- Winstrol is an anabolic steroid that’s more powerful than testosterone and produces milder side effects.
- The main reason bodybuilders take Winstrol is to maintain muscle mass while losing fat, and many athletes take it to maintain or improve performance while getting and staying lean.
- The side effects of Winstrol are liver damage, a drop in natural testosterone levels, acne, toxin exposure, as well as many other short- and long-term health problems.
Winstrol is one of the most famous steroids of all time, mainly thanks to a man named Ben Johnson.
In 1988, Johnson was the reigning world champion in the 100-meter dash, widely considered the most prestigious of all track and field events.
He had set a world record a year before, beating Carl Lewis with a time of 9.83 seconds. He was instantly propelled to world fame, reportedly making almost $500,000 a month from endorsements.
He was showered in accolades including the Lou Marsh Trophy and Lionel Conacher Award, and was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year for 1987.
Johnson cemented his status as the golden boy of track and field on September 24, 1988, in one of the most competitive 100-meter races ever run, when he sprinted to an Olympic gold medal and a new world record of 9.79 seconds.
Unfortunately, this would be the capstone of his career.
Three days later, the Olympic Doping Control Center found traces of an anabolic steroid in Johnson’s urine sample.
Stanozolol, aka Winstrol.
Johnson denied taking steroids at first, but was promptly stripped of his new world record and the one he’d set a year before. Later, he admitted to taking steroids such as Winstrol and testosterone since 1981, and was banned for life from professional sprinting after he failed another drug test in 1993.
Although Johnson made stanozolol famous, it’s been used by sprinters, bodybuilders, and athletes of all stripes long before Johnson got busted and is still used today.
It’s known as one of the best steroids for cutting, helping people gain moderate amounts of muscle without any increase in water weight or body fat.
What does the science say, though?
Why are athletes still risking their careers to reap its benefits?
And, what are the side effects?
In this article, you’re going to learn the answers to all of these questions and more. You’ll learn . . .
- What Winstrol is
- Why people take Winstrol
- What the Winstrol side effects are
- How to tell if someone is taking Winstrol
- And more.
Let’s get started.
- What Is Winstrol?
- Why Do People Take Winstrol?
- How Steroids Work
- Why Bodybuilders Take Winstrol
- What Are the Winstrol Side Effects?
- Liver Damage
- A Drop In Natural Testosterone Levels and Testicle Size
- Achy Joints
- Toxin Exposure from Tainted Steroids
- Other Side Effects
- How Can You Tell if Someone Is on Winstrol?
- The Bottom Line on Winstrol
Table of Contents
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Winstrol, also known as “Winny,” is the brand name of a synthetic (man-made) anabolic steroid called stanozolol (stan-oh-zo-lol).
I’ll refer to it as Winstrol for the rest of this article, as that’s what it’s typically called.
It’s most often sold in pill form, which typically looks something like this:
(Winstrol is produced in a variety of labs around the world, so the pills often come in different shapes, sizes, and colors.)
Winstrol also comes as an injectable liquid, although most users opt for the pill form.
Winstrol was invented in 1962 when chemists at Winthrop Laboratories modified a naturally produced steroid known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT is an androgen hormone, meaning it promotes male characteristics such as increased body and facial hair, deepening of the voice, and sebum (skin oil) production. It also reduces hair follicle growth on the scalp, and is considered a major cause behind male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
To create Winstrol, chemists modified the DHT molecule so that it would produce stronger muscle-building effects, with fewer masculinizing side effects. You’ll learn more about how they did this and why it matters in a moment.
Winstrol was briefly approved for human use in the 60s to treat a variety of conditions such as osteoporosis, muscle loss, and growth insufficiency in children.
Over the next few decades, though, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) curtailed the list of approved uses for Winstrol, until it was only legally prescribed for a handful of rare conditions.
Luckily for many high-level athletes, this meant that Winstrol was still being professionally produced at a time when most other anabolic steroids have been outright banned. This is one of the reasons this drug became so popular in the eighties and nineties among athletes like Ben Johnson.
Winstrol is technically still approved for a few medical conditions, but no pharmaceutical companies in the United States have produced it since 2003.
There are still a few companies that produce stanozolol in Europe marketed under the brand name Stromba, but much of the Winstrol in the U.S. comes from private labs or individuals “cooking” their own steroids in places like Mexico or Thailand.
