Although everyone takes for granted the fact that top bodybuilders use anabolic steroids (and that is most certainly
true), that wasn't always the case. The bodybuilders of old had to rely on hard work, crude nutritional practices,
and mostly god-given genetic ability to build their incredible physiques. They had no other choice. There were no
physique-enhancing drugs to be had for most of the first half of this century. At least, not available in any usable
amounts for the average weight-trained athlete.
THE LURE OF ROIDS
Today we know how potent and effective anabolic steroids and testosterone are for increasing muscle mass and strength.
There is an undeniable relationship between muscle mass and testosterone levels in the body. Those people blessed
with naturally high levels of testosterone tend to gain muscle quite easily. Those with naturally low levels and
higher than normal amounts of estrogen - find building muscle much more difficult. As Scott Chinery wrote in his book,
Anabolic Steroids and Bodybuilding. "One may categorically say that man is indeed a product of his hormone production.
To an extent, every facet of our lives is governed by the efficiency of our endocrine system. Both our physical
appearance and our psychological profile are heavily dependent on it, as is the manner in which we conduct interpersonal
relationships and pursue goals throughout our lives."
The difference between the bodybuilders of the past 40 years and those who came before them is the option of anabolic
steroid use to artificially increase testosterone levels in the body. Ours has become a society of instant
gratification. Instead of looking upon naturally large, muscular men (and women) with envy and admiration for the rare
and gifted people that they are, today's athlete is willing to do whatever it takes to become like them. If that means
taking anabolic steroids and/or testosterone, then, for those prepared to risk potentially endangering their health
forever by taking dubious steroids, so be it.
Oh, but aren't they cheating by using drugs, you ask? Most bodybuilders don't look at it that way. They feel that
they were cheated at birth- cheated by their own genetics. Why, they ask, should Dorian Yates get fame, fortune and
glory and not me? Why should some champion athlete get a ten-million-dollar endorsement contract from Nike because
he can naturally run faster, jump higher or throw farther than I can? It's not fair.
That mind-set is not much different from women who get breast implants and plastic surgery. Why should some female
Hollywood star get so much fame and money and be desired by so many men just because she was born with large breasts
and an especially pretty face? Well, if you want to change your appearance and you've got the money, a plastic surgeon
can fix that (for the most part, anyway). A woman can easily get liposuction and a body contour. She can get breast
implants and butt implants. She can get silicone put into her lips to make them fuller and more luscious like Michelle
Pfeiffer's. She can get a nose job cheeks implants and have her eyes done. But enough about the multitude of ways we
humans have of modifying our appearance, I just wanted to give the steroid critics a few morsels to chew on.
Let's talk about testosterone. We've always known that male animals have something in them that makes them the bigger
and physically stronger sex of the species. Soldiers and ardors used to eat the hearts and testicles of predator animals,
hoping they would gain the animal's courage and strength. Eunuchs became less aggressive, more subservient, and more
feminine in appearance once they had been castrated. Only in the past 100 years, however, has the direct link between
testosterone and male characteristics been made.
In their book, The Responsible Use of Anabolic Steroids, Phil J. Embleton and Gerard J describe a British soldier who
had his testicles nearly shredded by German mortar fire, he was so severely wounded that doctors had no choice but
amputate the 19-year-old's gonads.
Without the male hormones usually produced by his testicles, his body soon began to take on a distinctly feminine
appearance. His facial hair became sparse, bodyfat accumulated on his thighs and breasts, his chest hair all but
disappeared, and his pubic hair took on the traditional feminine triangular shape. And his injuries rendered him
The man married in 1923, but was unable to attain normal erectlon, so relations with his wife were impossible. His
normal sexual desire and urges had all but been eliminated as well. Then, quite by accident, his life changed. In
1935 lie sought medical attention for a rash on his face. The doctor treated him by injecting an experimental drug.
