The Ultimate Guide to Steroids : Benefits & Side Effects

There are plenty of benefits to be gained from using anabolic steroids, but if you are considering using them I would recommend reading more about the potential side effects you may encounter.

The following article will help explain more about steroids, whether they are recommended and what you can do to ensure you see the muscle growth you desire without the side effects.

What Are Anabolic Steroids?

The scientific name for steroids is Anabolic Androgenic Steroids or AAS.

They are made of both natural and synthetic androgens and have a similar structure to testosterone, the male sexual hormone.

Steroids were originally created to treat hypogonadism, which is a condition that causes the testes to stop producing enough testosterone to promote growth, development and sexual function.

It wasn’t long after they were created that it was discovered that steroids had other benefits, for example, performance-enhancing abilities that were quickly exploited.

When you use an AAS you will cause anabolic and androgenic changes to your body.

Anabolic changes are those that can cause muscle growth to occur, with an increase in bone density and an increase in blood cell production.

Androgenic changes are those that will have an effect on your sexual characteristics.

Most steroids will cause more anabolic changes, but this will depend on what steroid has been used.

Steroids are popular among those looking to build muscle as when they are used they will travel through your bloodstream until it comes into contact with your steroid receptor molecule.

This molecule is found in your muscle cells, and once interacted with it will cause an increase in protein synthesis, which in turn aids in muscle growth.

As steroids are anti-catabolic they won't cause any muscle tissue breakdown.

Benefits of Using Steroids

According to a survey, 60,000 people used steroids in 2016 in England and Wales [1], although it is believed that this number could be much higher.

It has also been shown that steroid users are not just those in their 20s and 30s, with research showing that steroid use among those in their 40s has doubled in the past 5 years [2].

But why are people choosing to use steroids? The fact is that using them offers numerous proven benefits.

For example, they can increase muscle mass, while also helping to lower body fat [3]. They have also been shown to cause an increase in strength [4].

As steroids cause an increase in testosterone this can lead to a number of other benefits too, including:

  • Improved mood
  • An increased libido
  • Improved mental cognition (memory, decision making, puzzle solving etc)

An increase in testosterone also increases muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which will help you to train longer, harder and to be able to recover from the exercise much quicker.

It is this reason why those who use steroids are able to train for such a long time, sometimes as long as 3 hours at a time without experiencing catabolism.

Those who don’t use steroids will likely start to experience catabolism within an hour of intense weight training.

Popular Steroids

There are many different types of steroids, they all have different purposes, along with different benefits and potential side effects.

One of the most popular steroids is trenbolone or tren. This is one of the most effective steroids available but is mostly used by those looking to burn fat rather than those looking to build muscle.

If you are looking to build muscle then testosterone cypionate. It is often used in testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and is given to men who have low testosterone levels.

Testosterone enanthate is a similar steroid and is also subscribed by doctors to those with low testosterone.

Dianabol is an oral steroid, which means that it is not injectable but comes in tablet form. It is one of the most well-known steroids and is a good overall fat burner and mass builder.

Anadrol is another steroid, once popular among elite bodybuilders. It was originally created to treat those with HIV as it helps to preserve muscle mass.

There are plenty of other steroids we could talk about, but our final choice is Deca Durabolin, which is a steroid that has been around for decades. It was a favourite of bodybuilders in the 1960s and 1970s.

How to Take Steroids?

There are two main types of steroid, those you inject and those you swallow in tablet form.

They will come in different dosages and will work slightly differently to each other, for example, those with a shorter half-life are faster acting, but more about half-lives later.

Steroids that come in tablet form are usually swallowed with water, often with or immediately after food to prevent stomach problems.

Injectable steroids are best injected into your largest muscles, so either your buttock, hip or thigh. These are the safest places to inject.

You should not inject into any veins or arteries, but directly into the muscle.

It is incredibly important to ensure the needle used is sterile and please do not share needles with other steroid users.

How Long Do Steroids Stay in Your System?

