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Steroids and other PEDs had been in fairly widespread use in bodybuilding and Olympic lifting during the late 50s and early 60s, especially internationally. While the iron sports kept a pretty low profile, the performance benefits of steroids started seeping into other, more popular, sports such as cycling and track and field. Their use proliferated, particularly in Olympic lifting, cycling, and track, as well as other professional sports, particularly football - baseball came way later (at least that's what most people think).
While the NFL and MLB were still decades away from a published steroid policy, an uproar was starting to build among top level amateur athletes amid failed drug tests and the marked increase in disqualifications in cycling and Olympic lifting, but nothing made quite enough noise to raise many eyebrows. Then, in 1988, at the summer Olympics in Seoul, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson streaked down the 100 meters in 9.76 seconds and made them the most talked about sequence of numbers in recorded history next to 666.
It's not so much that Johnson tested positive for Winstrol after the race and ostensibly cheated his way to the world record. It had more to do with the Canadian beating the American favorite, Carl Lewis, by cheating - by using steroids! - in what's considered the most popular of all summer Olympic sports. Among the Walmart crowd, the only way Canada could beat America was to cheat. Be that as it may, controversy breeds contempt just as well as it breeds headlines, and now steroids had a face: a revered champion of the most hallowed of Olympic sports. Johnson was surely a role model for millions of kids. The proposed message that sends to our youth, combined with growing alarmist reports that high school football players were using steroids, and the politicians had the hors d'oeuvre they needed to get dinner started.
After Johnson's disqualification in 1988, and into 1990, Congressional hearings were held to determine whether the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to include anabolic steroids along with more serious drugs like Valium, opiates, and amphetamines. Congress was able to call witnesses whose stories would help support criminalization, including an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, a guy named Kenneth Kashin, who spoke, verbatim, the words the politicians wanted to hear. The good doctor testified that "steroid use can cause an addiction with similarities to alcohol, opiate, and cocaine addiction." He talked about "dangerous criminal-like behavior while intoxicated on anabolic steroids" and individuals who have "lost control of their behavior," or "became violent." Yes, this puppet show really went on.
When all was said and done, despite the opposition of the DEA, AMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and the recommendations of the most knowledgeable experts, Congress changed the classification of anabolic steroids to a Schedule III controlled substances under Title 21 of the United States Code, which regulates food and drugs.
This is an incredibly significant milestone in the demonization history of steroids, especially where bodybuilding is concerned. It marks a turning point where a series of very interesting questions were being unanimously answered by American athletes, particularly bodybuilders, not to mention federation officials, judges, promoters, magazine publishers, supplement company executives, basically the entire iron industry. The dawn of the 90's ushered in the era of advanced pharmacology in bodybuilding just in time for the government to make most of it a federal felony.
The unanimous decision everyone ultimately made was to ignore the law. Since the law was passed 26 years ago, there isn't the slightest inkling that the entire bodybuilding industry -not only the competitors, but also the entire cottage industry that feeds off their bodies – recognizes a federal law that prohibits steroid use, trafficking, importing, buying it over the internet, possessing it, etc.
Given the multitude of obvious, illegal drug-using bodybuilders out there, at least ten a week, and/or their dealers, should be getting popped all over the country. But they aren't. High profile bodybuilders, and most other athletes for that matter, seem almost immune to the law of the land.
So, you have to ask, what motivated Congress to ignore the advice of the experts and bulldoze this legislation through? Page after page of congressional testimony focused on just two points. First, the unfair advantage the steroid user has over those who don't use them; and second, Congress was able to leverage the nefariousness of cheating with the unsavory message that steroid use in top-level sports sends to our youth. If nothing else it would take the spotlight off of the pro athletes getting arrested for domestic violence charges, coke busts, sex offenses and dog fighting. It's none of that, kids, it's steroids that sully the image of sports for you. Remember, cheating is bad. Especially if baseball is involved.
However, after two decades on the books it wasn't the cheating athletes who were getting caught. For its intent, the law was a flop. What happened was that thousands of otherwise law-abiding Americans - not athletes, but mature adult males - have been arrested, arraigned, prosecuted, convicted, forfeited property, lost their jobs and their licenses, and sentenced to prison for the personal use of anabolic steroids. Virtually none of them have been top pro bodybuilders, Olympic athletes, NFL players and certainly not baseball players. They're not cheating in sports; they're not even playing sports. But they're the ones being dragged through the system by a law that was never meant for them.
