The Life and Death of Rich Piana

The Life and Death of Rich Piana

The 46-year-old bodybuilder collapsed in early August and died after being in a coma for two weeks.

 Life and Death of Rich Piana

“If you have the choice to stay natural or do steroids, stay natural. There’s no reason to do steroids, you’re only hurting your body, you’re hurting yourself.”

Rich Piana was an American bodybuilder, entrepreneur, and YouTuber who lived from September 26, 1970, through August 25, 2017. He was crowned Mr. Teen California by the National Physique Committee (NPC) in 1989, Mr. California by the NPC in 1998, and Mr. California by the NPC in 2003 and 2009. 

Piana was well-liked in the weightlifting world for his accomplishments in bodybuilding, honesty regarding the negative effects of steroid usage in bodybuilding, and enthusiastic attitude. He had a popular YouTube channel where he posted motivational talks, stories from his life, workout videos, special guest appearances, and his everyday routine.

In his videos, he frequently discussed "the 5%" attitude and drive, or the proportion of individuals who would do everything necessary to achieve their goals. Piana was straightforward about taking Trenbolone and other anabolic drugs. 

Piana fell ill in August 2017 at 46 and passed away two weeks later. His autopsy report mentioned that he had "mild atherosclerotic disease" and that his heart and liver weighed twice as much as the usual adult male's heart and liver. However, because the hospital threw away all the toxicological samples, the postmortem report was ultimately inconclusive as to the reason and manner of his passing. Due to several probable causes of death and the impossibility of conducting a toxicology report, the 46-year-old bodybuilder Rich Piana's cause of death was classified as "unknown" in an autopsy report received by Men's Health two and a half months after his untimely demise.

His claimed history of drug use, "significant" heart problems, and the absence of specimens from the hospital, all of which might have contributed to his demise, were listed as reasons why the autopsy could not identify a cause of death. According to William Pellan, Director of Investigations for the District Six Medical Examiner's Office, told Men's Health.

"We did not perform toxicology analysis due to the admission specimens being discarded well before his (Piana's) date of death,"

He also added that.

"Those specimens provide the ability to determine what was in a person's system at the time of the incident." Pellan explained that hospitals routinely discard specimens after three days, even though they are necessary in cases like Piana's to run toxicology reports. "In this particular circumstance, both the police agency and our office made contact with the hospital and requested that the specimens be retained," 

While receiving a haircut in early August, Piana passed out and was sent to the hospital. He spent over two weeks in a medically induced coma before passing away in the hospital. Piana's girlfriend, Jansen, provided a health update on him on August 17, stating that he was still alive and thanked the public for their support.

His girlfriend said 

“The worldwide outpouring to send Rich voicemails and messages to have played or read to him is overwhelming! We can’t thank you all enough for your continued support during this time,” she wrote. “The only update I’m permitted to give at this time is that he is alive, he is okay, and the excellent medical professionals here as well as myself and his close loved ones are doing all we can to get him back to a full recovery.

Bodybuilder Rich Piana

Rich Piana's girlfriend also faced backlash for her actions. The incident sparked a discussion when a video shared by his girlfriend depicted Piana losing consciousness. Instead of seeking immediate medical help by calling an ambulance. She continued recording the situation, and the video concluded with him in that state.

This incident triggered a strong reaction from the global bodybuilding community, with many fans expressing their disappointment at her insensitivity. 

Rich Piana and his girlfriend

TMZ reported that Piana was open and honest about taking anabolic steroids and insulin. It is believed that drug usage played a role in the death of Rich Piana. Police reportedly discovered 20 bottles of steroids at his residence. Pellan stated that it was difficult to rule out drugs as a cause of death even though the autopsy report could not make any connections between Piana's death and drug usage. Due to the lack of available admission specimens, drug involvement could not be ruled out. The findings do not provide any indication that drugs played a role in his death. These findings indicate an enlarged heart.

Along with an enlarged heart—technically known as cardiomegaly—Piana's autopsy noted findings of "coronary atherosclerosis," or hardening of the arteries. These "significant" signs of heart disease indicate that this, too, could have contributed to Piana's death. Still, it is impossible to rule it as the cause without the toxicology analysis to rule out drug use. While Piana was open about his drug use, he maintained that he was “not bragging” or encouraging steroid use to his 1.2 million Instagram followers — many of whom are young men. Instead, Piana claimed he used his platform to educate those on using drugs “properly.”

Rich Piana: Tragic death

Rich Piana said in a December 2014 YouTube video.

“Is this a road I think you should take? Absolutely not. But in doing this for 25-years of taking anabolic steroids, obviously I know what the f— I’m doing,” 

“Why do I have a full head of hair? Why do I have no acne scars? Why do I have a flat waist? Cause I know what the f— I’m doing. I’m not abusing this s—.”

You need to be aware, educated, and willing to do whatever it takes to remain healthy and keep the body healthy. Remember this is longevity. We want to be doing this in our 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s,” he continued. “I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life. … It’s important for me to live a long life.”

He also added that bodybuilding is not my main objective in life. It’s just something I do on the side. So, I would never in a million-year risk ruining my health or ruining my future do to bodybuilding.

Piana experimented with the "test and deca" cycle, a popular cycle combining testosterone and the anabolic steroid deca durabolin for bulking when he was barely 18.

He described his first cycle in an April 2014 YouTube video.

