Steroids vs Natural: The Muscle Building Effects Of Steroid Use

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.

The Study

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.

The Results

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.

An Update…

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

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Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers, and diet professionals at every level.

97 thoughts on “Steroids vs Natural: The Muscle Building Effects Of Steroid Use”


  1. Thanks for your clear-headed advice. It’s really hard not to see those bulked-up guys and wonder what you’re doing wrong in your routine. And, as you say, it’s natural to think they hold the key to making you look like them. Not true.

    By the way, 4 pounds of new muscle in 10 weeks is not too shabby for the natural group. I’m wondering what their routine was!

    • Yup, 4lbs in 10 weeks for a natural trainee isn’t too shabby at all. It’s actually right within the 0.25-0.5lb of muscle per week range I mention here.

      As for the routine used, it looks like it was a fairly standard 3 day full body routine focused around the bench press and squat that varied the intensity (heavy, light, medium) during each workout. 4-5 sets of 6 reps was used.

      • Hi i know you made the comment about it’s up to them there body but are you really against using them for health reasons because a lot of people seem to be using them IE bodybuilders and the biggest majority seem to be ok and not paying a price i just want to know if anybody thinks the helth risks outweigh the benefits and why?

        • In my opinion I don’t think the risks out weigh the benefits, however, I believe it is cheating. Why do people want shortcuts if you want to be big and strong then you have to commit to being big and strong. It’s a lifestyle not a fad! Just one Personal Trainers opinion.

      • I’ve personally been lifting since the age of 15 (27 now), i’m not big and go through phases of training and slacking. For me the biggest advantage that steroids have given people I know, is the ability to train 5 days a week; something that is simply not possible for a natural happy go lucky lifter. I agree with Joao Sousa to be successful you must view it as a necessity/lifestyle for example cleaning your teeth.

        I would love to see an article on the ethical implications of steroid use, with great strength comes responsibility. Take martial arts, it takes years to become “dangerous”, something which is recognised in a court of law, i would argue that steroid use also should be classified as dangerous for several reasons:

        1) As this article proves they gained this power over a very short period, implications of this could potentially be dangerous (lack of discipline, respect etc) .
        2) Is steroid use essentially weaponizing the human body? (a little extreme but you get the point)
        3) Known far superior strength, endurance and some evidence of changes in behaviour e.g. Increase confidence, aggressiveness, irritability.

        I think that one should really evaluate why they weight lift. I am guilty for only doing it for cosmetic reasons (Vanity), I found this to be unsuccessful and now focus my training for use in sports such as mauy thai and surfing, aesthetics should be a side note to your training and not the primary goal.

  2. I love getting your posting updates! Everything you post is very informative and straight to the point! I’ve also been using your workout routine for about 4 weeks now and I have gotten stronger and bigger than I ever have using other routines from books I purchased in the past. I was way over working my body with 3-4 different exercises of 8-12 reps for each muscle group taking up 1.5 hrs 4 times per week, now I’m done in 45 minutes and I actually see results. Thanks Jay, I’m glad I found your website, your book is great too!

  3. From what i’ve seen, you can get pretty awesome results on steroids, but once off steroids, those same people come back pretty much to where they would have been if they hadn’t of taken steroids. of course you can stay on the gear all year round (like those nut-jobs in the magazines) but say goodbye to a normal functioning hormone system and hello to gonads the size of almonds. that’s my two cents worth!

    • Changes to your natural testosterone production (and thus, ball size) depends heavily on how much you use, what you use, and even when you use it. The “small balls” thing is a very blanket statement made by people who generally know very little about steroids. Likewise, maintenance of gains post-cycle is also dependent on what you take on cycle and how you handle your post-cycle therapy.

      It should be noted that steroids are used to treat muscle-wasting caused by cancer and AIDS, and burn victims who have lost large amount of body mass. They would NOT be used if gains were not largely maintained following end of treatment.

      • 1) “….Likewise, maintenance of gains post-cycle is also dependent on what you take on cycle and how you handle your post-cycle therapy.”

        Yes and no.
        Yes, as far as for someone who alternates being on and off cycles over a longer term schedule, and is using post-cycle therapy to minimize loss between cycles.
        But, unless someone alternates being on and off over a long term schedule, then after the final cycle ends, and even with proper post-cycle therapy, he/she will eventually lose most if not all the gains. It requires superhigh levels of testosterone (and/or human growth hormone), far higher than even the upper range of naturally-secreted testosterone and other hormones, to sustain the muscle mass developed while using anabolic steroids. After all drugs are stopped and the body resumes normal hormone output, the unnatural amount of lean mass can no longer be maintained.

        One qualifier to that is the evidence that long-term anabolic steroid use does permanently change things in the muscle tissue for at least some people and leaves their muscle tissue with slightly better potential for maximum size than they had genetically at birth. Meaning, it is possible that someone could heavily cycle steroids for two or three years, thereby permanently change muscle tissue aspects, then quit and never use steroids again, yet retain an ability to build slightly more muscle mass than possible if having never cycled steroids.

        (That, by the way, is why even a contestant in a “natural” contest who isn’t a lifelong-steroid-free bodybuilder and had used steroids for a couple years a decade ago might have a significant edge in a close contest against a competitor who’s never used steroids at all. It’s another reason why the dishonesty about steroid use — not only about using them recently but about having used them years ago — skews the perception of what is possible for the lifelong PEDrug-free weight trainer.)

        2) “It should be noted that steroids are used to treat muscle-wasting caused by cancer and AIDS, and burn victims who have lost large amount of body mass. They would NOT be used if gains were not largely maintained following end of treatment.”

