Anabolic steroids are used not only by bodybuilders and representatives of other sports. They find wide therapeutic use, are often used by people who have low hormone levels, with malnutrition and low weight, in the treatment of skeletal disorders, are used before surgical operations to improve the physical condition of the patient and during postoperative recovery, and are also used in pediatrics – for stimulation of growth under certain circumstances.
Absolute contraindications for the use of steroids are pregnancy, prostate inflammation or breast cancer.
Anabolic steroids have a wide variety of effects on a number of important physiological functions. When using steroids, certain complications are possible.
Impaired liver function
The liver experiences a lot of stress when using steroids. With prolonged use of large doses, progressive cholestatitis and jaundice, hepatitis purpura, bleeding, and even liver cancer can occur. Among people exposed to this type of therapy, there have been cases with a fatal outcome. As mentioned above, injectable steroids do not inhibit the detoxification function of the liver to the same extent as those administered orally.
Dysfunction of the cardiovascular system
The use of steroids can lead to violations of the mechanism of blood clotting, glucose metabolism, to changes in the content of triglyceride and cholesterol in the blood. To prevent such consequences, it is recommended to follow a diet low in fat. Oral use of steroids can lead to hyperinsulinism, a decrease in glucose levels, a decrease in susceptibility (tolerance) to glucose, associated with pronounced insulin resistance. Steroids increase the risk of atherosclerosis (you can fight this with the help of intense aerobic exercise) and increase the level of cortisol – the main stress hormone.
Increased nervous excitability and (or) blood pressure
This can lead to arterial hypertension, as well as to radical changes in the fluid and electrolyte balance of the body.
Inhibition of testosterone production function
There are mechanisms in the body that monitor the amount of testosterone and warn the endocrine system to increase or decrease the production of hormones. When taking steroids, the body registers an excessive increase in them and reduces or even stops producing testosterone. This can lead to disturbances in libido and many other physiological functions related to hormone levels (for example, aggressiveness and fat metabolism).
Androgenic effects are more likely to appear with long-term use, and not with high doses. These effects may include: growth of hair on the face and body, increased function of the fatty glands (oily skin), which leads to acne, priapism (permanent, often painful erection of the penis), thinning of hair on the head, prostatic hypertrophy, as well as premature closure of the epiphysis (closure of bone endings before the full maturity of the body).
Common Symptoms of the Effects of Taking Steroids
Symptoms that indicate the use of anabolic steroids include the following:
- gastrointestinal disturbances (when using oral steroids), including loss of appetite, burning sensation of the tongue, gagging, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, intestinal irritation and bloating (in 1-2 percent of those taking oral steroids); muscle cramps and spasms; heightened or inhibited sense of aggressiveness; headaches; nosebleeds;
- dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, or lethargy;
- skin rash or local reactions at the injection site; inflammation of the nipples;
- gynecomastia (enlargement of the mammary glands in men); dysfunction of the thyroid gland.
Auxiliary means to increase efficiency (ergogenic means)
Ergogenic remedies are those that additionally help increase performance. Some of them are of a psychological nature, we talked about them in the sections on the mental side of the training. Others are physiological and may have some effect on your athletic progress.
Increasing performance is useful at any stage of training, but it is especially necessary when you are preparing for a competition and “squeezing” everything that is possible from the body. At this level, even a slight change in the intensity of training can determine victory or defeat.
Bodybuilders, like other athletes, always strive to win, looking for ways to improve their results. There are various drugs that are considered extremely useful for improving performance.
But there are also those whose effectiveness is questionable. Dr. Lawrence Golding has compiled a list (incomplete) of the most effective ergogenic drugs and hormones: adrenaline, alcohol, alkalis, amphetamines, caffeine, cocaine, coramine (nikethamide), lecithin, metrazol (pentylenetetrazole), norepinephrine, steroids, sulfa drugs.
Most athletes are aware of only a few of these substances. I want to present my arguments both for and against their use.
Pros of Caffeine
Caffeine in limited amounts, such as a few cups of coffee, is a mild stimulant. However, it can be harmful in large doses. Currently, the Medical Commission of the International Olympic Committee is conducting research on the effects of caffeine on the body. Its elevated level is the basis for the disqualification of the athlete.
Glycogen is the form in which carbohydrates are stored in muscles. If there is not enough glycogen in the body, then the energy level decreases. Therefore, an athlete who follows a long-term low or no carbohydrate diet is not able to train hard enough. By the way, the content of glucose (carbohydrates in the blood) and glycogen is usually the lowest when you wake up in the morning, because after the last meal, as a rule, at least eight hours have passed by this time. Therefore, fruits or other carbohydrate foods eaten an hour before a workout will give you strength and energy.
Contrary to popular belief, vitamins do not create energy. They are catalysts and influence the course of various reactions. However, their absence can interfere with the release of energy, so vitamin supplements are necessary so that the body does not experience discomfort, especially during the diet.
Intensively training before the competition, I noticed that my breath was lost before the muscles got tired. I just could not provide the body with enough oxygen. To overcome this problem, I tried to inhale pure oxygen from time to time, and this significantly increased aerobic endurance. Other athletes also confirm this. Those who watched the matches of professional football players on television obviously paid attention to how the athletes sit down at the touchline and breathe oxygen.
If the body lacks any important minerals, especially if the bodybuilder is on a diet, then there may be a lack of energy. To maintain the maximum intensity of training, you can additionally take calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, brown algae containing iodine, alfalfa.
Thyroid hormone is a necessary and very valuable tool for training those who have thyroid insufficiency. If you have an underactive thyroid, you will lack the energy to build muscle. However, only a doctor can make this diagnosis.
If you take such a hormone with a healthy thyroid gland, you can harm it by disrupting the entire endocrine system, and seriously hinder muscle building.
Arguments Against Amphetamines
Powerful artificial stimulants in any form, such as amphetamines, high doses of caffeine, or cocaine, will eventually do more harm than good to your workouts. It is well known that many athletes in contact sports take amphetamines to relieve the pain of physical injuries. However, removing sensations is the last thing if you want to consciously focus on the state of the muscles. Of course, you don’t consciously seek overstimulation, you don’t want to overtrain your muscles and unknowingly injure them, but that’s exactly what can happen when you take amphetamines and other super stimulants. Regardless of their effect on training, amphetamines are in many cases very harmful to health.
From time to time, there are bodybuilders who advocate the use of aspirin to maximize the effectiveness of training. However, again, any blunting of muscle sensation means you lose the ability to really feel it, train at maximum intensity, and may not notice that you are injuring yourself.
Alcohol and marijuana
It seems to me that it is enough to say here only that after the use of alcohol or drugs it is absolutely impossible to train hard. Athletes who come to the gym “under the influence” or under the influence of drugs simply will not be able to achieve the success that they are capable of.
All new dupes appear literally every minute. Most of them buy a variety of “health” drugs, “guaranteed” to improve well-being, gain strength, weight loss, and the like. It must be borne in mind that all these means are ineffective and do not have a serious effect. If you want to spend your money on “miracle” pills, that’s up to you, but don’t expect bodybuilding success without some real dedication and hard work.