Progression of Drug Use in Retrospect
Cycling vs. continuous use. This topic has become quite popular over the last 10 years, as more and more BB’rs are asking the question…“What does it take get big?” Given the incredible amount of conflicting information circulating around the Net regarding the role of drug use in bodybuilding, this is not surprising. In truth, the answer to this question is not as black & white as some people make it out to be. With personal goals, genetics, life circumstances, and work ethic all playing a role in a BBr’s ability to grow and maintain muscle tissue, adopting a narrow-minded position on this subject may lead one down a less than ideal path. We will be addressing some of the above factors shortly, but before we do so, some may find it useful to take a minute and reflect back on the history of drug use in our sport; particularly the practices and belief systems of previous generations. As the contrast between the different generations becomes apparent, hopefully the reader will be provided with a fresh and clearer perspective as he searches for the answer to this question in his own BB’ing journey.
From the beginning, there have always been BB’rs who have pushed the envelope, choosing to break away from the traditions of their day and pursue a more vigilante path in terms of drug application. Still, each time period was marked by a set of generally accepted guidelines, which helped form the pattern of steroid use for the majority of individuals during that time. For decades, the idea of cycling (a practice in which the BB’rs administers steroids for a pre-determined amount of time, followed by a certain, usually equal, amount of time off) was employed by almost all BB’rs, both amateurs and professionals alike. Cycling was viewed as an integral and necessary part of the steroid sub-culture. This continued all the way through the 80’s and into the beginning of the 90’s. In reviewing the literature of the day, we see this sentiment echoed by the late Dan Duchaine (a well known and highly respected steroid guru) in his ever-popular publications, such as the Underground Steroid Handbook. Not recognized as one to be mild in his approach, Dan was responsible for ushering in many of the more extreme practices in BB’ing, yet, in nearly all of his recommendations, he suggested using steroids in “cycles”.
As we made our way into the 90’s, we witnessed a sharp rise in the dosages employed and the length of time BB’rs remained on drugs. Still, most BB’rs, including professionals, would take time off at various points throughout the year. While the amount of time off may have diminished relative to the amount of time spent on, the belief that at least some time off was necessary in order to allow the body to detox and for health markers to return to normal, was readily accepted and followed. Even today, many pro BB’rs continue to take time off according to their needs, with medical check-ups being a regular part of their routine. Often, their usage is based around their contest appearances and therefore, those BB’rs who do multiple shows throughout the year are by necessity going to remain ON for a greater amount of time, while those who compete only once per year or less have no need to maintain such a rigorous PED schedule. In looking at the progression of drug use over the last 50 years, it is undeniable that there has been a trend toward more extreme use.
A Change of Perspective
I am of the strong belief that one of the main reasons we are seeing such a large number of recreational users choosing to stay ON long-term is due to the loss of fear regarding AAS and their potential side effects. Roughly 20 years ago, the primary motivational tool used to dissuade individuals from AAS use was fear. However, this fear-based initiative was not cultivated from an honest evaluation of steroids and their side effects, but rather, it relied on misinformation in an effort to steer people away from these drugs. It was not uncommon for school-level educational programs to paint steroids as death-drugs, in which it was inevitable that the user would either lose his life or suffer serious/life threatening side effects. For some time, it was even claimed that steroids did nothing to build muscle tissue or increase performance in athletes. The propaganda machine was in full swing by the time that Lyle Alzado died, with the educational system, the media, and even some within the medical community proclaiming that steroids were the cause of Alzado’s brain cancer.
However, as history has shown, once trust is lost, it is hard to regain. With such limited untarnished information available from these sources and with few places to go in order to get the truth, much of the information taught by theses organizations was questioned and/or rejected by the target population. Unfortunately, this often included those things which were true, as well. As the years passed and the steroid using community grew, our knowledge of these drugs and their side effects increased, with both medical researchers and anecdotal evidence contributing to this ever-expanding knowledge base. As happy as it has made me to see steroids represented in a more balanced light, it appears that some of today’s generation have gone too far in the other direction, denying steroids the respect they deserve. This is troubling given the fact that these drugs, if abused, can result in serious side effects, including death. In the same way, if these drugs are used responsibly and in accordance with a measure of sanity, serious problems can be largely avoided.
