How Steroids are Used ?
How Steroids are Used ?
If anyone is considering using steroids it is essential to have an understanding of the potential benefits and side effects of using them.
It is important that the user should not be unrealistic in expectations and realise that large and permanent gains cannot be made in one course. Every athlete is different, in his or her genetic make-up. Training, diet regulation, illness and stress determine the response to steroids.
Steroids are generally used in cycles and are often taken in stacks. Stacking refers to the practice of taking several drugs simultaneously. This is common among anabolic steroid users and can also involve the use of drugs other than steroids. Cycling refers to the pattern of steroid use where drugs are taken in cycles of a period of weeks followed by a drug free period.
A major factor is the number and distribution of androgen receptors in the muscle. There is no universal pattern of distribution of the receptors but the greater concentration is generally in the upper body, leading to a greater response in the arms than the legs in most, but not all individuals. The number increases slightly, as the muscle grows and this may be a reason for some athletes having larger gains with their later course.
A weight-training programme will lead to increased strength and an increase in muscle mass. Steroid use should not be considered until the athlete has plateaued, that is, there is no more increase in weight and strength in spite of continued heavy training before using steroids.
The importance of diet cannot be overemphasised and must contain sufficient carbohydrate food to support a training programme. The muscle needs protein to grow but it cannot work efficiently without the fuel and this is best provided by carbohydrate foods. Carbohydrate also attracts water into the muscle cell and this results in an increase in the bulk of the muscle.
All steroids produce the same result at the end of a course. They stimulate the cell nucleus to produce the protein characteristic of the cell. In the case of muscle cells, that will be muscle protein. This is the desired result of using the steroid. There is no doubt that there are differences in the effects of the different steroids when taken in a single dose and monitored over some weeks. With the testosterone preparations, there are differences in the rate at which they are taken up from the injection site. These differences refer to one dose but steroids are not used as a single dose but rather as a series of doses over a period of time and this invalidates many of the conclusions based on duration of effect when those assumptions are based on a single dose format.
There is a question of whether to use oral or injectable drugs. There is no difference in the overall effects if the athlete trains correctly, the route of administration is not the most important factor.
There are variations in the rate of uptake of different steroids by the steroid receptors. Once again, this is not an important factor in choosing a steroid as they are used over a period and any gain that one may have on the first dose is insignificant when a course lasting several weeks is considered. It is the final result that is important.
For a second or later course of a drug, there is no reason why the same anabolic steroid cannot be used. The body does not develop tolerance and results can be achieved with the same steroid, providing that the training programme and diet are adequate.
How much to use?
There has been no scientific research performed to find out the effect of a specific amount of steroid on a weight training programme. The information available is related to steroid use in medicine, and there, the expectations are different from those seen in training for weight gain.
It is important to recognize that if a gain is made with a large dose of steroids, it is not necessarily true that the dose was the right one. Many of the large doses produce the same result as smaller doses with the excess steroid being spread around the body to other areas where side effects are produced before the material is destroyed in the liver. There is a limit to the amount that the androgen receptors and the cell nuclei can take up and once they are full, they cannot handle any more steroids at that time.
To double the effect in animals takes about 10 times the original dose but in humans this would produce excessive side effects. There must be a dose at which no significant benefit accrues but by continually increasing the dose and the variety of steroids used, one cannot constantly improve the results obtained. The most important factor in gaining weight is the combination of correct diet and an adequate training programme.
Increasing a dose may not increase the muscle building effect but it will increase the chances of, extent of and types of side effects experienced.
Length of courses?
Long continued courses of anabolic steroid do not lead to continuing weight and strength gain. There is in some athletes, an immediate response to anabolic steroids and others take up to 3 weeks to show any development. There is a continuing growth pattern generally lasting for some 6 to 8 weeks. They plateau at this level and further steroid use produces little or no benefit.
Once the steroid receptors are full and probably fatigued, no further gain is to be expected. It is advisable to restrict courses to no more than 6 to 8 weeks. If muscle gains are not apparent in that time, the cause is generally not insufficient steroids, but a problem with the training regime or the diet.
How often to use steroids?
This is a difficult question to answer. It is important to have goals when using steroids as this will make it possible to evaluate progress. If progress is not being made then it may be that the goals may be unrealistic. A strength gain of around 5% over 6 to 8 weeks is good in an early course, although it is often difficult to estimate strength gains with any degree of accuracy. In future courses it is more difficult to attain these types of gains as people approach the maximum for their body as it is not possible to continuously increase strength. A slightly lower gain exists with muscle mass where 3% might be considered a good result. Once again it is not possible to continue the same rate of gain with subsequent courses.
Most people lose weight after a course of anabolic steroids has finished. Many users find it difficult to maintain the high level of effort required for maintenance and as a result, lose weight. There is, in some athletes, a retention of water during the course and when the steroids are stopped, this water is lost and the scales demonstrate a weight loss over a few weeks.
The decision to use another course should be carefully assessed and a new goal set. The quicker a new course is started, the less the gain to be expected, as the benefits of the previous course are still evident and receptor recovery has not occurred. It is wise, in a person who has maintained a heavy training programme, that the interval between courses be at least as long as the duration of the course just completed. This allows a reasonable time for the body to recover from the effects of the prior course.