Hundreds of pages of congressional transcript focused on promoting the even playing field in sports and defending our precious youth. Not a single word was ever paid to the probability that a healthy adult male, running a light cycle of test and deca to enhance the effects of his training, would be arrested and prosecuted. He's no one's role model and he's not cheating any other athletes. He's not bothering anybody. Yet I know for a fact that the nation's top steroid law firms' files would support the claim that it is he, not the cheating athlete, being snared.
In light of the number of big-named athletes not appearing in the press on steroid charges, there were, nevertheless, widespread reports of steroid use among athletes using them to cheat. There was not yet any real danger associated with them. Of course there were reports of side effects and overdrawn reports of rage, but nothing to really irk the public in terms of the dangers steroids represent, especially to our precious youth.
It was pretty much accepted that athletes are prone to cheating and probably using steroids to do so, but at what cost? Simply passing a law to target the athlete wasn't enough (never mind the fact that it wasn't even working). America needed a stronger message to send our darling children. Cheating isn't just immoral, cheating had to be dangerous because steroids are bad drugs. Right??
A year after the legislation was passed, the most feared man in the NFL, Lyle Alzado, was diagnosed with brain cancer he said was brought on by steroid use. A year after he was diagnosed, he died from it: a frail, weak, quivering shadow of the man he used to be. Now, according to the media, steroids had openly claimed their first victim, a high ranking NFL star who died from steroids. The only problem? It wasn't true.
Of course the truth didn't matter. The health dangers of steroids now officially had a face, and it was selling like hotcakes on the multi-media machine. Kids looked up to Lyle, then he took steroids and he lied and then he died because he lied and took steroids.
This set the stage for what was about to come. Steroid hysteria was in full swing. Any aberrant violent behavior, murder or suicide involving any athlete and Geraldo Rivera would immediately "smell steroids" with that enormous schnozz of his. News reports would abound about how - without any proof - steroids caused or contributed to such shocking behavior, while completely ignoring much more relevant factors such as being on mismanaged psychotropic drugs, narcotic pain killers, alcohol or a combination thereof, with or without underlying psychosis.
The ensuing years brought us another pivotal point in the demonization history of steroids: the infamous baseball strike. More to the point, the subsequent resurrection of the game that had all but died during the strike.
The players going back to work wasn't enough to refill the stadiums. Nope, the strike-weary fans still weren't very happy. What baseball needed was some excitement. It needed a home run race and the Bash Brothers and Roger Maris getting bumped out of the way. They needed McGwire and Sosa and Barry Bonds cracking them out of the park in a seemingly endless volley, racking up home runs like nobody's business. The fans came screaming back. MLB had its best year in history: a ten-digit payday at the very height of the steroid scandal, while the players who made it happen - who were told to do "whatever it takes" to make it happen - were getting thrown under the bus. The game was juiced and even Jose Canseco said so.
In 2004, during his state of the Union Address, President Bush (former managing partner of the team for which Canseco played and earned the nickname "The Godfather of Steroids") demanded a crackdown on the drugs "because they are dangerous and send a bad message to our youth." Weeks later, then Attorney General, John Ashcroft, read the indictment of Victor Conte and three others involved in the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (later to become infamous as "BALCO") on national TV - the scandal that later metastasized and drew Barry Bonds into the fold. All the while Congress convened and reconvened and held hearing after hearing on steroids in baseball to the shameful degree that it spent more time talking about steroids than it did the economy, the war in Iraq or why the levies broke during hurricane Katrina, combined.
During one of those hearings, testimony was given by a guy named Don Hooton who blamed steroids for his son Taylor's suicide, as well as baseball itself for sending this lethal message to our youth. Hooton's convincing testimony chastising the idols of the great American pastime caught the attention of international news media and within minutes cemented Taylor Hooton's face among Alzado's and Johnson's when he gave teen steroid death a name that became a household word.
A handsome, white, 17 year-old high school baseball player from Texas named Taylor, cut down in the prime of his youth by the evil Schedule III drug that pro ball players use to cheat at America's great pastime... You might as well dress up as Hitler and set fire to the flag on your front lawn on Veteran's Day.
To us, Don Hooton's campaign is a laughing stock replete with sophomoric scare tactics and loads of erroneous suppositions, misinformation and outright lies. To the millions of bodybuilding forum members, Don Hooton is a tool. While that's a sad thing considering he buried his son, the truth is that for over a decade neither he, nor his Taylor Hooton Foundation, have proffered a singe truth when it comes to anabolic steroids. In no other single instance in the history of the steroid debate has the alarmist with the agenda made out as well for himself as Don Hooton, and mislead more people - including congress - doing it.