Another big reason we are seeing so many BB’rs choose to remain on drugs long-term is the influence of the internet. At no other point in history have we had the ability to reach such a large number of people within such a short period of time. When the information being disseminated is accurate and useful, it is blessing, but when it is inaccurate and harmful, it is a curse. Ironically, along with this greater ability to influence people comes a complete lack of accountability. Pre-internet, if you hoped to have a voice in this community, you had to prove your credibility and competence to the outlet giving you that voice. These days, everyone has a worldwide pulpit from which to preach their message. All it takes is a bit of intelligence, some charisma, bold claims, and an heir of believability to set the agenda of these individuals in motion, drawing the attention of the gullible and ignorant. Unfortunately, not all who claim to bring the light to the masses are as beneficent as they appear. Nowhere is this truer than in the realm of performance enhancing drugs. It is easy to see how a drug dealer or one connected to the industry might benefit by amassing a throng of “followers” who are eager to follow their recommendations. Regardless of intent, the World Wide Web has provided a powerful platform for circulating information and with no one to police this information for accuracy, falsehoods are easily propagated.
Aside from those with personal motives, the Net is loaded (almost entirely with opinion) with claims regarding what it takes to ascend to the pro ranks, in terms of drug use. It is actually quite comical that 99% of those who claim to know what all pro BB’rs use have never known or even spoken with a single pro BB’r about their PED regimen. For most of these individuals, their only source of information on this subject comes from other ignorant individuals who gather their information from BB’ing message boards (some of which is true, much of which is false). This incessant chatter has had an almost universal impact of the belief systems of the uninformed, leading many to believe that all pro BB’rs use 2-3 grams of testosterone weekly, 15-20 IU of GH daily, and 100 IU of insulin daily (or thereabouts). It is easy to see how this would have a significant effect of the PED habits of today’s BB’rs.
It has been said before that this generation lacks patience and with so much of society geared towards instant gratification, the accusation is fitting. We can’t blame a BB’r for wanting to progress as quickly as possible; this is only natural. However, when it comes to BB’ing drugs, the desire to make progress should be tempered with a degree of moderation and self-control. This is especially true for beginners-intermediates, who have no need to go all-out at that stage of development. It wasn’t long ago when it was commonplace for a steroid novice to start low and gradually work his way up in dose as he continued to develop. Dosage was based on need. Employing advanced dosages right from the get-go was not even a consideration. Of course, not all BB’r followed this path, but by and large, this is how things were. Things have changed drastically since then. Now days, we see stark beginners injecting 2 grams of more of various steroids, often with additional drugs added on top of it. Safety aside, the overwhelming majority of less advanced BB’rs would not even be able to take full advantage of these massive dosages.
Risks & Benefits
The most common reason an individual transfers over to long-term use is usually to accelerate progress. This can be accomplished in two different ways. One, by remaining under the influence of these drugs indefinitely, the individual is exposed to their muscle-building effects for a longer period of time, thereby allowing him to advance more rapidly. However, for traditional cyclers considering making the switch to continuous use, their expectations may exceed what is found in practice. This is because AAS do not demonstrate a linear relationship between muscle growth and time of exposure. In other words, the amount of time spent using steroids does not directly correlate with the amount of gains one will make. The longer steroids are utilized, the less impressive the gains will be. There are several known physiological factors responsible for the decrease in growth rate that occurs with prolonged exposure. So, one should understand ahead of time that making the jump to continuous use is no guarantee of a dramatically accelerated growth rate.
However, if the BB’rs wants to develop his musculature considerably beyond his natural threshold, at some point, the traditional “time on= time off” method will no longer be sufficient for continued growth. This does NOT mean the individual must make the extreme transition from traditional cycling to constant use, but he will have to stay on for a greater portion of time relative to his time off. This is because the body’s natural hormonal environment is only capable of supporting a predetermined amount of muscle tissue and a soon as it exceeds that point, exogenous hormones will be required not only to maintain that extra mass, but to build additional tissue, as well. As a BB’r continues to gain a greater amount of muscle tissue and moves further and further away from what can be supported by his natural hormonal environment, the more drugs he will need to administer in order to make up for the deficit. In the same way, the more muscle mass a BB’r has, the more difficult it will be for him to maintain that mass once steroids are removed from the picture. The bottom line is that increased development leads to increased anabolic demands. This is why a BB’r, by the time he reaches pro size, must use more drugs than what was needed in the beginning of his career.
