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Rich Piana (September 26, 1971 – August 25, 2017) was an American bodybuilder and businessman who won the Mr. California title along with competitions in Los Angeles in 2003 and Sacramento in 2009.[1][2] His admission in 2014 that he used anabolic steroids as part of his regimen was controversial.[3] Piana was a business owner of his nutrition line, Rich Piana: 5% nutrition.[4]

Rich Piana
— Bodybuilder —
Rich Piana.jpg
Personal info
Born (1970-09-26)September 26, 1970
Glendale, Los Angeles, California
Died August 25, 2017(2017-08-25) (aged 45)
Clearwater, Florida
Height 6 ft (183 cm)
Weight 270–315 lb (122–143 kg)
Professional career
Pro-debut Mr. California, 2003


Early life and familyEdit

Rich Piana was born in Glendale, a city in Los Angeles County, California, that is in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. He began training as a bodybuilder when he was 11 years old. Born and raised in California, Piana's enthrallment with bodybuilding began when he was six. He would go to the gym to watch his mother train for her bodybuilding contests. Alongside her, Piana was also heavily influenced by Bill Cambra, an "old-school" bodybuilder. Eventually, Piana began weightlifting himself, aged 11. Four years later he started competing in bodybuilding contests. By the age of 18, Piana already had several titles under his belt – including Mr. California. He continued to compete on and off for almost two decades, winning competitions such as the 2009 NPC Sacramento Pro and the 2009 Border States Classic Championships.[5] Piana was of Armenian and Italian descent. He said that growing up in Glendale around Armenians caused issues due to his half-Italian ancestry.[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

He had a longstanding on-again, off-again, relationship with Chanel Jansen, a fitness model.[6] He married Sara Heimisdóttir, an Icelandic bodybuilder, in 2015.[7] They separated in 2016 and he accused her of using him to qualify for U.S. residence and of stealing money from him.[1][7] He subsequently resumed his relationship with Jansen, who was his partner at the time of his death.[6]


Piana won the Mr. Teen California at age eighteen, and in 1998 he was named Mr. California. He later appeared in commercials and television series, including a cameo appearance as The Incredible Hulk in an episode of the television series Scrubs.[8]

However, Piana quit bodybuilding competitions in his final years as he preferred to spend his time as an Internet personality and to promote his business, 5% Nutrition.[8]

In a 2014 YouTube video, Piana admitted he used steroids over the course of 25 years, And specifically stated that everyone should be aware that using steroids will do damage to their body, but also said that he's willing to take those chances. In another video in 2016 he backed up his decision but advising viewers not to use the drugs : "If you have the choice to do steroids or stay natural, stay natural. There's no reason to do steroids. You're only hurting your body and hurting yourself." He then clarified that professional bodybuilders have no such choice.[9] Throughout making videos on Youtube, he had given advice about diet and fitness routines, and nutritional intakes.


Piana collapsed while receiving a haircut from his girlfriend. He was standing at the time and hit his head when he collapsed.[10] After spending two weeks in an induced coma to try and reduce swelling to the brain, Piana died on August 25, 2017 aged 45, a month before his 46th birthday.[11] An autopsy revealed "significant heart disease" and that his heart and liver weighed over twice the average amount for an adult male. However the autopsy was ultimately inconclusive on cause and manner of death due to the hospital discarding his admission blood samples.[12] He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.[13]


At various points, he won the NPC California Championships, NPC Orange County Championships, NPC Los Angeles Championships, NPC Sacramento Championships and NPC Border States Classic.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Celebrity US bodybuilder Rich Piana dies aged 46 after collapsing two weeks ago". BBC News. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  2. ^ "Bodybuilding champion dies after collapse". Sky News. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "Bodybuilder Rich Piana dies". Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  4. ^ Piana, Rich. "Rich Piana 5% Nutrition". 
  5. ^ a b "Rich Piana Profile". Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Suman Varandani (26 August 2017). "Rich Piana's Ex-Wife Sara Thanks Chanel Jansen After Bodybuilder's Death". Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  7. ^ a b "Rich Piana accuses Icelandic former wife of using him". 10 November 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  8. ^ a b Emma Lake (25 August 2017). "Strong Man Rich Piana dead – Body-building supremo's incredible life in pictures from teen weightlifter and Mr California muscle man to Incredible Hulk cameos". The Sun. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  9. ^ "'I Was Hooked': Bodybuilder Rich Piana Defended His 27 Years of Steroid Use Before His Shocking Death at 46". 25 August 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  10. ^ Clearing Up Rumors | My Time With Rich. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  11. ^ "Rich Piana 1971–2017". 25 August 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2017. 
  12. ^ "Florida District Six Medical Examiner's Autopsy Report for Richard Piana (Case No. 5171418)" (PDF). 25 August 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  13. ^ "Rich Piana (1970 - 2017) - Find A Grave Memorial". 

External linksEdit