Steroids are chemicals that accelerate protein synthesis in the body, leading to increased muscle fiber growth. This feature of steroid drugs could not be ignored by athletes, especially those whose results directly depend on muscle mass. It is no secret that all bodybuilders participating in major competitions take legal steroids, that is, those that are not officially banned, and are not detected during doping control.
When using steroid drugs, anabolism increases – the process of synthesizing amino acids and chemical compounds, therefore this type of pharmacy is called anabolic steroids. Anabolic drugs allow you to build up from 10 to 15 kg of useful muscle mass in 3-4 months, and this is the answer to the question of why athletes use them.
Types of steroids
Steroid medications mimic the action of testosterone, which increases protein synthesis. In men, it is produced by the testes, in women by the ovaries, and also partially by the adrenal glands (in both sexes). Since the synthesis of testosterone in the stronger sex is several times higher, it is called the male sex hormone. According to the method of affecting the body, steroids are usually divided into two types – anabolic and androgenic. But this division is very arbitrary, since anabolics to one degree or another act as androgens.
And although, as mentioned above, it is customary to call all steroid drugs anabolic, it is worth considering this area of activity of pharmacological agents separately.
Anabolic activity is the ability of steroids to activate the processes aimed at protein synthesis, therefore, to increase the growth of muscle fibers. For bodybuilding, it is anabolism that is important, but the androgenic activity of steroid drugs should be as low as possible.
And yet the androgenic properties of steroids also play an important role, primarily because they inhibit protein breakdown. In addition, androgens increase the excitability of the central nervous system, which in turn affects the effectiveness of the training process. Steroids with a pronounced androgenic activity promote protein synthesis, increase blood glucose levels, and increase strength and musculature. Testosterone itself is a powerful androgen, since under its influence the number of destroyed cells is replaced by a large number of new ones, which leads to the growth of muscle fibers.
Effect on the body
The mechanism of action of steroids is characterized by hypertrophy and the body’s ability to convert protein into cells. There are two types of hypertrophy – myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic. The first implies cell growth, the second – an increase in the amount of nutrient fluid in the muscle tissues. Depending on the type of steroids, nutrition and type of training, the athlete may have bulk (myofibrillary hypertrophy) or dry muscles (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy).
Since steroid drugs are highly soluble in fats, their components freely enter almost all organs, including the brain. As a result, a person’s self-esteem increases, the ability to critically assess their own actions decreases, and libido increases. Steroids are excreted in the urine and partly in the bile. The elimination period can be up to 180 days, so athletes are increasingly using fast-eliminated anabolic esters.
How steroids are taken
Men, on average, take more anabolics than women. To gain muscle mass, they need about 500-750 mg, and in preparation for the competition – 720-1160 mg. Women need 400 and 740 mg in each case, respectively. There are oral and injectable steroids, the latter are considered more effective and safer.
The benefits and harms of steroids
Anabolic drugs can be useful not only for bodybuilders seeking to build muscle mass in a short time, but also for people with reduced pituitary activity. The harm of steroids is mainly manifested with an increase in dosage, individual intolerance and the use of low-quality drugs.
Side effects and contraindications
Steroid drugs are contraindicated in persons under 25 years of age, people with cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, renal and hepatic insufficiency. Side effects are mostly a consequence of the androgenic effect of steroids and are manifested in the form of: gynecomastia, acne, increased cholesterol and blood pressure, virilization, hair loss, testicular atrophy.
Can you pump up without steroids?
Until a certain point, it is not only possible, but also necessary to train without the use of steroid drugs. However, over time, stagnation sets in, when the athlete cannot get off the ground in any way. In this case, steroids come to the rescue, which activate protein synthesis, which leads to an increase in muscle mass in a short period of time.