Powerlifters who take steroids are not taking a special class of steroids - any different than what bodybuilders use - to increase strength. All anabolic steroids are both anabolic and
androgenic to a certain degree. Actually the precise and correct term for such steroids is anabolic-androgenic steroids. Anabolic steroids are basically synthetic derivatives of the
primary male sex hormone, testosterone. It is primarily produced by the testes and plays an important role in a male's body by regulating growth and developing the male secondary sex
characteristics. A deepened voice, body-and facial-hair growth, increased oil output by the sebaceous glands, maturation of sperm, development of the sexual organs, and increased aggression
and libido are all con-trolled by testosterone levels. These masculinizing effects are referred to as the androgenic properties of the testosterone hormone. In addition to producing
androgenic effects, testosterone has an anabolic component. Increased testosterone levels promote growth or produce anabolic changes in the body by increasing the rate of protein synthesis.
Steroids: The Bodybuilder's View
An increased rate of synthesis leads to an accumulation of muscle mass. This anabolic mechanism is of great interest to body-builders as a higher rate of protein synthesis allows them
to pack on all that serious muscle mass. The anabolic effects do not have a negative impact in particular on the powerlifter. Muscle growth may not be desired by other athletes who want
to stay at a specific bodyweight in a particular weight class. However, for the athlete whose primary concern is strength, increased muscle mass is an advantage. Remember, the larger one's
muscles, the stronger one is in most cases. Strength is not solely related to and defined by muscle size. Other factors determine strength levels, such as neural efficiency, limb length,
tendon insertions, and fast-twitch muscle-fiber ratios. However, you can't deny the relationship between strength and size. If an athlete gains SO pounds of lean muscle mass, the chances are
he or she has also become much stronger along with the newfound muscle mass.
As synthetic derivatives of testosterone, anabolic steroids are engineered to produce more of an anabolic effect. They are molecularly altered to metabolize at different rates, thus allowing
them to last much longer in the body. Over 100 different anabolic steroids have been manufactured to date, each one having its own anabolic-androgenic properties and characteristics. The
main goal of many steroid manufacturers has been to engineer an anabolic steroid that has no androgenic component and a 100-percent anabolic component. The androgenic component is actually
responsible for many of the side effects a person taking steroids experiences. The reason for this component's association with such side effects is that, unlike the anabolic component that
interacts mostly with the muscle cells, the androgenic component deals with many different types of cells in the body. When the androgen molecule reacts with one of these latter cells, it
alters the function of those cells. This alteration is why large gains in muscularity are often accompanied by numerous side effects. For example, when an androgen binds to the cells in a
hair follicle, an increase is seen in facial and body hair, or worse, the androgen molecule can signal the hair follicles on the scalp to shut down, which would result in premature balding.
Ideally, for the bodybuilder, using steroids that are 100-percent anabolic with I no androgenic components would be great. A number of experiments have been conducted to try and produce a
fully anabolic testosterone derivative. Many scientists have concluded that creating this derivative is not possible. The anabolic effects of steroids cannot exist without some degree of
androgenic effects being present.
Steroids such as Anavar, Winstrol, and Primobolan are commonly referred to as being highly anabolic. These steroids do promote muscle growth, but they do not necessarily promote the most
muscle growth. They are called highly anabolic because they have a high anabolic ratio, meaning they are more anabolic than androgenic. Many of the androgenic steroids such as Anadrol, Dianabol,
and testosterone are more anabolic than the highly anabolic ones.
Steroids: The Powerlifter's View
The strength athlete has a different way of looking at this anabolic-androgenic issue. He or she in many cases wants to use anabolic steroids that have a very high androgenic component. Some
of the side effects of androgens enhance the performance of the strength athlete.
Androgens enhance the synthesis of creatine in muscle tissues. Creatine phosphate in the muscles plays a large role in the manufacture of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is a primary energy
storage mechanism for muscles. (Creatine phosphate is generated from creatine by ATP.) When muscles are made to contract, the ATP molecule is broken down into adenosine diphosphate (ADP). This
breakdown causes a release in energy. In order to replenish the used-up energy a process takes place where creatine phosphate is used to convert the ADP back into ATP. During an intense
contraction ATP levels become depleted quickly, and the muscles begin to fatigue. With a surplus of creatine (produced by androgens) available in the muscle, the ATP levels can quickly regenerate,
resulting in a measurable increase in energy. Androgens have also been shown to increase glycogen retention. Glycogen is a complex carbohydrate, made up of a chain of glucose molecules, and is
used in a secondary energy mechanism to create ATP once creatine phosphate stores are depleted. The muscle cell first splits the glycogen into glucose, and then, through a series of steps,
metabolizes it into ATP and lactic acid. Androgens have also been found to stimulate cells in the kidney, thereby producing a positive effect on red blood-cell production. A higher concentration
of red blood cells can aid in oxygen transport capacity to the muscles. An increase in transport generally means more endurance and more energy to the muscle.
High levels of androgens are also responsible for making one aggressive. To many members of the public this aggressiveness is a negative side effect of steroids known as roid rage. Some powerlifters
have a different opinion and actually find this side effect to be positive. They find that, with the added aggression, they can lift harder, perform with more intensity, and stay more focused.
As you can see, androgens can do quite a bit for a strength athlete. They can increase creatine production, glycogen production, blood volume, and aggression - all at once - definitely providing
the edge that most strength athletes are looking for. Thus strength athletes are very interested in using anabolic steroids that are highly androgenic. Some of the common androgenic steroids used
and abused by many strength athletes are Anadrol, Dianabol, and testosterone. Their androgenic effects seem to be important from a bodybuilding perspective as well. They may not directly build muscle
but they can, indirectly, by allowing the bodybuilder to train harder to force muscle hypertrophy.
Neither the strength athlete nor the body-builder has a special class of steroids that is used. Both groups use anabolic-androgenic steroids. The strength athlete may be more focused on the
androgenic components, and the bodybuilder on the anabolic components. However, like the scientists who engineered the steroids, the powerlifter and bodybuilder can % separate out these components.
The androgenic and anabolic components seem to form a synergy to help both bodybuilders and powerlifters reach their goals. These two components come together in a package - in more ways than one.