One of the most effective routes to gaining strength is to take some kind of anabolic steroid. These supplements actually aid the body in building up muscle mass and endurance — and they can also bulk you up far beyond your expectations.
Anabolic steroids work because they masquerade as one of the body’s basic hormones: testosterone. Testosterone is, in fact, an anabolic steroid, and “anabolic-androgenic steroids” (the technical term for what most of us know as steroids) are just a synthetic version of this famous chemical. Anabolic refers to growth of muscles, and androgenic refers to male sex characteristics. We’ll call them anabolic steroids here, for accuracy’s sake.
How do anabolic steroids make you stronger?
In general, steroids are chemical compounds that share a common structure. There are several types of steroids; anabolic steroids are only one of several that have roles to play in your body.
When you take anabolic steroids, your body separates the supplement into molecules that can penetrate your cells. There, the steroid particles tie to structures called androgen receptors. This is where anabolic steroids truly take on the role of testosterone, because androgen receptors are formed particularly to tie with the body’s regular testosterone. Anabolic steroids, in any case, can also tie with the receptors.
Once this synthetic steroid is in place, the androgen receptor is activated. Depending on the type of cell the steroids are in, this activation can change how certain genes behave — especially the ones that control the changes that happen during puberty.
Steroids influence your ordinary digestion system in two fundamental ways, and together they bring about more mass and bulk. Once those androgen receptors are activated, a few cells expand their generation of proteins, which your body uses to construct more cells. This is the period of your metabolic cycle known as anabolism, where tiny molecules build up into more unpredictable ones and energy is stored. Anabolism is also when your body builds up muscles — so now you know why they’re called anabolic steroids. Amid anabolims, the cells in your skeletal muscles, or the capable muscles connected to your bones, start to reproduce and develop. Before long, you’re building up strength and agility.
But not all activated androgen receptors cause this reaction. Some inhibit hormones called glucocorticoids, another type of steroid. Inhibiting glucocorticoids speeds up the breakdown of complex molecules like proteins into smaller units like energy-giving amino acids. The entire breakdown process is called catabolism, and it’s the other half of your metabolic cycle.
By inihibiting glucocorticoids, anabolic steroids shorten the catabolic phase of metabolism. That means your muscles spend less time recovering between workouts, and you can do more with less rest. You can see how steroids might improve athletic performance.
Do they work?
One study showed that men who used steroids for 10 weeks gained 2 to 5 kilograms of lean body mass — muscle, in other words. They also reported a 5% to 20% increase in strength. Study participants gained more muscle mass in their chest, neck, shoulders and upper arms than in other areas. That’s not because they skipped leg day, but because the muscles in these areas have more androgen receptors in their cells. Not surprisingly, the participants improved more noticeably at bench-pressing than in other kinds of weight-lifting.
Use and Misuse
Doctors prescribe prescription based anabolic steroids to patients with diseases like cancer and AIDS, to help them regain body mass they have lost to their illnesses. Anabolic steroids are also prescribed to help treat certain hormone deficiencies. Our legal steroids do not require a prescription and can be used to improve athletic performance, without worries about testing or breaking any rules.
Using steroids without a prescription can cause unpleasant side effects that go beyond drug charges and being labelled a cheater. Mostly, they’re linked to the androgenic effects of these supplements, or those effects related to male sex characteristics. Basically, your body thinks it’s going through puberty again. Activating the androgen receptors in your cells increases oil production in your sebaceous glands, which leads to acne.
That said, overuse of prescription anabolic steroids can also age you faster. It can lower sperm count and cause testicular atrophy, better known as shrinkage(which is oly temporary). Changing hormone levels can also lead to baldness in both men and women. It should start to become clear as to why legal steroids are the right choice when it comes to adding mass and bulk, and as a bonus you have zero side effects.
It’s not inherently more dangerous to use steroids with a prescription. The problem is that people who use anabolic steroids to enhance athletic performance often have no medical training, and thus engage in riskier behaviours than people who take them legally. They often take higher doses, for longer periods of time. Many people who take anabolic steroids this way also do reckless things like improper steroid stacking and steroid cycling, which involves combining several types of anabolic steroids to make them more effective.
