- While steroids can absolutely help you look like a “Greek god,” they can also ruin your physical, mental, and emotional health.
- I understand why many professional athletes and actors use steroids. In many cases, they’d be putting their careers at risk if they didn’t.
- I’m not on steroids because I care about my long-term health, I don’t want to risk psychological dependence, and I don’t like to lie.
If you’ve been kicking around gyms for a while now, you’ve probably noticed that steroid use is becoming more and more common.
Just here in the U.S., at least a million guys and gals of all ages turn to the sauce every year to get bigger, leaner, and stronger faster, and these numbers are on the rise.
This isn’t surprising, really, considering how many juiced guys and gals dominate the fitness social media scene, how much of a difference the right drugs can make, and how easy it is to get your hands on them.
And so I’m asked about steroids. A lot. Questions like…
- “What do you think of people on steroids?”
- “Why am I not on steroids when it could probably help me make more money?”
- “What are good and bad reasons to take steroids?”
- “How can you tell if someone is on steroids?”
- “How dangerous are steroids, really?”
Well, if you want to hear my answers, keep reading…
“What do you think of people on steroids?”
On the whole, I couldn’t care less what people do with their bodies.
If someone wants to take steroids, they should be able to. Similarly, if they want to drink alcohol, they should be able to, and if they want to use recreational drugs, be my guest.
I don’t think those are necessarily good choices, and especially not for long-term health, but I’m a libertarian at heart. I believe that people should be able to live the way that they want to live so long as they’re not actively harming others or society in general.
That said, I think there are “good” and “bad” reasons to take steroids, and unfortunately, many guys and gals do it for the wrong ones…
The “Good” Reasons to Take Steroids
If you’re a professional athlete or actor and your livelihood is directly tied to your physical performance or appearance, then you have a good reason to take steroids.
Being a pro athlete is a brutal, cutthroat business.
At any given time, in any given sport, there are thousands of highly skilled and dedicated people vying for a very small number of roster spots. Aside from the top performers, many pro athletes have to fight tooth and nail just to keep up and continue to make a living.
And so it’s no surprise that steroids are hugely popular in this scene.
They give a considerable edge in almost every sport where strength, size, and recovery are important (basically every sport that pays big). With the right drugs, you can train and compete more and more intensely without having to worry about overtraining, which gives you a huge competitive advantage.
Even endurance athletes like cyclists take steroids so they can recover faster from their grueling training regimens, which often include 30+ hours of exercise per week. (Oral testosterone was part of Lance Armstrong’s drug regimen, for example.)
Spectators love to deride pros that get caught using steroids, but consider this:
In most cases, these guys and gals have been playing their respective sports their entire lives. They’ve dreamed of making it big since they were kids, put in thousands of hours of work, and passed on any and all other opportunities that have come their ways.
And then, against all the odds, they finally make it. They grab the one and only brass ring that has mattered to them for as long as they can remember.
And then reality comes into focus.
They now have to compete against a new breed of opponents. Opponents who are far stronger, faster, and more skilled, and who are also often aided by performance enhancing drugs — drugs that allow them to supercharge their bodies in ways that nature never intended.
What is the newly minted pro to do? This is their one shot. It’s sink or swim.
Well, what would YOU do?
You’re on the cusp of fulfilling your life’s ambition and potentially making millions of dollars, but to get there, you probably have to take drugs…like everyone else…or you can remain drug-free, give it all up, and start doing something else from scratch.
If I’m being honest with myself, that choice is pretty easy if it were me.
This in Hollywood, too.
If a big producer comes to you and says, “We want you to star in the next Captain America movie, but you need to gain 30 pounds of muscle in four months and be pretty lean. Are you in?”
What would you say?
I’m going to guess it wouldn’t be this:
“Thanks for the offer but I’m really not comfortable doing a cycle of steroids to potentially launch my career into the stratosphere. I’ll wait for a better opportunity.”
And what about bodybuilders, physique competitors, and fitness models?
Well, if you want to reach the upper echelons of any of those domains, you need to transform your body in a way that simply can’t be achieved naturally, even with top-shelf genetics and a superhuman work ethic.
You not only have to be unnaturally big, but freakishly lean, dry, and vascular, too, and and you often have to maintain that conditioning for months on end.
Drugs are the only way to get there. A lot of drugs.
There are plenty of examples of the anabolic power of steroids in the literature, but just to give you an example, in one case, a moderate steroid cycle helped someone gain 16 pounds of muscle in just 6 weeks of lifting — something that takes most guys 6 to 8 months to do naturally.
Long-term steroid use also greatly increases how much total muscle you can gain. Based on what I’ve read and seen, I’d guesstimate that it raises your “ceiling” for whole-body muscle growth by about 50%, and in some people, even more.
There’s a reason many bodybuilders refer to using steroids as “taking your vitamins” — it’s considered a staple of the sport, like barbells and protein powder.
So, all that is to say that anyone that wants to step on a pro stage has to reconcile themselves to the fact that top-tier competitors are, first and foremost, chemistry experiments.
The “Bad” Reasons to Take Steroids
The “bad” reasons to take steroids are, unfortunately, the more common ones:
- To shortcut the process of gaining muscle and strength.
- To get admiration and approval from others and/or make them jealous.
- To get people to buy stuff.
You’re probably on social media, so you know what I’m talking about.
Around every corner is another “influencer” who’s willing to subject his body to a regular regimen of dangerous chemicals to get followers to peddle products and services to.
