*This article does not endorse the use of illegal steroids. It is simply an explanation of a medical study conducted to understand the effects of testosterone dosing on the human body with regards to potential muscle growth and fat loss (its stand alone value outside of external factors such as nutrition and diet). The study was conducted in a controlled environment and under the direct supervision of medical professionals.
The fitness taboo: steroids. No man would dare admit they are using, otherwise they could kiss any potential career in the fitness industry goodbye. After all, who could sell products and preach about hard work and diet when they have been dosing on something most individuals won’t be? It’s career suicide, and everybody knows it. With that said, this article is not about the impact steroids will have on an individual’s career. Nor is the article about whether people are using steroids. What I’m hoping to accomplish here is to put forth a solid answer, based on a real study, of the impact (muscle growth/fat loss) steroids actually have on an individual using them. There has been an eternal war between two sides in the fitness industry: those that believe steroids produce magical results and those that believe steroids are only a boost that works best with hard work and diet. It’s quite the heated argument, and there are plenty of proponents on both sides. Naturally (!), steroid users will claim the latter and preach about how much dedication and hard work is required to obtain great results. In fact, many go over the top and proclaim that it takes even more hard work and dedication than when training natural, because you don’t want to “waste” the steroid’s potential. On the other hand, others will claim one can be a couch potato administering steroids and wind up looking like a tank. It’s time to put some medical research into the mix, and figure out who stands the better ground.
Before we start, I understand I’m using the term ‘steroids’ loosely, as there are many varying in potency and effect. However, the most obvious, and the one used in the medical study, is testosterone (‘test’) dosing. Therefore, it is a fairly accurate generalization of steroids and their effects. Now, the study used in this article is entitled, “Testosterone dose-response relationships in healthy young men.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 281: E1172–E1181, 2001. The primary objective of this study was to observe the changes in muscle mass associated with dose-dependent administrations of testosterone. In other words, different individuals would receive different doses of testosterone, and the effects on muscle mass would be observed. 61 men were split into 5 groups, and the groups (in order of 1-5) received: 25mg, 50mg, 125mg, 300mg, 600mg.
The absolutely crucial element of this study was the following: The participants were asked not to undertake strength training or moderate-to-heavy endurance exercise during the study. Yes, they were told to be couch potatoes. There was also no significant change in daily caloric, protein, carbohydrate, or fat intake in any group during treatment. The results were startling: (if you want to read the full study, please go here).
Those individuals who were administered 125mg, 300mg, and 600mg doses of test per week increased their free-to-fat mass ratio by 5%, 15%, 37% respectively. In other words, these couch potatoes were able to increase their lean muscle mass while decreasing their body fat levels by doing nothing other than injecting these doses of testosterone. The smaller 25mg and 50mg doses were not significant enough to cause any major changes. Although the study admits there were differences between individuals WITHIN a group (for example, there was an average 15% boost in the 300mg group…however, certain individuals within that group could have had a 10% increase, while others could have had a 20% increase), across the board each group averaged very significant increases starting with the 125mg group. Again, these individuals were explicitly told not to engage in any training. It is the equivalent of being told to sit on the couch, while getting injected with test and hoping the results come anyway.
Sure enough, the results did come (I’m referring to results throughout this article as being the muscle growth/fat loss that occurs throughout a period of time – not results with regards to building a certain type of physique). They are quite extraordinary, in fact. An individual could do nothing but live his life, and if he injects a significant enough dose of test, he will be able to accomplish what any natural individual is not able to do (lose fat and gain muscle at the same time). An individual training naturally could have the strictest diet, the greatest workout routine, and it all won’t come close to matching up with someone on a 125mg dose of test who is not even training. This is the unfortunate truth. What little a natural individual can do during a re-composition comes nowhere close to these results.
