Strength training with or without anabolic steroids | This is the difference
Pick a few fanatic natural athletes from the weight room, determine their body composition, and compare your measurements with those of a few equally avid athletes who use anabolic steroids. How big are the differences exactly? A small study, which researchers at the University of Umea published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2012, provides an answer.
The researcher used DEXA scans to determine the body composition of 17 men who had been fanatically training with weights 4-6 times a week for at least 5 years. They were weightlifters, powerlifters and bodybuilders who competed. 10 of them used anabolics, 7 were natural.
For comparison, the Swedes also scanned 17 healthy men who regularly engaged in recreational sports, but not as frequently and intensively as the strength athletes.
The steroid cycles of the users varied. Weekly doses of testosterone, nandrolone and boldenone ranged from 250-2000 milligrams, 200-7000 milligrams and 500-1000 milligrams, respectively. Some users also took insulin, growth hormone and IGF-1.
The natural strength athletes had 15 kilos more muscle mass than the men in the control group. The anabolic users again had 11 kilos more muscle mass than the natural athletes.
The body fat percentage of the natural athletes was about the same as that of the men in the control group. However, the fat percentage of the users was significantly lower than that of both the control group and the natural strength athletes.
Click on the figure below for a larger version.
The scans also showed that the strength athletes had stronger bones than the men in the control group. [Table] The use of anabolics was not a significant factor.
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"Thus, long-term anabolic androgenic steroid use seems to alter body constitution, favoring higher muscle mass and reduced [...] fat mass without affecting bone mineral density", summarize the researchers.
The difference between users and non-users may be less significant in real life than this study suggests. The users in this study were on average 11 years older than the natural athletes. So they may also have had more time to build muscle and learn how to control their fat percentage.
J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jan;26(1):246-50.
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