Winstrol has also been given to animals for many different reasons, most famously to racehorses as a way to improve their performance. (Horses run faster on steroids, too.)
Summary: Winstrol is the brand name for the synthetic anabolic steroid stanozolol, which was created by modifying the naturally occurring steroid DHT to increase its muscle-building properties and reduce its masculinizing side effects.
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The primary reasons people take Winstrol are the same reasons people take any kind of steroid.
They take Winstrol to . . .
- Build muscle
- Lose fat
- Get stronger
There are many anabolic steroids that can do this, though, so what makes Winstrol special?
To understand what makes Winstrol unique compared to other steroids, you need to understand how steroids work.
Most of the cells in your body have specialized proteins on their surfaces called androgen receptors.
You can think of these proteins as mailboxes that only receive messages from testosterone or similar hormones circulating in the blood.
You can think of androgenic hormones like testosterone as incoming mail that’s circulated throughout the body, giving cells instructions on how to behave.
When a testosterone molecule or other steroid attaches to an androgen receptor, its messages are transported to the nucleus of the cell, which alters the cell’s behavior.
As you probably know, the main message that steroids send to cells are to build muscle. Researchers refer to this as the steroid’s anabolic effect.
Anabolism is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the synthesis of complex molecules in living organisms from simpler ones together with the storage of energy; constructive metabolism.”
In other words, an anabolic steroid is one that promotes the growth of tissues, including muscle growth.
Steroids also send other signals to cells, though, and many of these are broadly labeled as androgenic effects.
Androgenic means a substance that promotes male characteristics, such as chest and facial hair growth, a deepened voice, an exaggerated jawline, aggression, acne, etc.
In other words, the androgenic effects of steroids are most of the side effects that people want to avoid. That said, there are still plenty of side effects from steroids that aren’t solely due to their androgenic effects, so just because a steroid isn’t highly androgenic doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Scientists have known that all steroids have both anabolic and androgenic effects for decades, and some early researchers created a scale known as the anabolic: androgenic ratio.
That is, how much muscle-building will this steroid produce relative to its unwanted side effects?
They used testosterone as a baseline, with an anabolic to androgenic ratio of 100:100.
More or less every steroid you’ve heard of—trenbolone, nandrolone, Dianabol, and others—are all variations of testosterone that have been chemically modified to have either stronger anabolic or weaker androgenic properties.
That is, they’re basically “franken-testosterones” that are designed to produce more muscle gain with fewer side effects.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that much of the research behind the anabolic:androgenic ratio was based on studies of rat muscle tissue. What’s more, the researchers looked at the levator ani muscle, or the muscle surrounding the anus, which is a smooth and not a skeletal muscle.
Since humans aren’t big rats and smooth muscle isn’t the same as skeletal muscle, some scientists have suggested that we take the research on the anabolic:androgenic ratio with a big grain of salt.
That said, lacking better information, it’s still considered a good starting point for estimating the muscle-building potential of steroids compared to their side effects.
The main reason bodybuilders and athletes love “Winny” is that it has a very favorable anabolic to androgenic ratio.
That is, it has a higher potential to increase muscle growth on a gram for gram basis than testosterone, and it produces fewer androgenic side effects. In reality, though, all else is not equal, and Winstrol isn’t as effective at building muscle as pure testosterone (more on that in a moment).
Specifically, its anabolic to androgenic ratio is 320:30.
For comparison, testosterone’s anabolic to androgenic ratio is 100:100. Harsher steroids, like trenbolone, have an anabolic to androgenic ratio of 500 to 500, and milder steroids like boldenone undecylenate have a ratio of 100:50.
Now, due to the arcane laws of steroid science, this doesn’t mean Winstrol will build exactly three times more muscle than testosterone. That said, the important thing to know is that milligram per milligram, Winstrol is more effective at building muscle than testosterone and produces fewer negative side effects.
This is particularly important for women, who generally don’t take highly androgenic drugs (like trenbolone) due to the harsh, masculinizing side effects.
If a man takes highly-androgenic steroids, the short-term side effects are typically things men deal with at some point or another anyway:
- Hair loss on the scalp
- Denser facial and body hair
- Acne and oily skin
- Deepened voice
- Rougher skin
- Increased aggression
Basically, puberty for adults.
If a woman takes highly-androgenic steroids, she can look forward to all of that and more . . .