        Steroids are used because of the acute short-term need to heal and restore tissue to natural levels that the body cannot itself meet at the times of serious burns or cancer wasting. But after the body has healed, the body’s normal hormone production sustains that tissue, same as the body sustained the tissue prior to the burns or cancer. Those are not really “gains” in the sense of the extra muscle mass which anabolic steroids cause due to their superhigh levels of testosterone; rather, those are “gains” in the sense of simply allowing the damaged body to restore its tissue to what it previously had.

        That steroids being safe enough to use to treat burn and cancer victims may well be a point evidencing that steroids are not as dangerous as often claimed. However, the fact that burn and cancer victims “keep their gains” post-steroid therapy is not any evidence that a bodybuilder can keep gains following a cycle of testosterone which far exceeds natural testosterone limits. A bodybuilder on steroids has INADEQUATE testosterone to sustain those unnatural gains of mass after the steroids stop; a burn or cancer patient on steroids has ADEQUATE testosterone to sustain natural levels of mass after the steroids stop.

        Comparing the gains of a bodybuilder using supraphysiological doses of testosterone to the tissue restoration of a patient given steroid therapy is like comparing apples to ant lions.

        • Nope. You’re objectively wrong about everything you said for the simple reason that you’re conflating muscle gained with steroids by hobbyists as muscle beyond the normal amount of LBM one can hold. That’s usually not true. If you gain 40 lbs on steroids you can keep most of it as long as it’s not mass beyond your absolute genetic potential l.

          • What you’re stating would only apply to someone who understood, “My drug-free genetic potential is about 40 pounds, and, while a year or two of steroids got me to those 40 pounds sooner by enabling me to supraphysiologically carry 40 pounds temporarily; the fact is, I would have built 40 pounds in four years naturally/steroid-free anyway.”

            When someone states, “The reason I carry 40 pounds of lean mass after four years is because I kept 80% of my steroid gains from my first two years”, are you assuming he understands and implies, “…but I would have carried these 40 pounds of lean after four years even if I hadn’t used steroids at all, since 40 pounds is my genetic potential; all steroids did was temporarily put me at 40 pounds supraphysiologically, so I wouldn’t have to wait four years”?

    • NOT true, Steve. What you say is only true if you’re talking about beginners, by which I mean those who have little or no prior steroid use. Take someone who’s been training naturally a couple of years and has put on 15-20 lbs muscle for argument’s sake. Have that person do an 8-week steroid cycle and put on another 15 lbs then stop the juice. Yes, 6 months later he’ll have little or nothing to show for it, especially since, as a beginner to cycling, he probably doesn’t know enough about coming off correctly (ancillary drug use) to preserve as much muscle as possible.

      But if you take someone who’s been juicing on and off for years, he is permanently retaining a significant chunk of the muscle he built with the aid of the juice. Dan Duchaine, who was way ahead of his time, said way back in ’82 that if a guy manages to hold on to his new muscle for 6 months at least, he’ll hold on to most of it permanently. I can’t completely vouch for that, but he was going in the right direction if my own case is any indication.

      In the last seventeen years of training I did about an equal number of cycles, maybe a bit less. Some were short 6 week things, some were quite lengthy. I haven’t really trained at all since ’09, just a few half-hearted sessions occasionally. Right now I’m around 210 lbs LEAN (not total… lean), and seventeen years ago I was about 150 lbs lean. Out of those 60 lbs lean gain, I’m gonna credit steroids with about half — 30 lbs, and the other 30 lbs I would’ve gained anyway. At my biggest I had maybe another 20 lbs lean.

      You do NOT lose everything when you stop being gung-ho in the gym, not if you managed to remain “big” a good part of the time, and to do so does not require being “on” all the time… it requires knowledge (like how to come off, as I said above, not to mention knowledge of nutrition and training) and serious training for a number of years, whether “on” or, more importantly, off.

      • Michael, my new husband has been on and off for years, and he’s 28, and I’m slowly trying to understand more and more about steroids for this use. Your comments sound similar to his, and I am curious as to your honest opinion on the risks and potential consequences of using this way and for so many years. It’s hard for me to find an intelligent user who will honestly share with me the cons of using. Thanks so much in advance!

        • The potential consequences of running steroids in the long run are very exaggerated. It depends on how much you use. I doubt your husband is using a bodybuilders amount and even if he did: Take a look on Arnold he is in great shape after 25-30 years of massive steroid use, he was even born with a heart defect.

          Only one former Mr. Olympia has died(World championship in bodybuilding) Sergio Oliva, died at age 71. Not a bad age for someone using massive amounts for ages?

          If you don’t abuse oral drugs, but keep to relatively moderate injections say 600-500mg and having some periods of less to clean the system it’s not much to worry about.

      • Actually, Dan Duchaine said THIS is in 1995:

        “…At least when you stop steroids, it takes a year or more for all those gains to completely disappear….”

        (Found in Duchaine’s reply when critiquing the effectiveness of IFG-1, at the end of Duchaine’s answer to the first question in this interview:

        Duchaine’s thought that “after stopping steroids, one can keep most of the gains made while on steroids” needs to be kept in context of his implication that typical (what he defines as) proper steroid use involves a long-term lifestyle of on-steroids then off-steroids then on-steroids cycles. As he states in the opening sentence of Chapter Twelve of his 1989 “Underground Steroid Handbook II”, the chapter entitled, “Getting Off Steroids”, “…Even though it’s possible to use anabolic steroids all year long and still maintain one’s health, there are a number of reasons why an athlete should stop using steroids for a while….”

