Traditionally, we associated steroid use with athletes – homerun “heroes”, pro wrestlers and high school hopefuls. Taking them was thought of as an illegal and frowned-upon but all too present and permanent practice in sports. Unfortunately, the end of a two-year investigation in late September changed that thought, expanding it to include, well, everyone. In a bust that closed down 56 steroid labs, seized 533 pounds of steroid powder and arrested more than 120 people, the truth about anabolic steroids was told. Everyone from personal trainers to firefighters to average Joes were ordering steroids. As long as they had a credit card and an address, nothing was stopping them. And that was troubling, for so many reasons.
Anabolic steroids are often prescribed by doctors to treat testosterone deficiency , certain forms of anemia and decreased muscle mass due to AIDS or a similar serious condition. Those are the only occasions when it is legal, but they aren’t the only times it happens. Men and women ingest anabolic steroids illegally, hoping to build muscles, all the time. They generally succeed, but only after they’ve risked their health and faced numerous side effects. Steroid use can lead to liver and heart damage, poor cholesterol levels, depression, rage, violence and drug dependence. In men, it can stimulate baldness and breast growth, shrink testicles, create a higher voice and cause infertility. Women face, essentially, the opposite: more body hair and appetite, an enlarged clitoris and a deeper voice. In the end, steroid users may have more muscle, but they also have a host of abnormalities and health risks that could cut their “strong” life short. Does that mean, then, that you should beat down your bodybuilding urges?
No. If you really want to bulk up, you should do so. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend that everyone amass a little muscle, but the natural way. Anabolic steroids are never the answer. The right weight lifting regime can add definition to your body, easily. Just assess your ability before you begin and adjust the intensity every month or so to avoid a building-plateau. Should you need a little extra boost, consider safe, legal products such as protein bars, powder mixes and meal replacements (for more info on protein products and bulking up look back to the Lucky Blog post “Whey Outta the Park: How Protein Can Help On and Off the Athletic Field”). You can get the bicep you’ve dreamed of without ignoring your health or the law. It’s simply a matter of knowing how and staying safe.