Anabolic steroids are one of those superpowers that comes with great responsibility. Bulking up with these supplements will actually turn you into a beast in the gym, when used correctly.
Hollywood stars such as Joe Manganiello, Chris Evans, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Charlie Sheen have shared their thoughts on using steroids to enhance physical performance.
The bulky actor’s stout physique has been admired for years, as fans were taken aback when he appeared shirtless onscreen in HBO series True Blood and male stripper in the suprise hit movie Magic Mike.
But although he trains hard, Joe has not incorporated performance-enhancing drugs into his workout regimen. “I’ve never touched a steroid or hormone or magic pill in my life, so I wouldn’t know anything about that,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “I hear rumours, but I don’t judge people who have. That’s their life experience.”
The Avengers actor Chris Evans, who plays superhero Captain America in the Marvel movies, shares Joe’s approach to exercise. Chris consumes far more of a specific essential nutrient to ensure his muscles bulk up.
“You’re just lifting a lot of weights and eating a lot of protein,” he detailed. “It’s pretty boring to be honest. It’s not as glamorous as you think it is.” Dwayne Johnson was once a professional wrestler who competed in the World Wrestling Federation using ‘The Rock’ as his stage name. And the Furious Seven star commits to being in a hardcore training zone frame of mind for long periods of time while preparing his body for a movie role.
“You’re in the vortex. You’re training hard,” Dwayne noted. “It’s six to eight months of prep.” Former Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen admitted he did in fact use steroids while preparing for a movie.
The star, who has been known for abusing narcotics and stimulants in the past, decided to dabble with performance-enhancing drugs while filming 1989 release Major League. “I only did them for like two months to put some speed in my fastball and that was it,” Charlie said. “I got into a few bar fights but who cares?”
Disregard your protein shakes and bars. Another study proposes that for greater and better muscles more protein isn’t the answer. Rather you have to eat the same sum and convey it into more equivalent divides for the duration of the day.
The study analyzed healthy adults who ate a total of 90 grams of protein in the form of lean beef throughout the day, HealthDay reports. This is the average daily amount of protein consumed by Americans, even though the recommended amount is actually only about 60 grams. One diet involved 30 grams equally for three meals. The second had participants consume 10 grams at breakfast, 15 grams at lunch, and 65 grams at dinner.
Results showed that in those who equally distributed their protein intake, the muscle production was 25 percent higher than those who had an uneven intake. These findings will perhaps change the way that those trying to gain muscle diet. “Usually, we eat very little protein at breakfast, a bit more at lunch and then consume a large amount at night. When was the last time you had just 4 ounces of anything during dinner at a restaurant?” study leader and muscle metabolism expert Doug Paddon-Jones explained, according to HealthDay. According to Paddon-Jones, Americans are not consuming enough protein for efficient muscle building and repair during the day, and in the evenings they are consuming too much. “We run the risk of having this excess oxidized, and ending up as glucose or fat,” Paddon-Jones added.
The answer to optimal muscle production is not eating more protein, but more equally distributing the amount you already eat. “You just have to be a little more thoughtful with how you apportion it,” Paddon-Jones explained. Some ways to add a bit more protein into your morning meals are perhaps replacing carbohydrates with high-quality protein. An egg, a glass of milk, yogurt, or even a handful or nuts has nearly 30 grams of protein. It is advised that you again eat 30 grams of protein with your lunch, and curb your dinner protein intake to be no more than 30 grams. “Do this, and over the course of the day you will likely spend much more time synthesizing muscle protein,” Paddon-Jones concluded.
Proteins are large complex molecules that do most of the work in cells necessary for structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Protein is a component of every major body system and every fluid, except for bile and urine. It helps your body transport oxygen in your red blood cells and supports your immune system. It is also necessary for muscle repair and growth. When an individual consumes larger amounts of protein the body will begin building new muscle. When you consume more protein then you need, instead of becoming muscle it will become fatty acids and sugar.
