As a new steroid user, expect great things. There are many benefits of steroids for the newbie, but there are also dangers to be considered. Steroids use can even shorten your life. This article will show you how to minimize risk while maximizing results. It is important that you do not take these drugs without understanding their function and potential side effects in order to make an educated decision about whether or not they are right for you.
First, let’s confine this discussion to the category of steroids most likely to be used by beginners: injectable bodybuilding products that include testosterone esters like cypionate, enanthate, propionate, and Sustanon 250. Oral steroids are nice additions but are not considered first-time drugs for newbies. First-time users should stick to injectables, and particularly those containing testosterone.
The benefits of steroid use are many: Testosterone is the primary male androgen; it is the hormone responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics such as muscle mass, facial hair, and a deepening voice. As such, it can help dramatically improve your physique in just a few short months by increasing your muscle mass and reducing body fat levels. It also boosts sex drive and aggression, which can lead to greater gains through more productive workouts.
If you don’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger after using steroids, maybe you didn’t take enough? There’s no way this guy was on any drug. Perhaps he’s just uneducated in bodybuilding.
But that’s just part of the story. Like any drug, steroids carry with them certain dangers. They can cause you to lose your mind (roid rage), impair your cardiovascular health, damage your liver and kidneys, raise blood pressure, lower sperm count, and increase the risk for prostate cancer. The list goes on and on. Some side effects are pretty extreme, like shrunken balls or ‘roid gut’. As a newbie steroid user, you will probably suffer few if any symptoms for the first few weeks but will gradually ramp-up to full dosage without much trouble; however, beyond this honeymoon period, there is no free ride.
If used properly, steroids can be one of the best tools at your disposal for getting big and strong. If used improperly, they can mess up your life and kill you. This article will help you decide whether or not steroids are for you while sharing some tips to get the most out of them should you choose to use them.
The first thing we need to understand is that there is such a thing as beginner’s luck. Everyone has that friend who started lifting weights last week but managed to add 50lbs. to his bench press in one night; don’t be fooled by these stories; they’re purely anecdotal tales devoid of any scientific basis. It takes an average bodybuilder 4-5 years to realize their full genetic potential (defined as gaining around 1lb muscle per month). Your results may vary: some may take two years while others could take eight years. If you are a true beginner, one who has never lifted before, then you may see some rapid gains in the first few weeks or months depending on your genetics and how new to exercise you really are (1). However, if not properly educated on how to use steroids, they can cause you to make mistakes that cancel out any potential benefits.
You’ve surely heard many of the horror stories of people who used steroids for too long without giving their bodies time to recover and build muscle naturally. There is no denying that these individuals failed themselves by not understanding that drugs do not work in isolation: they require proper diet and rest. As such, it’s imperative that we start with an introduction to basic steroid physiology and its effects on the body, so you know what to expect.
Steroids are modified forms of cholesterol; they are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms arranged in a specific way similar to the arrangement found in organic compounds. The difference between steroids and other lipids is four inter-connected carbon rings. Steroids with this characteristic are referred to as ‘4-ring’ or cyclohexane steroids (2). When ingested orally, they remain inactive, but when injected into muscle tissue, their potency increases dramatically. This increased potency is why bodybuilders prefer injectable products over oral forms. Besides convenience, oral drugs have an absorption advantage that can lead to higher peak blood plasma concentrations yet lower overall steroid levels due to faster clearance from the body. It is possible to combine both forms of administration for a unique effect, but the average bodybuilder/athlete uses either injectable or oral products, not both (3).
Steroids mimic testosterone, which is probably the most well-known steroid, in their effects on protein synthesis yet are far more powerful than testosterone itself. They work by binding to and activating the androgen receptor found within muscle tissue. The activated receptor then works with other transcription factors to increase the rate of protein synthesis. How much depends on what type of cell it’s located in, as different cells respond differently. Keep this in mind when you think about your goals: whether you want muscle mass or just strength, know that steroids help bring out your true potential in either case (4). The major downside is the fact that they suppress your body’s natural testosterone production. But I’ll get to that later.
What steroids should I take?
If you’re beginning, or are new to any training, then oral products are not recommended for two reasons: 1) they will be too potent for you and damage your kidneys, 2) the water retention will prevent muscle gains. If this describes your situation, stick with injectable products until you’ve had several months of training under your belt before moving onto oral compounds (5). The next consideration is what type of steroid stack to use. Testosterone alone does offer some benefits, which include increased strength and aggression, but it really shines when stacked with other steroids. For example, the most popular stack is testosterone + Dianabol. This stack has existed for so long because it works, yet there are others worth mentioning: trenbolone + Masteron, trenbolone + Winstrol, nandrolone (Deca) + Anavar/Primobolan. All steroid stacks work well but what you choose depends on your goals. i.e., if bulking, then go with a heavy androgen like testosterone or trenbolone while cutting might be better served by focusing on speed of entry into the bloodstream with faster-acting drugs like Winstrol or Primobolan.
These are merely examples as there are many effective stacks to use depending on your circumstances. Consult an expert for details.
Steroid Cycles & Half-Lives:
When people say to take a ‘cycle break,’ they’re referring to the half-life of the drug. When you inject a steroid, it metabolizes (breaks down) and is excreted from your body. But not all at once. Some compounds leave your system quickly while others linger; all the while, your natural testosterone production is suppressed as well. Taking a break allows your natural testosterone production to catch up, and it also reduces the level of androgen receptor downregulation (less binding) which may occur if you suddenly stop taking steroids (6). It’s like insurance: you don’t know when or if something will happen, but it pays off when it does.