The simple answer to the question “how long do steroids stay in your system” is that it would depend on the steroid being used, as it will vary from steroid to steroid.

A more complicated way of saying this would be to say that it depends on its half-life or the time it takes for half of the steroid to be used up.

The half-lives of some popular steroids are as follows:

  • Anadrol (Oxymetholone): 8-9 hours
  • Anavar (Oxandrolone): 9 hours
  • Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate): 15 days
  • Dianabol (Methandrostenolone): 4.5-6 hours
  • Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate): 14 days
  • Halotestin (Fluoxymesterone): 9.5 hours
  • Masteron (Drostanolone Propionate): 4.5 days
  • Nandrolone Phenylpropionate: 4.5 days
  • Omnadren: 15-18 days (variable due to the mixture of four different ester types)
  • Parabolan (Trenbolone Hexahydrobenzylcarbonate): 14 days
  • Primobolan, oral (Methenolone Acetate): 2-3 days
  • Primobolan, injectable (Methenolone Enanthate): 7-10 days
  • Sustanon 250: 15-18 days (variable due to the mixture of four different ester types)
  • Testosterone Cypionate: 10-12 days
  • Testosterone Enanthate: 7-10 days
  • Testosterone Propionate: 4.5 days
  • Testosterone Suspension: 2-4 hours (some reports as long as 39 hours)
  • Trenbolone Acetate: 3 days
  • Turinabol (4-chlorodehydromethyltestosterone): 16 hours
  • Winstrol, oral (Stanozolol): 9 hours
  • Winstrol, injectable (Stanozolol): 24 hours

There are other drugs that are tested for during steroids tests, including those drugs used in PCT (Post-Cycle Therapy), the half-lives of these drugs are:

  • Arimidex: 4-6 hours
  • Clomid: 8-12 hours
  • HCG: 64 hours
  • Nolvadex: Less than 24 hours
  • Clenbuterol: As long as 68 hours

Detection times are different from half-lives, as the detection time of a steroid will be the time it takes to be removed completely from your body.

There are things that can affect the detection times, for example:

  • The type of steroid used – This has already been discussed.
  • Dosages and cycles – Using a higher dose or a long cycle will affect detection times.
  • Oral or injectable steroid – Oral steroids are typically metabolised faster so will stay for a shorter period of time.
  • Its ability to metabolise – Certain steroids metabolise faster than others. Trenbolone is one of the slowest to metabolise.
  • Fat solubility – Anabolic steroids are fat soluble, due to them being lipids. Therefore they are absorbed into your fat cells, which mean that they can take a while to remove completely.

You can see below the average detection times of some popular steroids. This should be used as a guide only and as stated will not be entirely accurate due to the above talked about factors:

Anadrol8 Weeks
Andriol1 Week
Dianabol5 Weeks
Halotestin8 Weeks
Anavar3 Weeks
Primobolan4-5 Weeks
Winstrol3 Weeks
Winstrol Depot9 Weeks
Equipoise4-5 Months
Masteron Enanthate12 Weeks
Masteron Propionate3 Weeks
Deca Durabolin18 Months
Trenbolone5 Months
Testosterone Acetate5 Months
Testosterone Propionate3 Weeks
Testosterone Cypionate12 Weeks
Testosterone Enanthate5 Months
Testosterone Suspension (No Ester)1-2 Days
Clenbuterol4-6 Days
HCG7-10 Days

If you have been using HGH in the false belief that it is not detectable in steroid tests, then I have bad news for you. HGH can be detected up to 24-36 hours after your last injection.

Understanding Steroid Cycles

Steroid cycles are basically the time someone is using the drug. There is an “on” and “off” period, where you are either using or are not using while your body recovers.

Cycles will typically last between 2-12 weeks, with beginners recommended to start with a short cycle.

Shorter cycles are recommended to allow your body time to get used to the steroid used.

While shorter cycles are the safest, they will likely be the least effective for muscle growth. It is likely that the most effective cycle would be the one that is the most dangerous.