Granite tumbles to the floor as the sound of sledge hammer on chisel resonates through an unfilled room, vacant aside from the soldier, his instruments and his perfect work of art. He makes a stride back to break down his creation with focus. He’s been taking a shot at this undertaking for a considerable length of time. To the outside world, it seems impeccable. To him, its just not ready. He’s in a hurry. There is a show in the following couple of days. This will do for now. He trusts it is sufficient.
Such was the mindset of Airman 1st Class James Jones, a 673rd Communications Squadron cyber systems operator, as the days drew closer to his first ever bodybuilding contest: The 2015 National Physique Committee Alaska State Championships on April 4. He spent more than a year preparing, chiseling at his physique slowly but surely every day. Hundreds of hours in the gym, a diet that would drive many people insane and an entire lifestyle designed to push his body to its maximum potential, would be validated or destroyed by a panel of judges when all his hard work was unveiled under bright stage lights.
Cue the lights and the music. Jones went through mandatory pose after mandatory pose as his body was critiqued. A panel of judges examined his work and compared it to his competitors, looking for the slightest flaw. The result was not only a first place clear-cut victory in his middleweight class, but a landslide victory in the overall men’s category, becoming the youngest person in the contest’s history to win the title and only the second ever to win it in his first try.
In competitive bodybuilding, contestants’ physiques are judged on size, shape, symmetry and definition. For many top-tier bodybuilders, their champion physiques are built through years, often decades, of work. Many are in their early to mid-30s. Standing 5 feet, 7 inches and weighing 165 pounds at 21 years old, Jones was just hoping for a high placing in his first-ever competition. He got that and then some.
“I hit all my mandatory poses and then we waited for the judges to tabulate their scores,” Jones said. “My heart was pounding. Of course, it seems like they drag out the announcement forever. Then, I heard my name called, that was amazing! All the time and money I put into this … it let me know everything I put into this was all worth it. It was one of the best feelings in the world.”
With more than a year’s worth of work culminating in a few brief moments on a stage, Jones was not without worry or retrospection. Did he do everything he could have to create the best possible version of himself?
“When I saw the other competitors, I realized many of them were a lot bigger than me,” Jones said. “I was a little worried. I felt they could win on sheer size alone. However, the biggest guy can be big, but if he isn’t lean it does him no good. You also have to be lean and symmetrical. I knew I had good proportion, and thankfully it resulted in a win.”
Jones said when people view his contest photos, he is humbled by the praise. He is often asked, “How can I look like that?” However, few people are prepared for his answer. The hundreds of hours in the gym is the easy part. The hard part comes in the thousands of hours spent outside the gym.
Bodybuilders typically structure their year in two seasons: offseason and competition or “cutting” season. The offseason is spent bulking and competition season is spent trimming down. Just as in sculpting, it is better to start with too much material than not enough.
For Jones, a typical offseason day sees him rise at 2 a.m. to drink a protein shake, before going back to bed. He sleeps until 5 a.m. Breakfast follows as soon as he awakes. It’s the first of six meals, not counting his shake, which he’ll eat.
“Right now, I’m eating 350 grams of protein a day and 400 to 500 carbs,” Jones said. “I eat every two to three hours. That’s a very difficult thing to do. You spend time preparing all that food. You spend time eating all that food. You’re carrying Tupperware containers of food everywhere you go.”
Jones said another common question he gets is, “Hey, what supplements do you take?”
“I don’t mind sharing that with people, but even if I tell you, supplements only represent a very small percentage of what you’re going to need to do to be successful. You still have to eat the right food in the right amounts to make gains in the gym.”
Jones said the hardest part of bodybuilding is the long-term rigid discipline the sport demands.
“The biggest challenge is consistency,” Jones said. “You have to eat your meals every day. You can’t skip a meal. If you skip one, it’s going to show. Starting a year out, I knew I had to get every training session and every meal in. If I lost, I didn’t want it to be because of something I could have prevented through discipline.”
According to Jones’ coach and trainer, George Hartley, Jones’ ability to discipline himself sets him apart from many competitors.
“James is driven beyond his years and has an exemplary work ethic,” Hartley said. “I believe his time in the service has helped him mature in ways other men his age don’t have until their 30s in the civilian world. He understands bodybuilding is a lifestyle and becoming a great bodybuilder is something that takes years of training and discipline.”
