by Christian Duque
If you’re on YouTube and you watch bodybuilding videos, then you’re very familiar with the latest sensation. His name is Sam Sulek and he’s gone viral by tapping into tried-and-true sentiment of broscience to the max. He’s gone viral in the iron community. He’s not using a bunch of bells and whistles. He’s not jet-setting around town in fast cars or the latest fashions. He’s not trying to be the GQ bodybuilder and he’s not too keen on what The Jones’s are doing. All he’s doing is lifting and eating. He’s documenting his journey but unlike the vast majority of fitness YouTubers he has no interest in competing.
In fact, I don’t know if he’s ever even done a single contest. In a very real way, he’s become privy to the fact that most young people don’t care if you’re competing at the national amateur level or if you’re Mr. Olympia. Perhaps he’s seen how popular Chris Bumstead is and also appreciates the sheer amount of stress the champ endures just to get on that stage year after year. Interestingly, as rumors of C-Bum retiring grow, his popularity continues to soar. This is because the fans don’t really care how many Sandows he amasses. Most fans don’t know who won the Mr. Maple St., the Arnold Classic, or even the Olympia. What they care about is consistent, good content on social media, a sharp look, and knowledge.
Everyone wants to learn macro hacks, what supplements to take, and how to build the best possible look. The stage is for the birds and I think guys like Sam know this all too well. They know what’s taken other guys a career to figure out. Look at Rich Piana and all those years competing at the national level always coming up short. The stage didn’t make Rich Mr. 5%. That came as a result of spending hours per day making videos, perfecting a signature look with signature lingo, and being all the places where things were happening.
Sulek isn’t against competing, it’s just not what gets his blood pumping. He doesn’t make videos in order to impress a panel of judges. He loves to train, and he loves to lift – that sums up his content on social media. To some that might be too simple, but to others it hits the nail on the head.
The vast majority of people that go to the gym aren’t there because they want a coke can trophy or a giant cardboard pro card. Most people have demanding 9-5 jobs, they might be in college or working full-time, and while the idea of doing a contest might something to check off their bucket list one day, it’s not a top priority. Countless people are more than happy with hitting a PR or looking really good in the mirror and hopefully poolside. It’s also not like competing makes anyone super famous or rich.
For every thousand people who compete maybe one or two ever develop any kind of a following. And that, too, is being very generous. When you have a job or you’re in school, lifting is a fun pastime, but you don’t run scenarios in your head where you strive to be the next Arnold. You lift out of love. You eat for gains. And you watch guys on YouTube like Sam Sulek who speak to what you love about the iron game. You’re not looking to learn how to pose for a group old guys or stand in a Speedo on a stage under burning lights. You’re also not looking forward to getting glazed with coats upon coats of oil. If you’re a competitor or want to compete, then watching Sam Sulek’s channel is probably not for you.
Competitors would have a very hard time with seeing him drink a gallon of milk and downing four cups of breakfast cereal. They’d have an issue with him straying from the standard fare of white rice, chicken breast, and ruffage. They’d take issue with his gorging mentality of eating for strength while still presenting an aesthetic look. Others who’d be butthurt at his insane gains, would be quick to point to drugs. That’s the goto for haters across the boards. Countless haters and critics are already speculating at how Sam is cutting his life short, fixating on acne, and trying to micro analyze his every move. Some are even obsessed with his breathing and like to marvel at the times the youngster sounds winded. It takes all sorts and the fitness game has no shortage of trolls. All Sulek wants to do is eat and train, but Good Lord has he ruffled feathers.
I’ll tell you another group that probably won’t be amused by Sam, and that’s the ultra-scientific set. We have guys in our sport that read all the journals, they may have dietitian degrees and/or a wall of fitness certifications. They come at the iron game from a scholarly level and if there’s one thing they hate, it’s meatheads. Once again, guys like Sam are introverts. They really honestly just want to live, lift, and be happy, but the geeks in the fold, like those with voices like Gilbert Godfried.. they want to be praised and followed by those discovering the gym. If you put Greg Doucette next to Sam Sulek the vast majority of young fans will click on Sam over Greg. And that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
The reality of the matter is a lot of people really just don’t want to give up the hits. And that is why someone like Sam is so dangerous to their livelihood on social media. He’s not doing it to become famous, but he is doing just that by being himself. And unlike people like The Liver King, who were living a lie, this guy is living life by his own terms. When you become famous for being yourself, the sky is the limit. If he ever competes, I know Sam will be successful, but I truly believe that is one of the last things he wants to do. What’s in it for him besides a lot of aggravation?
Is his eating approach the best approach to gain muscle? Maybe yes, maybe no. He could care less, and anybody who follows in his footsteps needs to know that what works for him may not work for them. But one thing is for sure, anybody who tries to emulate this rising star will have the time of their life. They will lift for gains, they will eat big, and they will see PR’s go through the roof every time they walk into the gym. And if they don’t, they will have a blast trying. Sam is everything that makes bodybuilding fun. But what’s your take?