- What are Androgens and Androgenic Steroids?
- Androgenic vs. Anabolic: Is There a Difference?
- How People Use Androgenic Steroids
- Different Types of Steroids
- Why are Steroids Used in Sport?
- Popular Androgenic Anabolic Steroids
- Side Effects and Risks of Androgenic Anabolic Steroids
- Safer and Natural Alternatives are Available
In the quest for insane size and muscle growth, many men and women turn toward androgens such as androgenic steroids. While you might know them as anabolic steroids, the benefits these compounds provide are focused on increasing muscle size and recovery time. Despite the anecdotal reports and proven results, androgenic steroids side effects are nothing to mess around with.
Let’s take a look at what is androgen, what androgenic steroids are used for, their side effects, and safer alternatives.
What are Androgens and Androgenic Steroids?
Androgens are a type of hormone that have a direct impact on sexual organ development, metabolic rate, and mood stability, to name a few things. The most famous is testosterone.
While androgens are typically associated with male characteristics such as bigger muscles and a deeper voice, both men and women produce and require androgens for healthy development. The only difference is that men produce more androgens, which promotes more masculine features.
Androgenic steroids are a synthetic version of androgens such as testosterone that trigger many of the same functions as the actual hormone, most notably muscle growth, which is why anabolic androgenic steroids are so popular amongst bodybuilders.
Androgenic vs. Anabolic: Is There a Difference?
Let’s clear up some confusion about androgenic vs. anabolic steroids. These are not two different types of steroid. They are the same thing, but the difference in the names comes from the physical traits they promote.
Androgenic: This refers to physical characteristics that pertain to growth during puberty. When an extremely androgenic hormone like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is released in large amounts during puberty, it triggers deepening of the voice, facial hair growth, and muscle mass development.
A boost in androgenic effects from a steroid leads to a number of side effects including heart issues and testosterone dependency. For women, this can mean the development of masculine features such as facial hair and a deeper voice.
Anabolic: On the other hand, anabolic refers strictly to its impact on lean muscle tissue. Steroids have the anabolic effect on muscle mass of promoting growth in size and shape.
The goal of most steroid users is to find one that promotes anabolic benefits without the androgenic side effects.
How People Use Androgenic Steroids
Androgenic or anabolic steroids can be taken as an oral-based capsule or tablet, skin implant, cream, gel, or injection. The two most common ways to use steroids would be a tablet or injection.
All steroids are recommended to be taken as a cycle, unless otherwise noted by a doctor. A standard anabolic steroid cycle – the on-cycle – lasts for as little as four weeks and can last as long as 12 weeks. Typically, more experienced steroid users will extend their cycle.
This is followed by an off-cycle where the user stops taking the steroid. This can last for as little as four weeks and as long as a few months before the next on-cycle begins. In an attempt to minimize the androgenic steroids side effects, the user will immediately use what is known as a post-cycle therapy supplement.
Steroids can also be stacked, which is when you combine two or more different yet complementary steroids together. This is done to minimize the estrogenic side effects while maximizing the beneficial effects of all compounds. While it may be effective during a cycle, the more steroids you use, the greater the risk for severe side effects.
One method of using steroids, which has been anecdotally reported to help the body adjust to the steroid dosage while avoiding the worst of the side effects is called pyramiding. This is when you start with a low dosage of the steroid and gradually increase the dosage day by day. Once you reach the midpoint of your cycle, you peak the dosage, then slowly decrease it until you reach your off-cycle.
Different Types of Steroids
Did you know that there are almost three dozen anabolic steroids that are available for purchase? According to a study published in Andrology, designer steroids have not been legally cleared for medicinal or recreational use, but they are still available through means of the black market.
As we mentioned above, there are four ways that steroids are commonly used, but the two most popular ways are through oral medication and injections. Let’s review how to use a steroid along with some examples of androgenic steroids:
Oral Steroids: This type of steroid usually comes in the form of a tablet or capsule. The user has to take the oral steroid at least twice a day, depending on the dosage. Popular examples of oral-based steroids include Winstrol, Anadrol, and Anavar.
