January 25, 2019 at 12:00 am #8409
The Complete Idiots Guide To Anabolic Steroids Part I
What are they and what do they do?
Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS) is a term used to describe testosterone or a derivative of testosterone that either occurs naturally or is produced in a lab. The “anabolic” part of the name refers to the ability of the hormone to cause muscular growth, while the “androgenic” part refers to the ability of the hormone to cause an increase in secondary sexual characteristics or masculinizing side effects (i.e. deepening of voice, hair growth, etc.). Many people will refer to a particular steroid as being more anabolic than androgenic or vice versa, but let’s keep in mind that they all have both characteristics, as the same receptors mediate both responses.
We also like to talk about lots of different kinds of AAS, but they’re all very similar in one regard. They’re based on the same structure with some modifications added to affect various binding affinities, half-lives, etc. With a small change in chemical structure, we can see a very large change in what the hormone actually does. To illustrate this point, look at this picture and see how very closely related plain androstenedione and estrogen are to the testosterone molecule.
Now if you’re still truly unaware of what they do, we may have to have a little talk about taking some remedial reading classes. Obviously, people use AAS to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. Of course, if you listen to many within the medical community, you’ll hear that it’s all the placebo effect. You should tell that to the largest meathead you can find and see if roid rage is true too! Okay, okay, we can be serious and get a little more into what AAS actually do on a practical and an academic level here. When used in a supraphysiologic dose, AAS cause a great deal of nitrogen retention, nervous system activation (to the point of insomnia for many users), increased strength, increased recovery, as well as the aforementioned increase in muscle mass and decrease in body fat.
How does all of this happen?
Well, we know some of it, and we just plead ignorance for now about other parts of it. The main actions of AAS seem to be mediated through the androgen receptor. Testosterone molecules either float free in your bloodstream or are bound to sex hormone binding globulin (or testosterone binding globulin). If they’re free, they diffuse across your cell membrane and directly bind to the androgen receptor. If it’s bound, the entire complex enters the cell through a specific receptor mediated mechanism, then binds the androgen receptor. Once the androgen receptor is bound, it is ACTIVATED FULLY. Things aren’t done half-assed by certain molecules and better by others. This is an important concept to remember when we talk about how certain steroids work. Binding affinity is how long each molecule stays bound to the androgen receptor and activates it. This trait varies widely among such otherwise similar molecules. Once bound, the complex travels to the cell nucleus and promotes protein synthesis.
There is also some research that seems to show us that AAS work through mechanisms other than the androgen receptor as well. Proposed mechanisms include reaction with glucocorticoid receptors, differentiation of muscle satellite cells into mature muscle cells, and a host of others that aren’t necessarily as well substantiated as of yet. For this reason, people often do their best to combine steroids that seem to work primarily through the androgen receptor with those who seem to exert their effects primarily through other mechanisms. Is this grounds for a black and white, two class system of categorizing steroids? My honest answer is that I don’t know just yet. From what I’ve seen, there seems to be a continuum of steroids from those that cause nearly all of their action through the androgen receptor and those that seem to act primarily by other mechanisms. The truth is probably that most act through a combination of the two. Time will tell.
Who should use them?
I’m a realist here, folks. I realize that there is probably nothing that I can say that will convince you to either use or not use steroids. In fact, I’m not even going to try. What I can do is give you information and my opinion about who would best benefit from use with minimal long term side effects.
First of all, I don’t think that any teenager should ever touch a steroid. I’m sure you’ve all heard the line about how teenagers are a raging ball of hormones, blah, blah. Sure that’s true, and they have tremendous potential for natural growth with lots of food and hard training, but try telling that to a young kid who wants to get “swole”. So, we can appeal to their vain side. The truth is that AAS can cause a premature closure of the growth plate in long bones in anybody not fully physically mature. Want to take steroids when you’re 15? Hope you like how tall you are now, buddy, cause that’s likely how tall you’re ever gonna be. On a practical note, if you’re using before you have at least five or so years of training under your belt, how can you ever know what you’re capable of naturally? How will you ever learn to fine-tune your diet and training if you’ve always been assisted? Take the time to learn your body and how it responds to various things. Get near that magical natural limit or at least somewhere in the ballpark, THEN assist yourself in getting over that limit.