- Drastic increase in clitorus size (clitoromegaly), which in some cases can resemble a small penis
- Masculine, “Brad Pitt-like” jawline growth
- Menstrual irregularities
- Breast shrinkage
- Birth defects
- Severe depression
Which is why many female bodybuilders who’ve taken powerful steroids for years end up looking and sounding like, well, men.
Here are a few examples:
Thanks to Winstrol’s low androgenic score, it poses a much lower risk of causing these side effects in women than other steroids.
This is why it’s often taken by female bodybuilders and athletes who want the muscle-building benefits of steroids, without turning into jacked versions of Steve Buscemi:
That said, there’s scant long-term research on how steroids affect women (and very little on how they affect men), so it’s impossible to know what the consequences would be of taking Winstrol for years on end.
It’s likely that if a woman took Winstrol for long enough or at a high enough dose, she’d still experience some masculinizing side effects. That’s just part and parcel of taking steroids.
Anyway, another unique feature of Winstrol is that it isn’t converted into estrogen-like many other steroids are.
You see, a major problem with many steroids is that although they increase muscle growth, they also increase estrogen levels in the body.
Well, in men estrogen is produced by an enzyme known as aromatase, which converts a percentage of our testosterone into estrogen through a process known as aromatization.
When testosterone levels are at their normal, healthy level, estrogen levels also remain relatively low in men.
When testosterone levels are 3, 5, or 10 times their normal level, which is what happens when people take steroids, estrogen levels increase proportionally.
Some steroids like Dianabol, for example, are also readily converted into estrogen in the body.
This can lead to a long list of feminizing effects such as gynecomastia (“man boobs”), water retention, and fat gain.
To counter these side effects, many athletes take estrogen blockers (which come with their own side effects), but this also presents a problem:
Estrogen plays an important role in muscle growth, too, and reducing it to rock bottom levels reduces the muscle-building benefits of steroids.
Specifically, estrogen . . .
- Plays an important role in muscle recovery and repair by improving muscles’ ability to absorb glucose and boosting growth hormone levels.
- Improves the body’s response to anabolic steroids by increasing the number of androgen receptors on muscle cells.
- Allows you to train harder by bolstering serotonin levels, which increases your arousal, focus, and ability to push yourself in workouts.
So, how is a roider to reap the benefits of estrogen without growing man boobs and getting bloated and fat?
Winstrol is part of the answer.
Because Winstrol isn’t converted into estrogen, you could take as much Winstrol as you wanted and never run into any of the side effects of excess estrogen (although this doesn’t mean you won’t run into other side effects, which you’ll learn about shortly).
This is why Winstrol is often taken by athletes who want to maximize muscle mass, strength, and performance, without the bloating and fat gain that often results from other steroids.
Now, steroids that don’t increase estrogen levels also are generally less effective for muscle growth. This is why people who only take Winstrol typically don’t make the dramatic size gains that people taking testosterone, Dianabol, and other estrogen-producing steroids do.
In other words, on paper Winstrol should produce more muscle growth than pure testosterone, but in reality its muscle-building properties are hamstrung due to its inability to raise estrogen levels.
This is why Winstrol isn’t as effective at building muscle as testosterone despite having a higher anabolic score.
Thanks to its lack of aromatization into estrogen, Winstrol also produces little if any water retention or fat gain, which makes it an ideal steroid for cutting or lean bulking (or sprinting, if you’re Ben Johnson).
Finally, another reason many bodybuilders and athletes like Winstrol is that it also works synergistically with other steroids to promote muscle growth.
It does this by reducing the levels of a protein called sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the blood. This protein regulates the effects of testosterone in the body by glomming onto the testosterone molecule, preventing it from giving its “message” to cells.
By reducing SHBG levels in the blood, Winstrol increases the effectiveness of whatever other steroids you take, too.
Although all anabolic steroids reduce SHBG levels, Winstrol is particularly effective at this.
A good example of this is a study conducted by scientists at the University of Hamburg, who gave 25 young men and women 0.2 mg/kg of stanozolol (Winstrol) for three days. This works out to a small bodybuilder dose, basically.
The scientists took measurements of everyone’s SHBG and hormone levels before and 5, 6, 7, and 8 days after they started taking Winstrol.
The scientists found that Winstrol reduced the subject’s SHBG levels by 48% after a week, on average. For comparison, testosterone typically reduces SHBG levels by around 30%.
All in all, what this means is that Winstrol will generally improve the effectiveness of other steroids you take, as well as boost muscle growth by itself.
