1. Excessive dosages

Using excessively high dosages is a problem. Not only is it dangerous, but steroids in high dosages are ineffective. High dosages put too much stress on the liver and kidneys which can lead to damage and/or disease. Aromatization (the conversion of steroids to estrogen) and the suppression of the body’s own testosterone production are also greatest when high dosages are used. The body can only use a finite amount of a synthetic steroid. It will not recognize any excessive dosage and most often will convert it to estrogen. Once a steroid receptor site (a skeletal muscle or secondary sexual characteristic receptor such as facial hair) is “full,” any corresponding increase in the dose of the steroid will have no further positive benefit. This amount where the receptor site is fully activated occurs at a surprisingly low dosage. Reports that many successful bodybuilders, strength athletes, and top-models had to take up to 50 tabs of D-Bol a day, and 2000 mg of Testosterone a week to develop their superior physique are blatantly untrue. If you think “more is better” please do some research.

2. Insufficient dosages

The opposite of the excessive dosage is of course, the insufficient dosage. If a steroid is under-dosed then the effects of the drug will likely be negligible. This is why many bodybuilders “stack” several different steroids. By using multiple steroids at the same time, athletes can use lower dosages of each and consequently prevent receptor downgrading and harmful side effects. The other important consideration when using steroids is the “cycle.” This is the period of time that the athlete takes a steroid. Most cycles usually last for about eight to twelve weeks and then the athlete begins an “off-cycle” for usually around six months. Cycling in this pattern allows athletes to take relatively high dosages of steroids safely and then end the drug use before any damage to the body occurs.

3. The never ending cycle

In many cases, an athlete will simply ignore warnings that steroids should not be utilized for more than 8 to 12 weeks without an off-cycle period. Numerous athletes will use steroids for up to 6 months, a year, or even longer. Remember Schwarenegger in the 70’s? This practice is dangerous and ineffective as well. The prolonged use of steroids puts stress on the liver and kidneys. This damage often shows no symptoms, until substantial impairment has taken place. Health problems such as cholestatic hepatitis, jaundice, hepatic neoplasms, and kidney failure have arisen in patients who took anabolic and androgenic steroids for prolonged periods of time. Furthermore, steroids often fail to exhibit any anabolic effects after as little as 6 weeks. The positive nitrogen balance that is a primary benefit of using steroids, diminishes after 6 to 8 weeks. The continued use of the steroids is therefore ineffective.

4. Cycling improperly

Steroids are most effective and are safest when used in a proper cycle and stack. Research shows that you must increase the dosage of steroids for the initial positive nitrogen balance that steroids induce to continue. This positive nitrogen balance begins to return to normal after 6 to 8 weeks of a particular steroid’s use. These facts indicate that a cycle should involve using steroids on an incline dose pattern and that switching to different steroids should occur at no more than 8 weeks. Research also demonstrates that side effects, strength losses, and weight losses suffered when steroid therapy is abandoned, can be minimized through a proper decline cycle. This involves gradual tapering off the drugs at the end of a cycle in order to permit the body’s natural testosterone production to resume. A diamond pattern cycle best fits the facts presented here. Elite Fitness maintains a database providing examples of popular, safe and effective steroid stacks and cycles. A lengthy off cycle should always follow an on cycle. Many steroid users take only a few weeks off the steroids before recommencing the program. Evidence supports a much longer off cycle period that allows the body to return to normal and recover from any stress suffered during the cycle. Steroid receptor sites are much more active when the user has been off the drugs for an extended time period. Most report that the longer they remain off the drugs, the more effective they are when they go back to them.

5. Improper diet

Ignoring the importance of nutrition can completely impair the positive effects of steroids, and increase the negative side effects. Anabolic steroids are most effective when used with a high calorie, high protein diet. In fact, only one steroid has exhibited any anabolic effects on a limited calorie diet. An optimum diet when on steroids involves consuming at least 5,000 calories per day. Most people regularly consume 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day. Second only to intense training, a high calorie diet is the most important factor to be in place for significant muscle gains. In other words, a thirty pound gain in lean muscle mass has to come from somewhere. Of those calories, 60% should be complex carbs, 20% complete protein, and 20 % fat. Supplements may be needed to meet this goal. Many athletes do not eat enough food for steroids to work, or if they do intake enough calories, often too much fat is consumed. Anabolic steroid themselves can increase cholesterol levels and blood pressure. This may lead to heart disease. An athlete should always attempt to keep excessive fat out of the diet to offset any additional threat of heart disease that steroids present. Concurrently, make sure protein and overall caloric consumption is high enough to fuel the full effectiveness of the steroids. There is a very interesting thread on ProfessionalMuscle by Phil Hernon regarding liquid diets.