Again, I realize I’m probably not convincing anybody with their mind made up already, but I can’t say that I didn’t try.
Also, it’s my opinion that you should be fairly lean before you embark on a cycle. Twelve percent bodyfat seems like a good number to start at. If you’re above that, then you need to diet down. Research shows that overfeeding a lower starting bodyfat percentage leads to a greater percentage gain of lean mass than in those who start out with high bodyfat levels. If you’re going to make the effort to do a cycle, then why not get the most you possibly can out of it?
Orals vs. Injectables
Orals are a man’s best friend and we tend to like them from hot blondes. Oh wait, we’re still talking about steroids, aren’t we. Hmmm…Anyway, it’s pretty obvious that orals are the more convenient to take. The same reason that we can take some steroids orally is the reason that we tend to limit their use to short periods of time. The steroid is modified by adding an alkyl group to the 17th position on the steroid molecule. Whenever we ingest something orally and it is absorbed by the GI tract, it must pass through the liver before it gets into the general circulation. This alkylation of the steroid molecule allows the steroid to survive this pass through the liver and enter our general circulation. The unfortunate part of this is that these groups seem to impart some liver toxicity to the steroid. Invariably, after several weeks of oral steroid use, you will see a rise in your liver enzymes. They most often return to normal after the use is discontinued, but whether this is doing any permanent damage or not is still up for debate. Keeping this in mind, do you have to use orals? Absolutely not. Will you grow three heads and will your liver explode if you use orals? Nah, but don’t discount the possibility that long-term use of oral AAS could have the possibility of giving you long-term liver damage. The risk is probably overstated, but I’d rather be safe than sorry when it comes to my body. Bottom line, keep your oral use to a relatively brief time. Six to eight weeks seems to work for most people.
Now onto injectables. I know, you big sissy, that you want no part of sticking a needle in your silky smooth skin. Well, you’re just gonna have to get over that one. If you want to fully take advantage of AAS, you’re going to have to use injectables. In fact, many very good cycles are only injectables. After you get over the initial fear and just do it, you’ll be just fine with it and might even look forward to injecting like some sick puppy. Based on real world feedback, there are a lot of sick puppies out there!
We won’t go over injectable steroids in too much detail as they’re pretty self explanatory. Briefly, you inject intramuscularly (NOT intravenously!) either an oil-based or water-based solution containing the steroid. Water-based are fairly short acting and need to be injected more frequently. Oil-based are generally longer acting (although this doesn’t apply to all) and need to be injected less frequently as the oil tend to slow the absorption of the steroid. Other factors come into play, such as the half-life of the steroid itself, which is the time is takes for half of the steroid to disappear from the bloodstream. The shorter the half-life, the more frequently you have to inject to keep blood levels at a constant level. You would tend to think that injecting more frequently is simply a pain in the ass, no pun intended, and that a once-a-week injection would be preferable. Shorter acting steroids have the advantage of being cleared more rapidly, which is great for those who undergo scheduled drug testing. Some people also claim to “feel” the steroid working more rapidly when using short acting versions.
Since we’re in to being practical with our information and assuming that nobody knows anything about the steroid game, we can go over basic injection technique. If you want a great website that goes over this in even more detail than I will, please visit http://www.spotinjections.com.
Transfer of the liquid from amp or vial to your syringe will depend on how your prize comes packaged. An amp can be opened by simply grabbing the top part and snapping it off. Some people like to use pre-made amp openers. Some use the cap of a ball point pen. You can use your fingers with a towel if you want. Just don’t cut yourself on the glass. Once you snap off the top, you can just suck out the liquid with your syringe, and you’re ready to go. If you’ve got a sealed vial with a rubber stopper, we have to do things as cleanly as possible, as we’re going to use the same vial repeatedly. The first thing to do is to clean the top of the vial with an alcohol wipe. Simple but effective. Next, we take the vial and turn it upside down with the rubber stopper facing the floor. Take your syringe with the needle on it and before you stick it in the vial, pull back the plunger to the number of cc’s that you want to inject. Now, with the vial still upside down, stick the needle through the rubber stopper. Push the plunger all the way in to inject air into the vial. This creates positive pressure in the vial that will allow the fluid to more easily flow into your syringe. Now, pull back the plunger to whatever amount you need and remove. This probably sounds more complicated than it really is, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Quickly, clean vial, pull back, stick in, push in, pull back. Once you do it a few times, you won’t even think about it.
