Good or Bad, Steroids Needs to be Part of the Conversation.
You could say that steroids and bodybuilding can come hand in hand. Whenever the topic of bodybuilding is brought up, you can anticipate it being followed by misinformed stereotypes about athletes being jacked up on steroids and magically growing to incredible sizes.
The fact remains that this is a sensitive issue that needs to be taken seriously. Obviously the stereotypes behind bodybuilding are over exaggerated. An athlete’s hard work should be recognized for what it is. Steroids give an edge, but there is no substitute for hard work.
Steroids are treated as controlled substances in the USA ever since the Anabolic Steroids Control Act. Many people see the drug as a cheat and, more importantly, as dangerous. In short, most people just don’t know enough about the topic.
You need to understand that in bodybuilding, steroids are very prominent but not talked about too much. We are going to dive into the usage of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and provide as much education on the topic as we can..
Disclaimer: Generation Iron team are not medical professionals and are not advising for or against the use of any performance enhancing drugs, rather stating the facts surrounding these substances.
A Brief History of Bodybuilding
Just to cover a quick history of the sport, bodybuilding originated in the late 19th century. It was originally promoted in England by a man named German Eugen Sandow. He is considered the father of modern bodybuilding. Sandow started out as a professional strongman. Later on, he allowed audiences to view his physique in “muscle display performances.”
As the sport has progressed, so have the physiques, you can clearly see. Let me give an example, Arnold Schwarzenegger stood at 6’2″ on stage and weighed 235 lbs. Current Mr. Olympia winner, Big Ramy, stands at 5’9″ and weighs 295 lbs on stage.
Yes, workouts, diet, genetics, and all of the modern research play a huge role in the size of physiques today, but we have to look at the other things too. By that I mean the drugs. Drugs have changed dramatically in the sport, both the dosages and the substances themselves. So, let’s dive into that.
Changes in Steroids
Originally, testosterone was first used in Germany in 1935 and used to treat depression. In the 50s it began to become popular amongst athletes. And by the 1980s, even the general population was tapping into the anabolic forbidden fruit. But, as far as bodybuilding, anabolics become more advanced, and more widely used.
Back in the day, it was just testosterone. As science advanced, testosterone derivatives began to break onto the scene, and the bodybuilding industry ate it up. Anavar, winstrol, anadrol, dianabol, trenbolone, are just a few names of commonly used steroids derived from testosterone.
Not even just the testosterone derivatives, but you see other things like human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin being used now. These are substances that were not as common back in the earlier days of bodybuilding. However, you now see them being used more and more in the sport.
Every different steroid serves a different purpose. For example, things like anavar and winstrol are oral steroids that can be used for cutting. Dianabol and anadrol are more for bulking.
This leads into the next point we will cover, stacking and cycling.
Bodybuilders will “stack” steroids in order to gain a desired affect more efficiently. For example they may throw things together like dianabol and testosterone to put on mass. On the flip side, bodybuilders run things like anavar and winstrol to achieve the hardened, cut look.
The “cycle” is the period of time that they will be using anabolic steroids. For example, if you as a bodybuilder take testosterone, anavar, and winstrol for 12 weeks, that is a cutting cycle. On the other hand if a bodybuilder is doing a bulking cycle, you will see them stack things like dianabol or anadrol and testosterone. You need to realize that testosterone is typically the base of every cycle for bodybuilders.
You may see bodybuilders also “blast and cruise” rather than “cycling” completely off. Blasting refers to taking higher doses and more compounds, while cruising refers to low doses and less compounds. A cruise typically may only be low dose testosterone, or TRT.
You also need to take a look at the “cycle support” that bodybuilders use. These compounds can do damage to internal organs, like your liver. So, if you are a bodybuilder you need to take something to protect that. These compounds can also raise your estrogen levels, so you would need to take something to stop that as well.
But what do bodybuilders do if they cycle off?
Post Cycle Therapy
After doing a cycle, if bodybuilders choose to come off of everything completely, then a post cycle therapy (PCT) must be done. This is because when anabolic steroids are taken, the body’s natural production of hormones is offset and can yield bad results if not taken care of properly.
Depending on the bodybuilder’s cycle, you will see them take things to block estrogen levels from rising, and restart the body’s natural production of testosterone. Compounds you will commonly see used by bodybuilders as a PCT can be clomiphene, tamoxifen, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG).
For more on steroids, you can check out our interview with Dr. Thomas O’Connor, the “Anabolic Doc”.
The mere fact is that there is no pressure to ban steroids in bodybuilding, but also it is not spoken about enough. This is just proof that mainstream media is not taking the sport and its athletes serious enough. Does that mean steroids should be banned? Not necessarily, but it means that these kinds of discussions should happen.
Bodybuilding should be more transparent about the entire process of bodybuilding. Most people know that steroids are commonly used in bodybuilding. Instead of keeping silent about it and letting the mainstream populous make opinions based off of half-facts and stereotypes, the sport of bodybuilding needs to embrace it, talk about it, and inform the world how it actually works.
Bodybuilding has evolved to amazing heights and is enjoyed by more people every year. The rising popularity of fitness within social media is heavily contributing to that. More and more people are starting to get into fitness and bodybuilding, which in turn yields more people experimenting with steroids. We need to talk about it.
Let us know your opinions about steroids vs natural bodybuilding in the comments section below. We can start the conversation right here! Shout us out on Facebook and Twitter too. Spread the word and stay pumped.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, April 12). What is the history of anabolic steroid use? National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/what-history-anabolic-steroid-use
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, November 22). How are anabolic steroids used? National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/how-are-anabolic-steroids-used