Injectable Steroids: The steroid is injected into the body through a hypodermic needle. Unlike oral medication, injections are only needed a few times per week. But this will vary depending on the steroid and the dosage. Deca Durabolin, Depotest, and Finajet are popular examples of injectable hormones.
Why are Steroids Used in Sport?
Androgenic steroids are used in sports for three primary reasons:
Performance Enhancement: Studies show that one of the primary reasons that athletes use steroids is to increase performance in their chosen sport. Steroids have a direct effect on increasing strength and endurance, which makes them universally effective in the sports world, especially when it comes to physique-based sports such as bodybuilding.
Muscle Growth: Arguably, androgenic steroids are most commonly associated with increases in muscle tissue, hence its connection with the bodybuilding world. Studies show that anabolic steroids are incredibly effective at increasing hypertrophic growth through increases in androgens.
Post-Training Recovery: It’s no surprise that a steroid user’s normal workout routine will increase once he starts taking the compound. If you’re wondering how someone could maintain a crazy workout schedule using an insane amount of weight, anabolic steroids are behind that as well. Studies show that they can increase recovery time, promoting faster muscle healing.
Popular Androgenic Anabolic Steroids
While there are almost a few dozen anabolic steroids available on the black market, there are 10 that are commonly cited as the most reliable for muscle growth and sports performance:
- Deca Durabolin
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Side Effects and Risks of Androgenic Anabolic Steroids
If you use steroids, there’s no way around the side effects. The only difference is the severity. Whether legally prescribed or illegally used, here are the most common side effects that don’t seem to impact your health long term or require serious prescription medication:
- Bloating (looking puffy)
- Skin issues (primarily an increase in acne)
- Hair loss
- Changes in your libido (could increase then decrease)
Here’s the next level of severity that could require medical intervention in the form of prescription medication:
- Gynecomastia (male breasts)
- Difficulty when urinating
- Changes in cholesterol levels
- Low sperm count
Finally, whether through steroid abuse or misuse, here are severe side effects that you can expect when using anabolic steroids:
- Cardiovascular issues such as rapid heart rate or myocardial infarction
- Live damage that may result in tumors
- Bone loss and cartilage breakdown
- Low testosterone levels
- Severe mood swings (rage to depression)
Women are especially susceptible to the side effects of androgenic steroids and they have their own category to worry about:
- Shrinking breasts
- Menstrual cycle irregularity
- Deeper voice
- Large clitoris
- Facial hair growth
Safer and Natural Alternatives are Available
If you want to promote muscle growth and strength building without the side effects of androgenic steroids, there are plenty of safer and natural alternatives available to you. In fact, there are direct equivalents to the most popular steroids. Let’s review the steroid and its natural, legal, and safer equivalent:
D-Bal: One of the most popular mass building supplements, D-Bal was created to mimic the bulking effects of Dianabol.
Trenorol: Interested in stacking? Trenorol goes perfect with D-Bal as both boost muscle growth while Trenorol helps to skyrocket strength. As you may have guessed Trenorol was designed to mimic the effects of Trenbolone.
Testo-Max: If you want to naturally boost your testosterone levels, Testo-Max is the way to go. Modelled after the test-booster steroid known as Sustanon, Testo-Max is effective without the side effects.
Clenbutrol: Great for anyone looking to build cut and lean muscle mass, Clenbutrol captures the same benefits as the steroid Clenbuterol.
Anvarol: Few steroids are more synonymous with recovery and getting lean as Anavar. If you’re looking to boost your results in the gym and in front of the mirror, Anvarol is for you.
Androgenic steroids and the androgens they provide can be a tempting way to boost muscle mass and improve sports performance, but at what cost?
Androgenic steroids come with a laundry list of side effects that cancel out all potential benefits. Combined with a well-planned lifting program and dietary routine, natural supplements are the safer way to go. They provide comparable benefits with none of the androgenic steroids side effects.
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