Thursday, May 1, 2014

Shoulda, coulda, woulda, did...Cybergenics

If you picked up a single muscle rag in the 90's at some point you most definitely would have come across a one or even two page ad displaying many before and after photos by a company called Cybergenics, claiming all sorts of ridiculous shit in the way of muscle gains that not even a stack of tren and dbol could accomplish in such a short period of time.

For those that were fortunate enough to have avoided this shit, Cybergenics was basically a program that came with a box of seven supplements (six bottles of pills and one bottle of a sub-lingual), a video (VHS baby), and a training manual.

Let's just skip all the foreplay here and get right to plowing shit sideways.

Cybergenics called their program a "steroid replacement system."

That's right bitches.  Get your balls shrunk right here!

I'm not sure where to start with that.

You were on steroids, and decided you needed a replacement system for it?  Or were not on steroids, and decided this was a viable replacement?

Their spokesperson was a bodybuilder by the name of Franco Santoriello.  Some bodybuilder who had graced the covers of most of the muscle rags that I bought each month.  Even better, Franco attributed his bodybuilding success to that of this particular kit.

Fresh off a spaghetti binge
How could I doubt him?  The Cybergenic ads had about 14 before and after photos of him throughout his "Cybergenics journey" where he went from a fat sack of shit to that of a pro bodybuilder level physique.

I couldn't find the ingredients for all the bottles, and I don't remember reading words like "Methandrostenolone" as being part of the ingredients.  But basically, it was just a bunch of various vitamins and minerals with some herbs thrown in that made your piss turn into Luke Skywalker's light saber.

Being the young and gullible schmuck that I was (am?...just not young), I was mesmerized by these ads claiming that I could drop bodyfat and gain lean mass at an astounding rate.  Not only that, there were tons of pictures of regular dudes that had done this very thing while using this kit!


Still.....I was skeptical.  Ok so I probably wasn't because I was a dreamer god dammit, and it was always more fun to get lost in the dream of something working than being a skeptic.

The biggest hump was that I was young, and didn't have a job other than the slave labor I did for my dad, and these kits cost around $140.  Mind you, this is late 80's and early 90's.  That's like a million dollars back then.

Somehow and someway, because my mom thought the sun rose and set in her baby boy, I managed to talk my parents into buying me this certified box of gonorrhea discharge.

I remember getting home and opening the box and slipping that video into the VCR and feeling all of my doubts and worry immediately subside.  That was because fucking doctor Stephen Crawford was on said video, erasing all fears about this validity of this program.  He told me, that this was giving me an alternative to the use of anabolic steroids, and that some jacked and swole was about to be all upon my ass in no time flat.  And he's a doctor.  He had on a stethoscope and everything.  Totally legit.  

Now let's examine that phrase for a minute.  No, not the one about jacked and swole being up on my ass.  The one before that.

"An alternative to the use of anabolic steroids."

This phrase could mean anything.

Drinking cat urine could be an alternative to taking anabolics.

"I don't want to take test and deca.  So I drink cat piss as an alternative."

Works.  Tell me it doesn't.  You can't.  Because it does.

"I don't want to destroy my prostate and liver.  So my alternative is pond water.  I drink pond water weekly, and get sick as fuck.  Same thing."

At this point in time however, I took it to mean that these pills and this liquid and this training program, was indeed as powerful as juice.

The real key to the Cybergenics program was really the training routine, and diet.

Cybergenics Training - 

I'm going to have to tap into the mental vault for this one but basically the training was based around these principles.

  • You use isolation movements first to pre-exhaust the muscle.  So you'd do leg extensions before squats, flyes before bench, etc so forth and so on.
  • You did supersets of the pre-exhaustion movements and the compound movements, going to complete failure on both movements.
  • By complete failure, I mean you'd do flyes until you couldn't get another rep, then you would go to NEGATIVE failure.  Your partner would have to lift shit back into place, and then you'd lower until you couldn't lower the weight under control any longer.  
  •'d grab a lighter weight, and repeat the same thing.  You'd do this for three strip sets before moving on to the compound movement.  
  • When you got to the compound movement, you'd do the same thing.  Go to failure, then negative failure, then strip weight off and repeat.  Then repeat that whole thing two more times.
  • You would do 3 or 4 supersets like this.  
  • If you think you've ever done brutally hard training before, then go try this.  And do this shit daily.  You will change your mind.
I believe you trained 6 days a week for the most part, and you also had to do fasted cardio in the morning, and then another cardio session in the evenings.  You couldn't eat before the first cardio session and couldn't eat carbs after the last one.  

