There’s no tricky street names like many other drugs. Everyone knows them as steroids. Technically, the class of drugs are known as Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS).
Gym Rat vs. Professional athlete
Fans across America, including the politicians in Washington D.C. have condemned performance enhancing drugs over and over. The argument is that it creates unfair competition and sets a poor example for the youth of America.
However, most people who take steroids are NOT professional athletes. Typical steroid user is male between ages of 20-50 years old and uses for physique enhancement. The question that has been going through my mind is whether or not steroid use by regular joe’s “ruins it” for the those who try to improve their physique naturally.
Unrealistic Expectations and Psychological Issues
Nowadays, we all know that the bodybuilders on the cover of hardcore magazines are obviously ‘roided up and have gone through many cycles of exogenous steroid injections. But, what surprises most people is that even some of the guys you see on Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness have allegedly cycled as well.
The problem here is that these magazines are promoting certain diets, natural supplements, and training programs even though the fitness model used 10 weeks of testosterone injections to build mass, and then another cycle with specialized gear later on to get extremely lean. Consider this: some muscular body types can be achieved with 10-15 years of natural training whereas it can be achieved in only 3-5 years with steroid cycles. And if you want to get HYUGE, then you are going to need a reliable supply man for your steroid use.
Let’s say someone takes steroids for 10 weeks and gains 15+ pounds of LEAN PURE ROCK SOLID muscle. When their cycle ends, no matter how good their post-cycle-therapy is, they will undoubtedly lose strength, muscle, and ability to train as hard. Thus leading to the never ending cycle of needing to go on another cycle to gain more muscle and feel that high you only get from external hormonal modification.
Muscle mass gains instant respect
Nobody wants to mess with a big dude (except drunk bros). Let’s face it, having big muscles will gain some sense of admiration or jealously from other males — either way there is definitely an effect on the social status. So in a sense, when people say that steroids are cheating, it means that they are cheating the natural hierarchy of men.
Big muscles come at a cost
People who use steroid cycles will always defend the safeness of steroids, but in reality there is not much research on the long-term effects of steroids.
Potential side effects are well known:
- Shrinkage of testicles (one patient was reported to have lost his testicles completely after steroid abuse, the sack was literally empty)
- Gynecomastia aka manboobs
- Mood effects (depending in particular on the type of steroid)
- Increase LDL cholesterol
- Stress on the tendons/ligaments (because steroids grow muscle and allow heavier weights, but they do nothing for the other connective tissues)
- Injection issues, including HIV, transmittable disease, and infection at the site.
Now, obviously the side effects of steroids are not much a deterrent for a lot of people. Why? Because having big muscles comes with a big reward: social status, power, and strength.
Bottom line: Steroids aren’t going anywhere
Every man who trains seriously with weights will have to make the decision whether or not to use steroids. The allure of a perfect, muscular, ripped body can be very appealing. And if the benefits outweigh the costs (such as surgery to repair steroid induced male breast development), then people will continue to inject.
The dialogue continues…
We HAVE to talk about steroids. I don’t think it does the fitness community any good to keep stuff like this underground.
The truth that many steroid users neglect is that long-term side effects are simply unknown. When 1970’s famous bodybuilders die from heart attacks, they look for other reasons. When Arnold had heart surgery, they look past his rampant steroid consumption. When players from the football teams of the 1960’s silently pass away at 40-50 years old, no one talks about it.
Unfortunately, there is almost guaranteed to be some 17 year old football player taking steroids right now to get bigger. What will become of him?
Chronic steroid users are some of the most educated people with regard to the physiological effects and dosage protocols of steroids. Yet, when the conversation comes up of Natural vs. Steroids, they often shut down and berate people who have chosen natural. So are performance enhancing drugs cheating? Steroid users will say no, but aren’t we — as men — always in competition. Of course.
I wonder if I’ll get some interesting comments from the internets on this post…