- What are anabolic steroids?
- How Do Anabolic Steroids Work?
- History of Anabolic Steroids
- Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids
- Stacks and Cycles of Anabolic Steroids
- Popular Anabolic Steroids:
- Anavar (Oxandrolone)
- Dianabol (Methandrostenolone)
- Dianabol (Dbol)
- Primobolan (Methenolone)
- Winstrol (Stanozolol)
- Winstrol (Stanozolol)
- Anadrol (Oxymetholone)
- Sustanon 250
- Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate)
- Masteron (Drostanolone)
- Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate)
- Turinabol (Tbol)
- Andriol (testosterone undecanoate)
- Nandrolone Phenylpropionate (NPP)
- Omnadren 250
- Halotestin (Fluoxymesterone)
What are anabolic steroids?
Anabolic-androgenic steroids, or anabolic steroids, are derivatives of male hormones including Testosterone and structured synthetic hormones that are used in medicine, but mostly to enhance athletic performance. They work by boosting protein in skeletal muscles and most have the androgenic characteristics to cause masculine side effects including aggression.
There are 3 main forms of delivery of steroids. The most popular being injectables. The next being orals and the 3rd-way being cream/gel. In rare situations, skin patches are used but the absorption is poor.
How Do Anabolic Steroids Work?
Steroids work their magic by increasing protein synthesis, boosting appetite, strengthening bones and bone marrow, and boosting red blood cells. Combined with resistance training they stimulate muscle cells which causes an increase in muscle mass and strength. Due to these characteristics many athletes from the normal joe in the gym, to high school and college athletes, all the way to the professional athlete making millions will use them to give them an advantage over their peers. The dosages that are used here can be 50 or even 100X the normal dosage that has historically been used in medicine, which can lead to serious and permanent side effects.
History of Anabolic Steroids
Extract hormones from urine
Extract hormones from testicles
1st Steroid Use In Sports
Steroid Use In Bodybuilding
1990 Anabolic Steroids Control Act
2000 years ago…
We can go back 2000 years to find the first time humans started dabbling with hormones where they would extract hormones from urine.
In the 1800s scientists started extracting hormones from testicles.
The first time they were able to isolate gonadal steroids was in 1931 when a German chemist purified it from urine. It was then synthesized a few years later in Switzerland. By the late 1930s, scientists had been doing clinical trials on humans using Testosterone and there were rumors it was used in the war to help troops stay aggressive and boost stamina.
It wasn’t until the 1940s that people started to use steroids to help them get an advantage in sports. The Russians were obsessed with winning in athletics and they are considered the first to get their Olympic athletes on steroids, which was followed up with American Olympic doctor John Ziegler working to get his athletes on Dianabol to even the playing field.
In the 1960’s and 1970s steroid use started to rise when bodybuilding exploded thanks to bigtime personalities like Arnold Schwarzenegger who popularized the sport.
In the late ’80s and 90’s the US government started to crack down on its recreational use and many were either banned or required a prescription.
Today steroids can be purchased underground or you can go to a doctor or anti-aging clinic and get prescribed certain steroids. They are not expensive, and there are many websites/forums that trade knowledge on how to use them.
Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids
Steroids used at their low medicinal dosages still have strong side effects which are why doctors have steered patients to other drugs for medical problems like muscle wasting or anemia. As mentioned earlier, those that abuse steroids will use up to 100X those dosages to get an athletic advantage. This can lead to serious side effects.
Brain: Steroids do not cause a high nor are they stimulants but they can increase aggression. Some steroids can affect the neurotransmitters causing an increase in jealousy or paranoia especially in those who already have those issues.
- Skin: Acne can become a problem especially if you are already prone.
- Hair loss: Most steroids affect head hair by frying follicles.
- Prostate: Expect enlarged prostate on steroids.
- Kidney: Long term use of anabolic steroids can cause kidney problems.
- Liver: All steroids affect the liver, especially liver toxic oral steroids. This can lead to jaundice, liver disease, or cancer.
- Heart: A rise in blood pressure, unbalanced cholesterol levels, enlarged heart, and stroke can happen on steroids.
- Reproductive system: Steroids damage your reproductive system very quickly. Men can expect testicular shrinkage, lower sperm count, and dysfunction of the pituitary glands. If steroid use is abused long term there can be a permanent loss of the ability to properly produce your hormones in the future.