This is part of why most informed steroid users take Winstrol in addition to other steroids, like testosterone.
Summary: The primary reason bodybuilders and athletes of all stripes take Winstrol is to build muscle, gain strength, and improve performance without gaining water weight or body fat, or suffering negative side effects of excess estrogen production, and to amplify the effects of other steroids.
So, now you know all of the “perks” of taking Winstrol.
What are the downsides?
If you look online, these are the main things people will warn you of:
- Liver damage
- A drop in natural testosterone levels and testicle size
- Achy joints
- Toxin exposure from tainted steroids
Sounds fun! Let’s go over each one.
There are two primary ways to take steroids:
- Orally in the form of pills
- Intramuscularly in the form of injections
Most bodybuilders inject steroids, which involves injecting a mixture of steroids and oil into the muscle tissue of the body, usually in the buttocks or thighs.
This deposit of oil and steroids is slowly broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream where the steroids can go to work.
The upside of this approach is that the steroids are easily absorbed by the body, multiple steroids can be mixed together in a single shot, and the steroids don’t have to pass through the digestive system before entering the blood.
The downside is that it involves injecting yourself with a needle at least once per week and often several times per week. Needles and needle marks are also harder to hide than pills.
Oral steroids work a bit differently.
You see, most steroids are destroyed during digestion. You could swallow a whole bottle of testosterone, and only a small fraction would ever show up in your bloodstream. Probably not even enough to fail a drug test.
The main reason for this is that steroids first have to pass through the liver before they can enter the blood. The liver breaks down steroids using an enzyme called 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17beta-HSD).
(Remember that next time someone says you shouldn’t eat meat because it contains hormones—they’re mostly destroyed during digestion).
So, how can you ensure a steroid makes it through the liver intact?
By modifying its chemical structure so that it can’t be broken down by 17beta-HSD.
We don’t need to get into the nitty gritty of how this is done, but the short story is that a particular combination of carbon and hydrogen atoms are inserted into the steroid molecule.
This is referred to as c-17alpha alkylation, and steroids that are made using this process are referred to as alkylated steroids.
When the liver tries to break down alkylated steroids, they simply pass on through to the blood where they quickly begin telling your muscles to grow.
There’s a major downside of alkylated steroids, though: liver damage.
Scientists still aren’t sure exactly why or how this occurs, but the most promising theory seems to be that the liver is highly sensitive to anabolic steroids. When it isn’t able to break down the steroids—which is the case with oral steroids like stanozolol—the excess steroids can cause liver damage and dysfunction.
The most common form of liver damage is known as cholestasis, which is a medical condition where the flow of bile from the liver into the digestive system is impaired.
This causes a buildup of bile salts, bilirubin, and other digestive compounds in the liver and blood, which causes all kinds of problems including:
- Clay-colored stool
- Amber colored urine
- Stomach pain
- Reduced appetite
- Death of liver tissue
The good news is that you usually have to be taking oral steroids for quite a while or in very large doses for these side effects to appear. This is why most informed steroid users only take oral steroids for 8 to 12 weeks or less before giving their livers a break.
That said, there are no long-term studies on how even small doses of Winstrol affect the liver, or how taking a combination of Winstrol and other anabolic steroids might affect liver health.
No matter how you slice it, oral steroids like Winstrol are more dangerous than injectable steroids when it comes to liver health. There’s also no way to know what the long-term effects will be on your health.
Summary: Winstrol is an oral steroid, which means it’s been chemically modified so it can’t be broken down in the liver. While this makes it more convenient than injectable steroids, it can also cause liver damage, cancer, and ultimately death if taken in large amounts for long periods of time.
Like every other steroid, Winstrol reduces your natural testosterone levels.
This is an unavoidable, intractable, inherent side effect of all steroids, and something that can’t be reduced, modified, or changed whatsoever.
You’ll occasionally hear people say that this or that particular steroid didn’t reduce their natural testosterone levels, but in most cases they’re either lying, ignorant of their actual testosterone levels, or are taking fake or watered down steroids.
To understand why natural testosterone levels always drop when you consume any kind of anabolic steroid, you first have to understand how testosterone is produced in the body.
This is a fairly complex multistep process, but bear with me. Once you understand this, you’ll understand far more about how steroids work than 99% of the people out there.
As you probably know, testosterone is produced in the testes in men (and ovaries in women). When testosterone levels begin to flag, a portion of the brain known as the hypothalamus senses this, and releases a hormone called Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH).
