In the world of bodybuilding, it’s safe to say that, for many, anabolic steroids are synonymous with muscle growth. Have you ever noticed how there are some huge jacked dudes in the gym that seem to get bigger and stronger every time you see them train, while there are other guys that bust their butts for months, years even, and barely make any noticeable changes to their physiques at all?
Now, far be it for us to accuse people of taking steroids without knowing all of the facts, but it is unlike that a formerly skinny dude could go from skinny to jacked in a matter of months, through clean eating, training, and protein shakes alone. The simple fact of the matter is that some bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongmen, and professional athletes such as, say, cyclists perhaps, use anabolic androgenic steroids to help them get bigger, stronger, faster, and just better all around.
Steroids are dangerous, we know that, and we also know that they’re illegal, but the truth is that people know this and they will continue to use them anyways. If you’re looking to build muscle, and simply build yourself a better physique in general, here’s a look at the ultimate guide to anabolic steroids, and the only guide that you’ll ever need.
Legal disclaimer – Anabolic androgenic steroids are illegal, they’re also very dangerous. We don’t condone nor do we recommend that you use them. If you do insist on using them, we’d rather you did so as safely as possible. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to steroids. Read the info below, absorb it, soak it in, and put it into practice if you do insist on using steroids.
Table of Contents
First Off, What the Heck are Steroids?
Steroids, sometimes known as: Roids, gear, juice, gym candy, stackers, and such like, are bodybuilding’s worst-kept secret. Every time you flick through the pages of a popular bodybuilding magazine, you’ll come across pictures of enormous pro bodybuilders with muscles in places that most people don’t even have places.
These dudes are typically just under 6-feet in height, yet they are absolutely shredded, they’re vascular, and they’re enormous. Some of them are closing in on 300 pounds of solid muscle, and we’re sorry, but getting that big naturally is just not possible, no matter how much creatine and whey protein you use, or how genetically gifted you are. The likely reason why some pro bodybuilders are so huge in size is almost certainly down to steroids.
Occasionally a bodybuilder will open up and openly talk about his or her steroid stack, but most of the time, people simply ignore the very large, and very jacked, elephant in the room and hope that somebody changes the subject.
But what the heck are steroids in the first place. In the US, androgenic anabolic steroids, or AAS, for short, are illegal schedule 3 synthetic substances in the eyes of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Steroids are basically synthetic, lab-made artificial versions of the hormone testosterone. Each steroid is derived from testosterone and is altered at a molecular level to give each steroid its unique characteristics and functions. Attaching an additional ester chain for example, can create an entirely different steroid to one with one less ester chain.
Initially, steroids were created for medical purposes, roughly around the 1930s. Experts found that certain forms of steroid helped to increase muscle mass in lab animals. Roughly around two decades later, scientists began experimenting with these steroids and found that they could help to treat debilitating muscle wastage diseases in humans. Some steroids were also used to treat other ailments, including breast cancer in women.
Then, one day, along came a doctor named John Ziegler. He created a steroid known as Dianabol, and it was this steroid which helped to make steroids so popular with gym junkies up and down the country, and soon, the entire world. We’re not sure who was the first athlete to use Dianabol for performance and/or physique enhancement, but soon there were athletes worldwide using Dianabol to get in shape and improve their athletic performance, and soon, more and more steroids began appearing. Each derivative offered a different and unique benefit to the last.
What’s particularly interesting is the fact that, back then, these drugs were not illegal. They were as common as whey protein powder is now, and there were guys openly using and talking about their cycles without a care in the world. Bodybuilders would use them, as would professional athletes. In fact, certain countries would encourage their national Olympic competitors to use them, which eventually led to scandals and all kinds of controversy, which we won’t go into today.
All steroids have an identical four-ringed carbon structure, but it is how they are chemically altered on a molecular level which helps to provide different anabolic and androgenic effects. Androgenic effects refer to how the drugs influence a man’s sexual characteristics, I.E hair growth, masculinity, deepening of the voice, increased strength, and so on. Anabolic activity refers to how the drugs influence a man’s skeletal muscle growth, size, strength, recovery, and performance.
How on Earth do Steroids Work?
Everybody knows that steroids are magical compounds made by the Gods of Mount Olympus from pure Unicorn Blood, right? What, you mean they aren’t? Well, that’s the last time we get our info from the mainstream media. No, in all seriousness, steroids are very powerful compounds that need to be treated with care and respect. Failing to do so could literally prove fatal. We’re be looking at the side effects of steroids a little later on, but first, let’s take a look at how steroids work to get you so jacked.
Well, there are countless steroids currently in existence, and as each one works slightly differently we can’t give one solid answer because they’re all different. Generally speaking however, they all work very similarly. We know that steroids help to increase muscle mass, build strength, speed up recovery, and improve athletic performance and endurance, but why and how is that? There’s a lot of science involved here, like, a lot.
We’re not scientists unfortunately so we’re going to have to keep it simple if we can, but stick with us, because you still might learn some useful trivia. The primary way in which steroids work is by binding to androgen receptors in the body. When a steroid binds itself to an androgen receptor, it basically reprograms the receptor.