        Meaning, Duchaine’s advice for post-cycle therapy to minimize loss concerned steroid-users who might go off steroids FOR A WHILE. Duchaine never said that anyone can keep most of their gains if they quit using steroids then NEVER use them again.

        Myself, ever the skeptical 59-year-old guy, a lifelong-drug-free bodybuilder for over 40 years since age 16, would like to know details about your frame structure (your height, ankle circumference, and wrist circumference), the age at which you began those seventeen years of training and your bodyweight at that point, your current age, and, your total bodyweight at the point when your lean mass is 210 lbs. I’m not questioning your sincerity nor your honesty, but, because some overlooked considerations can cloud outcomes, I’d need to know those details before I could judge for myself whether your current lean mass is due to the long-term after-effects of earlier steroid use.

        • To be clear here, I am NOT advocating either steroids or Dan Duchaine. However, through the decades, I’ve observed some of Duchaine’s statements being distorted (probably unintentionally) and misunderstood.
          If Duchaine is going to be quoted or referenced at all in a discussion, then it seems important to be accurate about what he actually said.

          Also, it’s important to realize that Duchaine changed his conclusions as he accumulated further data and experience. What he stated later about a point is not necessarily what he stated originally about that point. What Ducahine advised in, say, 1980 is not necessarily what he finally advised in, say, 1995. Therefore, it’s essential to be sure what’s being quoted or referenced is his final conclusion about a point of drug science, not an earlier conclusion which he himself would later acknowledge was erroneous.

    • When used properly there is minimal side effects. If you do 3 cycles and keep working out you WILL keep ~80% of the mass. People dont understand that a lot of it is water weight. Thats why they go into the cutting phase, to drop all the water weight and looked cut the fuck up.

      • “…If you do 3 cycles and keep working out you WILL keep ~80% of the mass. People dont understand that…”

        People don’t understand that other specifics cloud the cause of long-term gains. One of those specifics is the use of steroids in a person’s first year or so of dedicated weight training.

        This is the scenario: a guy, say age 21, becomes serious about gaining muscle. He’s 5′ 10″, 7″ wrists, 9″ ankles, average genetics for muscle size-and-proportioned. He’s played sports, but never done more than an occasional resistance workout. Now, he begins a good training-eating-and-resting program. With his genetics, he has the potential for naturally gaining 45 pounds of lean mass if he stays consistent with progressive training/proper eating for a continuous 3 to 4 years.
        But, about three months after beginning his training, he starts taking steroids. He does three steroid cycles in the following 18 months, and includes proper post-cycle therapy. That entire time, he’s continuing to consistently train and eat properly. Before the end of two years, he’s gained 45 pounds of lean mass (which with steroids, by the way, is not necessarily typical but neither improbable). At that point, he permanently quits using steroids, but he does continue properly training and eating for another two years. At the end of four years, he carries the same 45 pounds of lean mass.

        Now, if he’d never taken steroids but had trained/eaten correctly for four years, he’d have gained 45 pounds of lean mass naturally by the end of those four years.

        Because he used steroids as a beginner, however, he built 45 pounds of lean mass before the end of two years; then, quitting the steroids, he lost part of his steroid gains. using that “you can keep 80%” idea, he lost 9 pounds of his steroid gains, reducing to 36 pounds of lean mass after the end of two years.

        But, here’s the complication: if he’d never used steroids at all, he would be at 36 pounds of lean mass after the end of two years. A possible rate of natural gain for an average-gened guy is 24 pounds the first year, then 12 pounds the second year, summing to 36 pounds.

        Yet, if he uses 3 cycles of steroids in that first 21 months, gains 45 pounds, quits, then loses the claimed 20%, after the end of 24 months he’s also 36 pounds of lean mass — but he’s assuming that he’s kept 80% of his steroid gains when in fact, he’s kept ZERO percentage of the additional gains from the steroids and is merely holding the lean mass his body would have naturally added without steroids. He believes “See, I kept 80% of my steroid gains even after I quit using.” However, the fact is that, sure three cycles of steroids got him to 45 pounds quicker, but by the time their effects wore off, he ended up with the same lean mass he would have had if he’d never used them. He mistakes what would have been total normal lean gains after the first two years anyway for “80% of gains kept after steroids.”

        I suspect this is the misperception underlying many anecdotes about “keeping 80% of my steroid gains forever” — it’s guys who don’t realize that what they end up with are the gains their genetics would have naturally added anyway without steroids, after more months of proper training/eating. Its corollary is that, IF someone is going to draw conclusions about the long-term effects of steroids after steroids are permanently ceased, then they need to account for the lean mass a person’s genetics would have naturally enabled without steroids in order to assess whether steroid use has actually enabled that person to permanently carry a greater lean mass.

        • Also wrong. You created an imaginary example in your head to illustrate your point, but it’s just that: imaginary. With the aid of steroids it would not take nowhere near 2 years of training to pack on 45 lbs of muscle.

          This means you can’t say that steroid gains after 2 years would be equivalent if they had just naturally trained (and 45lbs on two years natty is also unrealistic and would give you top 1% genetics). In fact, for any given interval, your steroid progress will be about 3x faster. Even if you lose 20% after the cycle you’re still way ahead.

          • Not sure what you’re arguing against…where do I state in my post that, “…steroid gains after 2 years would be equivalent if they had just naturally trained…”?

