This “win at all costs” mentality exists in all sports, and at all levels of play. Most successful athletes rely on sound training and nutrition to increase their performance and/or physiques, but there will always be those willing to take performance enhancing drugs such as steroids to put them in the winner’s circle.
What are Steroids?
These drugs go by many names including ‘roids, anabolics, gear, juice, hype, or pump. No matter what you call them, these drugs are powerful compounds that bodybuilders use to build massive amounts of muscle tissue, while at the same time lower their body fat percentages. The drugs were first developed to maximize the male hormone testosterone’s anabolic (muscle building) effects while minimizing the hormone’s androgenic (masculinizing) effects. Medically they are used to treat such wasting diseases as cancer and AIDS.
Who uses them?
In the past, steroid use was seen mostly in college, Olympic, and professional sports, but now days virtually everyone uses them from athletes to nonathletes to those in jobs requiring physical strength (i.e. bouncers, firefighters, laborers). There is also a growing concern that the drugs are being used more and more at the high school and junior high levels. Most major professional and amateur sports’ federations have banned anabolics for use by their athletes. Some of these organizations include the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the National Football League (NFL).
How are steroids used?
There are three primary methods to take steroids. Orals are swallowed in pill form, and while the easiest to use, produce the most side effects because of their chemical modifications. Injectables are trickier to use, as a needle is required, but are considered much safer. The newest delivery method is by a transdermal patch whereby the drug seeps through the skin and into the body. This form of steroid use hasn’t really caught on with bodybuilders.
Stacks and cycles
Most bodybuilders don’t just randomly inject the drugs or pop pills. Instead they take precise dosages over a set time period followed by periods of abstinence, called a cycle. Cycles can be as little as 4 to 6 weeks, or up to 12 weeks or more. Most intelligent bodybuilders realize that the risk of side effects increases with duration, so they limit their cycles to an average of 8 to 12 weeks. Besides cycling, bodybuilders may also combine different drugs into groups called stacks. Stacks may include steroids, growth hormone, insulin, and estrogen blockers. Modern bodybuilding can be called drug cocktailing.
Are there side effects?
Most drugs cause side effects and anabolics are no different. Most of the negative effects, however, can be reduced or eliminated by cycling the drugs. The horrendous side effects reported in the media are usually associated with individuals who took mega dosages of multiple drugs over extended periods of time. In fact many bodybuilders consider “off” to mean lower amounts not total termination of drug use.
Perhaps the biggest risk of using steroids is that they could get you incarcerated! As of 1990 these drugs have been reclassified as controlled substances. As the old saying goes if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime.
Are there alternatives?
Yes you betcha!
30 or 40 years ago the most bodybuilders could look forward to was a tin of protein powder. But the science of supplementation has progressed in leaps and bounds. There are now steroid analogs that are safe and legal and reported to produce muscle gains that rival their illegal and potentially dangerous cousins. These steroid alternatives are probably the greatest revolution in bodybuilding so check them out!.