- Estrogenic: Many steroids will aromatize into estrogen which can cause issues like gynecomastia, water retention, and bloat.
- Female side effects: Steroids can cause permanent problems like body and facial hair, baldness, menstrual cycle changes, clitoris enlargement, and deepening voice.
Stacks and Cycles of Anabolic Steroids
Stacking steroids has the advantage of combining structurally different steroids to get a better synergy. There are also stacks which are not good together that you should avoid. There are a couple of ways to group steroids:
These are typically mild steroids that don’t cause as much strength and aggression, but steady and consistent gains. Many users who use these will add in something more androgenic to give the cycle a kick.
These will increase strength and aggression in the gym. They also come with higher side effects. You must be careful to not stack too many of these together or you could experience major problems with lethargy and other side effects.
Although you can always stack multiple of the same grouping in a cycle, a prudent way to approach it is by picking 1 from each group and going from there.
Typical steroid cycles will be from 4 weeks up to 16 weeks. In this scenario you run the cycle, then post cycle, then take time off for the body to balance out. Usually, the rule of thumb is time on = time off.
A more aggressive style is called blasting and cruising. This is where you blast with higher dosages for some time usually 8-16 weeks, then you drop your dosages back down to a ‘sensible’ dosage for 8-16 weeks, then go back on a blast again. This type of style is extremely taxing on the body.
Steroids are made to stay in the body for an extended period because of the esters that researchers have attached to them. Although some steroids do not have ester attachments like suspension, there are many esters attached to Testosterone and their derivatives which are in order of half-life:
- Propionate 3.5 days
- Phenylpropionate 4.5 days
- Isocaproate 9 days
- Enanthate 10.5 days
- Cypionate 12 days
- Decanoate 15 days
- Sustanon/Omnadren 15 days
- Undecanoate 16.5 days
The half-lives mean that after that amount of days half of what you injected will be leftover. For example, if something has a 7-day half-life and you inject 500mgs, then after 7 days you will have 250mgs left of the original injection, then after another 7 days 125mgs and so on.
Popular Anabolic Steroids:
Here are the most popularly used steroids in fitness and information that you can use as a guide if you choose to use them:
It was developed in the 1960s to treat various medical conditions and was picked up by bodybuilders during the ’70s and 80’s because it did not aromatize at all into estrogen so they did not have to worry about estrogenic side effects. In 1989 production was stopped because of FDA pressure, and it completely disappeared from the market since 1 company-owned licensing. It was then brought back to the market years later but the price has never come down very much and it remains one of the most expensive steroids. It also is heavily faked.
Anavar (oxandrolone) is safe for females to use and a typical dosage is 2.5mg up to 15mg a day. Men will use 20mg up to 80mg a day. It is liver toxic so it is capped at 8 weeks maximum.
I like to use it along with an androgen because it will boost strength, help you cut fat, and is mild.
This compound is a bronchodilator that has been approved in certain countries for asthma, but not in the USA. It is not a steroid at all, but it is commonly used in steroid cycles to enhance fat burning capabilities as a thermogenic. It works by activating the beta-2 receptor within the sympathomimetic nervous system, causing a change in metabolic rate. This means your mitochondria within cells will produce and release additional heat and increase the body’s core temperature, which causes you to burn more calories and fat. Unfortunately, this activity does come at a price as side effects can be nasty. The most common are a jittery and shaky feeling, sweating, heartburn, headache, and other stimulant problems. Users will start with a 40mcg dose and gradually increase it up to 120mcgs per day in 2-week cycles.
My opinion on clenbuterol is I don’t like it. There are better ways to lose fat that are far more effective that you can do without having to suffer like this. Fasting for 24 hours or a few laps around the track after your workout is much healthier ways to accomplish the same thing.
This steroid is likely the most used in history thanks to its ‘dummy proof’ results and its cheap price. On paper, it is pretty much the same thing as straight Testosterone, except in oral form with an added double bond at the carbon 1/2 positions. It was developed to be an easy to use steroid to help American athletes keep up with their Russian rivals during the late ’50s and early ’60s. It was banned in the ’80s because of FDA pressure in the USA but is still widely produced all over the world.
Since it is 17th alpha-alkylated it will survive ingestion and in the process, it is liver toxic. It has a very short half-life of 4-5 hours so it works fast when taken. Men will typically use between 10-50mgs a day. It is also popularly used as a kickstart to a longer injectable cycle since it works so quickly. One of the main side effects of Dianabol (Methandrostenolone) is severe water retention and estrogenic issues. Many users pre-anti-estrogen ended up with bitch tits using it. My opinion is it is good if you don’t mind some bloat, but avoid if you like a more cut-up look.
