Under Construction or Self Destruction?
From the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Gregg Valentino: “Do you think girls look at me and go, “oh My God, that’s hot”? They like… “that’s fucking gross.” I walk into a club and the hottest girl could be there with her boyfriend and her boyfriend will see me and mush her in the face to get over to me just to say to me, like, “dude, what the fuck?”
Bell: “You’re getting attention from the guys, not from the girl.”
Valentino: “I don’t give a shit. It’s attention. I can’t explain it to you.”
Extreme bodybuilding, facilitated primarily by the use of extreme amounts of performance enhancing drugs, has recently become its own vehicle for self promotion. Guys like Gregg Valentino and Boston Loyd have attracted cult followings who watch these guys skirt the boundaries of what some would deem chemically enhanced, protracted suicide. Drugs have always played a part of the sport, but their advertised abuse in public forums like Youtube and social media forums is a relatively recent phenomenon. People are attracted to the dark side: Dave Crosland recognises this, and lays bare the good, the bad and the ugly in his documentary, Under Construction.
The marketing poster for Under Construction touts it as the film “Generation Iron should have been” – which isn’t really a justified comparison. The two films are chalk and cheese with regards to their subject matter with the gym being the only unifying theme. G.I while being a lousy bag of shit, features the top echelon of bodybuilders competing at the highest tier of their sport. Because this is a review I have to be frank in saying that Crosland is no bodybuilder. The line that separates a guy that trains and one who’s bodybuilder is that a bodybuilder competes AND takes into account the four components traditionally associated with the sport- size/muscularity, symmetry, condition/definition and proportion. Weighing in at over 300 pounds at 6’1, Crosland definitely has the size criteria down – but then so do sumo wrestlers. In some of the more scathing board comments, Dave has been vilified for his un-bodybuilder like proportions and body fat levels. His chest is severely mishapen/atrophied after sustaining a pec tear. Crosland realises these shortcomings and still, is persistent in his pursuit at getting “as big as inhumanely possible”
The film chronicles the life (or lack thereof) in the average day of someone committed to such a quest. A bodybuilder’s daily routine often becomes his own prison – All the food prep, eating, cleaning, sleeping, training, drugs and supplement taking doesn’t exactly allow one many opportunities for spontaneity, or spur of the moment, romantic getaways to deserted tropical islands. Crosland admits as much, mentioning how his family’s embarrassment which comes with him lugging a food filled cooler bag around on family outings. He puts away 7,000-10,000 calories a day of clean calories which makes life even more a chore.
Crosland is very open about his drug use to the extent that we see him in one scene injecting bodyparts in full view of the camera. In another scene he showcases his mini-pharmacy stockpile of drugs. For the sport’s voyeurs I know this is what they paid to see; but I wonder how an outsider to the sport, especially someone with the political clout to further tighten the regulatory screws on these substances and their use would interpret it.
Crosland spends a lot of his time giving educational talks to others about the associated risks and dangers of steroid use, and while he doesn’t advocate using drugs at all, he believes that responsible use only comes with proper education. He’s not a big believer in using esoteric stacks neither. A simple 2.5g test, 1g tren and 200mgs of anavar/day rounds out his cycle along with the accompanying PCT. Considering his “mass at all costs” goal, I wonder why GH and insulin didn’t make it into his stack.
I also found it ironic the bodybuilder Crosland identifies most with in his quest for size is Greg Kovacs. Considering that Kovacs died a very young man last year, I think the alarm bells should be sounding loud enough to stem his predilections for such a perilous pursuit, especially considering his responsibilities. In one scene he’s reading a news article about a young bodybuilder “addicted to steroids” and calls him out for being a dick – which is kind of equal to the pot calling the kettle black.
This isn’t an attack on Crosland’s character. I found him to be an articulate, intelligent and affable guy; dedicated and loyal to his family. Unlike attention whores Valentino and Loyd, Crosland doesn’t seem to crave the freak-focused media spotlight. I’d wager that he does enjoy some of the “WTF? looks he gets when walking through a crowded mall along with the female and gay attention he receives. His larger than life size serves the dual purpose of keeping the world at bay as much as it does to attract the awed attentions of others. In one scene Dave showcases some of the amazing sketches of animals he draws, and his body is just a further extension of that art, no matter how grotesque or offensive it is in the eyes of the public.
Interspersed throughout the film are snippets of Dave’s training. I like the filming methods used with its industrial dubstep soundtrack and found myself motivated to hit the weights after watching them. (Although at times the training shots reminded me of this Youtube Clip) The filming throughout has a professional feel, capturing the bleak contrast of the working class industrial streets of Manchester to its picturesque rolling green hills.
I think the film’s a little short with a running time of only 60 minutes. With the training scenes removed, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of narrative holding it together. There’s also not much of a resolution to the whole story either. Crosland doesn’t discuss the results of this cycle; there’s no before or afters, reflections or discussion about the whole experience. I also think it should have been priced in range with a regular movie ticket since it’s an amateur production featuring a regular Joe.
I follow Crosland’s Youtube Channel because I think he’s an interesting and experienced guy and I don’t understand the reason for the amount of criticism being levelled at him on the various discussion boards. He’s walking his own journey as we all do in this game and therefore isn’t beholden to the opinions of others. (including my own). Being about the same age, I can relate to his passion, hard work ethic and “foundation first before drugs” approach. He’s talking about running a future, more extreme cycle in a bid to chase his goal of 400lbs but is unsure whether it will materialise into a sequel film. I personally hope there is a second part because I want to see more of Crosland’s journey as time goes on.
I think overall, Under Construction is a good watch for the die hard fan. It’s not great by any stretch, but it holds up to repeated viewings and provides the viewer a very raw look at the animal that is extreme bodybuilding.
(Photos via: Under Construction Facebook Page)