It is impossible to say at what point an individual might need to stray from traditional cycling and increase his amount of on-time, as there are simply too many variables which can affect the outcome. Some guys can grow very large while never veering from the traditional cycling format, while others struggle immensely just to look slightly impressive. The take home message is that this decision should only be contemplated once the BB’r has exhausted his ability to make further gains with traditional cycling.
We have looked at this decision from a progress point of view, but how about from a heath perspective? With AAS, the longer you take them (assuming all other factors are equal), the greater the potential impact they can have on your health. The most important system affected by AAS is the cardiovascular system, as AAS in general can have several adverse effects in this area, such as: elevated blood pressure, altered lipid profile, and elevated hematocrit. There are also less well known and less understood risks, such as heart enlargement, heart muscle damage, and altered cardiac function, but most BB’rs choose to focus on the former, as they have been unequivocally linked to heart attack and/or stroke. Keep in mind that this association is not to be taken lightly, as the percentage of BB’rs who have died from steroid-induced heart attack or stroke is alarmingly high. Most of these cases go unnoticed, as the majority of individuals who die from these ailments are not professional athletes (therefore they don’t draw public interest). In addition, with such a large number of people in the U.S. and abroad dying from cardiovascular disease every day, rarely is the individual’s death attributed to steroid use. Instead, the examiner simply lists the cause of death as coronary artery disease-myocardial infarction. No connection between steroids and the individual’s premature death are ever made.
One disturbing trend which is closely related to the cycling vs. continuous use debate and has taken root in the minds of many of today’s young BB’rs, is the flagrant disregard for the health-maintenance of the hormonal-reproductive system. Many seem to share a belief that they can use as many steroids as they want, for as long as they want….and as long as they implement a proper PCT at the conclusion of their multi-year cycle, all will be well. Let me tell you, this is frequently not the case. Many retired, as well as currently active BB’rs are no longer able to produce adequate amounts of endogenous testosterone, regardless of how many PCT drugs they shove down their throat or inject into their bodies. In the same way, the reproductive system can suffer permanent damage with extended use. It is not uncommon for long-term steroid users to experience problems with fertility, even to the point that medical intervention becomes necessary after years of unsuccessfully trying to conceive. While a recovery can usually be made, it is not always easy, often requires long-term medical supervision, and can force a couple to postpone their plans to start a family. In a worst case scenario, there are no children at all.
One of the problems with many young, aspiring BB’rs (and young people in general) is that their life choices are based in the here and now, with little to no concern for how their decisions might impact them later in life. Blinded by their passion they throw caution to the wind and in doing so, may end up regretting the manner in which they pursued their dream. I have often heard young BB’rs say that having children doesn’t matter to them…or that their BB’ing dream is more important. They may feel this way now, but they may feel quite different by the time they hit their 30’s. Even if these individuals don’t change their minds and never end up wanting children, there is a very good possibility that their future wife will. It is important that the BB’r understands and weighs the potential risks involved before embarking on a venture which could result in the need for things such as life-long hormone replacement therapy and years of fertility treatment because after these decisions are made, time cannot be turned back.
Most of the side effects of steroids can be controlled through preventative action and a bit of common sense. There is no need for a BB’r to die young or live with serious physical ailments because of his lifestyle choice. Still, there are no guarantees; sometimes shit just happens. A user may be predisposed to certain conditions or demonstrate intolerance to some or many of the deleterious effects of AAS. So, those BB’rs who choose to stay on continuously would be wise to take preventative action, including the routine monitoring of vital health markers.
One definite advantage of staying ON is that the BB’r does not have to contend with the emotional or physical ups & downs which accompany traditional cycling. There is a not a single BB’r alive who likes watching his newly built muscle wither away during his OFF time. For many it can be emotionally stressful and even depressing. After all, with the amount of time & effort the typical BB’r invests in this sport, it is not unreasonable to expect some degree of emotional backlash. This seems to occur more frequently in younger BB’rs than in the older guys. This is just the result of growing up. The more mature BB’r is able to evaluate his situation more clearly and view it from a long-term perspective, while the younger guys are usually more affected by the here and now.