How can you choose which steroid and cycle to use? Firstly, you will need to look at what your end goal is. Then you will need to look to see what steroid will help you reach this goal.

Stacking steroids are a popular option, and will likely produce better results.

When stacking steroids you will need to use the ones that will help you reach your goal, and work together.

It is recommended that you choose ones that work synergistically, which means that they work using different mechanisms.

Side Effects of Steroid Use

We have spoken about the proven benefits of steroid use. There are also many potential risks you should be aware of too [5].

Some side effects of steroids include:

  • Raised blood pressure
  • A greater risk of heart and liver disease
  • Higher risk of injury
  • Infertility
  • Acne
  • Unusual hair growth
  • Hair loss
  • Man boobs (Gynecomastia)

Female steroid users are also at risk of encountering side effects. Virilization is a major concern and is a side effect that causes a female to acquire male characteristics.

To reduce the risk of encountering these side effects I would highly recommend PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) after your steroid cycle. Unfortunately, there are some side effects that will be permanent.

Does ‘Roid Rage’ Exist?

Roid rage has been described as experiencing unprovoked aggression, rather than being aggressive to particular situations.

This means that you are getting angry for no reason, rather than getting angrier than you should in response to something happening to you.

It is believed that increased aggression is caused by high levels of testosterone, which is why men are typically more aggressive than women. But is there any proof to back up this belief?

A 1996 study actually found that men with high testosterone levels were more socially dominant, but had lower physical aggression [6]. This study seems to disprove this belief.

In fact, another study, also undertaken in 1996, found that testosterone did not affect mood [7].

This second study is especially important when talking about road rage as it is often argued that studies won't use the high testosterone levels typically used by bodybuilders. However, this study did use Hugh doses of testosterone and no changes in mood or behaviour were noted.

There have been studies that have shown that testosterone can increase aggression in rats, with this 2001 study finding that rats would “respond with aggression/dominance in a provoking situation” but that “chronic exposure to [testosterone] does not eliminate the ability to discriminate between social or environmental cues, as might be expected if it induces a ‘roid rage'” [8].

Basically, this means that increased testosterone could cause someone to react to provocation more aggressively or dominantly.

Pictures of Steroid Abuse

If you abuse steroids then the chances of encountering side effects will be greatly increased.

Below are some pictures of people who have abused steroids and the side effects they encountered:

#1: Early Death

Early Death

The image above is of bodybuilder Rich Piana who sadly passed away in August 2017 at the age of 46.

As Rich Piana had openly admitted to using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs many believe that this led to his early death.

He knew the risks of steroids and advised that others not follow his path.

“There’s no reason to do steroids, you’re only hurting your body, you’re hurting yourself.”

#2: Developed Masculine Features

Developed Masculine Features

Candice Armstrong, a barmaid from London joined a gym to work on her body developed an addiction to trenbolone.

This addiction led to a massive increase in muscle mass that most men would desire.

She also saw an increase in body hair, with her clitoris also becoming enlarged and looking like a mini penis.

#3: Exploding Arms

Gregg Valentino misused steroids for many years, gaining an insane amount of mass in his biceps.

After failing to use clean needles he developed an infection in his arms. Instead of going to the hospital as any sane person would, Greg instead chose to poke at his arm with dramatic results.

#4: Severe Acne

Severe Acne

After becoming addicted to anabolic steroids, a 21-year old amateur bodybuilder from Germany developed severe acne on his chest and upper back.

After consulting with his doctors he was advised to stop abusing steroids.

Within 2 months of this advice, the acne was gone, although the scaring will likely remain for the rest of his life.

#5: Man Boobs

Man Boobs

There have been many cases of gynecomastia in bodybuilding, but one of the most high profile cases was 8-time Mr Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman.

#6: The Turtle Belly

The Turtle Belly

A common complaint about modern bodybuilding compared to those bodybuilders of the past, is that many modern bodybuilders have that distended belly.

Compare Arnold Schwarzenegger to Phil Heath for example, and you will see what I mean.

