You want the truth about how steroids work, if they are effective and how effective, if there are side effects, and if you should use them or not? You’ve come to the right place. I’ll tell you the truth.

Your mates at the gym say that steroids are awesome. Others are not as thrilled. They say steroids are dangerous, unhealthy and even potentially deadly. So who’s right?

This is a tough one, and you have to realize that from the very beginning. There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to steroids, a lot of confusion and mystery surrounds them, and, as with everything popular in the world of fitness, opinions regarding them are sharply divided.

I know that you heard a whole lot, about steroids being addictive, about their ability to „enhance“ you etc.

I also know that all you want to know is if you should use them or not.

So, here you have everything you’ll ever need to know about steroids, and I hope it will help you make an informed decision.

What are steroids, actually?

Well, for one, when you hear someone talking about steroids, what they really mean is „anabolic steroids“. And that is actually a synthetic version of testosterone – a hormone your body already makes. These man-made hormones look and act more or less just like natural testosterone. The hormone attaches itself to the cell receptor sites and affects our bodies just like the natural hormone does.

In fact, it works so well that if a man has clinically low levels of testosterone, his doctor will probably prescribe a type of anabolic steroid to bring those levels back to normal.

How do they work?

Similarly to testosterone, anabolic steroids increase muscle growth, strength, and leanness, and they significantly speed up muscle recovery. They do all of this through a bunch of complicated mechanisms, but basically, it boils down to this – protein synthesis rates get increased greatly, and protein degradation rates become reduced.
This is what rapid muscle growth actually is.

Are there different kinds of steroids?

Oh yeah. Many of them. Every kind has its own unique profile, side effects, toxicity, and synergism. For every purpose and goal that you want to achieve, you can combine different steroids or steroid „cycles“. So, if you’re cutting, your steroid cycle will be different from a guy who is trying to add 10 pounds of muscle, and vice versa. The most popular steroids among bodybuilders and athletes are Nandrolone, Oxandrolone, Trenbolone, Stanozolol, Deca Durabolin, Boldenone, Methandrostenolone, Oxymetholone, and Drostanolone.

Different kinds serve different purposes, and I really recommend that you consult your trainer before you start using any of these.

How much can I achieve without steroids?

I’m not gonna bore you with scientific research and their definitions. I’ll break it down. In the end, if you are drug-free you can achieve a lot, just not as much as you could with steroids.

But if you want details, here they are. It’s actually simple. FFMI is your fat-free mass index, a measurement of how muscular you are. You can calculate it by dividing your fat-free body mass in kilograms by your height in square meters. You’ll need this info now.

Scientists compared male athletes who used steroids for a year with those who never used them. Natural athletes had an average FFMI of 22, while steroid users had an average FFMI of 25. The highest fat-free body mass level measured in a natural athlete was 25, while the highest one among those using steroids was 32.

So, an average steroid user had a higher FFMI than the most muscular among natural athletes. I believe this information speaks for itself.

How much can I achieve with them?

As you already saw, you can only achieve so much naturally. As I found out, when you’re using anabolics, your average muscle gain over a period of ten weeks can be between 4 and 11 pounds – if you do resistance training. You think that it’s not much?

Think about this then. A man who lifts weights can’t gain more than 20-25 pounds of muscle per year. But, if you use steroids, and you have the cycle that suits your body the most, you can gain that in just 2-4 months.

The point is that steroids are an incredibly powerful tool that can help you promote leanness, and increase muscle growth and strength.

You don’t need them in order to build an amazing physique, but they make the process faster and much easier.

What are the side effects?

The most important thing here is to have in mind that if you abuse anything, it can kill you. Here’s the damage that anabolic steroids can cause if you abuse them.

Internal – They can damage your heart, causing higher blood pressure and risk of heart disease. They make your blood thicker, increasing the risk of clots. They can damage your liver. Your body can stop producing testosterone, making your testicles shrink, and you – infertile.

External – Steroids can flood your body with testosterone, effectively causing a second puberty. Effects? Acne on the chest, back and face, hair growth, breast enlargement (yes, in men), mood swings, and if you start abusing during puberty – stunted growth.

Psychological – Aggression, mood swings, even „roid rage“. Since steroids are synthetic hormones, they can cause hormone receptors in your brain to go crazy and cause extreme mood and behavior changes.

Are there natural alternatives?

Nope. Just trust me on this one. No natural substance is able to come close to what steroids do for your body. No matter what they tell you, the only thing that you can use instead of steroids is creatine. This supplement is not nearly as powerful or effective as steroids are, but I have to say that it does work, even if a good portion of it is just a placebo effect.

In the end, I really hope that my experience, and digging through research data has helped you to understand steroids better. I’ve given you the numbers, told you about the risks, the rest is up to you.

Andrew has been a personal trainer since 2001 and was chosen as Canada’s Top Fitness Professional in 2013 for his dedication to his clients’ success.