Another benefit of staying ON is improved hormonal stability. Now, don’t misunderstand me on this one. I am NOT saying it is healthier for the body, in general, to stay on drugs for a longer period of time. However, the constant ups & downs involved in the cycling process never allows the body to acclimate itself to its current hormonal environment. By remaining relatively stable in our PED use, certain side effects tend to diminish, particularly those related to how we feel. In the same way, by avoiding regular off time, we don’t have to contend with the testosterone level of a little girl during the first few weeks of PCT. All in all, it is a much smoother process.
While there are several other areas we could’ve covered in regards to the risks & benefits of continuous use, I chose to focus on a few key areas. Particularly, I wanted to touch on those aspects of our health which are likely to incur long-term damage by staying ON. I also wanted to look at some of primary benefits experienced by staying ON.
Whether you opt for continuous use, prefer to remain faithful to the old-school approach, or settle somewhere in the middle, it is a decision only you can make. I strongly recommend taking a long, hard look at your goals, genetic capacity, overall health, genetic predispositions, and willingness to assume risk, as well as your work ethic, financial status, long-term side effects, and the perceived benefits you will receive based on your choice. It is not a decision to be taken lightly, so if you are indecisive, wait it out before making any changes. As most know, I am not opposed to doing what it takes to achieve one’s goal of becoming a pro BB’r, so long as the plan is well thought out, a back-up plan is in place, and the individual goes about achieving his dream responsibly.
There is almost no one alive today that was alive in 1916. When the cells replicate they don't make perfect copies of themselves. It is not noticable at first, but after 50 years it becomes quite noticeable and at 100 the body self destructs. It can no longer copy it's cells good enough to stay alive.
One of the reasons the top bodybuilders stay"on" all the time is that they deflate like a balloon when they come off these high dosages. I remember in 2009, a chest training video of Victor Martinez and Branch Warren was on the Mus. Dev. site about 2 months after the 2009 Mr. Olympia contest. Martinez still looked big, but Warren had lost a huge amount of size in just 2 months. He was wearing a sweat shirt with the arms cut off. His arms didn't even look 18". His shoulders were way down also. It was surprising that he lost so much in just 2 months. There were about 50 comments on the forum about this. The conclusion was that this is what happens when you come off the juice.
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Novel Uses for the Anabolic Androgenic Steroids Nandrolone and Oxandrolone in the Management of MaleHealth.
Testosterone treatment of men with mild cognitive impairment and low testosterone levels.
Protective effects of testosterone on presynaptic terminals against oligomeric β-amyloid peptide in primary culture of hippocampal neurons.
Dihydrotestosterone treatment delays the conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease in SAMP8 mice.
The Association of Reproductive Hormone Levels and All-Cause, Cancer, and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Men.
Therapeutic effect of androgen therapy in a mouse model of aplastic anemia produced by short telomeres.
Essentially these studies show that high cortisol and estradiol levels in men cause adverse health effects and ultimately mortality. Androgens counteract this, as well as SARMS. As we age test levels naturally drop, and cortisol levels naturally rise. Long term AAS use fixes the hell out of that, but one must moderate himself. And of course as the studies show, genetics play a large factor, but even so theoretically androgens could possibly preserve telomere length as well. (still in mouse studies)
Testosterone has kept me young and healthy! Inside and out! I too much rather ""possibly"" have to deal with steroid side effects than aging
Kinda like insulin if yr diabetic, why wouldnt you take it if it prolongs and improves yr life? Why not let science help you? these all natural people, not just BB's but in general are full of shit.....I mean yes some natty stuff does help, but if yr sick and need anti biotics for example, for Gods sake get some, not some cold remedy or natural herb that minimally helps
I read all the excerpts and don't see any evidence of AAS use increasing a humans life span.
1st abstract is about a study but gives no results or conclusions.
2nd abstract shows results that no significant changes were observed in measures of cognition, mood, or quality of life.