Next, the pituitary gland senses the high levels of GnRH, which causes it to produce two more hormones: luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Finally, these two hormones trigger specialized cells in the testes known as Leydig cells to produce testosterone. As testosterone levels rise, the hypothalamus produces less GnRH, testosterone production decreases, and the cycle repeats itself.
Assuming someone is otherwise healthy, this system does a remarkably good job of keeping testosterone levels within a relatively narrow range.
Everything changes when you introduce anabolic steroids into the mix, though.
The massive rise in testosterone levels triggers the hypothalamus to more or less shut down GnRH production, which shuts down LH and FSH production, which shuts down testosterone production.
Over the short term (days) natural testosterone production falls to almost nothing, and over the long-term (several months), testicle size shrinks as well.
The only way to increase natural testosterone production and testicle size again is to stop taking steroids.
Even then, it takes around two to four months for natural testosterone levels and testicle size to return to where they were before steroid use.
Keep in mind that all of this applies to steroid-like drugs like SARMs and prohormones, too. These drugs indirectly raise anabolic hormone levels in the body, which has the same effect of reducing natural testosterone levels.
Winstrol is simply a more powerful derivative of testosterone, and so you’re going to experience all of the same effects.
There are very few studies of Winstrol’s effects in humans, and so we don’t know what effect it might have on natural testosterone levels versus other steroids.
Due to the fact that Winstrol works in more or less the same way as testosterone, chances are that the effects are similar.
You can expect a major drop in testosterone levels in the short-term, a drop in testicle size in the long-term, and a long, frustrating, low-energy road to recovery after you stop taking Winstrol.
Summary: Winstrol reduces natural testosterone levels in a matter of days and testicle size in a matter of weeks, this effect persists for as long as you continue taking Winstrol, and it doesn’t resolve until several months after you stop taking Winstrol.
If you search for “Winstrol side effects” online, you’ll often see people claim that Winstrol makes their joints feel achy, sore, and stiff.
Chances are good they’re mistaken, though.
As you know, Winstrol causes little to no water retention, which makes you look leaner and more “full” and “dry.” You’ll often hear bodybuilders make the apocryphal claim that Winstrol does this by “pulling water out of your joints.”
Although Winstrol doesn’t cause significant water retention like other steroids, it doesn’t dehydrate you or pull water out of your joints or any other part of your body.
There are two more likely explanations of why bodybuilders complain of joint pain when taking Winstrol:
- They read it online, assumed it would happen to them, and then experienced joint pain thanks to the nocebo effect or blamed any joint pain they actually did experience on Winstrol.
- They were training harder, more often, and with more volume, which they were able to do thanks to taking Winstrol. Their joints started feeling sore thanks to the significant uptick in training volume and intensity, not the Winstrol.
In fact, steroids generally promote tissue growth, healing, and recovery, so you’d expect steroids (including Winstrol) to make your joints more durable, resilient, and strong while you’re taking them, not weaker.
Although it’s possible that certain steroids might cause joint pain, we simply don’t have enough evidence to know for sure, and very little research suggests this is the case.
Instead, it’s more likely this is an unfounded facet of bodybuilding lore, handed down from one generation to the next on anonymous Internet forums.
Summary: There’s little evidence to think that Winstrol causes achy, tight, or sore joints more than any other steroid, and this idea is most likely a long-standing Internet rumor.
Acne is caused by a bacterium which primarily resides in the oil of the skin.
Scientists aren’t entirely sure why or how it flares up, but in general, things that increase oil production in the skin also increase acne.
Acne typically appears around adolescence thanks to a rapid rise in androgenic hormones (in men and women).
These hormones drastically increase oil production in the skin, which can result in acne.
Testosterone and other steroids also increase oil production in the skin, which has the potential to give you acne or make existing acne much worse.
Typically, the acne is most severe around the shoulders, chest, and upper back, like this:
And if you’re thinking you’re safe because you don’t have acne now, think again.
Pete Rubish, a powerlifter who’s been open about his steroid use, also had clear skin before he started taking steroids. After a few months of taking steroids he says, “It’s so bad that if someone literally just pats you on the back you’re in horrible pain.”
More disturbingly, he said it also got worse after he stopped taking drugs, and it didn’t go away until he went to a dermatologist and started taking acne medication.
There isn’t much direct research on Winstrol and acne, but it appears to more mild than testosterone in this regard.