"I went from weighing 185 lbs. bouncing up over 200 lbs. in eight weeks and competing in a show and taking first and winning the overall,"

Along with that weight gain, Piana's strength underwent a considerable change. He said his bench press weight when he graduated high school was 315 pounds. His bench press increased to 405 lbs with the drugs. He also said that he got good results and was growing, and his strength was expanding.


Rich Piana: The bodybuilder

He added

“I was going to be one of the top bodybuilders of the world and I was not going to stop. I was hooked and I knew I was hooked. At this point, Inew this was all that mattered to me. ”

For Piana, getting the medication was a costly endeavour. Piana said that while competing nationally, he would take 20 International Units of the growth hormone Serostim daily, which would run him almost $8,000 per month if purchased with a doctor's prescription. 

He talked about Death and steroids in a video. He said that regardless of your opinion on these drugs - steroids exist in every sport and surely bodybuilding is one of them.

Obviously, I wasn’t going through a doctor and I wasn’t getting it from a prescription,” he admitted in a July 2014 YouTube video. “Serostim is prescribed for HIV and a lot of the guys that are prescribed the growth hormone don’t take the growth hormone because they can sell it for a decent amount of money. Serostim goes between $400-$600 a kit. So, I was paying about $2,000 a month for my growth hormone.”

As he got older, Piana said he learned that “more doesn’t always equate to better.” When I was younger that’s what I believed, but I’ve learned now how to get better results by taking less and not being as obsessed,” he said. “I would sit down with a pen and paper and spend 8 hours at the dining room table figuring out that cycle. And now there’s no thought whatsoever. I don’t waste more than 5 seconds thinking about it. It’s not that important to me. And I’ve just learned how to get the best results without taking everything under the sun.” He sometimes had his liver examined by doctors, and his enzymes were elevated in those instances. He would do anything to bring them down, even stopping the medications for a bit to prevent liver damage. All of it is in the game, he added.

Piana claimed he once experienced gynecomastia (male breast growth), another typical adverse effect of using anabolic steroids, but that he had taken medication to make it go away temporarily. "I've never had surgery," he declared. Piana acknowledged that he was taking a significant risk with each cycle. 

“I am total 100 percent aware that damage is being done to my body in the choices I am making. I know for a fact that doing what I’m doing is going to cause damage,” he said. “For every positive I’m getting from these steroids, there’s a negative that’s going to come along with it.”

“But I have made a choice and am willing to deal with that. I’m willing to roll the dice. And that’s something that you have to be willing to do. But if you choose to go down that road, don’t sit and think that nothing will happen and everything will be great. I don’t think that way about anything. Anything’s possible. Whatever happens, when it happens, then I’ll deal with it."

“I’m not saying this is the right choice,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m smart. I’m not saying this is what you should do — what anyone should do. I’m just saying what I’m doing.”

He continued,

“That’s my advice to everyone out there. Do your research and learn as much as you can about anything before you do it. There’s always a better way to do something. If you choose to do it naturally or do steroids, stay natural. There’s no reason to do steroids. You’re only hurting your body and hurting yourself. But if you want to become a professional bodybuilder, guess what? You’re probably going to have to f—— do them. You’re not going to have a choice — you’ll have to do them. That’s the boat I was in. I was competing on stage, and I was getting to the point where I would keep getting blown off the stage if I didn’t do them. So, I took that step, and that’s the road I chose. And here I am."

"I’m happy with everything I chose and the way everything went in my life,” he said. “And I would have not done anything different. I’m completely happy with the choice I made of deciding to take steroids. My health is fine, everything’s good. It’s been what? 31 years, I believe that I’ve been doing this, and everything’s great."

The renowned online bodybuilder Rich Piana and his remarkable arm size are discussed in the video. Rich Piana died, and according to Joe Rogan, there is speculation that using painkillers contributed to his passing. He also discussed his history of utilizing different cycles and how his arm size was noteworthy compared to a person's body size. The subject of his extra big size and his health problems, including the potential for a coma, are discussed. 

Below are a few comments in which Rich Piana fans show their deep sorrow and sadness about death.

Rich Piana before he died

Rich Piana last video

Rich Piana last video

Rich Piana before he died

“There’s no short cut. It’s hard work being a bodybuilder. If you’re not willing to do the hard work, then it’s the wrong sport for you. You’ve got to love it. If you love it, you will get to where you want to be.”

What can you learn from Rich Piana?

Rich Piana achieved great success over the years. He became a professional bodybuilder, entrepreneur, and social media star. You can learn from Rich Piana that you don’t need to follow the same path as everyone else to succeed. You will possibly encounter people who don’t agree with you on your journey, but that’s part of becoming successful. Stay on your path, and don’t let anyone bring you down. That’s one of the ways you can realize your goals – just like Rich Piana. '

He was indeed a super nice and humble person.


  1. Quinn, D. (2017) Controversial Bodybuilder Rich Piana Has Died at 46 After Being Placed in Medically Induced Coma, Peoplemag. PEOPLE. Available at: (Accessed: 9 November 2023).
  2. Rich Piana (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: (Accessed: 9 November 2023).
  3. Who Was Bodybuilder Rich Piana and What Was His Cause of Death? (2023) EssentiallySports. Available at: (Accessed: 9 November 2023).
  4. Pemberton, B., Baker, N. and Hooper, S. (2023) Who was Rich Piana and how did he die?, The Sun. The Sun. Available at: (Accessed: 9 November 2023)
  5. Bobic, C. (2020) Bodybuilder Rich Piana Knew the Risks Associated With His Career Choice, Distractify. Distractify. Available at: (Accessed: 9 November 2023).

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