3rd study said conclusions suggest that testosterone is not associated with most neurophysical test performances in patients with AD(alzheimers disease)
4th study was on mice with AD. It said there is relatively less evidence that androgens may be involved in the pathogenisis of AD. They evaluated the effect of DHT on the mice with AD and found that timely intervention can postpone and improve the symptoms of dementia. (it sounds like to me that they are administering DHT to the mice, which is about the last thing a human would want to take.)
5th study; results show increased quantities of LH/T and estradiol increased the risk of mortality. They observed a positive association of LH and LH/T, but not T
with an all cause mortality suggesting that a compensated impaired Leydid cell function may be a risk factor for death by all causes in men.
6th study was about a rare disease called aplastic anemia. I don't see where it has any relation to this subject.
You have put up some abstracts that I don't see have any relation to supra-psychological use of AAS by bodybuilders. The dosages given to men were in the normal range. The subject was can AAS use increase your life span? Especially continued use over a long length of time. I don't see where those abstracts show they do.
In the Feb.,2010 issue of Mus. Dev. Mag., there is an article titled "New Study Says Watch for Kidney Damage." by Dan Gwartney,MD.
The study was presented at the American Society of Nephrology. The conclusion was that in addition to placing greater stress on the kidneys by greater muscle mass, AAS may also have a direct toxic effect on the kidneys cells.
It is well known that many bodybuilders have died at an early age from AAS use. Here is a video of some of them. They left out some of them. One was Mike Matarazzo who died at age 48, in 2014, while in Stanford hospital waiting for a heart transplant. He last competed in the 2001 Mr. Olympia and finished last. He had open heart surgery in 2004 to repair clogged coronary arteries. In 2007 he had a heart attack and the last few years of his life he was a living vegetable having only 20% heart function. Is it worth it to have muscles just to end up like this?
The death rate among moderate blast and cruisers as well as your normal HRT guys in the US is probably close to zero. And that is DIRECT cause of death, not an exacerbation of a pre-existing condition.
HRT therapy and slightly above HRT levels have a beneficial effect on health, including cardiovascular health, I have already posted those studies earlier in another forum , so I will skip that.
Like it or not, all the new evidence is pointing to the most damage being done during and after PCT. That is just the facts. It is the rapid imbalance of T/E that wreak havoc, albeit in a short window, but very damaging to a male. It is very literally a roller coaster ride vs. a smooth train.
Don't get me wrong, each to his own and I am not saying cruising is for everyone or even anyone. I just know that PCT is a bitch and chronic low FREE TEST is a bitch. So after 30 I would rather blast cruise...and it just may be healthy...
Mike Matarazzo Steroid Cycle:
Week Sustanon 250 HGH Dbol Anadrol 1 1000mgs/week 12IUs/ed 100mgs/ed 100mgs/ed 2 1000mgs/week 12IUs/ed 100mgs/ed 100mgs/ed 3 1000mgs/week 12IUs/ed 100mgs/ed 100mgs/ed 4 1000mgs/week 12IUs/ed 100mgs/ed 100mgs/ed 5 1000mgs/week 12IUs/ed 100mgs/ed 100mgs/ed 6 1000mgs/week 12IUs/ed 100mgs/ed 100mgs/ed 7 - 20 1000mgs/week 12IUs/ed 100mgs/ed 100mgs/ed
That is a lot of gear. He weighed in at 270 on stage so even more I guess walking?
Death rate is close to zero? We don't know that. There are no statistics to show this so any guess would just be speculation. I am a member on a couple of other forums and I know of 4 members that died of a heart attack and there are 3 others that had a heart attack and are still alive and still posting about their experiences. Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the US. I cannot see where use of dosages in the range that recreational bodybuilders like to use is going to improve your chances of not having a heart attack.
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Effects of continuous long-term testosterone therapy (TTh) on anthropometric, endocrine and metabolic parameters for up to 10 years in 115 hypogonadal elderly men: real-life experience from an observational registry study.
Yassin AA1,2,3, Nettleship J4, Almehmadi Y1, Salman M1, Saad F3,5.
