Let me preface this entire post by saying that I am definitely NOT an expert on steroid use. I’ve personally never used steroids or any related drugs for the purpose of building muscle, improving performance or getting any similar benefit. I’ve honestly never even considered doing so, nor would I ever consider doing so in the future. That’s just me.
As for whether or not anyone else uses steroids/drugs for these purposes… I honestly couldn’t give a crap. It’s your body, your decision. It’s none of my business what you do, and it really doesn’t matter to me either way.
The only time steroid use DOES matter to me is when its muscle building and performance enhancing effects are hidden or lied about (for more than just personal reasons), downplayed, or just used deceptively in some way that negatively affects the people who don’t actually use steroids.
How can this happen, you ask? I’ll show you in a second. But first, there’s something you need to know…
Steroids vs Natural: It’s Not Even Close
As most of us can already guess, the average person using steroids will generally get much better results in terms of building muscle and improving performance than someone who is natural and not using anything (especially with all else being equal). That’s common sense, right?
But what might surprise you is the actual degree of difference. As it turns out, there is one specific study that shows this difference quite clearly.
This 10 week study took a group of 43 men of normal body weight between the ages of 19 and 40 who all had some degree of weight training experience. These men were then split up into 4 different groups:
- Group 1 did NOT do any form of exercise, and did NOT receive any form of steroids or drugs. (Natural guys doing no weight training.)
- Group 2 did NOT do any form of exercise, but they received weekly injections of 600 mg of testosterone enanthate. (Drug users doing no weight training.)
- Group 3 DID exercise, but they did NOT receive any form of steroids or drugs. (Natural guys doing weight training.)
- Group 4 DID exercise, and they also received weekly injections of 600 mg of testosterone enanthate. (Drug users doing weight training.)
All of their diets (calorie intake, protein intake, nutrient intake, etc.) were standardized according to each person’s body weight, recorded, verified and adjusted when needed. The 2 groups who WERE weight training (groups 3 and 4) followed the same supervised workouts each week.
Meaning, with the exception of the fact that some groups were or were not weight training, and some were or were not using drugs… everything else (diet and training) was equal and even.
So… guess what happened?
- Group 1 (no exercise, natural) experienced no significant changes. No surprise there.
- Group 2 (no exercise, drug use) was able to build about 7 pounds of muscle. That’s not a typo. The group receiving testosterone injections and NOT working out at all gained 7 pounds of muscle.
- Group 3 (exercise, natural) was able to build about 4 pounds of muscle.
- Group 4 (exercise, drug use) was able to build about 13 pounds of muscle.
So What Does This Study Show Us?
Well, for starters, if you are natural and not doing any form of weight training, your muscle building results will suck. But we all knew that already.
Second, the muscle building effects of steroids are pretty F-ing significant. Despite using identical workout routines and diets, the guys who were also receiving testosterone injections gained over 3 TIMES as much muscle as the natural guys in the same period of time. The average difference was 13lbs gained to just 4lbs gained.
And third… here’s the most insane part of all. The group getting the testosterone injections and NOT doing any form of weight training whatsoever still gained significantly more muscle than the natural guys who WERE weight training. The difference was 7lbs gained to 4lbs gained.
Let me repeat that again just in case it didn’t sink in. Guys using drugs and doing NOTHING built more muscle than the natural guys who were weight training 3 times per week. How crazy is that?
I know my article about how much muscle you can gain mentions steroid/drug use as one of the main factors that influence a person’s rate and limit of muscle growth, but did you think the effects would be THIS significant? No? Well… surprise! They are.
My Big Points
And just to clarify, I’m not telling you about this study to make it seem like everyone who uses steroids/drugs got their results without tons of hard work and effort as well. That’s definitely not true.
Instead, I’m telling you about this study to show you that:
- With all else (diet, workout, effort level, etc.) being equal, steroids work a shitload better.
- Even in the absence of ANY training, hard work or effort at all, steroids still work a shitload better.
Why am I telling you this? Because not being completely aware of these facts is what often causes natural men and women to make HUGE mistakes in how they train, how they eat, whose advice they trust, what realistic results they expect, what goals they set, what claims they believe, and what products and supplements they spend their money on.
