When choosing an inspiration to model your own physique on, surely there are better alternatives than the Incredible Hulk.
If only Romario dos Santos Alves, 25, had someone to tell him that before he set out on his quest to mirror the body of the bright green digitally altered superhero.
Romario became addicted to injecting himself with a cocktail of oil, painkillers and alcohol to pump up his biceps, resulting in doctors telling him they’d need to amputate both of his arms.
After moving from his hometown of Caldas Novas to Goiania in Brazil three years ago, Romario made friends with other gym-goers who introduced him to the lethal formula. He soon lost control.
At the peak of his addiction Romario turned to purchasing the kind of needles used on bulls to inject himself, as his muscles had started to solidify leaving regular needles no chance against the rocks that had formed in his arms.
Romario’s biceps had swollen to a near unbelievable 25 inches when he was omitted to hospital.
“I remember the doctor told me that they would need to amputate both arms. They said everything in there, all my muscles, were rock. It was either that or cut all of my muscles out,” he says.
“And then thank God the doctor told me that they did not have to amputate – they could instead remove the rocks which had formed in my arms.”
Too worried about the rocks that were forming in his arms, Romario was blinded to the rocks that were forming between him and wife Marisangela Marinho.
Romario tricked Marinho, 22, into injecting him with the oil in places he was unable to reach, telling her it was harmless and that it would leave the body after a short time.
When Marinho learned the truth, however, she made him choose between their relationship and the oil.
“She told me that if I start using it again or anything like it she will leave me because of what she went through. That was the hardest part of our life because I had depression and I was removed from my job because I tried to kill myself.”
Romario’s outlandish appearance generated mixed reactions from the public leaving him in an even tougher predicament.
Being called a “beast and monster” by a 12-year-old girl at church drove him to the depths of despair, while the praise and adulation he received off others for his incredible physique made it even harder for him to kick the addiction.
Although Romario hasn’t used the deadly substance for over two years, he admits other muscle enhancing drugs still tempt him from time to time.
“Two weeks ago I bought a horse hormone. I put the needle in my chest and sucked in the air to see if I got a vein but nothing came out. I froze and started to sweat,” he says.
“My mind started remembering things that I’ve gone through and I thought that I couldn’t do it – I couldn’t give into temptation again.”
While Romario still has ambitions to become a professional bodybuilder, he has committed to staying clean to achieve his goal.
“I still feel like taking it but I won’t take it again. If you take it once there will definitely be a second time – it’s addictive.”
If you’re thinking of modelling your physique on a superhero, check out our workout to sculpt sleeve-busting muscles like The Rock.