When we build muscle, we do it when we recover from breaking muscle tissue down in the gym. Our bodies repair the muscle tissue via a process known as protein synthesis. This is initiated via androgen receptors. They basically tell the body to start producing new bigger and stronger muscle protein fibres to repair the muscle fibres damaged during the workout. The greater the rates of protein synthesis, the greater the amounts of muscle we build.
When steroids bind to androgen receptors, they basically reprogram these receptors and tell them to tell the body to produce more muscle proteins and to increase the rate of protein synthesis. Basically, steroids tell your body to build more muscle tissue as you recover.
There is however, another way in which some steroids work. You see, whilst some steroids increase muscle mass, there are others that don’t really build much muscle at all. Some steroids are designed to protect muscle and to prevent muscle tissue wastage and breakdown. These are anti-catabolic steroids and they basically help to prevent your body from eating away at its own muscle tissue.
So, to sum up, some steroids work by increasing the amount of muscle tissue that your body is able to produce, whereas others work by helping to preserve and protect muscle tissue and to prevent muscle wastage. This is why steroid stacks and cycles work so well. If you combine steroids that build muscle, with ones that preserve muscle, you have all of the benefits of muscle growth and muscle preservation, without having to worry about losing your precious gains.
Different Types of Steroids
In a few moments, we’re going to take a look at a few of the more popular anabolic androgenic steroids currently available on the black market. First up however, we need to talk to you about the differences between oral steroids and injectable steroids. Some steroids can be taken orally, whereas others can be injected. There are some that can either be injected or taken orally, meaning that it comes down to a matter of personal preference.
Oral steroids are typically found in pill form, and you simply swallow them like you would a regular vitamin tablet or medication from the doctor. Injectable steroids, however, have to be injected into the body, which can be tricky by yourself, plus it is normally a quite painful ordeal as well. Most steroid users that use injectables for the first time will often get a buddy or partner to inject them until they feel confident enough to do it themselves.
While there are countless types of steroid out there, there are some which are more popular than others. Below we’re going to take a look at some of the more common and popular AAS you will likely encounter on your bodybuilding adventure to the land of Gains-Ville.
Hailed as the patient zero of the steroid world for bodybuilding, Dianabol is a steroid that many bodybuilders hold near and dear to their hearts. Whilst we can’t say for certain, it is widely believed that, when steroids were legal, Dianabol was rumoured to be the steroid of choice for a former Mr Olympia winner by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?
Dianabol is typically an oral steroid. It is popular amongst bodybuilders because it isn’t as powerful as other steroids, so side-effects are less severe. It increases lean muscle mass and recovery, and is often used during a cutting cycle because it promotes hardness without bloating. Strength athletes also use Dianabol a lot because it has been found to promote impressive strength increases.
Next up we have winstrol. Winstrol, or Winnie as it is sometimes called, is another steroid that is very popular amongst bodybuilders during a cutting phase. When bodybuilders cut, the idea is to burn fat whilst preserving lean muscle tissue and getting as lean and shredded as possible.
Winstrol is a steroid that will not get you big and jacked. If you want to get as big as some of the enormous IFBB pro bodybuilders that compete at the Olympia each year, then Winstrol is not for you. If, however, you want to build a little lean muscle tissue, burn fat, and enjoy increases in energy levels, winstrol is perfect.
Now it’s time to really get serious. Here we have the Big Daddy of the steroid world. Yep, it’s Trenbolone, or Tren, for short. Tren is arguably the most powerful anabolic steroid in existence. While we don’t know for certain, we’d place very good money on the fact that one of the main reasons why some bodybuilders are able to get so big when using steroids, is because they make Tren their go-to steroid of choice.
Tren is very powerful and is a steroid that most cycles can be based around. A tren cycle will easily help an individual gain 30 pounds of muscle in a matter of weeks, if not more. What’s interesting is that, even though tren is perfect for bulking because it allows you to build so much muscle, it can also be used during cutting cycles. This is because it doesn’t cause bloating or water-retention. It promotes crisp, dry, full, defined, muscle bellies and vascularity without any bloating or flatness.
Anadrol is very similar to Dianabol. In fact, there are some bodybuilders that prefer it to Dianabol. It is a steroid that is used during the off-season. It is usually orally administered, though it can be injected. Research however, points to the fact that injecting the drug may not provide as many noticeable effects as taking the drug orally. A typical Anadrol cycle lasting 12 weeks could potentially yield roughly 20 pounds of muscle, if not more.
You didn’t honestly think we’d list some of the most popular steroids used by bodybuilders, athletes, and people simply trying to get in shape, and not look at testosterone, did you? If you did then hang your heads in shame, because we’d hope that you’d think better of us by now.
Testosterone is the dominant male sexual health hormone. It provides potent anabolic and androgen effects in men and is the hormone of which all steroids are based. All steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone. There are many forms of testosterone which can be used in bodybuilding, and each one is slightly different due to the changes they undergo at a molecular level. Some of the most popular forms of testosterone include: Testosterone Enanthate, Testosterone Cypionate, and Testosterone Propionate.