Now I am in no way saying that any elite bodybuilder is abusing steroids, but a common side effect of HGH use is this distended belly. You can come to your own conclusions.

Using Anabolic Steroids Safely

Steroids are available either as injectables or as a tablet/pill.

For many of you, the thought of injecting yourself will be off-putting and may lead you to believe that the oral versions are the safer option of the two, but this is not the case.

Because you are swallowing the tablet they will need to pass through your gastrointestinal system. They are then metabolised in your liver. This raises the risk of liver damage, especially if you take oral steroids for a long period of time.

Oral steroids don’t last as long as injectable steroids, so will need to be used more often.

While this increased volume can result in more muscle mass being gained, it can also cause numerous issues.

For example, you may suffer bloating, nausea, and stomach upsets. Your cholesterol levels can also be affected.

If you choose to use injectable steroids you will need to source syringes and needles. This may seem like a daunting task is not as difficult as it sounds. You should ensure that these are new and completely sterile.

Plasters/band-aids and rubbing alcohol are also a good idea.

Injectable steroids will stay in your system longer than oral steroids, therefore won't need to be taken as often. This usually means better results and fewer side effects.

Once you have decided to buy steroids you will need to find a way of acquiring them. In some countries, this won't be an issue as you can walk into most chemists with a doctors prescription.

Steroids are illegal in many countries so you will have to buy online or look for a dealer.

Buying steroids in your local gym isn’t as easy as walking up to the biggest guy in the room and handing him your money.

Firstly, you need to make sure you are in the right kind of gym. It is unlikely you will find a dealer at your local Zumba class.

Once you have found an appropriate gym you can’t just walk up to someone you don’t know and ask to buy steroids from them. You will need to get to know them first. Train with them and ask them questions before you even broach the subject.

Buying steroids online also has numerous pitfalls and risks to worry about.

To avoid potential issues you need to research what product you actually want, then look for a reputable company to buy from. You can look on bodybuilding forums to see what other users recommend.

Post Cycle Therapy (PCT)

It is important that after a steroid cycle you start PCT.

The reason for this is because your natural hormone levels will be changed. Often your testosterone levels will slow or even stop entirely.

Production of female hormones like oestrogen and progesterone may also increase.

Using PCT is important to help rebalance your hormones, not only to help ensure no loss of that hard-earned muscle mass but to also reduce the risk of encountering side effects.

There are two main types of drug used in PCT; SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) and AIs (Aromatase Inhibitors).

SERMs are drugs used to control oestrogen production. Drugs like Nolvadex and Clomid can reduce oestrogen, which will cause testosterone production to increase.

AIs like Arimidex, Aromasin and Letrozole are used during PCT to block the conversion of testosterone into oestrogen via the aromatase enzyme.

Bodybuilding and Steroids

While it is clear that most professional bodybuilders are using some sort of steroid, growth hormone or other illegal performance enhancers, it is clear why they cannot admit to their use.

If they admitted to their use then they would likely face legal trouble and will likely lose any sponsorship deals they have worked so hard to secure.

These professional bodybuilders will claim to be all-natural, and that their physique is down to genetics, a good diet and intense training.

While these factors have an impact there is little doubt in my mind that steroids are being used at some point in their training.

The truth is that it is an open secret the levels of abuse going on in professional bodybuilding.

Testing in these competitions are not at the same level of professional athletes say in the Olympics, and there is certainly no re-testing of samples years after an event.

Steroids In Athletics

Since the performance enhancing abilities of steroids were discovered there have been those looking to exploit them in competitive sports. There have been many cases of state-sponsored doping taking place since the 1950s.

There was a study undertaken in 1985 asking elite athletes in America whether they would take a drug that would kill them within five years if it guaranteed them a gold medal [9].

The study showed that half of those questioned would risk their health in the quest for success.

In a more recent study, the same question was asked, with a much smaller number of athletes willing to sacrifice their health for a gold medal.

While attitudes have changed, there is still a percentage willing to risk everything for success.