I get exhausted just thinking about training that way right now, and feel an injury coming on from doing shit like "negative failure flyes".  Not only that, but doing all of this work on very low carbohydrates was brutally hard.

Now there are some good parts to the program here.  

For one, the program was mainly built around the diet and training.  And that's never a bad thing.  

You could probably do the diet and training and see "something" in the way of results (not sure what they would be though honestly) without ever taking any of the magic pixie dust.  

The main issue I had was with the marketing of it all.  It was obviously disingenuous in every way, and based around lies and bullshit.  Franco didn't get big and swole from Cybergenics.  Maybe his pocketbook did, but his body was built with all the same chemicals every other pro used.

I'm not sure if every "before and after" success story was bullshit either.  I'm sure some dudes did use the program and lost some fat, or possibly gained some mass (though I'm not sure how they would have survived the onslaught of that program for the entire duration).  But like most every company back then, they relied on appealing to the dreams of young men like myself, that wanted very badly to achieve something meaningful in the way of results.

If you scaled back the training intensity of the program a bit, it might be a viable option for a bodybuilder to use.  But it would take some serious massaging.  The supplements were nothing more than a Centrum broke out over several bottles with a few additives here and there.

Cybergenics later went on to make several other kinds of kits, and the ads and campaigns were of similar nature.

It was the 90's.  Hyperbole and clown pants were what sold.  And people bought in bunches.  


  1. I never fell for Cybergenics but only because it as a few years before I had money. I did blow a lot of money on stuff that came later.

  2. What kind of pond water you on, dawg?

  3. Thank goodness I was in middle school then...though I did fall for several Muscletech prodcuts.

  4. The good old days. Supplements were the fucking wild west back then, and GNC was a minefield of awesomeness.

  5. I fell for it back in the day, because I didn't know better but it did do something for me, I ignored everything from magazines after that and got huge and strong being my own research on my body. Less volume and more intensity worked well.

  6. I bought that crap back in 93. I was wondering why the hell I didn't look like those guys on the before-after pictures, after the completion of the cycle.

  7. i grew up in toms river and i kn ow franco and trained with him..he certainly wasnt using cybergenics for sure. he used everything else though..i remember those cg guys training at golds gym toms river all the time. they looked so overtrained it was crazy...franco jhas had drug issues for yrs since then. scott chinery the cg guy died a couple years ago..who knows what was in those bottles..

  8. franco was jackd as hell for the 90s..strong too.

  9. I used this program/product in the late 80's and got great results. So much so that people noticed without me asking. I followed it to a T and got plenty of sleep.
    Did it 2 different times. As the author stated the workouts were brutal.
    I do recall that the company was L&S Research at the time and I believe the formulations/ingredients have been changed.
    I no longer train bodybuilding style so couldnt see it being of value any longer

  10. I used this in the late 80's and got great results. Followed it to a T, got plenty of rest. And the workouts were BRUTAL. I have a feeling the formulation/ingredients were changed. I used it 2 different times and both times I gained weight and got leaner.
    I no longer train with bodybuilding principles so it wouldnt be of use to me these days

  11. Great trip down memory lane. I was about 15 then, 92/93 timeframe. The sun rose and set in me to, but my parents still didn't spring a penny for this crap. They really were right all the time. I distinctly remember some of the bottles smelling like bad cabbage when you popped the lid. And they always made me $hit. It was like clockwork. I remember just looking at the bottles and they would make me $hit. Seriously. I gave the program an honest go, but even for a testosterone fueled pubescent teen, it was too intense. Not to mention you basically needed a spotter the entire time. I cringe thinking of trying that now at my age.