Subnormal levels of testosterone are associated with significant negative health consequences, with higher risks of all-cause and cardiovascularmortality. The numbers of studies reporting on the benefits of normalisation of testosterone is increasing but longer-term data on (elderly) men receiving testosterone treatment are almost nonexistent. In this single-centre, cumulative, prospective, registry study, 115 hypogonadal men (mean age 59.05 years) received injections with testosterone undecanoate in 12-week intervals for up to 10 years. Waist circumference, body weight and mean BMI dropped progressively with statistical significance versus previous year for 7 years and, respectively, 8 years for weight and body mass index. Similarly, fasting glucose displayed a significant decrease after the first year continuing to decrease thereafter. A decline in HbA1c , from 6.4% to 5.6% (mean <6%), was observed from year 2 on, together with a decrease in the ratio of triglycerides:high-density lipoprotein (HDL), a surrogate marker of insulin resistance, with an increase in HDL levels. The total cholesterol:HDL ratio and non-HDL cholesterol declined significantly. A decrease was also observed in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, with a decrease in levels of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein. No major adverse cardiovascular events were observed throughout the study.
© 2016 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.
5 seconds to find above, and it is definite proof that administering test can have positive health effects.
Also I never said AAS DID extend life, I said it is possible and yes they are rat models and I pointed that out before. Not a lot of telomere research going on in humans yet... But that doesn't erase the possibility of a positive effect.
I am not arguing that long term use is good or bad, I am saying it is possible that moderate use can not only be almost harmless , but maybe even beneficial. I mean think about it, how many people do you know that have used or use AAS and how many died from it?How many got sick? It is less possible that everyone that takes AAS developes heart conditions.
The thing is there is no proof that AAS directly cause death. Can it make earlier conditions worse? You bet, enough anecdotal evidence of that. There are plenty of long term users on here that are healthy. I am healthy, my bloods are great and steady.
I admire your caution and your ability to see both sides, but I disagree that steroids are silent killers anymore than any other drug out there on the shelf. They give methamphetamines to children now long term, they are harsh. SSRI drugs can be very dangerous as well as sleep aids like Lunesta (almost killed my mom). I would say that proper AAS use with moderation is safer than a lot of script drugs, but that is just my opinion.
It is my firm opinion that the gov bans these things because they do not want males to be big and strong and have their fear and worry uninhibited. (some interesting studies on those mental health benefits).
I will finish with saying that Doctors prescribe long term test use, HRT. That is mainly the scope I am seeing this from, and it's whole point is to increase health and quality of life. That being said I see no problem with cruising HRT and then doing moderate and intelligent blasts. And also the biggest thing, diet, and watching your cholesterol. For example, Mike Mentzer smoked and he is on your list, there are just so many factors.
I will note that their are studies that show increased heart infarction events after heart surgery, with test therapy. So we need more studies with actual users. It is so hard to determine whats what when all the subjects are elderly or really beat up to begin with.
I would like to know if there are any conclusive evidence indicating AAS use on a autopsy? That 100% certain? I believe in certain cases AAS contribute to deaths, but not sole reason as many times there are other outside circumstances.
My good friend died back in 1993 at age 31....Dr told him due to a heart issue, dont smoke pot, dont do coke, drink in moderation and dont do AAS....he did all of them despite being not told, so no shocker there
I had a Dr prescribe for me back in the 80's, and he told me if you have prior medical issues, IE bad heart, even mental issues, do NOT take them. So I would hunch that many deaths related to AAS had pre-exisiting conditions
Thanks Dean for the kind words, my friend was a great lifter, we even competed in some AAU shows
Even without the extension of life bringing the quality up is a benefit. I could pass tomorrow from a heart attack and I am sure my wife and anyone else that knows would blame the test in my cabinet, but as a teenager and young adult I took alot of ephedrine, I could go days without eating when I took it, even though I have never had heart issues I would blame the ephedrine before I would AAS. I always dose at the low end until I learn more about it and so far so good.I am sorry to hear about your friend it is never a good thing.
I would like to know what Roelly Winkelaar's drug routine is. In the past year he has put on some massive size. His shoulders are the biggest I can ever recall seeing. I wonder if he has found a myostatin inhibitor? I have seen some of his training videos and he dosen't seem to train with heavy weights.