            To the contrary, I stated, “… With his genetics, he has the potential for naturally gaining 45 pounds of lean mass if he stays consistent with progressive training/proper eating for a continuous 3 to 4 years.
            But, about three months after beginning his training, he starts taking steroids. He does three steroid cycles in the following 18 months, and includes proper post-cycle therapy. That entire time, he’s continuing to consistently train and eat properly. Before the end of two years, he’s gained 45 pounds of lean mass…”

            Nowhere did I state he could gain 45 pounds of lean mass naturally (meaning, drug-free) in two years.

            And, nowhere did I state he couldn’t have gained 45 pounds of lean mass in far less than two years while using steroids (since the rate of steroid gains depends upon dosages) — my implication was simply that the dosages he used for three cycles (assuming 16-week cycles, including tapering weeks) built 45 pounds of lean in less than two years. Heck, of course he could even have packed on far more than 45 pounds of lean mass before the end of two years if he was using higher weekly dosages.

            But, if he’d gained 45 pounds before the end of two years using steroids, quit steroids, then kept only 80% of that 45 pounds, consequently he’d have 36 pounds of lean left — and, it IS possible for an average-gened guy who trains and eats correctly to have gained 36 pounds of lean mass naturally in about two years. So, NO — after he’s lost that 20% of steroid gains he ISN’T any further ahead than if he’d simply trained naturally, since either way he ends up with 36 pounds of lean mass.

            No argument, steroids temporarily built him “way ahead” of time to 45 pounds, and therefore let him quickly have the body he’d otherwise needed to wait about four years to have (since it’d take him about four years to naturally build to his genetic limit of 45 pounds of lean). But, in the long run, as far as how much lean mass he finally ended up carrying, those steroid cycles did not put him “way ahead”.

            Therefore, my point : if, after four years, he believes those 45 pounds of lean he’s now carrying were possible only because he took steroids for three cycles in his first two years…believes that “keeping 80% of those steroid gains” are what has enabled him to carry 45 pounds of lean mass four years later…and believes that he’d now carry less than 45 pounds if he’d only trained naturally…then, he’s the one imagining things. He’s not carrying 45 pounds after four years because “he kept 80% of his steroid gains”; rather, he’s carrying 45 pounds after four years because 45 pounds is what his genetics naturally allow him to build,

  4. So I’ve been doing 5×5 for quite a while now. My arms have actually gotten big (still fat so not where I wanna be yet) but I think mostly my arms both delts and biceps got my spouse to stop doing the stupid bodybuilding stuff and is now 5x5ing it with me. I think his expectations are in line with what they should be now, but no I never would have guessed roids would make you grow even if you weren’t working out! Crazy.

    Thanks you’ve helped a lot in all of your info.

    • Glad to hear it.

      And yeah, the muscle building effects of steroids/drugs are downplayed all the time, often by the people who use them and don’t want it to seem like it’s giving them any real advantage.

      For example, on more than one occasion I’ve heard people who are using compare the effects to that of the supplement creatine. As soon as I finish laughing in their face, I tell them to check out the study I mention in this article.

  5. I have done so many different programs and have great result from some of the programs but I seem to lost track of which one is actually working and which one isn’t….do you think this statement(from the big guy at my gym) is true” how big you are going to get depend on your genetic, no matter how hard you work, this is as big as you will get” do you agree with this statement, because I really really want to get bigger, naturally and always keep my diet in check. thanks so much

    • There is definitely a genetic limit each person has in terms of how much muscle they can gain naturally. This is a fact. But having said that, how hard you work and how correctly you train and eat still definitely matters.

      Your genetics might determine your natural potential, but what you do still determines whether you’ll reach that potential and how long it will take you to do it.

      • This is a great point. I just turned 40 and I’m just starting (naturally) to build more muscle, so I have no plans on trying to compete with guys who are 20 and using steroids. I began a few months ago by changing my eating habits; then got back into running. I wasn’t morbidly obese, but at 5′ 10 1/2″ I was about 200 lbs and it was NOT lean muscle πŸ™‚

        Now that I’ve been running for about 4 months I recently switched to cycling because it’s part of my commute. I’m around 175 lbs now and feeling much better about my appearance. I’m ready now to add some reasonable weight training and conditioning into my routine, so I talked to a buddy who is a fitness trainer at a kettlebell gym so I’m going to work with him.

        Seeing guys walking around have a huge amount of bulk is sometimes discouraging; but instead of measuring myself against that, I just want to focus on being fit with a decent amount of strength and solid core. My goal is to be in the best shape of my life according to my personal potential. Starting at age 40 πŸ™‚

  6. Hi
    great reading your clearly written articles on training methods and routine.
    I’m a 46yr old male, have gone thru three stages of training in my life.first was when I was 35 for two years, trained hard with friends and toned up nicely but could not get like those ripped guys ( prob using drugs). Then when the gym closed I stopped,at 40 started in a gym training on my own using book” body for life” techniques and enjoyed it as well as making small gains using creatine, whey protien and eating well, then got bored and was going purely for the sauna and steam after a very short workout resulting in me closing the account and giving up. Now after 4 years of not training and eating anything I liked I have grown a bit of a gut and decided in January to turn things around, now go 2 times a week and have tried the Dukan diet which has worked fantastically, I’m now training really hard but know even with the creatine and protien drinks I’m not going to get huge growth as my main problem is lack of testosterone!!
    Apart from looking over the fence at the easy road to get fast muscle gains is there a natural approach to getting my level of testosterone up which would help me make better natural muscle growth gains.
    Thanks for your time reading this.

