- Exercise & Fitness
Steroids vs Natuaral body building
Steroid vs Natural Body building
I started using a gym at the age of 14, initially to build myself up for rugby and at the age of 18 the body building took over and once I started work at 19 and was able to afford extra food I went from 11 stone to a very lean 15 stone in 4 years. All the growth was purely down to hard work and diet.
At 44 I still train 4 days per week in my own gym in Brittany France and have recently started competing again in natural competitions after 3o years enjoying the sport. For more pictures and details of my body building history see link
I have never used steroids but have decided to write this hub to try to protect those coming into the sport and coming under pressure to take the quick route of Steroids.
At 14 when I entered my first gym, I was extremely lean and just put the fact that some of the guys who were strong and muscular had become that way due to years of hard work and good diet. Looking back although never discussed because it was a small gym within someones garage there were properly some taking drugs to enhance their gains.
At 17 moving house I joined a new larger gym and was surrounded by some extremely strong and large men and talk of steroids was more open and actively pushed within the gym. The owner actively sold steroids and constantly asked me if I wished to try as it would speed up my gains. Looking around so many men the same age as myself and older were all on the 'gear' and were so far ahead of me in terms of size and strength.
I did get very close to saying yes but a dream that I had one night saved me from taking what would have been the worst choice of my life. Within the dream I said yes to the gym owner and we went into the changing area where he asked me to pull down my shorts to show my buttock where he produced a needle, within the dream the needle was plunged into my cheek and as soon as the drug started to flow into my system I felt dirty and a cheat. The dream had such an impact on me that any thoughts of actually saying yes had vanished and throughout my 30 years enjoying the gym I have never taken steroids.
I appreciate the decision even more after seeing first hand what taking steroids can do.
My first encounter was at the gym in question, a guy I trained with when I was 23 years of age was the same weight as me 15 stone and we were evenly matched in strength, he then started to use steroids and within the next year gained 4 stone, to a new weight of 19 stone. He was strong but he looked terrible more bloated than muscular with a face and back full of Acne. About 6 months later he stopped weight training completely. He had stretch marks all over his body where he gained so much weight so quickly, he developed an enlarged nipple area ( known in body building circles as bitch tits...horrible term but that's what it is known as). He only went to the doctors about his health when he started to urinate blood and was told he had caused major damage to some of his organs. He also became flat footed as the arch in his feet collapsed with the sudden weight increase. A year later the same guy was a skinny 11 stone, looked dreadful, stretch marks over his body and had to keep his diet into check.
A few years later another guy from the gym died from steroid related abuse and around the same time it was in the press how a body builder during a steroid induced rage and dived into a wall, head first and killed himself.
I then moved to another gym and was surrounded by guys working on the doors at clubs, all were using steroids and for that reason the whole gym had an air of aggression. One of the guys a former Junior Mr Great Britain and place 2nd in Europe suffered a heart attack at the age of 22. Directly after the heart attack everyone said they would come of the gear but a few weeks later the chap who suffered the heart attack put it down with splitting with his girlfriend and soon enough they were all back on the juice (22 year old men that exercise on a regular basis do not have heart attacks from splitting up with girlfriends). How the draw of quick results can change peoples perspectives of whats blindingly obvious.
A year later I was training with a 19 year old friend who was naturally very strong and making real progress, against my advice he started taking steroids and he like the guy before put on loads of weight but stopped after he girlfriend threatened to leave him because of his changed now aggressive personality, By that time his arms, shoulders and chest were covered in stretch marks and he had to have an operation to remove the ' Bitch tits' that had grown.
It became ridiculous in that gym, guys where taking hugh cocktails of steroids and those getting close to a competition were training on Speed and taking cocaine just before walking on stage to give them an inflated self worth while on stage. Was this what body building was going to be all about, I thought it was to promote well being and good health.
I then returned to the gym where I first encountered steroids to find a whole new atmosphere, the death of the guy who trained there was the wake up call for the owner and all drugs were banned within the gym and from that day on the owner promoted natural body building and warned everyone of the dangers involved with steroids. There are now signs plasted on all the walls that 'this gym is a natural drug free gym andany one found to be using steroids will be banned from the gym'.
In my 30 years experience most people that start taking steroids look terrible and all suffer some form of negative experience, most bulk up and then disappear from the gym scene having looked big for a few years down the pub. Why is this the case? I think an interview I saw some years back on the television with Tom Platz really summed it up, he said 'Steroids don't make the champion, the champion comes from within, without steroids in the sport the same men would be winning the competitions because they have what it takes, to give an example steroids cant turn a volkswagen into a ferrari, you have to have the ferrari to start with, steroids is like just putting the wax on. If taking steroids was the only answer then everyone would blow up and become champions'. To see the Tom Platz interview see below:
I am fully aware that I do not have the genetic blessing that some seem to have, Ive never had what looks like a Tarzan physic where the muscle looks like its been slapped on as an after thought, to the extent I have walked on stage in the past to be told while relaxed I was in last position, it was only when I flexed did it become a toss of the coin for first or second place. Being heavy boned also goes against you in weight categories because you competing against shorter guys that appear fuller.
Would steroids have turned me into a champion, doubtful, because as soon as you step into the arena of Steroid competitions your competing with people on the same gear and against those same genetically blessed guys. If I had gone and used steroids I would not have been any more successful, just alot bigger and the sport would have probably been short lived with all the health risks to-boot.
Would steroids have made me stronger, yes but then being able to squat 460lbs for 3 deep reps and bench press 350 lbs for 2 reps is not the results of a weak man and being able to still lift heavy weights in my 40s shows the longevity of the natural approach. There is a guy down one of the gyms mentioned who as a natural is the current world record holder for bench press. At just over 80kg he is the worlds strongest bench presser for his under 85kg weight class, benching 200kg in the unassisted drug free bench press competition, now that is strength.
My personal opinion about taking steroids is simple, only if you have won a national competition naturally have you have proved you have the commitment, the genetics and the know how to take it to the next step and as a caveat should only do it if its for a career and then benefit from professional guidance.
I am not a betting man but I would guess that 99% of those that do win National competitions naturally would never turn to Steroids, because they all have pride in what they have achieved and promote the concept of 'Natural for life'.
Most steroid problems are caused by being ill informed and not taking professional counselling, from what I have observed, most just take advice from who ever is selling the 'gear' down the gym.
Those that train naturally, train for life and just experience a well being throughout there life's and its a wonderful community to belong to.
Natural body building is for life, enjoy and pass the word.
I now train in my own gym in France at the Brittany holiday cottage with private pool and gym.
As a foot note;
There are always going to be guys that just want to get as big as physically possible, take the steroid path and are extremely committed to the sport of Body building, being very knowledgeable, having extreme workouts,diets and keeping a check on their health. Those guys in my experience are all ways very open about the route they have taken and helpful in the gyms and if you get the opportunity to chat to the champions they are all from what Ive seen really nice guys. Its the guys who think taking steroids is the quick and easy route to size and success that have the problems. It always seems strange that those guys always deny they are on the gear, some even going to the extreme of competing in Natural Body building shows.....how low is that.