Jones shared that while he is self-motivated and possesses tremendous drive, he wouldn’t be able to do it without two secret weapons in his bodybuilding arsenal: his personal faith and his family life.
“One of the main reasons I was able to accomplish my goals of competing was because of my faith in God and amazing support from my wife, Emily,” Jones said. “She helped me cook my meals when I was physically drained and provided constant motivation throughout the final weeks, letting me know, ‘It’s almost over.'”
The discipline and attention to detail Jones exhibits in his personal life has a direct correlation with his workplace performance, where his leadership recognizes him as a leader among his peers.
“His level of professionalism is top notch and unsurpassed,” said Master Sgt. Aaron Hazen, the 673rd CS network operations section chief. “He is one of those Airmen you can assign a task to and not have to worry or follow up. Airman Jones doesn’t linger on what he can’t do; he finds what he can do and runs with it. We’ve been able to assign him responsibilities normally reserved for noncommissioned officers. He will go far in his career and in bodybuilding if he stays the course.”
Having conquered the top bodybuilding event in the state, Jones is hoping to use the momentum of his success to propel him to greater heights. He has his sights set on the 2016 Emerald Cup in Washington.
“The Alaska competition qualified me to go do this bigger show in Washington,” Jones said. “If I place high enough, it will set me up to eventually earn a pro card. That would officially make me a professional and that’s a big deal.”
Currently, Jones is still considered a novice, having competed in a National Physique Committee event, which is considered to be the amateur league for the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness organization. The IFBB is recognized throughout the world as the premier bodybuilding organization, drawing an overwhelming majority of top-tier athletes. Winning at the Emerald Cup and a subsequent national-level competition would award Jones professional status with the IFBB.
“Once that happens, you start talking about being put in magazines, supplement and clothing line endorsements, not to mention being recognized as being in the top percentages of bodybuilders in the world,” Jones said. “It would be a dream come true.”
In addition to the gratification Jones receives seeing his hard work rewarded with a title, he also gets personal fulfillment from being able to positively influence people around him through bodybuilding.
“Bodybuilding opens a lot of doors,” the state champion said. “I get to meet new people, make new friends and have an impact on their life. After I won this show, I had a promoter for one of the high school bodybuilding shows ask if I would come guest pose at their competition. For me, that is awesome to be able to reach out to high school kids and help motivate them to achieve their goals.”
These high-protein breakfast recipes come from SDI Labs recommended menus and recipes. We focused on these three because they’ll fill you up and give you energy for everything, from your early morning conference call to your INTENSE morning WEIGHT ROOM sessions—and start your day deliciously.
1. Gluten-Free Coconut Pancakes
10 grams of protein; Serves 4
2 cups almond milk, homemade or store-bought
3 large eggs
1⁄4 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2⁄3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2⁄3 cup white rice flour
1⁄3 cup coconut flour
1 1⁄2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 tsp kosher salt
Grapeseed oil, for frying pan
In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, eggs, agave, and vanilla.
In a separate large bowl, combine the shredded coconut, rice flour, coconut flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the almond milk mixture into the well and stir until just combined.
Heat a frying pan over low heat. Lightly brush with grapeseed oil. Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake onto the griddle and cook until bubbles appear near the center, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the pancakes (they will be delicate) and cook until golden, about 1–2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.
2. Strawberry Hemp Milkshake
8 grams of protein; Serves 4
2 cups strawberries, hulled
½ cup hemp hearts
2 cups cold filtered water
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of sea saltIn a blender or Vitamix, combine all ingredients. Blend on high until smooth, or three to four minutes. Refrigerate and serve chilled. The shake will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
3. Egg White Scramble with Curried Goat Cheese and Dandelion Greens
17 grams of protein; Serves 4
4 ounces goat cheese (local, if possible)
¼ tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp sea salt
Pinch of turmeric
1 bunch dandelion greens, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
12 large egg whites, lightly beaten
Place dandelion greens on individual serving plates and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, curry powder, salt, and turmeric. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the egg whites and cook, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan with a heatproof spatula, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Spoon the eggs over the dandelion greens, top with the goat cheese mixture, and serve immediately.