  12. I used the program, but couldn't afford the supplements so I borrowed the VHS from a friend and copied down all of the days, exercises and rep and then went at it religiously for that time period. I cheated on a few of the 6th day sets, but overall stuck to it. It was the hardest I have ever worked out then and to now, but it was not undoable. People used to tel me they got tired just whatching me. The food on the heavy days was hard to ingest so much for me though. I built a good amount of muscle, but didn't get Huge and mostly got incredible ripped with the muscle! I'm sure glad that I couldn't afford the death pills... ;-)

  13. I fell for it...hook line and sinker. I actually gained 50lbs though of muscle......but it sure wasn't from the supplements in the box. I ate everything underneath the sun and had multiple protein shakes throughout the day.

  14. I was in a military academy in the early 90's, and one of my classmates shelled out the money to buy the supplements. I never took any of the pills ... I just read the manual and did the workout. I thought it was awesome ... going to complete failure several times on every set is a great way to channel intensity constructively. I agree that the marketing claims were total BS and not worth the price, but I really enjoyed the workout itself.

  15. Placed myself in ketosis. Then did the cybergenics routine. Once in ketosis my energy level did not change. I'm still able to workout do 2 plus he's. I bulked up and cut up at the same time. Started the cybergenics back in 1988. The first box set. It was brutal, but very affective. Now that I'm 43 I picked up the manual and restarted the routine. It feels good to have people ask me what kind of Roids I'm taking. Its a lot of hard work. I'm not gonna lie. Many times I wanted to cry when I couldn't do another rep. You need a partner that gonna Challenge and push you beyond your limits. This routine works.

  16. I bought the kit, but I was 30 years old and had no illusions about magic results from the pills. The routine was, as described, brutally intense. I had never done anything so hard core before. It's only an 8-week cycle for a reason! You had to eat about 2500 calories a day for the first three days of the week, then doubled it for the last four. By the end of two months, I didn't look like a bodybuilder, but I never expected I would. However, I did gain muscle and lose fat, and had MUCH more strength and stamina. And, even though I knew full well that it was NOT the supplements that gave me the results, I considered it money well spent just for the impetus to do it.

    The company was owned by a guy named Scott Chinery, who sold it at its peak and became a gazillionaire at 29. From there, he indulged EVERY interest he had in life. He bought a warehouse full of exotic cars AND the Batmobile from the 1966 TV show. He had the world's largest collection of Cuban cigars. The world's largest collection of antique carnival games. Guitars owned by people like Eric Clapton. He also famously commissioned a series of archtop guitars called the "Blue Collection." He started charities for kids with terminal illnesses.

    Chinery did all the stuff I figure I would do if I had a ridiculous fortune. Unfortunately, he died of cancer himself in 2000, but he lived one hulluva life while her was here.

  17. In the mid-eighties, prior to the name "Cybergenics", the program was marketed as "Biogenics". I was just out of the Army, back in college, and managing a gym when a member approached me one day and offered to sell me the Biogenics program at less than half what he paid for it. He had tried it for two days and it was far too intense for him. So out of curiosity I did and went the distance with it. Yes, it was brutal, but no more so than some of the military courses I'd been through. The diet was a bit difficult, but it worked The supplements were useless. At the end of it my lifts were up a few notches, my BMI had remarkably improved, and my running times (sprints to 2-mile run) were much better. When the product changed its name to Cybergenics I used it twice more --- once as preliminary preparation for a martial arts event and once to help a training partner get through it. Same results. So the pros were: 1- Decent way to readjust your BMI, pain threshold, metabolism, and overall physical condition; 2- An okay program for a change-up or prep from your usual training cycles. Cons: 1- Don't buy the supplements; 2- Must be performed as prescribed, which can be inconvenient at times; 3- Forget the steroid-equivalent marketing hype; 4- Must put the social life aside for 8 weeks, especially due to the flatulence the diet causes.

  18. Did 2 cycles of this in Okinawa while stationed there in 1987. The supplements may not have been legit but the training and diet program brought gave me results.As a Marine I certainly wasn't going to wimp out on any workouts. The cycling of eating and lifting are 2 things I incorporate into my routine even today.