It’s difficult to discuss fitness and bodybuilding without addressing the controversial elephant in the room – steroids. By no means is steroid use exclusive to the sport of bodybuilding. After all, athletes across all sports and disciplines aspire to reach new heights. Improving performance is part and parcel of all sports. It is the pursuit of peak physical performance that captivates us because we all have an innate desire to see how far we can push the human body. While some might shy away from discussing topics like these that divide opinion, we believe in transparency. If we live and breathe the healthy lifestyle then we should be open and share our knowledge wherever possible.
Before we continue, it is important to note that we don’t condone, encourage or recommend the use of steroids; rather, we’d like to equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision on your own. Read on to find out more about steroids and their effects on your body.
What are steroids?
Chances are, you’ve arrived at this blog because you’ve probably come across the term ‘steroids’, which are commonly known as gear, juice and roids. The term ‘anabolic steroids’ refers to substances and drugs related to the male sex hormones, for example, testosterone. These substances can be either consumed orally or injected. However, it is also important to note that along with being anabolic, steroids also result in androgenic side effects. What does that mean?
Anabolic effects promote protein synthesis, muscle growth and erythropoiesis. Erythropoiesis is the process that produces red blood cells. On the other hand, androgrenic side effects include muscle bulk, body hair, deepening of the voice in women as well as acne and oily skin in men (Basaria, Whalstrom, Dobs, 2001).
Now time to get down to the finer details:
Increased muscle growth
The ability of steroids to enhance muscle growth through improved protein synthesis and reduced degradation (breakdown) has been well documented. The primary findings of a study (Ji-Guo Yu, Patrik Bonnerud, Anders Eriksson, Per S. Stål, Yelverton Tegner, and Christer Malm) also found that athletes taking steroids achieved higher lean mass, capillary density and myonuclei density as compared to their natural counterparts.
While steroids are popular among some bodybuilders for enhancing aesthetics, they are also used to improve strength. It has been shown that the short administration of anabolic steroids by athletes can increase both strength and body (Hartgens and Kuipers, 2004). In fact, gains of about 5-10% of the initial strength and an increase ranging from 2-5kg of bodyweight were observed in the study by Hartgens and Kuipers.
There’s a reason why steroids are not openly promoted and it’s not just the competitive edge they provide; they offer just as many disadvantages and genuine health risks if not more.
The most notable of these is:
According to Rogol and Yesalis, it is evident that there are an increasing number of premature cardiac complications and deaths caused by steroid abuse.
Other negative side effects include:
- Liver disease
- Gynecomastia (development of breasts in men)
- Oily hair and skin
- Increased blood pressure
- Excessive aggression
- Lowered sperm count
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels
- Male-pattern baldness
- Shrunken testes
A Word of Caution: Dependency
While not necessarily definitive, a study by Kanayama G1, Brower KJ, Wood RI, Hudson JI, Pope HG Jr (2009) has shown strong indications that steroid users can develop a dependency. Coupled with the other risks, this makes for a risk that in all honesty is not worth it in the long term.
Play it safe
If muscle gain or fat loss are high on your list of fitness priorities then a visit to our online supplements store might just be what you need. We supply safe and effective supplements to help you reach your fitness goals.
Shehzad Basaria Justin T. Wahlstrom Adrian S. Dobs, Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Therapy in the Treatment of Chronic Diseases, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 1 November 2001, Volume 86, Issue 11, Pages 5108–5117
Ji-Guo Yu, Patrik Bonnerud, Anders Eriksson, Per S. Stål, Yelverton Tegner, and Christer Malm), Effects of Long Term Supplementation of Anabolic Androgen Steroids on Human Skeletal Muscle, PLoS One. 2014; 9(9): e105330.
Alan d. Rogol and charles e. Yesalis iii, Clinical Review 31, Anabolic-androgenic steroids and athletes: What are the issues?, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 1992, Vol. 74, No. 3
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