I, personally, have no interest in using steroids to build muscle/strength but I do find the conversation interesting. Media has set such a negative eye on steroid use that any association with professional athletes and steroids completely ruins their public image. People immediately forget the amount of work that it took to get to where they are and that genetics play a significant role. Obviously, some people do abuse steroids, like with any drug, but media has made us forget what steroids really do, why people take them, and that athletes can use them responsibly.
I highly suggest watching the video above with Joe Rogan & Ronnie Coleman (professional bodybuilder, 8-time Mr. Olympia Champion) to learn a bit about what steroids do and why the decision to take steroids can be a respectable one.
Greg Nuckols' View & Research on Steroids
Greg is a record-breaking raw (meaning no "special equipment," which includes being drug-free) powerlifter who is pretty darn close to a 2000lb combined total in the big three (squat, deadlift, and bench press). That being said, he shows a lot of respect to those who take steroids, shares a lot of information on steroids in his books and on his website, StrongerByScience.com, and even talks (half-jokingly) about possibly taking steroids in the future just for the sake of getting even bigger and stronger.
To share some of Greg's insight on steroids, here is a summary of what I learned from reading one of his articles, How Much More Muscle Can You Build With Steroids. This article looks at multiple scientific articles comparing non-users and users, which include competitive athletes with at least 6-7 years of lifting experience. What is obvious is that the users did indeed have an advantage, averaging about 35lb more of lean muscle mass and a significantly larger fat-free mass index (which factors in lean muscle mass and height) on average as well. "Over the course of a training career, it seems like steroids allow you to build about twice as much muscle as you'd be able to drug-free."
Another thing he makes clear is that steroid effects taper off. Just as gains are highest at the start of your lifting career and they decrease over time as a natural weightlifter, they also do when taking steroids if your dose remains the same. As you increase the dose, gains increase as well.
One interesting point that Greg makes is how steroids were likely being used by lifters in the 1950's and 60's but drug testing did not occur until 1968, so if drugs were a key component to muscle/strength gains, we would not expect to see records continuously being broken so quickly after.
As beneficial as steroids are in building muscle, we shouldn't forget what role genetics have to play and that they can be taken responsibly. Also, most bodybuilders/powerlifters simply love the competition and are not receiving much money for winning competitions. It is important to know there is a line to draw when it comes to steroids: who is abusing them or encouraging others to abuse them and who is simply taking them for the reason we are interested in sports, the competition. Let's respect regulations but also respect these athletes' decisions knowing the fact that they can be smart about it with continuous supervision by their doctors.
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