I don’t watch TV anymore. I subscribe to Empire Movie magazine to keep abreast of all the latest films, but I’m lucky if I watch one or two movies a month. The reason is that I’m addicted to the perpetual soap opera that is the Youtube Fitness community.
I’m not sure if other subcultures operate with as much drama as the various channels in the fitness industry do, but it makes for quirky entertainment at times.
I’m ambivalent to some of the more popular channels. Others I just love to hate and watch regardless. And among the ever-growing multitude, there’s actually a few channels who provide some informative content.
The Best Bodybuilding Fitness Channels of 2015.
Rich Piana – if you’re familiar with “8-hour arm training sessions”, “killin’ it” as a “5 per cent-er” and if your “dick hangs lower than your balls”, then you’re probably one of the half a million subscribers of everyone’s favourite natty-vegan, Rich Piana. Piana’s channel provide one of the most watched, talked about and trolled channels in the fitness community.As a one man marketing machine, Rich has star-power in an industry in dire need of personalities. Funny thing about Rich’s vids are that if you listen really closely he usually only has one thing to say, but he’ll say it 50 times to fill a 10 minute clip- some of this year’s highlights have been the aforementioned “why your dick should hang lower than your balls” and “New Years Cycle” videos that have burnt up the internet in recent months.
Vegan Gains – I would say the most influential icon/misanthrope/psychopath in Youtube Fitness community in 2015, Richard Burgess has achieved notoriety with his attacks on a variety of prominent industry figures for their “unhealthy” and “unethical” meat-eating lifestyles. With his Worst of the Fitness Industry series calling out the industry’s biggest names, VG has attracted lawsuits, death threats and most importantly eyeballs to his channel and cause. There’s no doubt this kid is a genius – his video production values rock; they’re humorous and educative and the information is presented in an intelligent and viral-spreading manner. To add to his growing credibility among fans/lifters, many Youtube channel operators and are questioning their dietary habits with some even choosing to adopt the vegan bodybuilding lifestyle. Will veganism be the new fitness fad in 2016? Time fill tell.
Rx Muscle – Dave Palumbo, Chris Aceto and John Romano are some of the most familiar names in bodybuilding since the 90s and run the best channel catering to the daily news and goings on in the bodybuilding and fitness industry. The channel has a lot of varied programming including contest reports, Live With interviews, Q&A’s with Dave and the perennial Iron Debate.
Sam’s Fitness – Filmed in a warehouse with the one-man entertainment team, Lee Priest. Interviewer, Sam pitches topical viewer questions to elicit no-holds-barred and often hilarious rants from the ink-covered, diminutive bodybuilding legend. Highlights this year have been his ensuing beef with Bostin Loyd, Kali Muscle and anyone else brazen enough to say or do anything stupid.
Lui Marco – the self aggrandising and often annoying Marco lives in a world of self-delusion, but as the Perez Hilton of the bodybuilding world his channel does feature some interesting topics and reflections on bodybuilding’s glory days. As an industry commentator, he knows what topics garner eyeballs, so a lot of his vids have focussed on exposing fake natties, synthol abusers, fitness-gossip and “bubble-gut” sporting IFBB pros. Has had a long-running beef with Phil Heath for calling the champ out on his pregnant Olympia appearances of recent years, but is also pretty much blocked by many other industry icon’s Facebook and Instagram pages unwilling to have the social-media reputations bought into question by the L.U.I.
John Hansen – John has been a notable columnist and bodybuilding historian for years. A competitor himself in his heyday, John is a wealth of knowledge on physique culture that I wish he would interject more often in his videos. As it stands, his channel presents mostly irrelevant (and uninteresting) NPC coverage, but his ever expanding Interviews With Legends series is a must watch for true fans of the sport.