    • Unfortunately, the answer here is pretty much a big no. Beyond just eating/training correctly, getting enough sleep and blah blah blah, there’s no real methods of naturally increasing testosterone levels to any degree that actually matters.

      • I’d like to commend your honesty. Not many are willing to give beginners the straight dope; I’m impressed. To all… listen to this man! The sport needs more like him.

        Keep up the good work and best of luck.

      • I would add that even there isn’t an efficient-worthy way to increase the testosterone levels naturally, there are certain tips that could help increase the levels considerably without using drugs;

        – Consume Zinc: Under the toxicity level, zinc stimulates the hormone who generates testosterone and also have plenty benefits to the skin and brain (neuronal synapsis)

        – Consume Vitamin D: works the same way as Zinc.

        – Diet: if you are training this is surely something you already do, but eating healthy fat, eliminating the sugar and reducing the stress will help to increase the testosterone levels.

        – Sleep as much as you as possible.

        – Quit smoking (believe, some bodybuilders do)

        – Avoid Soy supplements and foods; this will help to increase estrogen.

        – Reduce alcohol; put the testosterone hormone “on rest”


        • Regrettably, while doing some or all of these things might help increase total and free testosterone a little, that “little” is not enough to make a substantial difference in how much mass a man is able to build and sustain.

          As men age into their middle forties, the gradual natural decline in testosterone production due to aging commonly arrives at a point which significantly impacts muscle size. Even lifestyle drug-free bodybuilding — in which intense resistance training, proper nutrition, proper rest, lower bodyfat, limitation or avoidance of alcohol and tobacco, and perhaps suntanning (the best “source” of Vit D) resist the effects of aging — cannot prevent that eventual substantial drop in testosterone.

          Frankly, the only known solution for restoring T levels to normal, natural levels is prescription Testosterone Replacement Therapy. TRT for that purpose is similar to prescription glasses for restoring eyesight diminished by aging. Proper TRT keeps T levels under the normal limit of what the male body can produce naturally — TRT won’t give you bigger arms than you you could have at age 26, but it can restore your testosterone level to where you might build arms as big as you had at age 26.

  7. i was told or heard that someone that used to cycle pretty heavy for a year or 2 and then stopped going to the gym and stopped all roid use and had a shitty diet will cover most of the gains by fat. But i heard that if they started to have good nutrition again and started to work out that it was easier for them to get results and faster? have you ever heard of this? basically several years later they could shed fat faster and easier and have good gains in a matter of weeks. Not sure if this is just BS or if there is some truth behind it. He also told me he is no longer using roids anymore but his doc did give him androgel and he said he has seen gains with it as well. I dont buy this but i guess anything is possible.

  8. I applaud you for putting out such realistic information! I’m 41 years old and have been training on and off since the age of 25. I’ve come to the same conclusion on almost everything you have on this site. I’ve even hurt my elbow with straight bar curls…. (I am coming back from that now…….and yes I’ve switched to DB and EZ bar curls exclusively as soon as I was able to do curls again.)

    I have a manual labor job so joint recuperation and overall recovery time for me can be tough. I’ve come to the same conclusions on those body builder routines and use a 4 day upper lower myself. (weekends off…….need 2 days for the joints to recover when I don’t get stuck using them at work also.) I’ve also come to the same conclusion on the 3 day full body routines…..I only do them if I’m just starting a comeback from a LONG layoff.

    To anyone reading this message, this guy knows his stuff you can’t go wrong with his book! (and if you actually knew this stuff mostly like I did…….you are already advanced……and there aren’t many of us πŸ™‚

    • Ha, thanks for the compliments man.

      It seems that if you do something long enough with a focus on keeping what works/helps and avoiding what doesn’t work/hurts, we arrive at very similar conclusions.

  9. I trained naturally for many years. I started out at 155lb. at a height of 6’0″ and now stand at 5’1/4″ and amazingly still able to put on weight reaching 242lb. at 50 years old! I exercise for 1 hour Monday through Saturday. About 8-12 varying exercises daily with Sundays off.
    Around July, 2011, I had an urology checkup and I found out that my test level was very low, ED which I knew I had, and BPH to boot, but I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. He said, “I’m going to place you on TRT at 200mg/ml. E2W”. “OK doc” The dosage now is 300mg/ml. E2W.
    Since I do my own injections at home and see my doctors every 2-3 months, I’ve increased the dosage to 500mg/ml. every week. Erectile dysfunction is almost gone and only returns when I take too much of a certain medication or if I had too much to drink. I don’t have to use viagra nor levitra anymore like I did months earlier. My Test level is over 1,500ng/dl. and my prostate gland has shrunk down to normal, according to the last doctor visit, and my PSA is 1.20ng/ml. which ain’t bad for an old guy in his fifties.
    I don’t see my usage of testosterone enanthate as steroid usage, since I get it from a clinic, and I like to think of it as being used for medicinal purposes only.
    I like your articles. Keep up the good work.

    • Dreas says, December 3, 2012 at 6:35 AM, “My Test level is over 1,500ng/dl.”

      As a 59-year-old guy, I advocate Testosterone Replacement Therapy for guys past age 50. I see TRT as equivalent to being prescribed, say, eyeglasses to compensate for age-reduced vision.

      However, in fairness to medical protocol, TRT is prescribed to restore testosterone levels to what’s considered the normal range for healthy (lean) adult males up to age 40, the total serum testosterone range has a ceiling of 1197 ng/Dl. This means any number higher than 1197 is supraphysiological — that is, unnaturally high.