Either way, he's not getting his son back. Alzado's son isn't getting his dad back and no one can forget Johnson's nine-seven-six. So, rather than rile suburban soccer parents with sensationalistic lies that have the sky falling on our children, why not just tell the truth? Forget the reality of their widespread use in professional sports, good science has demonstrated a real time and place for steroids among healthy adult males, especially as they age. But, that doesn't make headlines.
Today, steroids are perhaps a bit less vilified and have, in fact, been inducted into the modern American lexicon. "On steroids" is a phrase openly accepted even in advertising to depict the deluxe version of just about anything from pick-up trucks to non-stick cookware. Baseball is boring again. And any time any athlete ever does anything noteworthy it will automatically be assumed that he's "on steroids."
Chances are he is and no government willing to enforce laws against it is ever going to stop him.
Just remember, the public stigma against steroids may have relaxed a little and the government may have decided they've had enough congressional hearings on steroids, but that doesn't mean that getting popped for them isn't still a reality, nor that the effect that a bust will have on you and your family will be anything less than profound, and it will get worse when your local paper runs the story. Apparently, this is what's known as "evolution."
A bulking cycle seems to be the end all to getting big. Guys ask me almost daily, “what's the best bulking cycle?” “What's the bulking cycle that works? The problem with most of these dudes is that a bulking cycle that works is the last thing they need, literally, the last. That's not to say a bulking cycle that works isn't for them, it's just not what they need now. For most of these guys, a bulking cycle is putting the cart before the horse.
So, what comes before the bulking cycle that works? Two things: Diet and training. Oh, wait, you already haver those two things dialed in right? I mean you eat “clean” and train like a dog. You're ready for a bulking cycle that works, right? Absolutely, if the foregoing were true. But, I can tell you, based on 30 plus years of performance coaching, most guys starting out in the muscle game are delusional. Their “clean diet” is poorly calculated and really not as clean as they think. And, their training? If I had a dollar for every time a guy told me how hard he trains, who in reality trains all wrong, I wouldn't have to be writing this right now; I'd be in a high-rise in Miami beach drooling over my wife's latest lingerie purchase. Even the Cross Fit guys I work with are astounded at the fact that they're crushing PR's every single week, just by following my diet. So, before you even dream about a bulking cycle that works, make sure your diet and your training are dialed in. If that bedrock of muscle building is solidly in place you'll get better results on your bulking cycle, with less drugs.
Now, assuming that your diet and training are on point, the bulking cycle that works is the one that is going to take full advantage of your perfect diet and stellar training effort. A bulking cycle that works will accomplish two things: growth and repair of muscle tissue. Of course there may be ancillary benefits to body composition and other health markers, but we don't employ bulking cycles for any other reason but to get big. So, here's the secret: A bulking cycle that works (for adult men) is broken down into three facets. Not necessarily equally important, nor, depending on the individual, necessary. The first is the sex hormone stack, the second is the peptide hormone stack, the third is insulin. In that order.
Lets take the sex hormones first. The original steroid guru, Dan Duchaine famously once said, “if you don't grow on testosterone and Deca, you're not going to.” It's been almost 40 years since he made that statement and, so far, no truer words have been spoken.
Sex hormones are categorized in terms of their anabolic and androgenic characteristics. Anabolic refers to their ability to affect anabolic activity (growth) in muscle. Androgenic refers to the secondary sexual characteristics of a male. Using testosterone as a baseline, those compounds that are more anabolic and less androgenic than testosterone are deemed “anabolic.” those that are more androgenic and less anabolic than testosterone are considered “androgenic.” in order to build significant muscle, a bulking cycle that works would include a sex hormone stack that is both highly anabolic and only mildly androgenic.
Any decent description of steroid compounds will disclose both their anabolic and androgenic rating. While testosterone and Deca are indeed a benchmark stack for a bulking cycle that works, there are certainly other stacks that accomplish the same thing. What the user is looking for is a stack that is only mildly androgenic and concomitantly highly anabolic. Choices are usually made based on availability, toxicity, propensity to aromatize, ester length, price, etc. but, at the end of the day, the Occam's Razor of a bulking cycle that works could easily echo those above mentioned words of Duchaine; it is, without a doubt, the simplest answer: testosterone and deca. Of course you could add to that; anadrol or dianabol for the first few weeks of the bulking cycle is a popular addition, but for the most part, testosterone and just about any other steroid on top of it is the backbone of any bulking cycle that works.
Peptide hormones such as HGH (human growth hormone) or IGF-1 Are usually part of a bulking cycle that works. While peptides are deemed by some as not packing enough effect to be worth their expense, by today's standards, a bulking cycle that works will contain at least growth hormone, if not growth hormone plus ancillary peptides such as IGF-1, IGF-1LR3, etc. These stacks can get very very expensive and are usually reserved for elite level athletes. However, it's not to say that 4 – 6 IU of HGH a day wouldn't be highly effective in creating a strong anabolic and fat burning synergy when stacked on top of the testosterone plus a steroid bulking stack to construct the ultimate bulking cycle that works.