The rash cleared up so the injections continued. Upon the occasion of his seventh injection the man made an unusual
request to the doctor. He asked if his next shot could be delayed for a while as he was experiencing a startling side
effect - painful and persistent erections which could not be relieved by sex (a condition now known as priapisni).
The doctor changed the injections from weekly to bi-weekly. The painful erections disappeared but the mans newfound
potency remained. Then, after 14 years of enforced celibacy, he began to experience erotic sensations again. He was
able to resume a normal sexual relationship with his wife, his body took on a more masculine appearance with more
facial and body hair, and greater muscular development.
What had caused such a profound change in the man? You've guessed it in one word - testosterone. Since then the use
of artificial testosterone has escalated from experiments to make elite troops more aggressive in Hitler's SS, to
rejuvenating the old and infirm, to promoting excessive muscle growth in the sport of bodybuilding.
Ironically, although they might have helped to kill many people by making German soldiers more aggressive, anabolic
steroids saved countless more lives after the war. When allied forces liberated the notorious German concentration
"death" camps in 1944 and 1945, the starving and emaciated survivors of the Holocaust (the victims of Hitler's "final
solution") were treated with anabolic steroids to help restore their physical health.
People seem to forget that anabolic steroids have a legitimate therapeutic purpose and can save lives and improve the
quality of life for many sick people. AIDS victims have currently found steroids to be a godsend in improving the
quality of their lives. Steroids are not the demon drug portrayed so often by the media.
Under medical supervision and in certain circumstances, roids can be enormously helpful to the weak and sickly. It
is the mad overuse of "dean roids" (so-called), and the irresponsible willingness to take dirty roids (counterfeit
and dangerous nonroid combinations) that have made sensible health- conscious bodybuilders search for safe, effective
ways of upping their level of the muscle-building hormone testosterone.
ATHLETICS AND TESTOSTERONE
One great misconception is that great bodybuilders, weightlifters and athletes of the 1930s, '40s and early '50s
never used anabolic steroids or testosterone. Those guys were all thought to be as natural as spring water. Well,
that was not the case. In some instances athletes were given "supplements" or compounds that did, indeed, contain
testosterone or steroids. Sometimes they were aware of what they were taking, and sometimes they were not. Sometimes
they knew them as and called them "B-12 shots."
One of the first athletes to use anabolic steroids for the purpose of performance was the great Swedish distance
runner Paavo Numi. In 1931 Numi and three other Swedish Olympic athletes admitted to using a product called Rejuven,
which contained testosterone. Numi said he was ".. .astounded by its [Rejuven's] effects on the body. By using
Rejuven it is possible to train much more intensely."
At that time it was legal to use testosterone because back then there was no such thing as anabolic steroids. How
can you outlaw something that hasn't been discovered yet? Although proof is scant, some German athletes were
believed to have used testosterone at the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936. If they did, it wasn't enough to beat
such athletes as Jesse Owens, whose four gold medals dispelled Hitler's notion of Aryan superiority. Jesse had just
too much natural testosterone for them to handle.
The rest is history. Drug-taking became more and more commonplace. Steroids became popular - Anavar, Anadrol-50,
Winstrol, Durabolin, Deca-Durabolin, Maxibolan, Halotestin, Nilivar, Primobolan, Stromba and testosterone (both
water-based and oil-based) - and dosages got bigger and wilder and more insane. Bodybuilders began to "stack" many
steroids together. The bodybuilders of today probably take about one hundred times what bodybuilders took back in
the '60s. It become mind-blowing.
The trouble is, with so much drug-taking comes more negative side effects. There more gynecomastia, more liver
and kidney damage, more hormonal problems, and potential disease problems. Some bodybuilders are beginning to say
enough is enough. It's time to get back to the real world. Yes, they still want to have muscular physiques, but
they are no longer willing to pay the price of taking massive amounts of drugs. It's insane. If only there were a
way to promote the production of more testosterone safely and naturally without the use of health-destroying roids.