      Also, the typical prescription is 100 mg/ml injected every week or 200 mg/ml injected every other week. Depending on what subsequent frequent blood monitoring reveals, the dosage might be adjusted, so 150 mg/ml per each week or 300 mg/ml per every other week might be warranted.

      You wrote that, “I’ve increased the dosage to 500mg/ml. every week.”

      Assuming you didn’t make a wording or typing error, a dosage of 500 mg/ml per each week is HIGH. Bodybuilders taking steroid stacks in the mid-1980s would routinely use 400 mg/ml per every week (along with small doses of oral steroid taken daily). The 1996 study AW describes in the article evidenced the effectiveness of steroids for building muscle in ten weeks dosed the subjects with 600 mg/ml per each week.

      So, 500 mg/ml injected every week far exceeds what is defined as TRT.

  10. It is rare to hear the science put so plainly. Thanks for a well-organized and punchy articleI. I was surprised to hear that steroid users can nearly double their (already huge) sedentary gains with a proper workout. That sets up some unhealthy expectations in the general pop for sure. Now I am wonder, are there are any good markers for a drug-free trainee to predict his or her realistic potential for muscle gains (e.g., physical traits, ethnicity, genes, etc.). Does anyone here know of a few?

      • super to read about.
        some commented about what happens after the use. and you said that you can keep a significant part of your muscle gain after the use.

        just a comment. the same is true for people in endurance sports. if you use medication to increase your blood value for example you will be training with this higher values. during competition you will of course be back at normal blood levels, but the training you have put in, made at a higher effort level, will still be beneficial for you, compared to not using any medication. studies say it can give you an enhancing effect for months…

  11. Dude, this article is pure gold!

    Now it all makes sense… I was starting to wonder how come guys in my gym train using bodybuilding split routines with high reps and light weight and still be ripped and huge.
    I assume, this falls under the category of group #2. Their routine is like doing nothing at all but their gains are superior to a natural lifter anyways.

    Good job, thanks for sharing!

  12. I’d rather gain 4 lbs naturally than fuck up my hormonal balance and risk health problems later in life (this shit is BARELY understood at this point).

    Or risk getting arrested.

    Or have to pay 6 grand a year on gear.

    Maybe it’s b/c my penis isn’t small and I have a healthy enough self image (whereas most meatheads who use the stuff have Napoleon Complex aka small penises or Body Dysmporphia).

    Also, the ridiculous stress it must take to have to continuously use the stuff must be nauseating. You’d have to be pretty damn self involved and narcissistic to keep that kind of self serving retarded shit up. Meanwhile you have to “maintain” by adding 4 or 5 OTHER drugs to counteract the side effects.

    No thanks. Not playing Frankenstein with myself.

    • You can’t gain 4 lbs naturally because it seems you’ve never lifted a weight in your life.

      I can’t get arrested because I get my stuff from a pharmacy, over the counter, in a first world country. The joys of not living in america.

      Again, I don’t pay 6 grand because I don’t live in america where everything is a rip off.

      Aw, so cute. I can assure you that my penis and balls are at a very good size even after my two cycles. Nice try though. Nor do I have body dysmorphia. I’ve been lifting weights since I was 13 because I started playing football (soccer) around that time, and I hit my natural ceiling at 20.

      It’s not ridiculous and stressful at all. As a university student pursuing a degree in chem engineering, I can use myself as an example.

      Stay mad my friend.

      • You will not see many of the effects until you are in your 40s. You should seriously reconsider taking steroids and any other performance enhancing drugs. Why take the risk ? For what ? To look good in the mirror for yourself ? Get off them now or before you know it, 20 years will pass and you will have the side effects that you read about, then it’s too late.

  13. Thanks for the article man. I agree with everything. It’s like I wrote the article myself. As someone who has been lifting for 15 years without the use of steroids, I know what you’re talking about.
    I see it all the time. Newbies enter the gym and go straight to the big guy who’s clearly juicing for advice. Mr Juice will talk about his workout and his diet but will fail to mention that he juices. The clueless Newbie will train with mr Juice but he will not see the same results, not even close. Most newbies are completely clueless.

  14. Wow I am really fascinated about the proven study results. Especially considering the group on the juice and not training still gained more than a natural trainer.

    I’m not a big guy but I am muscular for my size and build, I’m still more muscular than a lot of the guys I know on the juice and I still un sure how that is possible.

    Seems like most young guys like me just want to find the fast, easy results without doing things the hard earned way.

    Really good info, awesome stuff. So much deceptive info and advice coming from individuals who lie about steroid use.

    • “…but I am muscular for my size and build, I’m still more muscular than a lot of the guys I know on the juice and I still un sure how that is possible.”

      Not all guys respond the same to steroids; along with the genetics for naturally building muscle, there’re what might be called “drug genetics”, meaning, the subset of guys’ genetics which cause a guy to respond better to worse to even identical stacks and doses of drugs.

      Not all guys are properly informed about which steroids to take and how to effectively take them. Meaning, some can take steroids yet get inferior results.

      And, since steroids are, in some nations, bought illegally from black markets so unverifiable as to effectiveness, some “steroids” are weak or not even steroids at all but merely useless “blanks”.

      So, if you happen to be a guy with better-than-average genetics for building muscle and you’re training properly, and comparing yourself to a guy with, say, average genetics who’s using steroids yet not responding well to the drugs for the reasons above nor training properly either, then you will be getting better gains than them.

  15. If you gain 10 pounds of muscle a year naturally,you just have to look at a 10pound beef steak and you will actually realise its a lot of meat. Stay natural. Good article.

