Whether you agree with the use of steroids or not, it’s important that the topic is addressed when discussing fitness. A lot of people see steroids as a way to cut corners and reach their fitness or bodybuilding goals effortlessly, but the truth is that this simply isn’t the case.
Steroid use is quite literally a science, and as a result can lead to bodily harm as those who take them are manipulating their body’s hormones in order to achieve a certain goal. Some men like to buy Dianabol to add bulk or choose to buy Anavar to boost strength or cut without losing muscle mass. Even women have been known to use milder substances like Anavar or Winstrol to help them build muscle mass. There are many different steroid compounds and while the layman might think that all there is to performance enhancement is to take the steroids and see improvement, there is more to it than that.
Using one of the above examples, Dianabol (a potent oral steroid) is both anabolic as well as androgenic which means that it seriously promotes protein synthesis, helping bodybuilders to pack on as much as 30lbs within a single 6-8 week cycle. Though keep in mind that a lot of this weight is “water weight”, users can still pack on significant muscle mass and keep it post cycle if they are careful. The issue is that many people aren’t. Some steroids aromatize (i.e. Dianabol) which means that their body coverts the abundance of testosterone into estrogen which will cause side effects – such as gynecomastia in men (the growth of breast tissue), bloating, mood swings and more. It’s also incredibly hepatotoxic so it’s hard on the liver and can cause damage if used for long periods of time or the user has had previous issues.
For women the biggest side effect (in addition to potential liver damage) is the risk of virilization. Just like too much estrogen in men can cause female characteristics, too much testosterone in women can lead to the development of male characteristics. This can include a deepening voice, a more masculine face and other changes. As a result, men often use an AI (otherwise known as an aromatase inhibitor) which can block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, with steroids that are known to convert. Women on the other hand can only choose to use milder steroids and at very small doses to try and avoid virilization but the risk is always there.
Something else that happens with the use of even the mildest steroids is testosterone suppression in men. After using anabolic steroids for a couple of weeks, the body stops producing its own testosterone. As a result, it’s often recommended to add a version of testosterone to cycles to prevent side effects (i.e. testosterone propionate, undecanoate, enanthate, cypionate, sustanon etc.). More importantly, there is something known as post cycle therapy which involves using a SERM (or Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) which can help the body to block estrogen and start making its own testosterone again. Failing to do this can lead to losing any gains made while “on cycle”.
To avoid liver damage, it’s necessary for steroid users to stick to injectable compounds that are not known to be hepatotoxic; use only one oral steroid at a time; use the lowest doses possible to reach their goals; and keep cycle lengths as short as possible. Many professionals recommend drinking lots of water and using a supplement like milk thistle to help prevent liver damage. Those who use steroids frequently have their blood work checked before, during and after cycles to monitor progress. The above side effects are just a brief.
As you can see, it takes a lot more than a needle or pill to see results. Each steroid is a derivative of testosterone and has its own properties which can help men and women achieve a certain goal. However, even after choosing the right compound, using the right dosage and using the correct supplements – it’s still important to eat correctly and choose an appropriate workout routine. Failing to do so means that the cycle will be in vain.
So to answer the question – is it possible to use steroids responsibly? Yes it is. However, there is a science to it that many people ignore and get themselves into trouble as a result. Added to that is the legality which differs depending on what part of the world you live in or the sport you participate in. Anyone seriously considering the use of steroids, should really do their research to avoid pitfalls. This is why it’s recommended to go the natural route.