6. Poor training technique

Weight training must be intense to create a state of catabolism in the body. Steroids are most effective in this situation. An athlete can attain this state with regular and intense workouts. Remember, weight training is the stimulus that allows skeletal muscle cells to use the anabolic steroids. Without this proper catalyst, anabolic steroids will not exert the desired effect. Workouts should be progressive and involve maximum weights. The most important concept to understand, and one of the few on which almost all experts in the bodybuilding community agree, is the idea of training to muscular failure. For instance, when performing a set you are able to complete the ten repetitions without aid from a partner, then the set was performed with a weight that was too light. Although experts often disagree on the most effective work-out duration, with opinions ranging from twenty minutes to three hours, almost all agree that the last two or three reps of each set should not be possible entirely by oneself. This holds true for both steroid users and non-users alike.

7. Not getting regular bloods tests

A simple blood profile can be of incredible benefit to steroid user. An initial plasma screen should be performed to establish a reference range, and to determine any existing problems that might preclude the use of steroids. If the initial test shows no contraindications, then another should be done about 6 weeks into the cycle to check for further abnormalities. During the initial weeks of a cycle, many readings often become elevated only to return to normal several weeks later. Blood screening every six weeks should bypass this normal fluctuation and give a more accurate interpretation. If this blood test shows elevated serum levels, it might justify ending the cycle to avoid serious damage. If this test checks out okay, another should be done a month after the cycle to indicate that the body is recovering from the steroid cycle. Finally, another blood test should be done before starting a new cycle. This test should confirm that all levels are back to normal before a new cycle commences. Hemoglobin testing can prevent many asymptotic side effects that do not surface until damage has been done. Unfortunately, only a fraction of steroid users ever gets a blood test.

8. The wrong steroids

Many athletes increase the risk of side effects by using the wrong steroids. The use of androgenic steroids is frequently linked to serious side effects. Androgenic steroids exert their effects primarily on the secondary sexual characteristics of the body like the deepening of the voice, development of the sex organs, and male pattern baldness. If one feels he must use these items; they should never be used for more than 4 to 6 weeks at a time. Also, when stacking, it is not wise to use more than one highly androgenic product at a time. Injectable steroids are a better choice in most cases as they not only provide a steady influx of the drug to the blood stream, but they are not subject to first pass, a stage where an oral steroid goes through the liver losing a great deal of its potency, and causing a great deal of stress to the organ. Most athletes still are not aware that they can achieve great gains on low androgenic and high anabolic or muscle development inducing steroids, while avoiding many hazards. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that a thorough knowledge of which steroids are highly anabolic versus those that are primarily androgenic is of paramount importance.

9. Counterfeits/Non-pharma grade

Fake steroids are being used by thousands of unsuspecting athletes. Some of these bad steroids contain impurities that cause infections or even poisoning at the extreme. Other fake steroids, contain only inert ingredients, which will of course result in no muscle gains. Other counterfeits carry the name of one drug, but actually contain another. This can result in the athlete using a drug he or she does not desire to be using. Fake steroids pose a serious threat to athletes. It is increasingly difficult to spot counterfeits; however, with a good eye and an accurate description of the real version’s packaging it is possible. Please refer to our section on how to spot fakes. It is also important to use only pharma grade steroids. After all, when you are sick do you go to your dog’s vet for medication?

10. Failure to obtain adequate information

Information is the key to successful and safe steroid usage. One point bears additional consideration. The information should come from a reliable and knowledgeable source. Many athletes begin a cycle with only the advice of a black-market steroid drug dealer. Another source of very poor information is conventional gym wisdom. Often this information is based solely on anecdote with no regard to fact. Finally, it is important to realize that the knowledge of steroids in the medical community varies widely from doctor to doctor. Some have excellent information and some have either very little knowledge of the subject or significantly outdated views. Make certain to ask anyone who has an opinion on the subject where he or she got the facts and do not be afraid to question those sources.