Now, you’ve got your vial full of steroid and ready to go. Before we go injecting, a quick hint that will allow you to inject more easily and possibly with a smaller needle. Heat up the syringe for a few minutes using either hot water or a hair dryer. This allows the oil to flow more freely and makes injecting much easier.
The easiest spot to inject is in the buttocks. That’s the ass to all of you pottymouths. To find the right spot, you’ll want to draw a vertical line down the center of your cheek and a horizontal line in the middle also to make four quadrants. It’s the upper outer quadrant that we want to inject into to avoid blood vessels and your sciatic nerve. Believe me, if you hit your sciatic, you’ll never make that mistake again! Conveniently, the right spot to inject is also the easiest to reach if you’re doing your own injections. If your life partner is helping you, that’s fine as well. Now, take an alcohol wipe and clean the areas you want to inject into. There are various injection techniques that you may want to learn at a later time, but we’ll stick with the most basic for now for convenience. Take the loaded syringe and hold it at a 90? angle to the skin. Now just stick it in at that angle. No need to go slow, as you only have a significant number of pain receptors in the skin and not many deeper. Once you’re in all the way, pull back on the plunger for a second or two. If you aspirate blood into the syringe, you’re probably in a vein and need to pull out and try again. If you don’t get anything (actually, you’ll get some air bubbles), you’re good to go. Injecting too quickly is often a source of trauma to the area and unnecessary pain, so take your time. Some people will go as slowly as one cc per minute. I know you want to get the needle out of you as quickly as possible, but it’s worth in the long haul. Once you’re done, just pull it out and hold some pressure with a piece of gauze for a few minutes to make sure the bleeding’s stopped. Put a Band-Aid on (preferably a Sesame Street character) and pull your pants up. Remember that forgetting to pull your pants up is bad form and will result in style points deductions from the French judge.
If you’re doing frequent injections, you’ll want to rotate sites as much as possible to give each site a break. The thigh is another common site that people use and is easily accessed. To find the proper spot to use, you can stand at attention with your arms hanging at your sides and make note of where your middle finger reaches on your leg. This is about midway down your thigh on the outside part of it. Same techniques as before apply.
The shoulder/delt is the final site that we’ll discuss. This is one pretty simple. Aim for the middle; it’s that simple.
The issue of needle size and length is a personal one for the most part. Experience will tell you what you can and should use. For comfort’s sake, you’ll want to use the smallest needle you can pass the steroid through. Needle sizes are measured as the width across the opening of the needle and are represented as gauge (G). The lower the number, the bigger across the needle, and vice versa. So an 18G needle is very big, while a 27G needle is very small. A typical size used for glute injections is a 1.5 inch 22G needle. Leaner guys can use a 1” needle and some people will prefer a higher gauge for comfort. Just don’t go any bigger than 22G as there’s no need, and you’ll end up taking cores of skin everytime you inject. A 1” needle for thigh shots works well, and a 5/8” needle for delt injections seems to work for most. If you’re fat, you should be dieting and not using steroids, but if you do, you will have to use a longer needle to reach the intramuscular space.
Well, we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg here, and we still have lots more to cover. Tune in to Part II for a discussion about common steroids and how to use them best, about cycle planning and how to best avoid nasty side effects, and about anything and everything practical I can think of to give you. I realize that this is an article at the most basic level, but as I stated earlier, I want everybody to be on the same page before we delve into deeper issues. Feedback is a plus, and we’ll go wherever you want with this in the future
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.