That said, people’s reaction to Winstrol varies, and it’s possible some people might get more or less acne than others.
Although acne is a temporary side effect of Winstrol use, it can cause permanent scarring.
Summary: All steroids can increase the risk of acne, and this acne tends to be far more severe than what you’d experience naturally. That said, Winstrol is more mild than other steroids in this regard.
Currently, no companies produce Winstrol for human consumption, which means more or less everything on the market is produced by private labs and individuals or stolen from pharmaceutical companies making it for animals.
And that means you’re putting your health and life in the hands of complete strangers, whose products undergo no formal oversight, regulation, or testing procedures.
Demand for steroids has grown faster than the supply, which has pushed up profits and incentive to produce fake, tainted, or watered-down steroids.
Thus, counterfeit, tainted, and watered-down steroids are a huge problem for steroid users.
Watered-down steroids are exactly what they sound like—steroids mixed with other inert or less powerful compounds designed to increase profit margins. While these won’t produce the results most users want, they aren’t necessarily dangerous.
A more serious problem are tainted steroids, which are often contaminated with toxins such as heavy metals, pathogens, and various contaminants, which can cause a long list of health problems.
In the case of heavy metals, these health problems may not show up for years later—long after you’ve stopped taking steroids.
There’s no way to know what percentage of steroids on the market are tainted, but it’s likely significant. For example, a study conducted by the Center for Preventative Doping Research found that of 70 different anabolic steroids seized in various police raids, 34% didn’t contain the ingredients listed on the label.
They also found that without sophisticated testing methods, it’s often very difficult to differentiate between real and counterfeit steroids.
While they didn’t test the steroids for contaminants, it’s also likely a much higher percentage contained various toxins and other pollutants and impurities.
Finally, unlike some other drugs, there are no reliable at-home tests steroid users can employ to ensure the steroids they’re taking are pure.
All steroid users can do is try to find a supplier they trust, inspect the packaging and products as best they can, and hope for the best.
Summary: All Winstrol used by bodybuilders is produced by private labs and individuals or stolen from pharmaceutical companies, and much of it is counterfeit and likely tainted with toxins, impurities, and pollutants that may cause serious short and long-term health problems.
Winstrol, like all steroids, causes many other side effects that could fill their own article.
Instead of going through all of them, here’s a short list of what you get to look forward to when taking Winstrol:
- Night sweats
- Increased blood pressure
- Hair loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Increased aggression
- Increased risk of prostate, brain, and breast cancer
- Increased risk of heart disease, permanent testicular atrophy, insulin resistance, nosebleeds, and other medical issues.
Now, at this point you may be thinking, why on Earth would anyone ever touch this stuff?
Well, I think this post from an Internet forum more or less sums it up:
The fact is that most people who are taking anabolic steroids don’t care that much about their bodies, their long-term health, or their vitality, despite their frequent claims to the contrary. They just want to be big, lean, and jacked, and they want it now.
Many steroid users claim they only take steroids in a healthy way, and that they’d never compromise their health. In the words of outspoken steroid user Rich Piana, “. . . I would never in a million years risk ruining my health or ruining my future do to bodybuilding.”
He died at age 46, likely due in part to using steroids for 27 years.
The bottom line is that no matter what steroid users say, they are putting their health at risk by taking steroids. There are ways to reduce the risk (not taking massive doses, taking periodic breaks, etc.), but you can’t eliminate them entirely.
If someone is just taking Winstrol, it’s often surprisingly difficult to tell if they’re on steroids or natural.
This is because Winstrol doesn’t build muscle as effectively as most other anabolic steroids, and while it does increase muscle mass, it doesn’t produce the massive, dry, lean physiques you’re probably used to seeing on Instagram.
For example, here’s a good example of the kind of results an 8-week cycle of Winstrol will produce in someone relatively new to lifting weights:
I pulled that picture from a forum where many steroid users openly discuss their results. In this case, the person used a relatively small dose over a fairly short period of time. If they’d taken a higher dose over a longer period of time, the results would have been more dramatic.
While the guy obviously made much faster progress than you could achieve naturally, he doesn’t look like he’s on steroids.
Here’s another example of someone who took Winstrol, testosterone, and likely several other steroids, Ben Johnson:
As you can see, he’s very lean and has excellent muscle definition, but he wouldn’t stand out as an obvious steroid user in most gyms.
And here’s a picture of Jenrry Meja, a pitcher who used to play for the New York Mets, who also took Winstrol:
He’s fit, but obviously not a bodybuilder.
