I hope this finds all of you feeling healthy, strong, lean, and happy. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to revitalize your commitment to getting that way, and to figuring out how to be motivated in the gym. Which brings me to a new twist to an old subject, sports supplements of the “hard core” variety, namely steroids, frequently referred to as “the juice”. Do they work? Yes! But what are you getting yourself into if you decide to use them? That’s the question that you should ask yourself before you decide to take the plunge.

There has been a wide range of reports by the news media about steroids and their effects. You hear about scientific studies that say steroids aren’t really very effective, that it’s a placebo effect, and then you see reports about guys getting tumors, cancer, or dying because of steroid use. What’s the truth? You don’t really know unless you’ve been there, or have been around others who’ve been there. I’m not pretending to give you the last word on steroids, but I will share what I know about them, and I’ll probably provide a better analysis than you’ve seen so far, but hey, that’s what I do.

I started hearing about guys on steroids when I was in college. My brother and I worked out together most of the time, and we’d see guys come back from summer break with an extra 30 pounds of muscle than they had at the end of Spring semester. No doubt about it, steroids! Sorry, but “eating extra food”, or “supplements” don’t make that kind of impact. It’s funny to see some guys grow so quickly.

I was tempted to take steroids in college, and ended up asking a high-ranking National level bodybuilder who happened to work out at my gym about steroids. He told me that he had a prescription for them from a doctor. He said that he told the doctor that he was either going to get them off the street, or he was going to get a prescription for them so he could be monitored by the doctor. Given that choice, the doctor gave in.

So this guy goes on to tell me about the precautions he took, the routine monitoring of his blood pressure, cholesterol level, and other blood chemistry fluctuations that are side effects of steroid use. After about 30 minutes of hearing about the good and the “not so good” steroid side effects that he’d experienced, I left with a conviction that personally, it wasn’t worth the potential risks. But that’s just me.

I’m not dead set against steroid use. I just know that there are risks involved. I’ve decided to stick to the natural way, and to be happy with whatever the results are.

Back to the heart of the subject, and to the first real question:

Do steroids work?

Yes, without a doubt. If anyone tells you differently, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Steroids are chemicals that enhance your testosterone levels, and other male hormone levels. More testosterone equates to more muscle. But there are many types of steroids, each with varying effects.

What are the side effects of steroids?

I’ll split this category into two parts, those side effects that are desirable, and those that aren’t.

Positive effects – The desirable side effect is that you’ll grow more muscle, if you work out. Some steroids promote muscle growth more than others, some affect body fat, some don’t, some make your muscles harder and tighter, some make you hold water, bloating you, and the list goes on.

The most important factor in all of this is that each person is different. Each of us is our own little chemistry lab, with internal variables that are different from one another. It’s sort of like alcohol, in that people have varying experiences with different types of alcohol, different amounts, etc. Some people get drunk easily, some don’t. Some people are mean drunks, some are happy drunks, some get sick when they drink certain types of alcohol.

It just depends on the individual body chemistry makeup, which includes genetic makeup, as well as how healthy you are, what you eat, drink, and so on. Steroids are the same way. Add to this each person’s psychological and emotional makeup. It all makes a difference in which side effects you’re going to experience, and to what degree!

Negative effects ““ Not everyone experiences these similarly, and if you’re looking in a Physician’s Desk Reference you’ll see every side effect EVER experienced due to steroids, because that’s the way the research is done, and reported. But, for most guys who take steroids, they experience physical and psychological changes, again, with varying degrees. The physical effects are higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and associated triglyceride levels, which are related to heart disease, liver and kidney stress, which permanently alters functional capability, and acne (very unsightly in some cases).

The psychological effects are related to aggression, irritability, and so on. Oh, and when your testosterone levels increase you can also expect another side effect, Your sex drive may change. Sometimes you get hornier and sometimes not, sometimes you get hornier for a couple weeks and then your sex drive decreases due to your body’s compensation to the steroids.

The overall effects of steroids can be summarized quite simply. Most people have heard about the associated risk factors of being a male, that is, the “manly” requisite of having testosterone pumping through your veins. When you elevate your testosterone levels “naturally” or “pharmaceutically”, the risk factors are elevated also. It so happens that your natural testosterone levels don’t fluctuate nearly as much, no matter how diligently you go about it, as when you take steroids.

Now that you know the effects, what’s the answer? That’s for you to decide.

Some people have reported that steroids were a great experience, and others have cursed them due to their regretful experiences with them. I know of guys who’ve ABUSED steroids for years, and they seem to be healthy. The problems tend to occur about ten or so years down the road. That’s when heart problems, kidney failure, or liver damage cause serious problems to surface.

It’s funny that I know a guy and girl couple who took them in their early 20’s, and refer to their experience as really cool, but they don’t take them any longer, and won’t. And they’re still in their late 20’s.

I’ve known guys who took steroids in college for a year or two, got bigger, and then lost it all once they decided that their “bodybuilding” days were over. These guys seem to be fine health-wise as far as they can tell, but most of them have turned into “ultra health conscious” fanatics. Who knows how it all balances out.

Chances are that if you take steroids for a short time, and in small amounts, you won’t have problems. But when you go off “the juice”, your body goes back to the way it was before. There’s actually uncertainty in my mind about that last sentence. Some guys are able to train so hard on juice that after they go off, they seem to keep a little extra muscle that they didn’t have before.

The best advice I’ve heard from a pro bodybuilder was that if you aspire to be a pro bodybuilder, and you can win a natural contest without ever taking juice, and you start working your way up the amateur ranks without it, then when the time is right, it would MAYBE be worth taking steroids to get where you want to go in bodybuilding. Here’s the catch: If you can’t even win a natural contest without steroids, it’s a waste of your time, and the risks are too high.

If all you’re doing is looking for a better body, then get off your ass and get it. Chances are that taking the easy route will give you some momentary glory, and sooner or later, the steroid shortcut will put you right back where you started. It’s probably not worth risking your health.

Lastly, I’ll mention that if you’re contemplating using steroids, do yourself a favor and check them out as thoroughly as possible before you decide, take moderate amounts, monitor your blood chemistry, and cycle their use so your body has a chance to clean out.


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