Steroids: All The Rage?

So the night’s finally drawing to a close, and that cute twink with the big blue eyes plants one last kiss on you before whispering in your ear, “so your place or mine?”. Your confidence is through the roof. That last cycle of juice really helped chisel out your shoulders and chest. You’re a little concerned about the black scars on your neck and back from the acne, but your boy will too drunk to notice them right?

Finally, you close the door to your apartment and push blue eyes up against the wall. You can feel the surge of hormones rushing through your body that must be from that extra set of bicep curls you hammered out at the gym today. As things get hotter, you tighten your grip and kiss him harder, but he tenses up and asks you stop. Stop? Forget that! You worked damn hard for this and you KNOW he wants it. Next thing you know, blue eyes is leaving, and you’re horny, fired up and pissed off…

As a personal trainer I often get asked… “what do you think of steroids?” , and my first response is usually to sigh and shake my head. Ever since Arnold graced American screens in Conan the Barbarian, the image of what a man is has gone from the idea of the athletic football or tennis player to the muscle bound god endlessly pushing stacks of weight on the bench press or lat pulldown machine. In the year 2010 health and fitness seems to be equated to how close you are achieving Taylor Lautner’s 8 pack. The fastest route to these “ideal” athletic bodies is also the most dangerous.

So what are steroids exactly? The term steroid often encompasses a large family of chemical substances, but some of the more commonly used and abused go by the names Anadrol, Dianabol, Deca-Durabolin, Winstrol and Sustanon 250. Steroids are a drug that mimic the effect of the male sex hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. They increase protein synthesis within the cells, which results in the build up of celluar tissue especially in muscle. Commonly taken orally or injected, the motivation for taking steroids is most often a significant increase in lean mass (particularly in the upper body) and a significant decrease in fat mass. Furthermore, steroid use has been shown to increase baseline strength 5-20 %. Sounds great right? A more muscular stronger you? You just have to check out the Trojan Condom boys on pride weekend to see that our community loves muscles. So why wouldn’t you use steroids? Well lets look at some of the not so positive effects.

You can no doubt deduce from the opening paragraph that some of the effects of recreational steroid use are less than ideal. The joke about shrinking testes (including infertility) and “bitch tits” are well known and definitely based in fact. But these prominent physical side effects are just the tip of the iceberg. Lets explore some of the lesser known effects of steroids. While it’s not always at the forefront of some of our more youthful minds, anabolic steroids have the capacity to greatly alter cholesterol levels, increasing low density lipo-protein (bad cholesterol) and decreasing high density lipo-protein (good cholesterol). What does this mean for you? Nothing too terrifying. Just the early onset of angina, heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Severe cases of overuse have shown to lead to irregular growth in the heart’s left ventricle, resulting in full cardiac arrest. Another major ‘beneath the surface’ effect of steroid use is changes in personality, most studies report severe mood swings, severe aggression, and in some cases depression to the point of attempted suicide. Perhaps you think sacrificing your heart and personality are worth the risk of a fast-track to an Adonis body? A closer look at some of the physical side effects start to show the cracks in your chiselled, rippling muscles.

The increase in testosterone leads to over production of the subaceous glands which control the secretion of oil onto the skin, in turn leading to acne, and not the kind of pimples that disappear overnight. Seeing first hand a steroid user’s craterous black scars covering his back and shoulders was enough to make my (usually strong) stomach turn. Conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (regularly produced in the prostate gland and testes) can accelerate the rate of premature baldness for males who are genetically predisposed, and testosterone itself can produce baldness in females. And of course there is the increase in breast tissue in males (known as gyneocomastia). One past steroid user I was speaking with required surgery to have this removed. His health plan was willing to cover the cost of the surgery, but not the extra $3000 it then cost to have his chest reconstructed.

I wish I could say, like the muscles built from using steroids, that not all the side effects are permanent. Given time your body will begin to return to normal, that testicles will return to normal size, and on a long enough timeline your liver can recover from the damage; one case I read about from a heavy user, resulted in his liver virtually exploding. However, coming off steroids can leave you with grinding pain and debilitating muscle spasms, a ravaged immune system, and severe bursitis.

The second question is usually get asked is “… what if I just do one cycle?”. And after that cycle is done and the results shrink away? One more? Maybe just enough to maintain? When does it end? If you are still seriously considering recreational steroid use for aesthetics after reading the above I urge you, before you take the plunge to speak with your GP or a psychiatrist about muscle dysmorphia and your perspective of yourself and your body. Exercise should be about maximizing our natural potential not gambling with our bodies.

*While the above article focuses primarily on recreational steroid use, it should be noted that used in a medically controlled environment, steroids (or anabolic steroids) can be used to stimulate bone growth and appetite, and treat chronic wasting conditions such as HIV and Cancer.

Submitted by: Timothy Simpson
B.C.R.P.A. Certified Fitness Leader

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    I look around and especially now that I’m actually trying to get in shape and I get so jealous of people and their bodies. And I actually found out that pretty much every single one of them has done or is on the juice.

    It’s tempting, for real it is, but at the end of the day I’m gonna feel better knowing that I did it myself.

    This is a fantastic post. Bravo!

  • Timothy

    Thanks alot Tommy I really appreciate the positive feedback.
    If anything those guys should be looking to you for all the hardwork, discipline and determination you put in to earning your weightloss and fitness goals! Keep up the good work! Earn every rep 😉

  • Wonderful post. Very insightful!