Now, with that said, that doesn’t mean those who do use steroids achieve their physiques by doing nothing. The study shows the amazing results that come from taking test, however, achieving an incredible physique still requires absolute dedication and hard work. It’s important to note the distinction here. Neither the study, nor this article, claims that you can achieve any particular physique by simply injecting some test. Building a particular physique obviously requires hard work and dedication, and with steroids mixed in, allows new boundaries to be reached that were previously not available. However, what this study does show, is that the power of a proper steroid dose is quite magical. An individual who does no physical activity and is taking at least a 125mg dose of test weekly will not only grow bigger, but leaner. Now, imagine throwing a halfway decent gym routine and diet plan into that equation.
With an ability to grow bigger while becoming leaner, as a result of doing nothing but injecting a specific dose of test, nobody can honestly claim steroids are not a magical supplement. Yes, you will receive better results the better your routine and diet is. Yes, you will receive better results the more dedicated and hard working you are in pushing your boundaries in the gym and eating right. However, this does not negate the fact that steroids are so powerful you can actually make significant changes to your body by simply taking them. Sure, this won’t bring optimal results, and someone would probably not take steroids just to sit on a couch and explore what happens. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what these subjects did, and the results have been documented. Theoretically, if an individual simply wanted to get a little bigger while leaning out, they could skip going to the gym and take a weekly test dose of at least 125mg. Some would get slightly better results than others, but on average, they would make rather significant changes to their body with no change in their diet. In other words, they could decide to live their lives and achieve more than the hard working natural going all out at the gym and in the kitchen. Why? Because the natural won’t be recomping at the same speed, it’s just not possible. Recomping is a slow process, but the most comparable to the one the couch potato cycling a good dose of test would be experiencing. Otherwise, the natural would take even more time using a traditional cutting/bulking cycle.
Keeping all this in mind, I don’t believe it’s a stretch of the imagination to actually claim steroids can do the work for you. Certainly, if you’re looking to build an amazing physique, this statement does not apply. However, as mentioned previously, theoretically an individual just looking to look better without dedicating a whole lot of time to the gym can jump on a test cycle and improve the way his body looks quite drastically. Not accounting for proportionality, an individual cannot claim that simultaneously building muscle mass while losing fat will not result in at least a semi-decent physique (unless you’re quite obese). Because this is the case, steroids can, in fact, be magical. Would it be the wisest choice? No, but the main point here is that it is possible for steroids to give an individual a much better looking physique on their own. You might not be carved out of stone, but you’ll be bigger and leaner, even without hitting the gym (this whole article assumes an individual doing this would know what they are doing, of course).
It’s quite amazing what can be achieved nowadays. Of course, we won’t go into all the possible side effects and problems that may arise when taking illegal steroids. However, assuming we are in an ideal world where steroids are legal and there are absolutely no side effects, it’s quite extraordinary to see an individual could simply take some doses to get bigger. This makes the usual speal about how steroids require hard work and dedication to be truly effective a farce. There’s no other way around it. You can bend this information and claim they won’t be as effective if not followed with proper training and nutrition, but you cannot deny they are effective on their own. Being effective, but not optimal, does not make them ineffective, no matter how you try and spin it. With that said, imagine the realistic scenario. Knowing what a solid dose of test can do for an individual who does nothing, apply that dose to the average joe who does actually work out at the gym when he decides to run a cycle. Even a weak gym routine and flaky dedication could lead to even better results (again, we’re assuming an individual doing this knows what they are doing, which includes proper PCT).
So folks, if any individual who took steroids attempts to tell you how hard they worked to achieve their physique, don’t automatically roll your eyes. They very well might have, but keep in mind that an extremely crucial component of their physique came as a result of a magic supplement. A magic supplement that can make significant physical changes to an individual’s body just off its own potency. Without sounding too absolute, at the very least a magic supplement that can make up for a lot of potential inconsistencies that a dedicated natural has no room to make. With that tool in their shed, they can’t exactly claim it was all due to hard work and dedication, as often is the case. Again, the moral of the story here is simple. Steroids will not give you the body you’re looking for by themselves. Nonetheless, they certainly are unmatched, as they are able to produce significant bodily changes on their own if dosed correctly. This ability, in and of itself, can’t really be termed anything other than magic. The folks supporting that side of the war certainly have a point.
P.S. -> For those interested in things you can do to try and maximize your natural testosterone production, visit our Increase Testosterone article!