Anyone involved in the world of bodybuilding, and competitive sport generally, will understand the pressures that go with striving to achieve optimal performance. Sometimes athletes feel they cannot reach their peak without artificially enhancing their powers of recovery from intensive training. One way to speed up this process is through the use of anabolic steroids. In this article we’ll examine what anabolic steroids actually do. In a second article we’ll focus on the dangers associated with steroid use.
The main active ingredient in steroids is testosterone which is well known as the major male hormone. Testosterone affects the body in two ways, either as an anabolic or an androgenic influence. The anabolic action helps build body tissue by increasing lean muscle mass and bone density. The androgenic actions are those that affect secondary sex characteristics in men.
In recent years research has provided some interesting information in relation to testosterone:
1. It affects muscle size through muscle fiber hypertrophy with an increase in the cross-sectional area of muscle fiber.
2. It takes a dose of at least 300 milligrams of testosterone to raise the body’s level above normal.
3. It acts directly on the muscle itself.
4. It stimulates the release of growth hormone.
5. It has an anti-catabolic effect.
From these facts we can deduce that testosterone is an effective aid to muscle building and that it must be taken in significant quantities to have this effect. As far as bodybuilding is concerned the science beyond this is somewhat limited as most users base their steroid regimes on little more than trial and error or the advice of ‘veterans’. Due to the illegal nature of steroid use little scientific data exists to confirm the effectiveness of the many steroid supplements in use.
It is perhaps the tendency of some bodybuilders to use a combination of powerful steroids and other drugs that presents the very real dangers that have sometimes led to tragic conquences.