college bodybuilder tips: the steroids question

Dear K***,

So you want to know my thoughts about steroids.

Well, there is a point in time when every new bodybuilder entertains the question (to one degree or another): “Should I try steroids?”  Some people dismiss it right away, some people do a little more research and consider it more seriously. But for most people who are into bodybuilding, it usually crosses their minds at least once. So it’s a normal question to ask.

I’ve never used steroids, and I personally don’t recommend them.

But everyone is different, and everyone needs to make up his own mind on the issue. Plus, I’m not the kind of person who believes in “abstinence only” sex education, if you know what I mean. So I’m not going to tell you “don’t use steroids.” Instead, I’m going to tell you some of the things that you should think about, and keep in mind, when you are considering this question for yourself.

First of all, the entire point of steroids is to push you beyond what you can accomplish naturally. So it’s pointless to even think about using steroids unless you’ve really maxed out what is possible through diet and exercise. If you have gone, say, a year and been absolutely perfect—that means perfect exercise routine, perfect diet, perfect form—and you have just hit that “ceiling” where you are not seeing gains, then you might want to think about using steroids. If you have not done this, then using steroids is (to be blunt) a waste of your money. If you haven’t had a “perfect” year of being extremely disciplined about your diet and exercise routine, then you simply don’t know what your body’s limits really are. You don’t know how much of the additional gains you get would be from the steroids, and how much you would have been able to accomplish on your own. So be patient, bite the bullet, and force yourself to be disciplined first. Otherwise you’re throwing your money away.

Second of all, doing steroids is a seriously involved process. If you are going to do it right, it involves sticking to very precise schedules for specific periods of time, pushing yourself extra hard on your workouts, and maintaining complete discipline in your diet. So make sure you have the time, energy, and mind-set to dedicate yourself to it.

What happens if you do it half-assed?  Well, it’s easy to find scary websites about possible negative side-effects of steroid use, so I won’t bore you with that here. Go Google it. But the point is: if you take steroids, but you don’t keep up with the diet that you need, and you don’t push yourself extra hard at the gym to take advantage of the boost your system is getting, then you will get only a fraction of the positive effects of the steroids, but you will still get all of the negative side-effects.

The beautiful, rounded, tight and massive muscles that look so great aren’t caused by the steroids alone: they are caused by a combination of taking the steroids and working out harder than you ever have before.  If you take the steroids but don’t work out any harder, then you won’t see the full positive results.  But any side-effects will still be the same. So to make it worth it, you need to really center your life around eating and sleeping and working out. Make sure you are ready and able to do that.

Also make sure that whoever you get it from is knowledgeable and reliable. I don’t have any “tips” about getting it, but whether you are talking to a friend or a trainer at your gym or anyone else, please just make sure the person knows what the hell he’s talking about. There are a lot of different types of steroids, and there are also other things that you do while you are doing steroids to counter-balance the effects of the steroids on your system. A person who is knowledgeable will talk with you about what your goals are, and how much time you are interested in doing it for. A person who is knowledgeable will recommend an entire schedule and tell you when to do what and for how long. Do yourself a favor, and if you decide to take the step to do it, make sure you’re getting your stuff and your information from someone who knows what he’s doing. If he’s really organized, he may even help you make up an excel spreadsheet with a detailed calendar and schedule to go through.  (Yes… it will be that involved!)

It’s also going to be expensive. I don’t have much more to say about that, but just letting you know: that may also be a factor to consider when thinking about whether to “take the plunge”.

Finally, let’s say you’ve done all of your research, you’ve made up your calendar, you’ve saved up the money, and you’re going to do a cycle.  You should decide ahead of time how long it will be after you’ve finished your first cycle before you even consider doing another. It should be a good long time.  Remember, while doing the steroids you will have more energy, you will have more confidence, you may feel a little invincible.  It will feel awesome.  When you stop, you will miss that feeling. You may be tempted to get back into it again as soon as you can.

Pete ManeosBut this is the biggest psychological risk of steroids. The feeling can be emotionally addictive. The positive feedback of seeing the quick progress that you get can be mentally addictive. The culture can be addictive. If you start hanging out with people who are also doing steroids, you will always be looking at people who are bigger. When you are always around it, you will think that it’s normal, and you will want that, too.

And since you are getting bigger so quickly, your self-image will never be quite caught up with where your body is.  When you are 200 lbs you will still feel the way you did when you were 180; when you are 220, you will still look in the mirror and see a guy who is 200. This is why there are so many guys who use steroids who get “too big.”  It all happens so quickly, they get really into the emotional rush of the progress they are making, they are hanging out with other bodybuilders, and they don’t even realize how big they have gotten until it’s “beyond” what they originally envisioned.

So think about that in a serious way, too. Do you have the kind of personality that is likely to get caught up in that kind of issue? After you’ve made the decision to do the first cycle, will you talk yourself into doing the second? And the third? Only you can decide the answer to that. I’m only asking the question because that is a question you will need to constantly be vigilant about, if you decide to start.

So those are my thoughts on steroids. For technical stuff, names of things, information about side effects, and all of that, there are plenty of resources on the web that you can use. These tips that I’ve mentioned here are just the things that I don’t see talked about that often, that anyone should think about when they are trying to answer the question, “Should I try steroids?”

Talk to you soon!



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