What Are Anabolic Steroids, the Whole Truth About Them

I am going to die.

That’s the first thing everyone has in mind when he thinks about anabolic steroids.

You know, some people say that having half the knowledge is worse than being totally ignorant.

And in this case, this is true. Anabolic steroids is a taboo topic, that most people are afraid to talk about. It’s like if you say the word “steroids” 3 times, then a candyman on steroids will come out and kill you.

So instead of leaving you in ignorance I decided to write this post – which is based on facts and personal observations/tests – in order to give you a better understanding of what anabolic steroids are, and how good or bad they are for your body.

So before someone wonders how I know all this stuff; I know them because I have studied a lot and I have tried them. Under no circumstances, I am implying that I am a doctor or that I have educated and specialized knowledge on the subject. Everything you are going to read here is based on personal experience and studying.

Being a bodybuilding maniac in previous years, I thought I should give them a try in order to see what effect they will have in my body.

So before I begin, I read many things about them, I consulted some people who were supposed to be specialists and I gave it a try.

I used them for only two 6-week periods in a year. I took a “bulking” cycle during winter and a “cutting cycle” during summer.

During these periods I documented everything and I took many blood and urine tests in order to make sure my indexes were OK. But more on the results later in the article.

I don’t consider myself to be the ultimate expert on the subject since I have not abused steroids for years, but this short period was more than enough for me to get a good grasp on the subject.

So let’s begin.

What are anabolic steroids?

Anabolic Steroids” is the common name for synthetic substances related to male sex hormones (mainly testosterone). They promote skeletal and muscular growth (anabolic effect) and the development of male sexual characteristics (androgenic effects). Effects stand true for both male and female use.

Anabolic steroids were primarily developed in late 1930 to treat hypogonadism, a condition in which the testicles don’t produce sufficient amounts of testosterone for normal growth, development and, sexual functionality.

But during the 1930s, scientists discovered that steroids could help the growth of skeletal muscle in lab animals. This eventually led to the abuse of those substances first from bodybuilders and weightlifters and then by athletes in other sports.

Most of the anabolic steroids are derivatives of testosterone. The most common ones are:

Oral Steroids

  • Anadrol (oxymetholone)
  • Oxandrin (oxandrolone)
  • Dianabol (methandrostenolone)
  • Winstrol (stanozolol)

Injectable Steroids

  • Deca-Durabolin (nandrolone decanoate)
  • Durabolin (nandrolone phenpropionate)
  • Depo-Testosterone (testosterone cypionate)
  • Equipoise (boldenone undecylenate)
  • Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG)

Common myths about anabolic steroids

So let’s start with the most common myths about anabolic steroids. I will give you some good arguments based mainly on personal experience.

Myth #1: You will die

Relax. Nobody is gonna die. Like any other drug, anabolic steroids will only kill you if you abuse them. While I wasn’t abusing them (actually I was using the minimum dosage that’s supposed to work), I know dozens of people abusing them for years and well…they’re still alive.

That’s not to say they are healthy either. I can’t judge on their health status. I haven’t seen their blood test and I have no idea on their liver condition. But they are not dead.

Everything is dose dependent. So because 30 aspirins are going to kill you, that doesn’t mean aspirins are lethal. In the same sense, steroids won’t kill you if the dosage is moderate and your nutrition is optimized.

Myth #2: You will become superman

Good luck with that. If you expect to become a super human just by swallowing pills, forget about it.

During a workout, your body will need to use muscle glycogen as a fuel. This “muscle decomposition” into energy is called catabolism. All steroids do to your body is to keep you in an anabolic state most of the time. That means they won’t let your body “burn” its muscle tissue.

By giving your body a far better nutrient absorption and by water and muscle retention, they tremendously promote a faster muscle growth and recovery.

Unless you are a freak of nature, you aren’t gonna gain 30 pounds of muscle mass in a year. Only ignorant people or steroids sellers will support that idea. This is far from true at best. During my one year of usage, and although I wasn’t measuring my fat and mass percentages very strictly I should have gained around 5 or 6 kilos of lean mass at best – photos at the end of the article.

In order for the steroids to work and gain muscle mass, you will need to eat. A LOT. No amount of steroids can replace good and much food. After all, like I said steroids don’t build muscles on their own. They will help to build this muscle mass, by converting the food you eat from proteins and nutrients to muscles.

Imagine like you have an engine. Steroids are the optimization, the modification and every improvement you can do to this engine. Even the most optimized engine in the world, needs gas to run though. Sorry, no food, no muscles.

Myth #3: You never get tired

But you are. Being tired has nothing to do with using steroids. I was dead tired after every training. Energy depletion is somehow irrelevant to steroid use. Different mechanisms.

Moreover, even if steroids were helping, the difference would only be marginal because as a steroid user, your training effort should go up significantly if you are to gain something from the substances.

Myth #4: They are harmless

Well, like I said before, everything is dose dependent. If you are stingy about their use the harmful effect will be minimal. If you abuse them, you will harm yourself badly, even fatally in some cases.

Although testosterone is a naturally produced hormone, and you already have some amounts of it in you, that doesn’t mean you can inject it into your body at will.