The question becomes: How do you build muscle without taking steroids? Or at least: How do you increase your
testosterone levels so you can build more muscle without resorting to drags? And that's the $64,000 question.
HOW TESTOSTERONE WORKS
A lot has been written over the years about how and why anabolic steroids and testosterone work, and why they make
muscle-building so easy. Dan Duchaine was a real pioneer in this regard. His Underground Steroid Handbook, printed
in 1984, is still a classic. It explains in layman's language how and why testosterone works. Although Dan sold only
about 11,000 copies, his handbook has undoubtedly been photocopied many hundreds of thousands of times and translated
into almost every language. Bill Phillips has also written extensively about steroids. His Anabolic Reference Guide
is one of the most thorough, well-written books on the topic of testosterone and steroids.
Although the vast majority of bodybuilders have read more about testosterone than the average doctor, for the
benefit of those who are ignorant of the basics, I'll try to briefly explain how it works.
Both men and women have naturally occurring testosterone and estrogen in their bodies. Men, of course, have more
testosterone than women. Let me quote Duchaine because he really explains this in a simple, easily understood manner.
Says Dan: "Steroids are complex molecules traveling in the blood and acting as messengers. Here's how they work: The
body is made from many living cells that grow at different rates. Let's talk about muscle cells, as we're primarily
interested in these growing bigger and stronger for various athletic purposes. In the soup of the cells surrounding
the nucleus are literally millions of tiny 'steroid receptors.' These sites are where the steroids [once either
injected into a muscle or taken orally and dispersed into the bloodstream] attach themselves so they can be transferred
into the nucleus and deliver their messages. Just what is the message? Actually, there are many, but we're interested
in only two. Steroid (and testosterone) molecules tell the muscle cells to increase protein synthesis or creatine
phosphate synthesis or both, in various ratios, depending on the type of steroid.
You probably have made the relationship between protein synthesis and muscle growth. You need protein to make
muscles grow, but you need to convince the cells to grow. That's one thing steroids do. Some do it better than
others and some artificial ones do this message-giving better than naturally occurring testosterone (in fact, most
do). Muscle cells also make and store an organic molecule called creatine phosphate, CP for short. CP is a short-term
(ala microseconds) energy restorer. Without CP we would all have difficulty doing more than one or two repetitions
of a weightlifting exercise. For example, without CP the muscles would have a strength duration of only a few seconds.
The more CP your muscles can make, store and use the stronger you will be, thereby putting more stress on them and
making them have to adapt somehow to that stress. If you are eating properly that adaptation is growth. If you are
not eating properly something else happens.
Okay, let's go back a minute and re-examine the relationship between protein synthesis and muscle growth. If
protein synthesis is not increased, whether naturally or artificially with either natural testosterone or steroids,
growth does not occur. It's that simple. That's why so much importance has been placed on eating enough protein -
at least one gram per pound of your bodyweight.
One last comment about protein before we move on. Giving your body regular feedings of protein is just as important
as giving it lots of protein. In other words, eating protein every two hours or so throughout the day, from the time
you get up until the time you go to bed, is better than trying to stuff yourself with large amounts of protein a
couple of times a day. A study in Poland during the 1970's proved that world-class weightlifters could consume more
than 200 grams of protein a day and still be in a state of negative nitrogen balance. Eat all your protein at just
one meal and you'll fail to achieve maximize gains.
Increased glycogen retention is yet another result of taking steroids. Glycogen retention is increased in the
muscles. Glycogen, one of the fuels used by your muscles, comes from the metabolism of carbohydrates. Glycogen is
what lets you get that amazingly full pump when you train. If there is little glycogen in the muscles, it's almost
impossible to get a decent pump. You know your muscles are glycogen-depleted when they are flat and refuse to pump.
All this sounds great - if you're willing to take synthetic steroids or testosterone. But what if you are not? Your
only alternative would be to find supplements that increase your body's testosterone levels naturally, and mimic
some of the actions of steroids. Do such supplements exist? You betcha!