The final element is insulin. I'm only brining it up because so many people bring it up online and discuss it's use, usually littered with errors and dangerous practice. While insulin is considered perhaps the most anabolic hormone on the planet, it's use is not always recommended. Certain body types don't respond well to it, it's difficult to manage and if you screw up you can fall into a coma and die. If you're a hard gainer and are one of those guys that stays lean eating burgers and fries, then you're probably a good candidate for insulin. If you get fat easily, you're not. You also have to remember that insulin and growth hormone pretty much cancel each other out. So, you have to space out your use of each. Insulin is tricky to use, it can kill you, make you fat, or help you add slabs of muscle. My position for most users is that adding insulin to you bulking stack is probably not a good idea. However, with all the bro science available on line, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how, or even if, insulin fits into a bulking cycle that works. Because of it's deadly component, I'm not going to outline how to use it here. If you don't know how to use it you need to hire someone who does. Insulin can be incredibly effective for the right kind of user, and incredibly problematic for the inappropriate user or the uninformed.
Now that the components have been listed what does a bulking cycle that works look like? For a 200 pound bodybuilder with fairly low body fat, it should look like this:
Week 1 -20:
1,000 mg testosterone cypionate + 400mg Deca once weekly
4iu growth hormone per day
Week 1 – 8
50mg Anadrol + 20mg Dianabol per day
Obviously your diet must be dialed in to provide adequate nutrients to build muscle and fuel your intense workouts, but, as the original Guru said, if you don't grow on this, you're not going to. I'm purposely leaving out insulin, but will say that elite bodybuilders routinely use 10 – 20 units a day in conjunction with an exact protocol for its use.
The final component to a bulking cycle that works is routine blood work and post cycle therapy (PCT). Blood work is vital to knowing what's going on in your body as it reacts to the hormones you're pumping in. A baseline blood panel should be run before you start your bulking cycle. It should include not only a CBC (complete blood count), but also free testosterone, prolactin and estradiol. Another similar test should be run midway through your cycle at week 10 before deciding if you need an anti-estrogen, and another one at week 20 before running PCT, and another one 30 days after PCT. These blood panels will indicate important items affected by steroid use such as hormone levels, cholesterol, kidney and liver function as well as red blood cell activity, triglycerides and other markers of health. A good coach should know how to read your blood work and advise you on how and what to run for PCT, if anything, and to keep you apprised of any potential problem that could develop and what to do about them.
Employing the foregoing under the care of a sympathetic physician, clinician or knowledgable coach will help you add a good amount of muscle to your physique with the least insult to your body.
Anytime any dude ever picked up a bottle of Anavar, it was usually for his girl friend. Conventional thinking would usually not consider 2.5 mg of Anavar (oxandrolone) per pill anything worthy of a big guy. But, in today's ever changing landscape of performance enhancement, nothing could be further from the truth. For those who know, Anavar is one of the very best performance enhancing drugs for maintaining strength, power and endurance, especially for athletes competing in drug tested events.
These athletes, as well as bodybuilders and recreational steroid users, really took notice of Anavar when it was ranked number one, with respect to its risk to benefit ratio, by the original steroid guru, Dan Duchaine. What prompted Duchaine to give Anavar such high marks back in the early 1980's is still true today. Anavar imparts an undeniable ergogenic effect with very low liver toxicity, nor other undesirable side effects. This has made Anavar one of the most popular steroids of all time among both men and women. But, today, because Anavar has such a profound effect on maintaining muscle mass with no undesirable side effects, and because it clears the body in less then three weeks, it has become a favored “bridging drug” for athletes going into drug tested competitions such as Cross Fit.
Anavar was originally marketed under the trade name Oxandrin by Searle laboratories in the mid 1960's for the treatment of numerous disease that caused patience to lose muscle mass. Shortly thereafter it became one of the first oral steroids to hit the bodybuilding scene. Eventually, Searle was bought out by Pfizer and, unbeknownst to anyone, Anavar was removed from the shelves. When the AIDS epidemic began to spread in the mid 80's Anavar, now referred to by its chemical name, oxandrolone, became a preferred prescription item favored by rouge doctors treating AIDS patients, because Anavar proved to combat muscle wasting and increase muscle mass and strength with very little water retention and little to no insult to the liver or other undesirable side effects.
