Steroids were first created in the 1930’s. When on steroids, the body can synthesize protein more effectively resulting in rapid muscle hypertrophy. Steroid-users’ strength levels also go through the roof when on such anabolic agents.
Steroids in the media are given a very bad name. If a bodybuilder dies, it is automatically presumed that steroids are the cause. Aziz Sergeyevich Shavershian, known as “Zyzz” in the bodybuilding world, suffered a heart attack in a sauna when on holiday in Bangkok (aged 22). This typically led to several newspapers pointing to steroids and other stimulants for the cause. However, a later autopsy revealed that Zyzz had an underlying heart condition. This perception of steroids in the media is partly why bodybuilding as a sport isn’t as popular as it could be.
Despite this negative image on steroids, millions around the world continue to cycle steroids and aren’t all dropping dead like the media often implies. Doctors also prescribe steroids for short periods of time for several reasons. One common reason is for those that experience delayed puberty. Testosterone thus can be prescribed to speed up this process.
Many users think that steroids are safe and that they are in good health, simply because they do not notice any obvious side effects. However, it is possible for health implications to develop, without any noticeable side effects. For example, almost 1/3 of people with high blood pressure won’t even know. This is because side effects of high blood pressure aren’t obvious to the average person and can seem quite mild.
A steroid cycle can result in spikes of blood pressure in every cycle (typically lasting up to 12 weeks). With prolonged use of steroids, several cycles can dramatically increase your chances of a heart attack.
Research has shown that a person is 150% more likely to experience a heart attack when on steroids. The reason for this blood pressure increase is because testosterone, the male hormone, raises LDL cholesterol levels. Steroids will raise testosterone levels to an unnaturally high level, thus causing high blood pressure.
The bodies natural defence mechanism for controlling this big increase in blood pressure from steroids, is to raise estrogen levels (the female sex hormone). Estrogen has the opposite effect on blood pressure by increasing HDL levels. Thus the body raises estrogen levels to control blood pressure. For the body to react like this, it is a sure sign that there is a serious need for this to happen – indicating that the body is in a dangerous hormonal imblance.
A side effect from exceptionally high estrogen levels is Gynaecomastia. In simple terms, this is when breast tissue forms in males.
Mild Case of Gynaecomastia (left)
Strong Case of Gynaecomastia
To avoid developing “gyno”, some take anti-estrogen supplements alongside steroids. As previously mentioned, the body elevates the estrogen hormone to control blood pressure and keep a healthy cholesterol balance. When you block estrogen, LDL levels will increase even more, exacerbating blood pressure problems.
Liver damage? (with oral consumption)
When you take steroids in tablet form, they have to bypass the liver. When you inject steroids, they miss out the liver and go directly into the blood stream. By taking steroids orally, you can develop a condition called cholestasis. This occurs because bile, responsible for removing toxins in the liver, cannot flow efficiently.
Prolonged steroid use can eventually lead to liver disease due to the death of multiple liver cells. cholestasis, however, is not something that occurs overnight and thus regular liver screenings should be performed by a steroid-user’s doctor to monitor the health of the liver.
Taking steroids can contribute to speeding up the process of hair loss and thinning of the hair. If your genetic profile puts you more at risk of MPB (male pattern baldness), then it is likely that you will lose a fair amount of hair from anabolic steroids (those that are testosterone-based anyway).
This is due to steroids creating high levels of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Hair follicles happen to be very sensitive to DHT, and when exposed to a high amounts of this male hormone, their life span shortens. If you suffer from male pattern baldness, check out my post on the best supplements for hair growth.
During a steroids cycle, your testicles signal to stop producing testosterone, as there is an unnaturally high amount in the body. Thus when you finish a cycle, testosterone levels can drop very low. Testicle size is often determined by your current T level, and so testicle shrinkage is a common side effect post-cycle.
Natural Steroid Alternatives
No matter what your genetics are, it is possible to build an incredible body without steroids. It is very unlikely you will ever build 22″ arms like a Mr Olympia competitor, but most people do see those types of physiques as “extreme” anyway. Through hard work and smart supplementation, it is possible for even a skinny person to get jacked.
Testosterone booster’s can elevate testosterone levels, similar to steroids.
There’s only 2 differences:
1. Natural testosterone boosters do not provoke as high T levels as steroids would. Despite this you can still make great gains with a powerful T booster.
2. Testosterone boosters do not have any side effects, due to natural ingredients being used.
A natural testosterone booster that I had some big gains with was TestoFuel (see my transformation below)
Supplementing with TestoFuel 4x per day, plus working my ass off in the gym allowed me to gain 1.5″ on my arms in 12 weeks.