One of the things I dislike most about many bodybuilding and fitness books, magazines, and web sites is the use of photos of steroid users to promote supplements, programs, and diets, without explicit discussion of steroid use. Even worse than not mentioning the steroid use, which knowledgeable readers will infer, is when steroid users lie about their use and claim to be “natural”.
Sadly, this is not uncommon, and many people with years of experience with competitive bodybuilding have told me stories about how much drug use occurs in so-called “natural” competitions. Having competed truly drug-free against steroid users claiming to be drug free, this pisses me off, and it should piss you off too because those assholes are lying to you.
I have nothing against people who use steroids or other growth or performance enhancing drugs, and I have nothing against the use of these drugs when it is done sensibly, with consideration for the risks involved, and either after extensive personal research or under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. People have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies, including choosing whether or not to use drugs of any kind. What I do have a problem with is when people lie about it.
It is common for bodybuilding and fat loss supplement advertisements, articles, and books to use “before” and “after” photos as examples of the effectiveness of whatever they’re selling, without mentioning the drugs the subjects used. Common comparison photography trickery also includes:
- taking photos before and after a person regains muscular size following a period of illness or following extreme carb restriction and dehydration
- taking “after” photos of bodybuilders at competition time, then taking the “before” photos after several weeks of normal eating and fat gain
- taking “after” photos of athletes shortly after an injury, then paying them to fatten up during their recovery for the “before” photos
- stealing photos on social media from people who have gained muscle or lost fat who did not use the product or methods being advertised
- using changes in clothing, posture, and lighting to create dramatic differences in appearance
- using image editing software like Photoshop to alter before and after photos
I don’t like being lied to or having my intelligence insulted, and I won’t do that to my readers. I regularly decline lucrative offers for advertising supplements and diet and training programs on this web site because of this. My response to such advertisers is typically something along the lines of, “Fuck off”.
The reason I bring all of this up is because I have just started using two drugs which will have an effect on my appearance and I think it is important that readers know what is going on, and why.
I was able to build a decent physique in my twenties without any drugs, gaining almost thirty pounds of muscle over a period of about six months using high intensity training (look at those chicken legs in the before pic!). I’m now in my forties, and although I’ve regained all that muscle and then some (after losing a lot during my high TUL SuperSlow years) I’ve gotten sloppy with my diet and am nowhere near as lean as I should be. I got lazy after getting married, I’m not happy with the way I look, so I started tightening up my diet again with the goal of leaning back down to where I was previously.
In the past I’ve been able to drop fat rapidly whenever I’ve done this, but this time has been slower. Also, my wife and I have been trying to conceive for several months with no luck. I suspected a hormonal problem, and blood work has confirmed it; both my serum and free testosterone are at the very bottom of the normal range. I’m surprised I’ve maintained as much strength and size as I have.
Since we’re trying to conceive my doctor prescribed clomiphene citrate and anastrazole which indirectly increase testosterone by blocking estrogen so the body produces more luteinizing hormone and reducing the amount of testosterone that is converted to estrogen. These are better known by the brand names Clomid and Arimidex, which are often used by bodybuilders to increase their body’s own testosterone production after a steroid cycle and as an aromatase inhibitor to minimize conversion of the additional testosterone to estrogen to prevent side-effects like gynocomastia. I will be having more blood work done in six weeks to determine if the dose needs to be adjusted. In addition to improving fertility I plan to get my testosterone up to the high normal range, but not higher, assuming this is even possible with these.
I will not be changing my training other than to adjust the volume and frequency based on changes in my body’s response. The same goes for my diet. The principles remain the same. While this may be of little interest to female readers and younger male readers, I know a lot of older male readers have similar situations, so for those interested I will be posting follow ups on my training and diet and any other changes related to this.
Technically, I am no longer a natural trainee, even though I do not plan to raise my testosterone above normal levels (which I doubt the clomiphene and anastrazole will, but if I eventually switch to an injectable testosterone it is possible). I just wanted to be perfectly clear about this in advance, and I will be glad to answer any questions anyone has about what I’m doing (within reason, if you want a full workout, diet, etc. I’m available for consultations).
In other news, I am currently interviewing Doug Holland on using high intensity training for powerlifting competition for the web site, and am close to finishing the second edition of High Intensity Workouts. I’m still waiting on Doug for answers to a few of my questions, so if any of you have questions about using HIT for powerlifting let me know and if we haven’t already covered them in the interview I’ll add them to my list of questions.