  16. Firstly this is a wonderful article and the fact you answer posts still is A+++.

    What im curious is more how much muscle you lose after a cycle with proper post cycle drugs. and how much testosterone production you lose.

  17. Hi AWorkoutRoutine,

    Great post (and site) – very informative and non-judgemental; just giving the facts straight.

    I have one question – can steroids actually give gains more than is naturally-genetically possible? For example if you can only put on 25lbs of muscle in yoour adult life, can steroids make you go beyond that level?


  18. Seems like too small a study to me to be an end all be all. I mean 43 guys seems like there could be a lot of variables to accout for the gains such as more in the steriod non workout guys having labor jobs or the natural workout guys being hard gainers. Ive only been lifting for a year and have made good gains about 20 pounds of lean muscle on a so so deit and drinking too much alcohol, but I know I have good genetics my dad and his brothers are all bigger guys. I get guys that have been lifting 2 or 3 years longer then me but are smaller asking “what are you doing” and arctiles like this are going make them say he is definitely juicing.

    • First, 20lbs of muscle for a beginner in their first year of lifting is good, semi-normal progress, especially for someone who has good genetics. Every year after this will be significantly less.

      Second, most of the people I’ve seen say they gained “about 20 pounds of lean muscle on a so so diet and drinking too much alcohol” actually gained 5-10lbs of muscle and a bunch of fat they’re just calling “lean muscle.” Not that this is what you did, but I’m just pointing it out.

      Third, no one is calling this study the end all/be all. It’s more just “the best we have.”

      Fourth, who cares if people see this study and think your natural progress came with the help of drugs? Consider it a compliment.

      Fifth, in this industry, a person will actually be a lot better off (and fall for a lot less bullshit) if they see someone make amazing progress and think “steroids may have played a role here.”

      • “Fifth, in this industry, a person will actually be a lot better off (and fall for a lot less bullshit) if they see someone make amazing progress and think ‘steroids may have played a role here.’ ”

        AMEN. As a 59-year-old guy who’s been lifelong-drug-free bodybuilding since 1972 when I began at age 16, I know through decades of observation that seeing someone make NATURAL “amazing progress” is about as likely as seeing someone win the grand prize in a million-dollar lottery.

        Regrettably, since the advent of steroids into weight training around 1960, anyone making amazing progress has to be assumed “guilty-until-proven-innocent”.

    • In 1995, another study evidenced that anabolic steroids cause hypertrophy (muscle growth) in rabbits which were kept immobilized — the rabbits treated with steroids were severely restricted from moving yet added substantial mass and strength anyway:

      “…At 4 and 8 weeks, wet weights, dry weights, and contractile forces were significantly greater in both the casted and noncasted tibialis anterior muscle-tendon units of the treated group. Dry weights and casted contractile forces of the extensor digitorum longus muscle unit at 4 weeks and all measures at 8 weeks were greater in the treated rabbits than in controls. These results are contrary to previously accepted views that anabolic-androgenic steroid use leads to muscle hypertrophy only in conjunction with strength training.”

  19. ” You can go to the gym and bang your head into a wall for 45 minutes (…) ”
    Pure gold. I laughed for a solid 5 minutes and got an ab workout along with amazing information. Thank you for putting all this knowledge online and making sure that absolutely random people all around the world achieve their goals and work towards greatness (Did I make you shed a tear?)

  20. Thanks, it is very informative article.

    My friend has been using roids for around a year. He told me about the problems he faced when he took the injections in the first month. He got tiny pimples at his back. He was started having mood swings. He told his trainer about his experience his trainer reduced the dosage of roids from the next month. Until now, he is now in very good shape also a very functioning body.

    But after researching on the Internet about steroids usage effects, I better not use it. Because I also have blood pressure disease.

  21. I think it’s great to know how much more muscle you can build with steroids over natural. Still, even though steroids is off the charts I prefer to go natural all the way. For me, to build 10 or more lbs. my first year and about 5 in year two completely changed my life.

    And yes, Dan Duchaine was keep most of the muscle if you’ve had it for at least 6 months!

  22. Hi, Thanks for the great article! Can you also please post an article about steroid side effects? I watched bigger, leaner , stronger documentary and it seems that there aren’t many side effects to steroids, and the media has overblown steroid side effects out of proportion. I mean most of the pro-sportsmen in any sport use juice, Olympic athletes juice and so did armstrong. Surely, There must be something more to steroids than all this negativity surrounding it? I’m still of the opinion that steroids are only for pro-bodybuilders and professional sportsmen, If you aren’t making money off of it, why put your body on the line for nothing? Please reply πŸ™‚

  23. Very good read and interesting study. Since steroids have the capacity of significantly increasing one’s recovery, would it be safe to assume an athlete using steroids can practically train every muscle group for more than a natural is capable of? Does frequency even matter as much in this case? Wouldn’t they be better off doing more frequency than some bodybuilding split?

    • Drugs definitely allow people to train with and recover from significantly more volume and/or frequency and/or intensity than natural trainees. No doubt whatsoever about that. It’s why stuff that doesn’t work at all for naturals still works extremely well for steroid users. Once the drugs are there, the specifics of training become a minor detail.

      And while I don’t have any personal experience with it, the better those minor details are designed, the better those results will be.

  24. I’m not a bodybuilder and don’t care about the look. I just want to strengthen myself, does this mean that generally one who uses drugs can gain better power and strength in fighting than who doesn’t?