And for a female perspective, here’s a picture of Florence Ekpo-Umoh, a sprinter who was also caught taking Winstrol:
Again, she looks fit, but about the same as many of the women who follow the Thinner Leaner Stronger program.
And here’s Olga Shishigina, a Kazakh hurdler caught taking stanozolol:
She too looks remarkably normal for someone taking steroids.
And finally, here’s Natallia Mikhnevich, a Belarussian shot-putter who got busted taking Winstrol, also looking conspicuously average:
While she obviously has more muscle mass than most women, she also has a lot of body fat, which makes it hard to tell she’s on steroids.
The point is this:
It’s often not obvious when people are taking Winstrol, or steroids in general, and you often can’t tell simply by looking at them.
Some steroid users are thin and toned.
And some steroid users are what you expect: big, lean, and muscular.
Remember, though, that many athletes don’t take Winstrol or other steroids to get jacked. Steroids also directly improve performance in most sports and indirectly improve performance in almost every sport by allowing athletes to recover from more training.
For these people, gaining muscle is just a side effect of the drug and not their primary reason for taking it.
So, how can you tell if someone is taking Winstrol?
Unless someone is an IFBB pro or looks like one, it’s rarely obvious if someone is on steroids at all, much less what they’re taking. The only way to know for sure is to take repeated blood tests over a long period of time when they’re looking and performing their best, and that simply isn’t feasible.
Barring that, you can estimate the chances someone’s on steroids by looking at how much muscle they have per unit of height. This is referred to as someone’s fat-free mass index (FFMI), and if it’s above a certain threshold, the chances someone is on steroids skyrocket.
You can learn more about using FFMI to spot steroid users in this article:
FFMI will only tell you whether or not someone’s taking steroids, though. It won’t tell you what they’re taking, and there’s no way to know that for sure.
Summary: Steroid users often look remarkably normal, and this is particularly true when they’re taking less potent steroids like Winstrol. While you can use someone’s FFMI to tell whether or not they’re taking steroids, only blood tests will tell you what steroids they’re taking.
Winstrol first became “mainstream” after the famous Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson was caught taking it in 1988.
Winstrol is the brand name for the synthetic anabolic steroid stanozolol, which was created by modifying the naturally occurring steroid DHT to increase its muscle-building properties and reduce its masculinizing side effects.
The primary reason bodybuilders and athletes of all stripes take Winstrol is to build muscle, gain strength, and improve performance without gaining water weight or body fat, or suffering negative side effects of excess estrogen production, and to amplify the effects of other steroids.
The main side effects of Winstrol are:
- Liver damage
- A drop in natural testosterone levels and testicle size
- Toxin exposure from tainted steroids
- And a host of other health problems ranging from cancer to hair loss to infertility.
Winstrol is an oral steroid, which means it’s been chemically modified so it can’t be broken down in the liver. While this makes it more convenient than injectable steroids, it can also cause liver damage, cancer, and ultimately death if taken in large amounts for long periods of time.
Winstrol reduces natural testosterone levels in a matter of days and testicle size in a matter of weeks, this effect persists for as long as you continue taking Winstrol, and it doesn’t resolve until several months after you stop taking Winstrol.
Although many bodybuilders claim Winstrol causes achy, tight, or sore joints, this idea is most likely a long-standing Internet rumor.
All steroids can increase the risk of acne, and this acne tends to be far more severe than what you’d experience naturally. That said, Winstrol is more mild than other steroids in this regard.
All Winstrol used by bodybuilders is produced by private labs and individuals or stolen from pharmaceutical companies, and much of it is counterfeit and likely tainted with toxins, impurities, and pollutants that may cause serious short and long-term health problems.
The bottom line is that no matter what steroid users say, they are putting their health at risk by taking steroids. There are ways to reduce the risk (not taking massive doses, taking periodic breaks, etc.), but you can’t eliminate them entirely.
Steroid users often look remarkably normal, and this is particularly true when they’re taking less potent steroids like Winstrol. While you can use someone’s FFMI to tell whether or not they’re taking steroids, only blood tests will tell you what steroids they’re taking.
So, if you want my two cents, it’s this: stay away from Winstrol and other anabolic steroids.
While they may sound like an expedient, effective, and more or less effortless path to gains, the cons far outweigh the pros if you look far enough into the future.
What’s your take on Winstrol? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
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