Generally, testosterone is injected and will increase muscle mass, speed up recovery, burn fat, and promote explosive strength and increased athletic performance.
Nandrolone is considered to be one of the safest steroids currently in existence. Does this mean it’s completely safe? Absolutely not. No steroid is completely safe, but in terms of dangers and side effects, Nandrolone is certainly much safer than most. This is a steroid used by bodybuilders during a cutting cycle when they’re looking to preserve as much muscle tissue as possible.
During a cut, the idea is to burn fat, and to burn fat you need to create a caloric deficit. When this happens, muscle wastage is a strong possibility. To prevent muscle loss as they strip away body fat, many bodybuilders will use Nandrolone. It does, however, still provide potent estrogenic side effects such as gynecomastia, so PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) must be used.
What Do Steroids Do?
Again, because there are so many different types of steroid out there, with each one doing something slightly different to the body, we can’t possibly look at the benefits associated with every single steroid. Well, we could, but it would mean that we’d be here all day, you’d get bored, and you’d ironically probably waste away because, instead of lifting in the gym, you’d be sat reading us go on and on about random and obscure steroids.
So, to save us time and to help you get into the gym sooner, we’re going to look at some generic benefits associated with most forms of steroid, including those we listed above. If you’re considering using steroids, despite knowing the risks, here’s a look at some key benefits they provide:
– Build muscle
Shock horror. Steroids build muscle. Who knew? Only everybody in the world, ever! When we see huge jacked dudes with enormous delts and traps, and biceps larger than most people’s heads, we generally think “steroids”. AAS are now specifically designed to help build and promote muscle growth and repair. They build muscle primarily by binding to androgen receptors in our muscle cells, as we mentioned earlier in this guide. When they do this, they reprogram the androgen receptors and tell them to speed up and enhance the rates of protein synthesis carried out within the body. The greater the rate of protein synthesis, the greater the amount of muscle we build.
– Improve athletic performance
There’s a reason why certain professional athletes over the years, who shall remain nameless, have used steroids to help them become better cyclists or baseball players. Oops, have we said too much? Steroids improve athletic performance in a number of ways. To begin with, they make the muscles bigger and stronger, and if they’re bigger and stronger they can generate more power. Not only that, but some steroids increase the production of red blood cells, which help to transport oxygen around the body via haemoglobin. Oxygen is used by the cells, including those in the muscles, as energy. More red blood cells means more haemoglobin, which means more oxygen is carried to the cells. This means that they have more energy and can work harder. Phew!
– Speed up recovery
After working out in the gym, it is absolutely vital that you do whatever you can to speed up your rates of recovery. The recovery process is when much of your muscle is built, plus it helps prepare the muscles for the next training session. Steroids enhance the rate in which you recover after a strenuous workout. This is important because the faster you recover, the better you will perform the next time you train.
Side Effects to Watch Out For
Now it’s time to talk about the dark side of steroids. So far, steroids have sounded pretty awesome as we’ve only looked at the good. Now we need to look at the bad. Steroids have claimed lives in the past, and they can cause severe, sometimes irreversible damage, especially if abused. Here’s a look at some common steroid side effects.
– Gynecomastia – Gynecomastia, gyno, man boobs, or ‘bitch tits’ as it is sometimes called, is a side effect in which testosterone aromatizes in the body and converts to estrogen. When this happens, it can cause men to develop breasts via fatty deposits. To make matters worse, it can’t be reversed by simply losing weight or doing more chest work. The only option is surgery.
– Liver toxicity – Oral steroids are the main culprits here. Oral steroids can cause damage to the liver because they can be very toxic due to how they’re developed. In some instances, oral steroids have resulted in complete liver failure. To reduce the risk of liver toxicity, consume a Milk Thistle supplement before, during, and after your cycle.
– Estrogenic side effects – We mentioned estrogenic side effects above when talking about gyno, but just to ensure that we’re all on the same page, here’s more detail. Steroids can cause testosterone and the steroids in your system for that matter, to aromatize. When this happens, enzymes convert them into estrogen. Excess estrogen in the system can cause gyno, it can cause bloating, fat gain, water retention, suppressed metabolism, organ damage, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, irritability, depression, and much more besides.
– Low testosterone levels – Finally, some steroids can cause naturally low testosterone levels, or they can even cause testosterone production to shut down entirely. This is basically because the body thinks it is producing too much of the hormone, so it shuts down production naturally. Unfortunately, when you come off cycle, production doesn’t start back up again. There are many bodybuilders that have been affected by this, and now they need to receive testosterone replacement therapy from their doctors, because their bodies no longer produce the hormone.
A word on PCT
Finally, before we wrap things up, we need to talk to you about PCT. Steroids are very, very dangerous. To help reduce the risks, and counteract the negative effects, users should always run Post Cycle Therapy. There are many drugs out there that are used for this, including Clomid and Nolvadex. Alternatively, to keep things safe and legal, you could simply use legal steroids as a natural steroid alternative instead.