My Thoughts on Steroids

Yesterday I posted a review of the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster as a setup to discuss my own thoughts on steroids. Although my thoughts on nutrition and fitness have changed dramatically over the years, my opinion on steroids has been remarkably constant. I started lifting weights in 1994 and seriously in 1995. My only goal was to gain muscle. I had no desire to be a bodybuilder or powerlifter. I also wasn’t training for a sport. I was tired of being a scrawny distance runner. All I wanted was more muscle.

Background

At this time I discovered a magazine called Muscle Media 2000, which attacked supplement companies and had open and honest dialog about steroids. Steroids were effective and not nearly as dangerous as the mass media would have you believe. Most people are unaware that anabolic steroids have been around since the 1930s, but were only labeled as Schedule III narcotics in 1990. One of the writers for Muscle Media 2000 was The Steroid Guru Dan Duchaine. He released the infamous book Underground Bodyopus: Militant Weight Loss & Recomposition, which openly discussed steroids. Once I exchanged a few emails with him on the legality of a supplement being carried at a Tampa Bay area supplement shop.

steroids

Photo By MattysFlicks

My Personal Steroid Guidelines

After a bunch of research I came to the following conclusions while still in my 20s.

  1. Steroids are effective in building muscle.
  2. Steroids, if taken in short cycles with time off, would likely be safe.
  3. Steroids are absolutely NOT necessary for healthy young untrained men to gain muscle, as they already in their peak anabolic years.

It was then I decided that I would not take steroids unless all the following criteria were met.

  1. Must be over 40 years old. Everything I read at that time suggested that the anabolic drop off occurred around the age of 40.
  2. Must honestly say that I am incapable of achieving further gains without hormonal help.
  3. Must still desire more muscle enough to risk money, breaking the law and unknown health risks.
  4. Must be honest and upfront about usage with anyone with an interest in fitness that inquired.

Well fast forward to 2012 and my opinion is exactly the same. I have never taken steroids and do not see a need to do so for the foreseeable future. I am still making gains. Thanks to some nutritional hacking, my hormone levels are now better than they were in my early 20s. Last year I gained muscle. I expect to gain muscle in 2012. I may have started lifting weights with a desire to look like Evander Holyfield, but I’ve accepted my somatype and am OK with the fact that I’m never going to have 16 inch biceps.

Do I Consider Steroids Cheating?

I don’t watch or care about what professional or Olympic athletes do when it comes to steroids. So I don’t want to discuss that angle.

When it comes to personal use, I think the health of many men in this country would be improved with testosterone supplementation. If I were overweight and lethargic, I’d absolutely take it. I think we are quickly approaching the age when hormone replacement will become more and more common. I can see a world in a decade or two where the majority of men over 40 are taking testosterone. Our foods and environment are feminizing men at a rapid pace and there are billions of dollars to be made in pushing a pharmaceutical fix. The word andropause will be as well known as menopause.

I figured out how to increase my testosterone and growth hormone levels through food choices and nutrient timing. And through research and experimentation I figured out which exercises maximize my growth potential with the least risk of injury. Most men will not have the discipline or patience to do what I’ve done. If they seek out medical help to fix things, I will not judge them.

There is one type of steroid user that I have a problem with. It is the steroid user that puts themselves out as a fitness expert without disclosing their hormonal assistance. When you make strong claims on the efficacy of a program, but fail to disclose or bury the disclosure that you were getting hormonal help, that strikes me as borderline fraud.

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MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.

7 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Steroids”

  1. you are damn right about the feminizing of men today. there are hidden reasons for this but i also think the male gender does not take pride in being manly anymore. or maybe the definition on manhood has shifted to something i cannot comprehend.

    personally, i would resent someone my age who got the same results as me but used hormonal enhancements. i spend time and effort getting stronger. i do it the natural way. i would hate to see someone get the same results while eating like crap and not training as hard/often. then again, i don’t know enough about steroids to know if that scenario is even possible.

  2. @Chuck – What many bodybuilders eat, we would consider “eating like crap”. Steroids, genetics and youth. However, these bodybuilders often look like crap by their 40s and 50s. At some point the dietary damage does catch up with them.

    The feminizing of men is massive topic in itself.

  3. Yes — I also agree that manhood is becoming more and more feminized. Which is too bad… ladies like MEN.

    I generally am against steroids usage. But then again I’m kind of against all supplement usage when you can get similar results by eating right and living a better lifestyle.

    Saying steroid usage would be an effective way to combat the feminizing of men, however, is an interesting argument. After all, estrogen and other hormones are found in soo many mainstream foods these days… it may get to the point where a little steroid usage is necessary

  4. I get the feeling that most doctors would more quickly prescribe testosterone than they would encourage a man to eat high quality meat and other animal products two or three times a day…

    They seem to be more sure about the potential negative side effects of frequent meat consumption than the potential negative side effects of testosterone supplementation. Hmm…

  5. I have sat here and read through some of your writing for the past couple of hours. I have enjoyed quite a bit! I too am in Seattle and cheers to that! I have a question regarding this paragraph:

    “I figured out how to increase my testosterone and growth hormone levels through food choices and nutrient timing. And through research and experimentation I figured out which exercises maximize my growth potential with the least risk of injury. Most men will not have the discipline or patience to do what I’ve done. If they seek out medical help to fix things, I will not judge them.”

    Do you have more information on your diet and what type of nutrient timing you do? Maybe a link or something that you have written that I may have over looked?

    Cheers!

    -Patrick

  6. @Patrick – That is a good idea for a post. I’ll do one At some point, but for now, here are some quick thoughts. I’ll post references when I do the full post.

    The way I increased my T levels was by getting rid of my abdominal fat. Also, I swear by beef liver.

    As for GH, I stopped the habit of eating 5-6 meals throughout the day and instead condensed my eating into shorter and shorter windows. Sometimes just 6-8 hours. Fasting promotes GH levels. So does sprinting.

    Also, these past few years I exercise on an empty stomach.

    And I now sleep longer and deeper in a pitch black room, which I’m certain helps too.

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