Bodybuilding Anabolic/Androgenic Steroid Practices

Drug Bodybuilders and weightlifters have used anabolic-androgenic steroids since the 1950s (Yesalis, Wright, & Bahrke, 1989). Today, competitive bodybuilders often self-administer anabolic-androgenic steroids to increase muscular size and to remain competitive (Hurley, Seals, Hagberg, Goldberg, Ostrove, Holloszy, Wiest, & Goldberg, 1984).

Athletes often simultaneously use different anabolic steroids, commonly referred to as "stacking". Athletes often begin with a low dosage of a particular compound and then increase the dosage along with the number of compounds, until a peak intake is reached. After peaking, dosages and compounds are gradually reduced, or "tapered". A cycle usually lasts 6 to 16 weeks and maybe repeated throughout the athlete's career (Kleiner, Bazzarre, & Litchford, 1990; Balon, Horowitz, & Fitzsimmons, 1992; Kleiner, Calabrese, Fielder, Naito, Skibinski, 1989).

Few studies have documented bodybuilders' anabolic steroid cycles in depth. Hurley (1984) documented the pharmaceutical use of 8 bodybuilders and 4 powerlifters and its effects on blood profiles. Bodybuilders used 1-4 compounds including: Oxandrolone (Anavar), Methenolone acetate (Primobolan), Oxandrolone (Anavar), Oxymetholone (Anadrol), Methandrostenolone (Dianabol), Nandrolone decanoate (Deca-Durabolin), Testosterone cypionate, and Gonadotropin chorionic (HCG) in various dosages and stacks. The average bodybuilder used 476 mg/wk and ranged from 57 mg/wk up to 1376 mg/wk. Oral anabolic-androgenic steroids significantly decreased both free and total serum testosterone levels. In contrast, injectable anabolic-androgenic steroids significantly increased free and total serum testosterone levels when taken alone or in combination with an oral form. Bodyweight increased from 86.2 ±2.9kg to 88.8 ±3.5. Body fat decreased from 13 ±1% to 12 ±1%, but was deemed insignificant. The men consumed approximately 20% of their kcalories from protein, 30% to 35% from carbohydrates, and 45% to 50% from fat (Hurley, Seals, Hagberg, Goldberg, Ostrove, Holloszy, Wiest, & Goldberg, 1984).

Alen, et. al. (1985) studied the serum hormonal response of 3 bodybuilders, 1 powerlifter, and 1 wrestler during a 26-week cycle of various anabolic-androgenic steroids. The average subject was 27 ±5.5 years old and weight trained 7.4 ±5.9 years. All men had taken steroids in the past, but had abstained from them 8-12 weeks preceding the study. Methandienone, Stanozolol, Nandrolone, and a Testosterone preparation containing testosterone propionate, phenylpropionate, isocaproate, and decanoate were all self-administered throughout the 26-week cycle. The total dosage of all pharmaceuticals progressed from an initial mean dosage of 0.22 mg/kg/day to the highest mean dosage of 0.37 mg/kg/day. Serum testosterone levels tended to increase until abruptly dropping below normal levels during cessation. All subjects were trained with weights during the study, but no aerobic exercise was performed. Throughout the 26 weeks; body weight increased from 86.8 ±11.4 kg to 92.0 ±9.2, lean body weight increased from 72.8 ±7.5 to 80.6 ±7.4, and body fat decreased from 15.6 ±6.4% to 12.1 ±4.8%. The average caloric intake was reported at 15400 kJ with a protein intake of 2.3 g/kg. Four subjects developed gynecomastia, which appeared at week 20 and lasted until 12 weeks after cessation of the pharmaceuticals (Alen, Reinila, Vihko, & Reijo, 1985).

Hurley attempts to dramatize the dosages of pharmaceuticals used by the athletes by drawing reference to the dose usually administered for androgenic deficiency. This is a misleading reference to judge athletic dosages, since anabolic-androgenic steroids are often used in greater dosages for purposes other than androgen deficiency. For example, Hurley illustrates Oxymetholone (Anadrol) was used by one subject in an average dosage of 87.5 mg/day, 5.8 times than usually administered for androgen deficiency. The subjects' dosage was approximately only 1 mg/kg body weight per day (Hurley, Seals, Hagberg, Goldberg, Ostrove, Holloszy, Wiest, & Goldberg, 1984). The actual recommended dosage for children and adults is 1-5 mg/kg body weight per day for a minimum of 3 to 6 months (Physicians Desk Reference, 1993).

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