This is considered the nectar of the Gods because it is the most powerful steroid you will ever use. On paper, it is 5X more anabolic and 5X more androgenic than straight Testosterone. There are 3 injectable esters Acetate, Hex, and Enanthate. Parabolan was human grade Hex by Negma Labs out of France which was discontinued in 1997 and pro bodybuilders have depended on it since via underground labs.
As great as Trenbolone is when it comes to strength, mass, and the ability to even burn fat, it also comes with drawbacks. The side effects are considered the worst of any steroid. It is known as the relationship killer because the user may become a sexual deviant while on it. It will cause a massive rise in aggression, impatience, and cockiness, especially if the person already has those traits. Typical dosages range from 200-400mgs a week.
My opinion is to save it for when you truly are ready, mature, and experienced. It will help you set new personal records that cannot be achieved without it.
This one is most popularly used in injectable form, but there is also a weaker oral form that can be used. It is considered the #1 steroid of the golden era of bodybuilding because the top competitors of the ’70s (including Arnold) were thought to have used it. It is a very mild steroid that will add good quality lean muscle mass to your frame without any water retention. This is thanks to its structure of being a DHT (dihydrotestosterone) derivative steroid and with an added double bond at carbon positions 1/2 which make it anabolic.
Females can use it due to its mild nature at 100mg a week or less. Men should use it at 400-500mgs per week. I do not recommend using the oral version, stick to injectable for best results.
I like primo but I don’t like the price, however, it is worth running at least once in your lifetime to enjoy the lean muscle gains without side effects that it will give you.
Known as “Winny” in bodybuilding circles, it was developed in the late 1950s to help with bone health and muscle wasting. It became extremely popular after Canadian Ben Johnson was busted for using it in the 1988 Olympics for sprinting which led to US government crackdown.
Winstrol is a pure DHT derived steroid. It has certain structural alterations that allow it to not be destroyed by the body and that also makes it a great compound for drying out. You can inject or drink the liquid form, or you can take the oral form. In all situations, it is liver toxic.
A great steroid for those who want to get ripped but who already have low body fat, hence why it is one of the best for competition or photoshoots. Side effects you want to watch out for are head hair loss and joint dryness. Male dosages range from 25-50mgs per day.
First coming to market in the 1960s for anemia, osteoporosis, and muscle wasting, this one is one of the most powerful oral steroids you will find. It is a DHT derived anabolic steroid that has an added 2 hydroxy methylene group causing a rise in anabolism. It also is 17th alpha-alkylated which allows it to be very effective ingested orally. Although incapable of aromatizing into estrogen, it seems to still activate estrogen receptors. It also is much more androgenic than what it on paper which makes it a very high side effect oral steroid, and many of the side effects are difficult to manage.
Having said that it is extremely good if you want to run a short 4-6 week cycle solo at 50mgs a day and get tremendous benefits with mass and strength. Do not use if you are susceptible to androgenic or estrogenic side effects because it will not be tolerable. The slang term is A-Bombs because it works so powerfully and fast.
Testosterone will help with muscle mass, strength, and libido. The idea behind this mix of 4 Testosterone esters was larger and more infrequent injections for long term HRT/TRT. Typically it is accomplished by injecting 1CC of 250mgs every 2-3 weeks and each of the 4 esters picking up after one another. Those esters are made up of 30mg Testosterone Propionate, 60mg Testosterone Phenylpropionate, 60mg Testosterone Isocaproate, and 100mg Testosterone Decanoate.
In terms of using it in a cycle typically a dosage of 500-1000mgs per week total would be more than enough to get good results. My opinion on this is I don’t like the post-injection pain found in Sustanon 250 plus the longer esters that make up most of it take a while to peak, so I avoid it. I would steer people towards Cypionate or Enanthate which are smooth.
Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate)
Developed in the early 1960s by Organon, it is a 19-nortestosterone due to the way it is structured which is exactly as Testosterone but lacking the carbon atom at the 19th position. The way it is developed makes it aromatize 5X less than Testosterone making it a popular choice during the pre-anti-estrogen era of bodybuilding. Guys would use it solo with Proviron this way they didn’t have to worry about estrogenic side effects.