There have been many high profile cases of doping in competitive sports [10], including Marion Jones in athletics, cyclist Lance Armstrong and baseball player Alex Rodriguez.

Steroid Use In Crossfit

Just like any sport Crossfit will have those who both use and abuse steroids. There have been a few cases of athletes failing drug tests [11].

Many claim that Crossfit is drugs free, this is because of the fairly stringent drugs testing policy they use. With a third party company used to administer the tests.

However, drug tests are not infallible, with many individuals able to pass drug tests while using drugs. There are many drugs that can mask the use of steroids.

You can also stop using steroids if you know that there is an upcoming drug test.

To counter this many of the top Crossfit athletes will be randomly tested, but again there will be plenty of athletes who won't be tested at all.

While Crossfit clearly wants to appear drug-free it is simply impossible to test every member. It would simply be too expensive.

Steroids In Hollywood

While Hollywood has a few younger A-list stars it is clear that there are still plenty of ageing stars at the box office.

The problem is that as you age your testosterone levels will fall, which can result in a loss of muscle mass and weight gain.

This is not ideal for film companies who expect their stars to be shirtless in many of their films.

Unsurprisingly those looking to get ripped quickly are tempted by steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Charlie Sheen spoke about using steroids for his role in Major League.

Mickey Rourke and Arnold Schwarzenegger have also admitted to using PEDs in the past. While Sylvester Stallone was arrested for bringing 48 vials of HGH into Australia.

Steroid Drug Testing

We have spoken about the potential benefits of steroids, and it is for this reason that most professional (and some amateur) sporting competitions have steroid drug testing.

Athletes who are caught doping run the risk of lengthy bans and heavy fines.

Steroids are tested using urinalysis and hair follicle tests and can be detected in the blood through heightened levels of testosterone and steroid metabolites.

While testing has improved over the years they are not infallible.

One of the most high profile doping cases was Lance Armstrong, who managed to fool the tests for years.

The truth is that there are new drugs being invented that can fool these tests. Remember you cannot test for something you don’t know exists.

Bodybuilding is rife with steroids, and while there is drug testing in the bigger competitions there are still plenty of ways to get around the tests.

A common technique used is to use a PED that has a fast clearing rate, which means that it clears your system quickly.

Testosterone only stays in your system for around 2 weeks so if you know you have an upcoming test you can dope until a fortnight before the test. You can then take the test knowing you are going to pass.

One of the most commonly abused drugs in bodybuilding (insulin) is pretty much undetectable.

Users can go to extremes to pass a steroid drug test. Some risky and uncomfortable methods include:

  • Using fake urine – No longer an effective method as the tests used can see that the urine is fake.
  • Using someone else’s urine – Will only work if you are given privacy.
  • Bladder loading – This method involves “loading” your own bladder with someone else urine. This could potentially lead to infection.
  • Drug masking agents – These are designed to stop certain steroids from appearing on tests. There are now tests available that can detect these agents.
  • Bribery – There have even been cases where bribery has been used to pass a test.

How To Tell If Someone Is Using Steroids?

There are a few warning signs that someone is using steroids. While not all of these will apply to every user, if someone displays more than one sign then it is likely they are doping.

#1: Bad Skin

Oily skin and acne are common symptoms of steroid use.

This is likely due to the increased levels of testosterone, which causes an increase in oil production from your sebaceous glands.

The acne is found all over the body but is more commonly found on the upper back.

Sign #2. Hair Loss

While hair loss is a common side effect of steroid use not all users will lose their hair.

Steroids can cause an increase in DHT production, which is a hormone that is responsible for hair loss.

Sign #3: Hair Growth

This may sound crazy, but along with hair loss, raised testosterone levels can also increase hair growth too, just not on your head.

Hair growth can affect both male and female users, but it will be more obvious among female users.

Sign #4: Improved Jawline

HGH is the drug that is more commonly associated with increased jaw size, anabolic steroids have also been shown to affect its appearance too.

Losing fat around your face can also affect your jawline so it's important not to jump to conclusions.

