By Bob Howard
Despite the amount of press that steroids and prohormones usually receive you’d think that these were the only two substances that bodybuilders were using. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are dozens if not hundreds of compounds available that modern bodybuilders have at their fingertips to boost their muscle-building abilities and fat loss. The following are some of the more popular drugs that you’ll find in gym bags these days.
Estrogen blockers (i.e. Tamoxifen)
Estrogen blockers are a perfect example of using one drug to reduce the side effects caused by another drug. Even though steroids are relatively safe, they may cause side effects in certain individuals. One of the most unsightly of these is called gynecomastia. Essentially males also have receptors for the female hormone estrogen in their bodies, and one of the highest concentrations is found in the nipple region. As one of the breakdown products of steroids is estrogen, the increased levels of the female hormone can activate the estrogen receptors in the nipple region. The end result is the development of feminine-like breasts. The term “bitch tits” is often used as the growth may actually start to look just like women’s breasts. In most cases the condition will clear up after termination of steroid use, but in some cases the growth will need to be surgically removed.
Although some bodybuilders rely on luck or surgery to deal with gynecomastia, the smart ones turn to estrogen blockers. As the name suggests, estrogen blockers are compounds that block the feminizing effects of estrogen in the male’s body. The exact mechanism of action is unknown but it is believed that the drug binds to estrogen receptors preventing the real hormone from activating the cells.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Although steroids may accelerate muscular growth, there is one part of the anatomy that they may actually shrink – the testes!
Following the old saying “use it or lose it” steroids often cause the body to shut down it’s own natural production of testosterone. After a period of time the testes begin to atrophy (shrink) because of a lack of use. In most cases they’ll begin remanufacturing testosterone when the steroids are stopped, but depending on the length of the cycle and the individual’s genetics, recovery may take weeks if not months. To combat this bodybuilders have once again turn to pharmacology.
Human chorionic gonadotrophin is a hormone only found in the placenta of pregnant women. It doesn’t seem to play much of a role for women, but for bodybuilders it has one appealing property; it mimics the action of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the body. LH is a pituitary hormone that once released, signals the testes to begin manufacturing testosterone. Hopefully you can now see why HCG would be an important drug for bodybuilders who are coming off long steroid cycles.
Diuretics (i.e. Lasix)
One of the most difficult tasks facing competitive bodybuilders is getting that “shredded” look for competition. But even when they experience significant fat loss and manage to drop their body fat percentages down to two or three percent, there is often a thin layer of water blurring the muscularity, giving that dreaded “smooth” look. Years ago saunas and wearing four layers of clothes were the usual choices for shedding water, but things have “evolved” and as with most things in bodybuilding now days, the solution for many is found in a pill bottle.
Diurectics are drugs that stimulate the body to lose water. Most work by blocking the actions of the water-conserving hormone, aldosterone. The most popular diuretic for shedding water is Lasix which can be taken in pill or injectable forms. Lasix and other diuretcis are very effective for shedding water, but they also cause the body to excrete important substances called electrolytes. These electrrcally-charged ions such as sodium, potassium, and chlorine, play vital roles in modulating various metabolic systems including, muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and heart beat. A number of individuals have died from diuretic overdosing over the years.
Thyroid Drugs (i.e. Cytomel). Compare pictures of competitors today with those from the 1970’s or 1980’s and you’ll see two important differences. First of all today’s contestants are carrying a lot more muscle mass. Bodybuilders are also much more ripped onstage. While steroids and growth hormone have probably contributed the most to the increased muscle size, the lower body fat levels are usually the result of thyroid drugs.
The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the lower neck, just below the larynx (voice box) and slightly above your collarbones. The thyroid gland produces two primary peptide hormones called tetraiodothyronine (thyroxine or T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Both these iodine-containing hormones are essential for life and have many effects on body metabolism, growth, and development.
Bodybuilders refer to the thyroid gland as the body’s “furnace” since one of its primary functions is the regulating of metabolism and temperature. The two primary disorders of the thyroid gland are hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormones) and hyperthyroidism (thyroid hormone levels too high). It’s the drugs that are used to treat hypothyroidism that have become popular.
When levels of T3 and/or T4 are insufficient the body’s metabolism slows down and the individual gains weight, usually in the form of fat. Thyroid drugs such as Cytomel are very effective at reversing this condition. These drugs are used to drop bodyfat percentages to the low single digit range. The big disadvantage of thyroid drugs is that they often leave the individual dependent on them. Once you depress the thyroid’s ability to manufacture its own hormones, they may never return to normal levels. Numerous tales are told of male competitors and female fitness contestants ballooning up after coming off their fat loss thyroid medication. In most cases the only treatment is to go back on the drugs and stay on.
Bob Howard expert on bodybuilding and steroids. Are you looking for more of his bodybuilders articles? http://www.steroids.md Article © Bob Howard 5/5/2006
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