What you need to know about anabolic steroids can be found in this post. So sit back, relax and get enlightened!
You may have heard a lot about anabolic steroids or maybe you have heard nothing at all. Whatever the case may be, if you are a bodybuilder wishing to try out a new “magic pill” or inject yourself with “Arnolds”, you might want to get to know more about the drug first.
What are “Stackers”?
If you are new to the bodybuilding community you may have stumbled upon bodybuilders using words like “gym candy”, “Arnolds”, “roids”, “pumpers” and my favorite – “stackers”. Well, these are commonly used street names for anabolic steroids.
Bodybuilders often use these cool words to describe the steroids they are on. But while steroids are extremely useful to bodybuilders (more on this a bit later), they were originally developed for use in the treatment of a variety of ailments and medical conditions.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids or AASs (as they are called) are synthetically generated compounds that mimic the functionalities of testosterone, a male hormone naturally produced primarily by the gonads which are the ovaries in females and the testes in males.
Testosterone in its natural state is known to be active in virtually all parts of the human body. This hormone can be found in the bones, blood, central nervous system, hair follicles, immune system, kidneys, liver, muscles, and reproductive system.
The level of testosterone in the body rises in puberty and in males this leads to the development of a number of distinct characteristics, such as; the growth of both body and facial hair, an increased sex drive, increased muscle mass and height, and also a deep, raspy voice. It is also now known that aggressiveness, confidence and self-esteem as well as competitiveness can all be attributed to testosterone.
Steroids for Medical Conditions
As mentioned before, AASs are useful in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions. Take for example, corticosteroids have been used in the successful treatment of asthma-related medical conditions. This anabolic enables patients to breathe well when they experience an asthmatic attack.
AASs like oxandrolone, nandrolone decanoate, and methyltestosterone are actually categorised as schedule III controlled compounds in the United States of America and are therefore supposed to be prescribed for use only by a qualified medical provider.
Some of the medical conditions that AASs may be prescribed for use and treatment include:
- Delayed pubescence,
- Cancer or any medical condition that causes a loss of muscle mass including HIV and AIDS.
Types of Anabolic Steroids
On average, there are as many as thirty two (32) different types of AASs out there. There are anabolics like Nebido which are produced for medical use only while others like Anadrol can be used either for the treatment of medical conditions or as a performance enhancement drug.
For performance enhancement, anabolic steroids can be used to improve endurance, stamina and strength. They can be used for either bulking (building muscle mass) or cutting (shedding body fat). Steroids may also be used by athletes and bodybuilders alike for enhanced healing and recovery from minor or major injuries.
AASs are administered in a number of different ways. These include:
- As a gel or cream with the skin absorbing the compound via the pores, and
- in the form of pellets that are implanted right under the skin.
Some of the orally administered anabolic drugs available in the market include:
- Methandienone (Dianabol) otherwise known as “Dbol”,
- Methyltestosterone (Virilon),
- Mesterolone (Proviron),
- Oxandrolone (Anavar, Oxandrin), otherwise referred to as “Var”,
- Mibolerone (Cheque),
- Stanozolol (Winstrol) or simply “Winny”,
- Fluoxymesterone (Halotestin), fondly referred to as “Halo”,
- Oxymetholone (Anadrol), or also called “Drol”.
Some of the anabolic steroids available as injections include:
- Trenbolone acetate (Finajet), also known as “Tren”,
- Boldenone undecylenate (Equipoise), otherwise called “EQ”,
- Testosterone enanthate (Andro-Estro),
- Testosterone cypionate (Depotest),
- Testosterone propionate (Testex),
- Nandrolone phenylpropionate (Durabolin), commonly referred to as “NPP”,
- Nandrolone decanoate (Deca Durabolin), known as “Deca” and
- Methenolone enanthate (Primobolan), fondly called “Primo”.
When administered, AASs will work it’s way to the muscles through the body’s bloodstream. When the synthetic anabolic compound reaches the muscles, it will bind itself to one of the androgen receptors. What happens next is quite fascinating, as the synthetic compound will promote protein synthesis as it interacts with the DNA within the muscle cells, this subsequently stimulates the rapid growth of the cells and in effect leads to increased muscle mass.
How to Use Anabolics
AASs are not treats and need to be handled with care. If these drugs are prescribed by a medical provider, patients would have to strictly adhere to the recommended dosage. The mis-use of AASs can lead to a number of health issues. A mis-use of steroids could lead to the issue of tolerance or there could be a halt in the natural production of testosterone.
