. If the evidence in this article points to Serge being 100% natural, then you could argue he was possibly THE most blessed bodybuilder ever (in terms of DNA).
For context in regards to Serge Nubret’s genetics, he won World’s Most Muscular Man in 1960, just 2 years after he started lifting weights. He was roughly 22 years old and had just experienced his newbie gains. Here’s a picture of Serge Nubret during this time (where he says he was, roughly 21-23 – he couldn’t remember his exact age (2)).
From this photo we can see that Serge Nubret was already at a similar size to when he was at his peak – competing on the IFBB stage. Also during this time (1960), steroids were not heard of or used by bodybuilders. It was only later on in this decade that steroids were beginning to be utilized.
Below is a picture of Serge Nubret and Arnold, during this same pre-steroid time period. As you can see, Serge is pretty much at his normal size. However, Arnold is much smaller compared to the latter part of his career.
As you can see, Serge’s chest dwarfs Arnold, with the Austrian later going on to build one of the greatest chests in bodybuilding, thanks to some anabolic support (3).
Arnold went on to look like this:
Thus it’s evident that since Serge experienced his newbie gains, he hasn’t grown much, which is a strong indication of someone being natural.
Secret Inner Circle Says “Serge Was on Steroids”
Julien Porisse, was a friend of Serge’s who trained at his gym regularly, in the 70’s and 80’s. This was at the Nubret International Club in Paris. Julien revealed in an email to Michael Raya: the ins and outs of Serge’s diet, training routines and steroid cycles. He also confirmed the rumour of Serge eating 8lbs of horse meat every day, whilst documenting other habits of the IFBB legend.
Julien claims that Serge used primobolan, deca durabolin and testosterone enanthate to maintain his size when dieting. He added that Serge’s muscle size however can be attributed to previous decades of hard training.
Several people have supposedly verified the claims of Julien’s email. You can see the video detailing Julien’s email below:
Although there’s weight to these claims, it doesn’t guarantee that Julien’s comments are true.
Signs of Steroid-Use
Serge doesn’t have many obvious signs of anabolic assistance, however there’s one that does stand out in some pictures.
Exceptional muscle fullness.
Deca durabolin-users are easy to detect, because their muscle cells fill with water and become ridiculously full (more so than any other steroid). Natural bodybuilders won’t have this constant inflated-looking pump to their muscles.
See Serge’s arms below.
Usually when a bodybuilder takes deca or testosterone, their muscles will blow up dramatically. However, if Serge was cutting aggressively on low calories in a bid to get shredded; using these substances would merely maintain his size (instead of adding additional hypertrophy).
The first picture is of Serge in his early 20’s. And the last photo is Serge, aged 65.
At no point in Serge’s life has he blown up and gained 50+ pounds of muscle (like a typical steroid-user would). The average natural bodybuilder will only gain 20+ of newbie muscle and then he will plateau off.
Throughout the years, even into old age, Serge has maintained all of his size. Some may say Serge could’ve been juicing long into old age; however we believe this to be unlikely as if he was juicing to maintain this size, where would be an initial growth spurt where he gained a tonne of mass. However, there are no pictures during his gains timeline to suggest this.
The evidence suggests Serge was telling the truth. It seems he was 100% natural up to the year of 1960, when he was crowned World’s Most Muscular Man with 20 inch arms.
In his early days he’s seen looking massive, before steroids were commonly used in bodybuilding.
However, he later showed signs of deca durabolin use, due to an unnatural level of muscle thickness; which corroborates Julien Porisse’s email of what steroids Serge took.
Thus we believe Serge had world-class genetics, got huge in his early 20’s, then cycled steroids to retain his muscle mass when cutting. It’s a shame he didn’t remain natural throughout his entire career as maintaining your muscle mass whilst dieting, is perfectly attainable for any natty. It just requires a small calorie deficit (-500), ensuring slow and steady fat loss.
Although Serge most likely DID build 20 inch arms without steroids, it’s very unlikely the average lifter will achieve this same feat. Serge clearly was a genetic phenomenon and trained/ate obsessively.Serge Nubret could bench press 225kg (4), he ate 8lbs of horse meat every day, built a world-class back despite never performing ONE deadlift (5); and would train for up to 4 hours each day (6)
Plus he’d routinely do 2,000 sit ups during a typical ab workout, executed every single day without fail (7). He simply was not a normal man when it came to genetics or work rate.
Proof it’s possible to look like Serge Nubret Naturally
Melvin Wells was of a similar size to Serge Nubret in the 1940’s (before steroids were used). So we can say with certainty, that if you have exceptional genetics, you can get as jacked as Serge Nubret without taking a single steroid.
Serge Nubret sadly passed away in April 2011. RIP Black Panther, a true bodybuilding legend.