  • Derek Gulkison

    Hard work pays off. No fasttrack

  • Oliver

    Interesting article!

  • Russell

    great article. Thanks!

  • Gear Can Be Good

    While the author does point out the side effects due to OVERUSE, he doesn’t address the controls one can add to their cycle to decrease the chances of these side effects occurring. For the most part, people who have overused and not protected or educated themselves are the cases that make the news, and are part of a minority of recreational steroid users.
    Like any drug, you can mitigate unintended effects though responsible use and education before you start a cycle, and as such it’s should be someone’s first steps if they are considering this is as a viable option for muscle building. Every exercise program advertised, and even the gym’s disclaimers on their contracts indicate that you should “consult your physician before starting…”, but how often are people doing just that? One idea missing was the fact that steroid cycles aren’t a magic bullet, and their effectiveness is dependent upon the amount of work one puts in via exercise.
    Before inciting fear into the minds of the readers, the writer needs to address the fact that running a cycle isn’t a matter of simply finding some steroids, a syringe, and sticking it in to your body. Yes, there are risks involved, but you can protect yourself and still work to get the results you want (with the help of steroids).

  • czahn

    awesome article Timmy! you just made me feel so much better about myself. EARN EVERY REP! FUCK YEAH!

    p.s Gear Can Be Good….you may think your post is educational and insightful. but im sure your dime sized scrotum begs to differ. what a fuckin idiot. get fierce the old fashioned way punk, through hard werk and discipline! shortcuts only lead to even shorter lives.

  • Gear Can Be Good

    🙂 Most of you don’t know the guys you’re getting f*cked by are very likely running cycles. It’s because these side effects you’re all afraid of are infrequent, unless you’re a complete idiot when you’re using.
    Science is progress folks. Hormone regulation works.

  • Ryan

    I also wish that I had the body of many guys I see at the gym, but unlike Tommy D I can’t claim to know that every one of those guys use steroids. Honestly I’ve found that the majority of fit people at the gym are fit because of an athletic background. If you’ve participated in sports since you were a youngster then there’s a good chance you’re more conscious of maintaining a nutritional regiment producing the kind of body many inactively inclined people envy. I highlight the nutritional aspect because ultimately what you put in your body is the number one factor to your visible physique. While steroid abuse will inevitably lead to deleterious effects, supplemental use can result in faster yet completely safe muscle growth. Steroids alone don’t grow muscles out of nowhere, everyone has to work. The guys I know using steroids are using them because their body type doesn’t promote the muscle growth they desire, but all of them still work to maintain a strict diet and exercise regiment. To my knowledge none of them have pinned a blue eyed twink against a wall. People with addictive tendencies are to blame, not the substances they don’t have the discipline to control.

  • Koko

    I’m not going to risk my life with steroids so I can look good at a club with superficial people.

  • RSM

    Thanks Thomas for this post! Steroid-Free Personal Trainer here as well and proud of it! Yes, as we know the new young generation in the Vancouver gay community (age 21-35) is definitly under a steroid epidemic. But why? I understand there is a lot of insecurity some of us are still batteling in our post high school experience but psychologically what is that all about? I think if we could all tone it down in the shallow end and start seeing people for something other then oversized pillows to group a clique with or a heavy cushion to be smothered by, we could engage in a more civilized gay community. I remember 5-10 years ago everyone was either a twink or athletic built. Now it seems a lot of them have turned into the Marshmellow man from Ghostbusters. Now, everyone wants bigger. They wanna be bigger. They wanna date bigger. I don’t know how it works exactly who’s supposed to be the biggest though, sounds exhausting. Two words – Daddy issues. I recently dated a highly insecure juice monkey. I ended up basically taking care of him while he layed on my couch all day on Grindr. He also walked all over me and treated me like I was inferior to his injected biceps. He posted his work out stats on Facebook 24/7 and partied with other monkeys all weekend to “get attention, free cover and free drinks from bartenders.” That seems to be the majority of mental focus while using. To feed the ego. And it’s our fault for feeding it to them. I do have to admit I was always glad he felt the same way about the gay porn industry and how sad it was that young men felt they needed to take steroids and get payed to have sex on video hoping it might fix their lack of self-esteem. Sadly, now that we’re broken up, he does porn. Besides an identity disorder, I have noticed a few other personality traits a lot of steroid users have in common. They’re quite rude and act superior until they deflate at the end of their cycle. They are lazy and lack any desire to work towards a better future like going to school or having a career (how can you get attention working at a desk all day). They also seem to like forming a steroid based clique like a wolf pack and subject you because you have chosen a healthier lifestyle even if your at the gym 7 days a week and are incredibly fit.
    They’re also lacking in intimacy and lay their while you are expected to do the work. I guess because they brought muscles to the table, it’s up to you to pick up the slack. I also noticed that steroid users in relationships with other users tend to have open relationships were they are interested in only participating with other steroid users. Sometimes in giant juiced up orgies. That too me would smell like a gym, sound like a gym and look like a gym. I personally can only handle the gym if i’m looking down with headphones on so I’ll pass.
    In any case, it seems as though these young men have a deeper issue that needs to be dealt with and us falling all over them and telling them how amazing they look only feeds into their need to continue hurting themselves, in turn making a mockery of our gay community. We need to get over ourselves.