The Controversy of Celebrities Allegedly Lifting Fake Weights.
Welcome to the era of fake weights, where online scrutiny calls out fitness feats too impressive to be true. In 2021, 74-year-old actor Sylvester Stallone made headlines when he posted a video of himself lifting a 45-pound weight plate in each hand, working his way up from a kneeling to standing position.
Many viewers doubted the authenticity of this feat, including professional bodybuilder Greg Doucette, who even attempted to replicate Stallone’s act. Stallone fans offered their theories and defended the actor, further fueling the discourse.
However, Stallone isn’t the first high-profile figure to face such controversies. In the past, similar suspicions have been raised about fitness model Gracyanne Barbosa, strength influencer Brad Castleberry, online strength and conditioning coach Jeff Cavaliere, and eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman.
Even NFL star JJ Watt joined the conversation, humorously demonstrating the use of fake weights and cautioning his followers about such deceptions.
Not all fitness feats disguised as genuine are easy to spot. Some influencers and celebrities lift near-world record weights with minimal strain, no visible support gear, and barely a change in their breathing. Others are trickier to identify unless you are familiar with weightlifting nuances.
You may notice that the athlete effortlessly shifts the barbell before benching or struggles at unusual points during the lift. Perhaps the weights they use are noticeably different from others in the gym, suspiciously resembling the fake plates available online.
Social media exposes everyone to criticism, but the scrutiny increases exponentially for celebrities, influencers, or self-proclaimed fitness experts. Aside from regular followers, competing online creators who are eager to capitalize on potential scandals add to the critique.
But why does this trend persist despite the risk of exposure and embarrassment? For some, like Stallone, it’s all about capturing attention and garnering engagement – a means to promote upcoming work or projects.
In Stallone’s case, his stunt drew millions of views and thousands of comments, serving as an effective prelude to his next announcement – the re-release of his 1985 film, “Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago – The Ultimate Director’s Cut”.
Other influencers, by adding a little extra “weight”, can significantly boost their perceived strength, impressing their followers and elevating their online image. As Greg Doucette points out, “If you have 500 pounds, and you add an extra 100 pretend pounds, it’s a lot more impressive.”
Most surprisingly, there seems to be no tangible downside to this practice. Brad Castleberry, who allegedly benched an improbable 675 pounds in 2017, shows no signs of harm despite ongoing skepticism. Six years later, he still commands a strong following on Instagram, although suspicions of fake follower engagement linger.
Jeff Cavaliere, the well-known physical therapist and strength coach who runs the popular YouTube channel ATHLEAN-X, is another notable figure embroiled in this controversial trend. Criticism erupted when some viewers suggested he used fake weights in his instructional videos.
Cavaliere, a seasoned fitness professional with over a decade of experience, openly addressed these allegations. He explained his choice to use prop weights was purely for demonstration purposes and not to exaggerate his strength. He affirmed that his priority was delivering clear and accurate fitness guidance to his audience rather than showcasing personal feats of strength. Nonetheless, the controversy sparked debates about authenticity in online fitness content.
Bradley Martyn, a renowned fitness influencer, also faced allegations of using fake weights. The particular video in question involved Martyn performing a bench press with a woman seated on the barbell—an impressive act that drew both awe and skepticism from viewers. Critics questioned the feasibility of such a stunt, arguing that it bordered on the unbelievable.
Yet, as with other cases, concrete proof to validate these allegations is lacking. Martyn, similar to other influencers caught in this controversy, has neither confirmed nor denied the accusations. Despite the ongoing debate, his online popularity remains largely unscathed.
These controversies underscore a larger issue within the online fitness community: the pressure to showcase extraordinary strength or performance feats to attract views and engagement. It’s an ongoing cycle where each uploaded video needs to be more impressive than the last, leading some to employ questionable methods like fake weights to meet these expectations.
However, the lasting impact of these controversies extends beyond individual reputations. It influences the broader perception of the fitness industry, and it can mislead fitness enthusiasts who might be striving to reach these seemingly unattainable feats.