In order to avoid the adverse effects of steroid use, people tend to administer these drugs in accordance to a predetermined pattern of usage. Here are three patterns worth noting;
#1: Cycling Pattern of Steroid Usage:
Cycling involves the administration of anabolics in cycles. A cycle could be between 2 to 12 weeks and it is also referred to as an ‘on period’. After the completion of a cycle, the user then stays off the use of the steroids for a period of time, usually anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months.
#2: Stacking Pattern of Anabolic Usage:
Stacking involves a set pattern of usage where a user ‘stacks’ or combines a number of anabolic steroids in order to optimise their effectiveness and potential for enhanced performance.
#3: Pyramiding Pattern of using Anabolic Steroids:
Pyramiding is a pattern of steroid use whereby the user will steadily increase their daily dosage of steroid use for a specific period of time until they peak at a particular dose. This is then followed up by an almost identical reduction of the daily dosage for a similar period of time. The idea behind Pyramiding is to avoid the problems associated with tolerance. While these three patterns of steroid use seem to minimise the risks associated with steroid use, there is really no concrete evidence to completely prove that they actually work to minimise the adverse effects of anabolic use. The truth is, the use of steroids should be analysed on an individual basis as people’s physiology and tolerance to AASs differ.
Bodybuilding and Anabolic Steroids
When it comes to anabolic steroids in the world of sports, it is fair to say that the World Antidoping Agency or WADA has listed most of the known steroids on their prohibited drug use list. What it means is that athletes can be punished if caught doping with any of the steroids and their ethers. In the United States of America, the use of steroids for non-medical needs is prohibited under the Controlled Substance Act. It is also illegal to possess as well as distribute steroids and the punishment for doing so is stated under both state and federal legislation.
Due to the fact that it is illegal for professional athletes to possess and use anabolics, there is really no legislative control on the quality as well as use of AASs for performance enhancement.
This is why anabolic steroids for performance enhancements are available only via blackmarket dealers in person or online. It is so possible to obtain illegal anabolics from dubious veterinarians, doctors or pharmacists.
Over time there has been an upsurge in the production of ‘designer’ anabolic steroids which are customised drugs created in order to help athletes dope without being caught after a doping test.
Bodybuilders use steroids for a variety of reasons. They can use these synthetic compounds when they run a cutting or bulking workout and training program.
Bodybuilders can adopt a cycling pattern of use, as mentioned earlier. This is where they administer a steroid of choice for a defined period of time and afterwards take some time off the drug to avoid tolerance and other side effects.
Bodybuilders hope to achieve any or all of the following benefits from using steroids:
- Enhanced muscle mass,
- Burning of body fat,
- Boost in energy levels,
- Enhanced strength,
- Increased stamina and endurance levels,
- Rapid healing and recovery from both minor and major injuries.
Side Effects of using Anabolic Steroids
The side effects experienced from the use of anabolic steroids will depend on many factors. Some of these factors include; the age, body weight, gender, the dosage of use and length of AASs use to mention a few factors.
Where steroids have been prescribed for use and the prescribed dosage has be administered accordingly, the following adverse effects from use may be experienced:
- Fluid retention,
- Gynaecomastia (breast enlargement in males),
- Pain while urinating,
- Low sex drive,
- Low sperm count,
- Boost in red blood count,
- Low HDL (good) cholesterol and high LDL (bad) cholesterol.
On the other hand, when anabolic steroids are used for performance enhancement, doses higher than normal (or prescribed by a medical provider) may be administered. This may lead to more severe side effects if steroids are abused. Some of the inherent risks associated with a mis-use of anabolics include:
- Cardiovascular issues, such as; myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest and even sudden cardiac death,
- Damage to the liver,
- Increased aggression,
- Mood swings,
- Bouts of depression,
- Increased anxiety, and
It must be mentioned that when anabolic steroids are used continually for a long period of time and then the user stops using the steroids for some time, withdrawal symptoms may be experienced.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms experienced include:
- Drop on sex drive,
- Increased appetite,
- Mood swings and depression.
If an anabolic is abused, the user can start off treatment by first of all discontinuing the use of the steroid or steroids. Secondly, the user should seek medical assistance to cater for any physiological and psychiatric health issues that may result from the mis-use of steroids.