Although all my tests after the cycles, didn’t show any damage, I can never be a hundred percent sure, no minor side effects were there. Not everything can be shown on a test. Some effects might be minor to notice, but the harm might have happened.

Actually, I think it’s inevitable to have some negative minor side effects since you are injecting large amounts (in comparison to the natural levels) of hormones in your body.

Myth #5: They don’t have side effects

Oh, but they sure do. And I am not talking about the hidden side effects I told you before, I am talking about visible side effects.

If you’re a woman, side effects can be tremendous, from having problems with the menstrual cycle to grow up hair in places where you shouldn’t. The voice gets very heavy and the whole hormonal profile gets crazy. In my opinion, if you are a woman, you should never ever try it, and I am absolutely positive about it. No exceptions whatsoever.

Even if you are a man, anabolic steroids can have various side effects. Again they vary very much in the dosage and on the individual as well. For example, I have heard about raging temperament, sleep problems, mental stability issues etc.

To be honest, I didn’t have many side effects myself. But I had quite a few nonetheless. I had an increased blood pressure, I was kinda red-ish for many hours of the day, and I was a bit anxious during my sleep time. The quality of my sleep took a hit for sure, and this was a major factor in my disliking of the process.

Besides these, I cannot say I had any other noticeable side effects. All other side effects like sweating and muscle hardening were due to the fact that I put a lot of weight on me in a very brief time frame.

My body didn’t really like the extra weight, and it needed a way to tell me so.

Myth #6: You get shredded magically

One of my favorite myths in the gym. Have heard it (but not seen it) countless times. The urban myth states that you will sculpt your six-pack magically by just using steroids. Bullshit. This ain’t possible.

Not at least if you haven’t the best genes in the world. I personally know a lot of people who are still taking anabolic-androgenic steroids and they aren’t lean. Not even close to lean to be exact.

For the last time, all steroids help you achieve is muscle retention. They don’t get you shredded like that. I had to starve equally with everybody else in order to get lean during the summer cycle. The advantage you get is that by using steroids you can be more “careless” in your calorie intake and the body will “forgive” you.

If a normal person cuts his calories by a lot in order to lose fat, he will have to sacrifice some precious muscle tissue as well. Steroid users don’t have this disadvantage. You can literally eat very few calories and your muscles won’t go anywhere. Your body can tolerate a big starvation “punishment” with no negative effects. Again photos will speak for themselves.

Some visual aid

body through the years - roberto zanon

Pic #1

When it all begun.

That’s during 2009. It was during my first days in the gym. I was pretty chubby to be honest. My physic was pathetic.

Although I didn’t make a body fat measurement at the time, I estimate I should be anywhere between 25-30% body fat.

Pic #2

Six months later I have lost quite a few pounds. My physic was far superior, and the body fat was around 10-12% at that point.

I was ruthless about my diet and my training schedule. I was running many kilometers on the treadmill every day and I rarely was having cheat meals. The one major mistake I did, was that I wasn’t very careful about my protein intake so although I became lean, I lost quite a few pounds of muscle mass as well. (chicks dig that style by the way)

Pic #3

This is a photo in December 2012. Although I haven’t quit gym, my nutrition habits during winter periods were terrible. I hit the gym every day but I was eating like a pig – I bet you can tell.

Actually, I was making this very mistake for the next years as well, except for the couple two. There’s no real benefit to be careful during the summer period and then eat all you can during winter. From a health perspective, it’s just wrong to lose and gain so many kilos in such short periods of time.

Pic #4

Summer time again. July 2013 was the last summer I was totally natural. Only supplements I was using were protein powders, BCAA, and some Omega-3 fatty acids.

Again pretty strict diet plan and a lot of hours on the treadmill got me down to around 10% body fat with a decent amount of muscular tissue.

Pic #5

This is after the end of my first cycle on steroids during winter 2014. I gained around 20 kilos in less than 8 months. The truth is I was eating extremely “clean” but the amounts of food were unbelievable. Most of the days I just wanted to throw up. I couldn’t stand that amount of food for any longer.

Although I got 20 kilos, I still had some definition. I wasn’t fluffy, but kinda hard. That’s what happens when you get roids and food. You gain pounds of “good quality”.

Pic #6

During my second steroid cycle the next summer. I lost more than 10 kilos and I estimate I was around 12-13% body fat at the time. What I want you to notice is the difference in my weight between pic #4 and pic #6. Almost 10 kilos more, but with a comparable body fat percentage.

That’s where steroids really shine. I was in a very very strict diet, and my body (my muscles) could cope with it.

Closing Comments

To sum up, anabolic steroids will:

  • Help you gain muscular mass (only if you eat right and a lot)
  • Not kill you unless you abuse them
  • Not get you shredded like that unless you are on a very strict diet
  • Have side effects, some noticeable, some hidden

Now that we got that straight.

Which body type each one prefers is a combination of personal preference and actual metrics. Extremes, in general, are not to like. The same stands true here.

Although I like myself being big and lean, I realized that using steroids in order to achieve that was wrong. I would not do it again, not because my test came up negative or something but because I realized that in order to be healthy and have a good life, you need to live with some specs.

Health is one of the three major pillars of life, and it’s just plain stupid to take any risks with it, just for the sake of a six-pack and a few extra pounds of muscle mass.