It has fallen out of favor over the past 20 years since we now have aromatizing inhibitors and also for fear of ‘Deca dick’ which is erectile dysfunction. This side effect can be controlled by using a DHT derivative such as Proviron or Masteron with it.
In the end, Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate) is a great steroid for clean, slow gains throughout a 12-14 week cycle. Men will use 300-500mgs per week. Typically, we see people stack in an androgen with it to give it a nice kick. I feel fantastic on it and it is an underrated steroid in today’s bodybuilding world.
This one did not officially hit the market until 1970 as a breast cancer compound for females. Masteron was first only available in Propionate form, but over time labs starting producing it in Enanthate form as well.It is a pure DHT derived anabolic steroid with an altered methyl group at the carbon 2 position giving it some anabolic kick.
It is best used in those with lower body fat already to harden up the muscles, which it does better than any steroid. For this reason, my opinion is you should reserve its use for only situations where you are competing or taking photos. Typical dosages are 400-500mgs per week and it is popularly used in pre-contest stacks.
Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate)
First brought to market in the 1950s. Equipoise was used for 2 decades to help with muscle wasting and anemia. It was then pulled and since has been used in veterinarian medicine commonly on racehorses. It is structurally like Testosterone but with an added double bond at the carbon 1/2 position, reducing its estrogenic and androgenic abilities. For this reason, it is a more mild and less side effect steroid than Testosterone. Making it a perfect steroid to use if you want slow consistent gains. Also, it is one of the few steroids I can recommend for those who like endurance sports. Reason being that you won’t retain much or any water on it and it will boost red blood cell count without negative side effects.
Use it at 400-600mgs a week and throw in an oral for a kickstart, and you can stack in some Testosterone to give it a little kick.
The East Germans put out this steroid in 1962 to help their male and female athletes get an edge in sports because it was undetectable for 2 decades. It ceased manufacturing in 1994 and has since been produced on the black market. The structure is similar to Dianabol and Testosterone except it was changed where it cannot aromatize at all and it is more anabolic and less androgenic. This makes it a very nice steroid to use if you want something mild that will give you conservative muscle and strength results. The kicker also is that it is very cheap compared to Anavar. I love this oral more than any other with the only side effect pumps. You can run it at 30-50mgs a day with great results.
Andriol (testosterone undecanoate)
Designed in 1982 by Organon for use around the world to use for TRT as an oral, it never caught on in the USA for a couple of reasons. First, although it is an oral form of Testosterone which is nice, your body can hardly absorb it. Second, it is almost impossible to find as most sources that Americans have access to do not bother to carry it. Dosages will vary from 40-150mgs per day. In the end, I do not see the purpose of using it as injecting Testosterone would be far more effective.
Nandrolone Phenylpropionate (NPP)
This anabolic steroid is the same as Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate) as they are both Nandrolone. The difference is the ester attached is much shorter acting. This means when you use it you will reach peak levels faster (about 20 days). It will also be out of your system faster as well. I recommend using it if you want more flexibility in your cycle or where you can abandon using it and have it out of your system faster.
This is another 4 ester mix similar to Sustanon 250. The original Omnadren was developed in the Soviet ruled Poland. It contains 30mg Testosterone Propionate, 60mg Testosterone Phenylpropionate, 60mg Testosterone Isocaproate, and 100mg Testosterone Caproate. However, today the 4 ester mix is EXACTLY the same as Sustanon 250 as they took out the Caproate ester and replaced it with Decanoate. Like Sustanon 250, I do not recommend to use this mix due to the chance of post-injection pain.
This one is an extremely powerful oral anabolic steroid. First released in the 1950s, Halo helps with muscle wasting and androgen deficiency. It has an added methyl group at the 17th carbon position to allow you to take it orally. The added carbon 9, 3, and 11 fluoro group additions make it extremely androgenic.On paper, it is extremely anabolic as well, but in real life that does not translate very much.In the end, you can expect a lot of strength gains on this steroid. With that being said, Halotestin also comes with a lot of side effects. I have used it and was not very impressed. However, I may have used bunk product as it is frequently faked. If you do find good quality Halotestin (Fluoxymesterone) a starting dosage is 10mgs a day.
Steve Smi (Steven Smith) is a medical author in the bodybuilding, fitness and MMA industry. He has over 12 years of writing and training exprience. He’s a personal trainer and NASM certified with WADA knowledge.