Infinite Elgintensity – Filipino lawyer/powerlifter/deadpan comedian, Elgin Mones hosts one of the funniest and clever channels. Part industry watchdog. part troll, he satirizes extreme industry stupidity from everything to CrossFit, Kali-Muscle, Elliot Hulse, Mike Chang and bad-form highlights. His take down of reader attacks in his hate-mail vids in which he features an often unintentionally hilarious pic of the would be offender and then verbally shreds them before their peers, is hysterical.
Gregg Valentino – another of the more outspoken and honest voices in the industry, Valentino is best known for as the man “whose arms exploded” and was for a while in the late 90’s one of the most vilified figures in fitness. His channel is developing some good content and his stories about various industry players (Lou Ferigno, Franco Columbo etc) are laugh out loud funny.
The Protein Chef – Bodybuilding food-porn extraordinaire, this guy turns everyone’s guilty culinary favourites into macro-friendly alternatives that often taste better than the real thing. With easy to follow instructions, calorie and macro breakdowns and an archive of recipes, this channel is an awesome watch to keep those meal-preps varied.
Strength Theory – Gregg is another of the industry good guys. He’s a world-record powerlifter and an intellectual powerhouse, he runs the informative site of the same name (that is, strengththeory.com for those that missed it.) Greg’s knowledge of lifting is unsurpassed and has a way of presenting information in a very easy to understand and likeable manner. I’ll be reviewing his recent book “The Art and Science of Lifting” in the next week, but Greg is one of those guys I don’t hesitate to support.
Ric Drasin – Ric’s been around since Arnold’s day and was one of the first Youtube channels to appear discussing drugs and training from that time. Approaching 72 years of age, Ric shows no signs of slowing either in his passion for the sport or his own personal fitness journey.
Jerry Brainum – Jerry is another of the long-time industry fixtures having trained since the Golden Era and written for every major magazine. These days, he runs a paid monthly newsletter from his site Applied Metabolics. His channel is still shaping up, but he releases some interesting vids on topics pertaining to rarely discussed scientific topics relating to bodybuilding.
Mike Matthews – Mike’s another good guy and runs the site Muscle For Life. He’s probably best known for his “Bigger Leaner Stronger” book series for men and women. His videos are aimed towards the beginner/intermediate mainstream fitness enthusiast just wanting to get in shape, but his advice is credible and cuts through the confusion and misinformation. He features some very interesting interviews with prominent book authors and applies their message to advancing people’s fitness goals. He’s always responsive to questions and comments on his site and channel and well worth a watch.
Benjamin Pakulski – If mental masturbation were a crime then the team at Ben Pakulski’s channel would get the death penalty for their over-scrutinisation of lifting minutiae. I couldn’t fathom a beginner watching/reading any of B-Pak’s stuff without entering a world of confused hurt due to the steep learning curve and analysis paralysis. That’s not to say there’s no good information here – I fuckin’ love it – And his recent MI40 University series is chock full of informative value.
BroScience Life – Humour is to the taste of the individual, but this is probably the funniest fitness related channel on Youtube. Dom’s clueless bro routine always manages to find something new to lampoon in the often repetitive world of bodybuilding. He’s the wordplay master with his finger firmly on the pulse of the fitness zeitgeist.
MountainDog1 – not an information/discussion channel per se, but contains one of the best exercise indexs I’ve seen containing an exhaustive list of exercises specific to the Meadow’s Mountain Dog system. If you’re ever stuck for some variety or want to bring up a weak-point using a more targeted exercise then there’s something here for everyone.
UCTheFreak – Dave Crossland was the subject matter for the Under Construction documentary I reviewed last year and has been continuing his quest to hit 400lbs while filming the sequel. No flashy gimmicks as it’s just a talking head video series, but Dave’s an intelligent guy and goes into a lot of detail regarding the PED side of things.
Some other honourable mentions I’d add if you have spare time in your day include supertraining06 and Reactive Training Systems – both of which are powerlifting related sites presented by Mark Bell and Mike Tuchscherer respectively.
Any good ones I’ve missed here or that you can recommend? Leave them in comments below.