  25. Do you know if the control group ate in a caloric surplus? In general, did they all have a caloric surplus?

    I’m curious if the trained naturals gained the same amount of total weight as those who trained and took test.

    Do you have a link to the study. I’m curious if they all gained equal amount of weight, but some groups had higher percentage of fat gained vs muscle gained, etc… I can’t see a natural gaining 4 pounds of muscle In 10 weeks without being in a caloric surplus. Also I can’t see how a control group can have no changes without eating at maintenance….

  26. Wow! I have read so many forums recently and this one was brilliant!!!! Hitting the head again the wall for 45mins really did make me laugh out loud!! Hahahaha

  27. The article implies another aspect contributing to the confusion about what’s possible for the average-gened, lifelong PEDrug-free bodybuilder.

    Bodybuilders using steroids realize they’re gains are in part due to the drugs, but — they often do not realize how MUCH of their gains are due to the steroids. They might assume that their training methods and eating protocols play the bigger role in attaining their gains when in fact it’s the DRUGS that play the bigger role.

    Using the data from the study, the training-only group gained four pounds of lean mass while the training-plus-steroids group gained thirteen pounds of lean mass. Tha means that an average of NINE pounds of the thirteen pounds of the training-plus-steroids group were due to the drugs.

    A steroid-using bodybuilder is often unaware that about 2/3 of gains can be from the steroids, and may attribute most of the gains to whatever training/diet protocols are being used (similar to what US Olympic weight lifters around 1960-62 thought when they experienced progress while taking the recently-introduced steroid, Dianabol). Being unaware of how much of the gains are due to the steroids, that bodybuilder may be sincere when answering questions in the gym, ignorantly downplaying the effect of the drugs, and telling others that “it’s because of the way I train/eat”.

  28. An example of how effective steroids are probably underlies the following.

    In the 2016 film, “Dawn of Justice”, Ben Affleck plays Batman. According to IMDb’s “Trivia” section for that movie, “Ben Affleck gained an additional 30lbs of muscle and reached 8% body fat for his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman.”

    Casting for that movie began about June, 2013. Filming was essentially completed by mid-May 2014. Even IF Affleck’s scenes were filmed nearly last, that means he had LESS THAN TWELVE MONTHS to gain that 30 pounds of muscle and cut to that 8% bodyfat.

    IF the claims for his muscle gains and bodyfat cut are true, and an over-forty-years-old Affleck accomplished them in less than twelve months, then, unless he’s an extremely rare genetic outlier, only one method could have enabled such results: steroids and other PEDs.

  29. Hi Jay,

    You talked about creating unrealistic expectations, and I realized that I really don’t know what to expect, in terms of the way someone looks, from a successful muscle building story with no drugs or supplements. Would you have one from someone reliable to share?

    For all I know, all of these fitness magazines men/women could be steroids users. I have no real parameter…

    Best regards!

    • One suggestion for gaining at least an idea of what’s possible naturally is to internet search for the many photos of the top physiques from BEFORE 1955 (nineteen fifty-five). Prior to 1955, steroids aren’t known to have been used by weight trainers or bodybuilders, so you can assume that what they look like is 100% natural.

      You’ll be seeing the TOP physiques of that pre-1955 era, of course. Those were the guys then with the best genetics for developing muscle. Unless you happen to have their same rare genetics, you can’t build as proportionately muscular a physique as theirs, but you can get an idea of what the MAXIMUM you could ever look like is if you did have genes like theirs.

      With that general idea in mind, you can ‘”scale downwards” to form some idea of what you, as someone with probably average-genes, might look like after about four years of consistent proper training and eating.

  30. Could you possibly send a link to the source of your information. Would like to see more confines of the research.

  31. Here’s a 2001 study which further evidences the substantial muscle-building effects of supraphysiological doses of testosterone when the recipients do not do any resistance training in conjunction with the administration of testosterone:

    “…. 61 eugonadal men, 18–35 yr, were randomized to one of five groups to receive monthly injections of a long-acting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist, to suppress endogenous testosterone secretion, and weekly injections of 25, 50, 125, 300, or 600 mg of testosterone enanthate for 20 wk….Fat-free mass increased dose dependently in men receiving 125, 300, or 600 mg of testosterone weekly (change +3.4, 5.2, and 7.9 kg, respectively)….This was a double-blind, randomized study….The participants were healthy men, 18–35 yr of age, with prior weight-lifting experience and normal testosterone levels….Energy and protein intakes were standardized at 36 kcal Β· kgβˆ’1 Β· dayβˆ’1 and 1.2 g Β· kgβˆ’1 Β· dayβˆ’1, respectively….The participants were asked not to undertake strength training or moderate-to-heavy endurance exercise during the study. These instructions were reinforced every 4 wk.”

    For general information…in prescription Testosterone Replacement Therapy, the standard dose is 100 mg per week; that dose has been found to keep serum T up near but not over the maximum of the range conisdered “normal” for men. So, the 125, 300 and 600 mg doses were higher than the standard TRT does.

    3.4 kg = 7.5 lbs
    5.2 kg = 11.5 lbs
    7.9 kg = 17.4 lbs

    Meaning, a guy sitting on his ass for 20 weeks but taking a single injection of 600 mg of testosterone could increase his lean mass by about 17 pounds.

    • …also significant is that the data in this study shows the ones who gained that average of 17 pounds of lean mass on 600 mg of T per week gained ZERO fat mass in those 20 weeks:

      “Fat mass, measured by underwater weighing, increased significantly in men receiving the 25- and 50-mg doses but did not change in men receiving the higher doses of testosterone.”

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