Anavar eventually became favored by female athletes because, at just 2.5mg per tablet, it was mildly dosed and caused little to no androgenic side effects. The fact that it was not an injectable was also appealing to women. That's how it became known as a “girl drug.” But, make no mistake, Anavar is a potent drug, very much in use by men.
Because Anavar does not have a propensity to cause the body to hold water, many hard training bodybuilders, following a strict diet, would usually notice a bigger and more defined physique. However, in higher doses, up to 50 – 100mg a day, those using Anavar at the end of a growth/ strength cycle, leading into a drug tested event, athletes claimed that their muscles seemed more full and defined and were able to generate strength almost on par with the PR's they hit during off season training. They also noted no deleterious effect to their blood pressure or other telltale side effects. Hence, used properly, even in high doses, Anavar seemed to be a safe, high quality, steroid that athletes could use to either put the finish on a physique leading into a competition, or the best fast-clearing drug to use heading into a drug tested event, not to mention a mild steroid perfectly suited to women.
When using oral steroids, liver toxicity is always a concern. Anavar is one of the few oral compounds that is 17 alpha alkylated. This refers to a synthetic addition of an alkyl group to the 17 carbon position of the steroid backbone. The idea behind this is to allow the steroid to avoid first pass liver metabolic degradation and thus prevent any deactivation of the steroid. This results in Anavar causing no strain on the liver if used in moderate dosages (up to 50mg a day) for long periods of time. Due to the fact that it is not liver toxic, Anavar has even been prescribed to people with hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver.
Summing it up, Anavar has proven to be a vital tool in the protocol of drug tested athletes. Anavar allows them to maintain much of their off season strength gains and still pass a drug test because Anavar clears the body of its metabolites fairly quickly. In higher doses (up to 100mg a day) leading into a drug tested competition, Anavar allows users to reap the benefits of performance enhancing drugs and, dialed in properly, still pass their drug test.
Testosterone use in sports to increase performance was a fairly modern invention. However, the idea to increase performance using a variety of substances far predates testosterone use in sports. In 776 BC, the first Olympic Games was held in Athens, Greece. The very next thing that happened was that the participating athletes consumed various substances to increase their performance. Employing a variety of methods, save for game fixing, there is evidence that they gorged themselves on meat - not a normal dietary staple of the Greeks - and experimented with herbal extracts, wine potions, used hallucinogens and ate animal hearts and testicles in search of increased performance. But, testosterone in sports was still centuries away....
In 100 AD. Chariot racers fed their horses substances such as hydromel (an alcoholic beverage made from honey) to make them run faster. Gladiators used various hallucinogens and stimulants, such as strychnine, to stave off fatigue and injury and to improve the intensity of their performance. Late 19th century, French cyclists and lacrosse players drank wine and coca leaves to fight fatigue and hunger. In 1904, Olympic marathon runner, Thomas Hicks, used a mixture of brandy and strychnine to try to boost his performance and nearly died. Mixtures of strychnine, heroin, cocaine, and caffeine were used widely by athletes of the era, and each team developed its own unique secret formulas. This was common practice until heroin and cocaine became available only by prescription in the 1920s.
Testosterone in sports didn't materialize until the 1940 in Germany. According to historical and anecdotal accounts, the Nazis tested testosterone on prisoners, Gestapos and even Hitler himself was noted to have used testosterone. (According to his physician, Hitler's mental state toward the end of his life exhibited characteristics that some scientists associate with heavy steroid use: mania, acute paranoid psychoses, overly aggressive and violent behavior, depression and suicidal ideology). During this period, testosterone and its analogs were used by German soldiers to promote aggressiveness and physical strength. Subsequently, the idea was hatched to employ testosterone in sports. Officially known as State Plan 14.25, the East Germans conducted a decades-long program of coercive administration and distribution of testosterone and other steroids to increase performance of its elite athletes to bolster the Communists State’s prestige by winning Olympic medals. The East Germans had been such pioneers in doping that they were considered to be the inventor of testosterone use in sports.
So good were the results of the East Germans, the rest of the world had followed suit. By the 1960's, the genie was so far out of the bottle that there was no going back, despite bans and laws attempting to prevent the use of testosterone in sports. Today, it is almost impossible to compete in elite sports without contending with the use of testosterone and other steroids. Testosterone in sports is here to stay. Virtually every elite athlete competing today is faced with the use of testosterone in sports. They either have to try to employ training methods to over run those using performance enhancing drugs, or find a way to use them and not get caught. Either way, testosterone use in sports is so prolific and wide spread that a well known and respected authority of performance enhancement recently stated that, “the only athletes not using testosterone in sports are those at the end of the pack, and even among them, performance enhancing drugs are more than likely prevalent.”