How Steroid Use Negatively Affects NON-Steroid Users
I’m not talking about the direct “side effects” that may come from using various performance enhancing/muscle building drugs… I’m talking about the indirect effects that come as a result of us natural people being unknowingly (and often deceptively) exposed to those who are using.
To show you what I mean, here are some common examples of the problems that arise:
The “Do What They’re Doing” Problem
Take for example the big awesome looking guy you can find in almost any gym on the planet. The guy who stands out instantly among a sea of people with average looking bodies at best. I’m talking about the kind of guy that most other guys look at in a gym and think: “I need to find out what this dude is doing so I can start doing it too and look as awesome as he does!”
The same thought occurs when looking at the bodybuilders in magazines, the A-list celebrity in some movie, the jacked guys on internet forums and websites, and so on. We look at them, see the results they’ve gotten, and our first instinct is to replicate whatever it is they are doing.
It seems like a great idea… and we’ve all probably been there before. I mean, if something worked so well for them, we should surely do it too so we can get the same awesome results. Right? In theory, sure. But in reality, steroid/drug use often invalidates this theory.
You see, various steroids and drugs allow stuff that shouldn’t work to still work anyway. Meaning, drug use can make up for a shitty diet or workout program. It can make something that would work horribly for a natural trainee work amazingly well for someone who isn’t natural. Hell, as the study above showed, drugs can sometimes make up for not even training at all in the first place.
So you know all of that typical bodybuilding nonsense you often see those “awesome-bodied” people doing? The 100 sets of this, 100 sets of that, 20 isolation exercises of this, 20 supersets of that. The typical high volume (often low frequency) “blast the crap out of your muscles from every angle” pump training garbage that every respectable trainer and strength coach on the planet regards as crap?
Well, it IS crap… for us natural people. But add steroids/drugs into the equation, and that changes.
With enough drugs, a person’s workout routine becomes borderline irrelevant in terms of building muscle. You can go to the gym and bang your head into a wall for 45 minutes and still end up getting significantly better results than the typical natural guy training correctly and working his off ass.
And therein lies the problem with the idea of “doing what they’re doing” based solely on how that person’s body looks. Sure, they could be doing things correctly and you could benefit from doing the same. But, it could also just as easily be that they’re doing everything wrong and the muscle building effects of steroids/drugs has allowed it to work well for them anyway.
This latter case just leads to us natural people training like idiots and getting absolutely nowhere (except possibly overtrained and injured).
The “Deceptive Claims” Problem
I can’t remember the last time I saw an ad or sales page for any sort of muscle building program, product or supplement that didn’t feature guys who are obviously not natural. Whether they are just using the product, providing testimonials for the program, holding the supplement, or being used in the before and after pictures, steroid/drug use is often one of the #1 deceptive sales tactics among many muscle building products.
Why? So natural people see it and think: “Wow… X pounds of muscle gained in only Y weeks?!?! Holy crap! That’s lightning fast muscle growth bro!! I can’t wait to buy this program/product/supplement and get those same amazing results!”
There’s just one tiny problem. Unless you’re using the same drugs these guys used, you’re not going to get those same results. In many cases, you probably won’t get any results at all.
But, that’s just the nature of the diet and fitness industry. Do whatever is necessary to trick people into thinking something will work significantly better/faster/easier than everything else. Steroid and drug use is just one of the MANY methods used to create this illusion. If you don’t realize it (like most people don’t), you’ll just end up wasting tons of your money on garbage.
The “Unrealistic Male Expectations” Problem
Like I’ve covered in detail before, the true rate and limit of muscle growth for a natural trainee is WAY slower and lesser than most people (guys especially) think and hope it is. But add steroids or drugs into the mix like the study from before did, and those rates and limits can be GREATLY exceeded.
And it’s this significant difference that puts unrealistic expectations into the minds of virtually every guy hoping to build any amount of muscle naturally. Guess what happens when you start thinking you should be able to build muscle faster or easier than you ever actually could?
You waste your effort trying every diet and workout on the planet seeking impossible results. You waste your money on more useless bullshit. You waste your time searching for something that doesn’t exist (naturally, at least). You constantly think you’re failing even though you probably aren’t.
It all happens because you have unrealistic expectations about what can actually be accomplished naturally, and the steroid/drug use of others is what often puts it there.