What Should I Expect? A common question about steroids is, “what should I expect?” Here I’d like to offer some real-life examples of natural bodybuilders who increased their training efforts while taking anabolic steroids:
, professional natural bodybuilder for ten years, on a bulking cycle at the time (roughly 270 lbs)
– gained nearly 30lbs in 2 months during his first steroid cycle – gained more than 20 lbs within four weeks of beginning his second steroid cycle – hit new PR’s on deadlifts and squats after only three weeks of injections – had more strength/energy than ever before, lifetime drug-free competitive athlete over several sports, amateur level competitive bodybuilder(5’7″, 165 lbs at the time of cycle) – gained 8 lbs within three weeks of beginning testosterone therapy – improved muscular endurance – improved overall strength and energy levels
, a competitive bodybuilder(5’6″, 155 lbs) competing in a drug-tested organization, pre-steroid cycle: bench press 195 x 8 reps, squat 275 x 6 reps, deadlift 265 x 5 reps – post-steroid cycle: bench press 240 x 10 reps, squat 315 x 6 reps, deadlifts 315 x 4 reps – other changes included more frequent hair growth and voice deepening beyond his years
As you can see from these examples, steroids produce significant results. But there are several “tradeoffs” to keep in mind. One consideration is the fact that your muscle gains will come much easier, but they’ll be accompanied by water retention. This might not sound like a big deal, but it can have an impact on your physique, especially if you’re competing.
Above is a shot of Kim’s legs *immediately upon injection*. He looked fantastic for the show even though his legs were full. Slight water retention is common among all bodybuilders who are contest-ready within eight weeks. But, because steroids are also diuretics, the extra subcutaneous water will dissipate fairly quickly during this time period (6). The only thing that has to be done is wait. Steroids provide an enormous boost in size, yet they don’t build any muscle or strength beyond what you could achieve naturally. So if you stop taking them, any muscle that doesn’t remain will disappear quickly by itself.
Above are some shots of Sam’s progress from start to finish. In the first shot, he was 155 lbs after a bulking cycle, and his body fat was roughly 15%. After one month of dieting, his leanness increased to 10%, yet he lost no size – instead, he got harder and chiseled looking. In the second picture, it appears as though Sam has been off steroids for around three weeks. This isn’t because he stopped taking them but rather because all the water weight has dissipated due to his diuretic effect, in addition to water restriction/depletion techniques used by competitive athletes in conjunction with a calorie deficit (9).
In the last shot, Sam is back down to 8% body fat. Yet, he still has all his new muscle from the cycle. As you can see, a steroid cycle can boost your strength and size tremendously in a short period of time, but they don’t do it beyond what you’d be capable of without any drugs at all. Therefore, if your gains ever “plateau,” going off steroids for a bit will allow your body’s natural production to catch up and start building real lean mass again (10). There are also various ways to combat water retention so that when you come off the drugs, you’ll look harder instead of softer – they’re covered in my post-cycle therapy guide.
Risks/Side Effects Although most steroid users are careful to avoid dangerous side effects, there are still some risks associated with steroid use. The most dangerous side effects of steroids include high blood pressure, cholesterol imbalances/heart disease, liver damage, kidney problems, and sexual dysfunction.
The good news is that none of these conditions have affected any big-time bodybuilders who are regularly monitored by doctors! The bad news is that nobody’s 100% safe. So if you’re not being regularly monitored by a doctor. You risk hurting yourself. For this reason, I personally never take more than four weeks worth of injections at a time, so I don’t have to rely on doctors or pharmacies for my prescription(s). Also, most competitive athletes their gear responsibly rather than taking it for granted. For example, if you take steroids responsibly, then you know to have a PCT plan ready to go beforehand. If you let your body recover on its own without the use of anti-estrogens, then you’re just asking for trouble (steroid side effects can be permanent). So as long as you come off steroids with a solid post-cycle therapy strategy in place, it’s relatively safe and easy.
The Bottom Line Anyone who tells you that steroid use is 100% safe with no possible negative consequences is flat out lying – but this doesn’t mean they’ll ruin your life either. Steroids typically make your muscle gains come easier, and they help boost strength. However, they don’t do anything beyond what your natural production would fail to do. Thus, the only thing stopping you from reaching your full potential without chemicals is your own motivation. But having access to steroids means that even the laziest people can build an impressive physique with steroids.
That said, if there’s one golden rule for steroid use (which applies to all drugs), it’s this: Don’t take more than what was prescribed or recommended! If you don’t abuse steroids and follow this rule. Then they’ll work fine, and you won’t get any side effects either – not even water retention or gyno (if such a problem exists). Watch my post-cycle therapy guide and make sure to eat enough food, do cardio, avoid overtraining, and drink lots of water when off-cycle in order to keep as much as possible. And you’ll minimize the need for a PCT plan to merely several weeks’ worth of HCG, Nolvadex, and Clomid.
As a final note, just by reading this guide, you should have better knowledge about steroids than 90% of steroid users. So if your first cycle ever went bad – don’t worry! It just means that next time will be easier once you know what to avoid. Thus, even though I’m not a doctor or steroid expert myself. I can still give anyone advice which will be more beneficial than following nothing but anecdotal forum threads from people who probably aren’t doctors either.
In closing, please educate yourself on steroids by reading through my site and buying the ultimate steroid guide. Then apply all that newfound knowledge when considering whether or not to use steroids yourself!