Hey Think Strong fam!
If you’ve been following me on social media, you already know that I’m taking a hiatus from powerlifting to focus on earning my pro card in bodybuilding (or mayyyybe classic physique if I’m lucky). As part of that, I’m also trying to share a lot more information about what’s gotten me to where I am today.
In addition, I’m trying to expand my horizons and touch on some more difficult subjects — in this case, performance-enhancing drugs, which have gotten an overwhelmingly negative reputation in the mainstream media. While ALL drugs are dangerous, and hormones are particularly powerful drugs, I think that their reputation is unfairly biased towards the negative, so I want to present what I believe is a more balanced viewpoint.
Why the Basics Matter
The body is an enormously complicated machine. When you’re trying to manipulate even just one small part of your physiology through pharmacology, you’re likely to cause at least some sort of effect on the entire system, so it’s important to understand as much as possible how that cause-and-effect relationship works.
Here’s an example: think about aspirin, and how such a seemingly basic, safe and well-tolerated drug can cause stomach ulcers and cramping. Then think about combining aspirin with cold medicine, alcohol, and caffeine because you were sick and had to work late and then attend a social event after work. How are you going to feel in the morning?
Now imagine drugs as powerful as anabolic steroids. What sort of effects could they have — positive and negative — when combined with the extreme diet and training regimens of the athletes who use them? That’s what you need to at least try to understand before diving into the deep end yourself.
What are Performance Enhancing Drugs?
“Performance-enhancing” is a tricky term, because it begs the question of what is normal performance? Is an Olympic sprinter “normal”? What about a high school sprinter?
Semantics aside, the term PED refers to much more than anabolic/androgenic steroids, or AAS (your testosterones, decas, dbols, etc.). It can include:
- Growth hormone
- Beta blockers
- Much, much more
Unfortunately, the media generally conflates all these drugs under the term PED, so when the issue is discussed in mainstream circles, the different functions, risks and benefits of individual drugs in individual use cases are rarely considered. That’s one of the ethical issues that makes it extraordinarily difficult to get good, safe information about the use of PEDs.
It’s not the only ethical issue, though. If we return to the question of “what is normal,” when we’re looking at issues like hormone replacement therapy, some doctors argue that an eighty-year-old man with a testosterone level of 200 is normal even if he feels like shit — and so is a twenty-five-year-old with the same level.
Perhaps more importantly, there’s the issue of side effects. Again, when you try to manipulate even a small part of your physiology, you might suffer from some unintended side effects. When you manipulate a hormone as powerful as testosterone, especially without a doctor’s supervision, then you almost certainly will.
Many people do it anyway because:
- The short-term side effects are usually inconvenient but do not severely impact health or quality of life
- Any long-term side effects take, well, a long time to show up
- Doctor supervision is outrageously expensive, and hormone therapy is rarely covered by insurance
- Those who would consider the use of PEDs usually have a willingness to take risks
Please don’t think I’m preaching at ya not to do what you want with your body. I’m trying to provide an honest and unbiased view of both sides of the issue, because it’s an important one.
To wrap up the basics, we’re going to introduce the most basic AAS there is: testosterone. However, because even the most basic of these drugs is actually very powerful and complicated, it’s going to take another video and article to cover it in any sort of appreciable depth. For that reason, and to not over complicate this article, I’m going to stop here. But please stay in touch by signing up for a free program so that you can get updates about the next installment!