The “Unrealistic Female Fears” Problem
I know the study I referenced was done on guys and that the majority of the things I’m saying about steroids are geared more towards men. But ladies, there’s an important message here for you too.
Remember my article about why workout routines for women suck? And how the extremely common fear most females have about getting “too big and bulky” is just pure bullshit that is preventing you from training correctly?
If so, then you probably also remember the ONE exception I mentioned where this silly fear can actually become a reality. If you forgot… I’m talking about drug use. Yup, the same drug use that causes natural men to have unrealistic muscle building expectations is the same drug use that causes natural women to have unrealistic muscle building fears.
Many of those huge, bulky, manly looking female bodybuilders/athletes/wrestlers that have scared most women away from lifting anything heavier than a 3 pound pink dumbbell got their bulky muscular bodies with the help of steroids/drugs. And while the exact numbers would be a bit different for women than it is for men, you can bet your sweet ass that the degree of difference between a woman using steroids VS a woman who isn’t would be just as big, if not bigger.
But most women don’t know that. Instead, the steroid use of other women has put a fear into the head of most natural women that makes them waste years of their life with pointless toning workouts that accomplish nothing useful whatsoever.
The “Trust & Knowledge” Problem
And then of course we have the idea that someone who has achieved what we hope to achieve must obviously be a trustworthy and knowledgeable source of information on that subject.
Case in point: the workout and diet advice given by someone with an awesome body is probably much better and more accurate than workout and diet advice given by someone with a not-so-great body.
In theory, this again makes perfect sense. But in reality, it’s FAR from true. I’m definitely not saying that some out of shape fat dude who looks like they’ve never seen the inside of a gym has any idea what the hell he’s talking about when it comes to diet and fitness (he probably doesn’t 99.9% of the time).
But what I am saying is that the guy with the awesome body could be equally clueless, and his diet and workout advice can be equally horse shit.
How can that be if he looks so awesome? Simple… steroids and drugs. They can overcome stupid. They can make up for doing things incorrectly. They can hide a lack of knowledge. They can make it so that someone who is wrong about every aspect of training and nutrition can still get some degree of positive results and “look the part” anyway.
But the uninformed natural trainee seeking quality advice doesn’t know this. He/she just sees someone with a body like they want to have and automatically assumes that everything that person says, writes or sells must definitely be high quality and worth trusting. This is a dangerous mindset to have, because it’s NOT true.
I see examples of this firsthand in my gym, online and in the media on a daily basis. The shittiest advice is often coming out of the mouths of the people with the best bodies. How? Because drugs can make people look a whole lot smarter than they actually are. (And to be fair, I should also mention that amazing genetics can have a similar stupidity-hiding-effect.)
And please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m NOT saying that everyone with an awesome body is clueless. That’s obviously not true, as some of the smartest people in the diet and fitness world are the people with the best bodies. My point here is that an awesome body does NOT tell you everything (or in some cases anything) about how trustworthy and knowledgeable that person is about the topics relating to getting that awesome body.
They could have gotten that body thanks to years of researching, learning, eating right, training intelligently and working their asses off. Or, they could have used drugs/steroids, eaten and trained like a dumbass, and still ended up getting great results in spite of it all. Drugs (and/or hitting the genetic lottery) can make it possible.
Steroids vs Natural: Be Aware Of The Difference
Please keep in mind that this is not at all meant to be some kind of ANTI-steroid article. It’s just meant to be a PRO-natural-people-not-screwing-up-as-a-result-of-other-people’s-steroid-use article.
Once again, I don’t give a crap if anyone else chooses to use these kinds of drugs. I personally don’t and wouldn’t, and this article really has nothing to do with that subject.
My only goal here is to show the true muscle building effects of drug use and the real degree of difference between those who ARE using and those who AREN’T. Why? So those of us who aren’t don’t waste any of our time, effort or money as a result of the fact that many people are.
This fact often goes unrealized and is deceptively used against us on a regular basis. My advice is simple: be aware of it and don’t let it negatively affect your results.
Since writing this article, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked is whether there are any legitimately proven ways of naturally increasing our testosterone levels.
The answer is actually yes.
I explain the 8 best ways right here: How To Increase Your Testosterone Levels Naturally