“FUCK YEAH YOU DO. JUST CLICK THE LINK IN MY BIO TO PAY ME $97.97 IN 79 EASY HOURLY INSTALLMENTS AND I WILL SHOW YOU HOW!!!!!”
This isn’t just fundamentally dishonest, it’s also actively harmful.
First, drug users that have had little experience or results as a drug-free lifter generally give bad advice to non-drug users.
With the right steroids, you can get a lot wrong in the kitchen and gym and still build an outstanding physique.
Many people on gear don’t realize this, though, and unwittingly teach their followers to make all kinds of diet and training mistakes that natural weightlifters just can’t afford to make.
Mistakes that stick them in a rut, which (ironically) can lead many of them try steroids themselves.
Even if a “fake natty” gives good advice and rationalizes that this “noble end” justifies the means, it’s still immoral to lie about drug use to build a body that wins people’s attention, trust, and business.
Second, many steroid users create false expectations that will inevitably lead to disappointment and failure for others.
This is especially true of those that tell people that anyone can get huge and shredded with enough hard work and #dedication.
Us natural weightlifters can look great, but no matter how hard any of us work, we will never, ever look like a lot of what we see on Instagram.
No way, no how.
We can get big, lean, and strong, but there’s that next level of overall muscularity, hardness, dryness, and fullness (“3D” look) that no amount of natural bodybuilding will ever achieve.
Why Am I Not on Steroids?
I’d be able to do with a much looser diet, too.
In short, if I got on gear, I could look outstanding and pay a lot less attention to my calories, macros, and food choices, and I could use my much-improved physique to further grow my following and sell more stuff.
I know these things but still choose to be drug-free.
I care about my long-term health.
Steroids have a long list of side effects that I don’t want to mess with.
For example, just about everyone that uses steroids has experience with one or more of the following:
- Testicular atrophy
- Cystic acne
- Elevated LDL cholesterol levels
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased aggression
Fortunately, they typically disappear after steroid use stops, but other side effects can haunt you for the rest of your life, like male pattern baldness, decreased sperm count and fertility, and male breast growth.
Permanent acne scarring is also common, and some women can develop more masculine facial features.
Furthermore, we don’t know what the long-term side effects of many steroids are because the research would never get past an ethics board.
What we do know, and what we will learn, will come from simply observing what happens to the many people using these drugs. And I don’t want to be one of those case studies.
You also can never really be sure about what you’re putting into your body when you take steroids.
Some are made by pharmaceutical companies, but many more are produced in underground labs by amateur chemists.
That means you have to ask yourself a serious question before hitting the needle:
How comfortable are you putting your health in the hands of anonymous criminals?
I don’t want to risk becoming psychologically dependent on drugs.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a long-term steroid user tell me that he originally intended on doing “just one cycle,” then I’d be be making money in a very odd way. 😛
Seriously though, too many people tell themselves they’ll just do a cycle or two, just to “try it out” or “speed things up a bit,” and wind up on the bike for the long haul.
The reason for this is simple: it’s very hard to stop.
I used to train with a guy named George that had this problem. He didn’t like the fact that he was on steroids but loved being on steroids.
In his own words, he worried about his health, but also loved how he felt while on a cycle. His energy, confidence, and drive shot out of the roof, he didn’t need as much sleep, and he was strong, powerful, and tireless in the gym.
When he went off, though, it was like letting the air out of the balloon, physically and emotionally. He felt like a shadow of his “superhero” self, and this is what always drove him back to the pills and pins.
George’s story is typical, too. And one that I don’t want to experience myself.
I don’t like to lie.
If I were to take steroids, I’d have to lie about it minimally to you and the rest of my readers and followers.
If I didn’t — if I were open about it — I would lose the respect and support of too many people and my businesses would take a significant hit.
This alone makes steroids a deal breaker for me.
I have a firm personal policy to try to speak and act as honestly as possible because I believe that doing otherwise courts chaos, both personally and interpersonally.
Science backs this up, too.
Research shows that people who lie the least report better physical and mental health, lower levels of stress, better relationships, fewer headaches, and less frequent sore throats.
This is at least partly because most of us want to see ourselves as honest people, and when our behavior says otherwise, we experience cognitive dissonance that has to be suppressed and rationalized away.
Thus, the more we lie, the worse we feel about ourselves and life in general.
Do this enough and you’ll eventually reach the postmodern point of no return, losing not just your sense of objective truth, but your regard for it. And now you’re a pathological liar.
Well, I like my life. It’s not perfect, but it’s moving forward at a good clip and on a good trajectory, and I can see many good things forming on the horizon — things I’m not willing to jeopardize for the sake of being more jacked.
The Bottom Line on People on Steroids
I believe that we should all have the right to generally live the way that we want to live so long as we aren’t hurting others.
In that sense, I’m not against steroid use.
If people want to do it, then they should be able to without fear of reprisal. Sure, they might ruin their health in the process, but they can do the same with many other drugs that are freely available, like alcohol and painkillers.
I also understand why many professional athletes and actors use steroids. In many cases, they’d be putting their careers at risk if they didn’t.
What I’m not cool with, though, is bottom-feeding scam artists using steroids to hawk pills, powders, and PDFs.
These “fake natties” also create highly unrealistic expectations in many of their followers — expectations that lead many to dabble in steroids themselves.
So, while steroids can absolutely help you look like a “Greek god,” they can also ruin your physical, mental, and emotional health.