Sign #5: Fast Muscle Gains and Fat Loss

If someone has gained a lot of muscle AND lost a lot of fat quickly then you may suspect steroid use.

While it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously (body recomposition) it is not a common occurrence and is usually see among those new to lifting.

Sign #6: Shrunken Testicles

How desperate are you to find out if someone is using steroids or not? Measuring the size of their testicles may give you the answer you are looking for.

An increase in synthetic hormones will cause an increase in testosterone in your body. This will cause your natural testosterone production to stop, which will cause your testicles to shrink.

Sign #7: Deeper Voice

This is more noticeable in female users but is present in male users too.

PEDs can affect your vocal cords, making your voice deeper than before.

Sign #8: Mood Changes

There is mixed research on this, but many claim that using steroids can have an effect on your mood.

Sign #9: Virilization

It is sometimes easier to tell if a woman is abusing steroids than a man as they can have a more extreme effect on the body.

Testosterone is a male hormone, so if a female increases their testosterone levels they are at risk of virilization.

When this occurs females will experience a deepening of vocal cords, facial hair, body hair, increasing jawline, and of course an increase in muscle size.

Steroid FAQs

Below are questions that have been submitted by our readers. Feel free to leave your own questions using the comment form at the bottom of this article.

What Steroid Cycle is Most Effective?

This question is impossible to answer without knowing what your goals are.

What is the Half-Life of Steroids?

We have already discussed the half-life of steroids in this very article. I suggest you scroll back up and have a read.

Are Steroids Illegal?

In many places across the globe, you cannot buy anabolic steroids without first having a doctors subscription.

There are places, such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA, where it is illegal to even import them.

Should you use PCT?

Yes, it is incredibly important to undergo PCT after your steroid cycle.

PCT will help restart your natural testosterone production, helping to ensure you do not lose any muscle mass and prevent further issues or side effects.

Where Can You Buy Steroids?

There are plenty of places online that sell steroids, plus there is likely at least one guy at your local gym who would be able to source them.

The question you should be asking is whether you really want to use them or not?

Should You Use Steroids?

There are plenty of benefits to be gained from using PEDs but unless you are planning on becoming a world-famous bodybuilder then is it really worth the risk to your health?

You can increase your testosterone levels in many different ways, for example, you could eat a healthier diet, increase your intake of red meat, sleep at least 8 hours every night, while also trying to reduce stress.

Steroids have their place, but in my opinion, the risk of side effects is too high for the normal person on the street looking to improve their physique.

Safe Steroid Alternatives

Crazy Bulk

There are companies out there that sell safe and legal steroid alternatives. While not as effective as PEDs they can offer numerous benefits when used alongside a healthy protein-rich diet and intense training.

Crazy Bulk is just one of these companies, offering alternatives to popular steroids like Dianabol, Winstrol, Clenbuterol and more.

While the ingredients will vary from product to product it is clear from looking at the labels myself that each ingredient chosen will be of benefit to your training.

Whether you are looking to build muscle or burn fat there will be a product available to help you in your quest.

The ingredients used are both 100% safe and legal to use, with no known cases of any side effects being reported.

I would recommend before purchase that you read the product label yourself to check there are no ingredients used that may cause a reaction. This is recommended for any potential supplement.

There are plenty of user testimonials available on the Crazy Bulk website to back up the rather impressive sounding claims, so I would also recommend that you read these too.

Prices will vary from product to product. To make big savings off the RRP I would recommend making the most of the buy two, get a third free offer they currently have available.

There is free shipping available for customers in both the UK and USA, with a 14-day money back guarantee available too. Your order is secure, with a 256-bit encrypted checkout used.

Crazy Bulk comes highly recommended if you are looking for legal steroids. These products are not only effective but are affordable too. I would check them out today!

Click Here to Visit the Crazy Bulk Website >>

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The Ultimate Guide to Steroids : Benefits & Side Effects
The following article will help explain more about steroids, whether they are recommended and what you can do to ensure you see the muscle growth you desire without the side effects.
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