Football and Steroids — Do You Care?

Sorry Brent, we’re gonna talk about football again. Roger Gooddell, the commissioner of the NFL, and the team owners want to increase the regular season from 16 games to 18. This would be a good thing because they’d eliminate the worthless pre-season games, but then the owners want more games (because they want to match or increase their revenue). Some of the players realize the problem here:

“I would vote to eliminate two preseason games and then keep it at a 16-game season because the longer you’re out there playing, the more your body breaks down,” Chicago Bears tight end Desmond Clark said. “When you get into December, you’re like walking zombies. You can’t feel your joints.”

The players are TURNING INTO ZOMBIES! OMG!!!1111@!@!11!224ehjr09fujdlvkn

NFL players have resorted to eating BRAINS and the NFL wants to increase the season? I always knew there would be a zombie outbreak, and now I know the source of its inception. (GASP)…Is this a dream? I’m gonna need a kick. But…how can you kick me without any gravity?

All right, the point is that the only thing left to seal the deal on the 18 game season is playing nice with the player’s union. Let’s just assume this will happen, much like we have to assume the whole “death, taxes, and Brent Kim will be shrugging” thing. NFL players get injured enough as it is in the 16 games they already have. A quick search yielded this bit of research about injuries in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. Regardless if it’s good research or not (I only skimmed it), we know intuitively that players are more likely to be injured in a game, on turf, if they are veteran players, if they are fatigued, and if they have a pre-existing injury. Injuries can remove a player from participating in practice and games, or it can be a less severe injury that the player has to deal with depending on their position.

The point is that football players are injured enough, and now the work load is going to be increased to a point that will be more difficult to handle, genetic freak or not. It’s obvious that pre-season games don’t garner the same physical effort or intensity as real games, and the real games are where guys are more likely to get hurt. Owners don’t realize that this will be debilitating to their investments (the players), and players will find a way to survive: steroids or other drug enhancement.

Continue reading

I’d Like A Word With You…

“If I tell ya the truth, I’ll tell you a lie, but if you call me false I’ll also tell you a lie…”

Doug Young

Look, I know Doug Young was taking steroids, okay? Do you think I am some kind of moron? Everybody was on steroids in the seventies, and I don’t really care. Steroids are a tool utilized in order to recover — this is how they were used then, and this is how they are used now. I do not, and never have, taken steroids (if I did, I would be a shit-load stronger than I am now). All of my friends don’t take steroids either. And that’s the point.

What, you think a picture of my lousy 230 pound frame is going to inspire Skinny Guy to start lifting? No. I need everyone to epitomize something that is far beyond their reach so that they always have something to strive for. Doug and The Pizz do this. Ricky inspires you to train like you are insane. Us…not so much.

Studly? Yes. Inspiring? Probably. Doug Young caliber? Not quite...

Studly? Yes. Inspiring? Probably. Doug Young caliber? Not quite...

Just because a guy is on steroids doesn’t make his success any less impressive. And just because most of us don’t take them doesn’t make us any better, or worse, than them. It’s not like Doug Young wasn’t a genetic specimen without them anyway, so grow up and quit worrying about it. If I set the bar high, then I give people something to strive for. So far the quest to being 70’s Big has helped turn many boys into men. Everyone wins.

Here is some Reader Mail. Louis apparently had a PR on his squat workout in the linear progression. I am happy for Louis, but if I ever meet him I’m gonna slap him upside the head for not including the weight he was squatting. This bone head’s saving grace is the plug at the end of the vid…along with his beard that I felt that you should all see.

3×5 Squat PR from Louis H. Poulin II on Vimeo.

Putting the cart before the horse—steroid Q&A

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

-Jefferson Airplane “White Rabbit”

Highly evolved humans

Highly evolved humans

Q&A posts accomplish several things. First, they answer questions that readers have, hopefully providing some decent information. Second, they invite a little more commentary than the typical information-only posts. Third, they allow a busy (lazy?) writer to avoid crafting and editing a long original post. So, without totally mailing it in, let’s answer some reader questions before the big article comes out.

“Let’s say you have a trainee who TRULY exhausted their linear gains, ate right, etc. Would taking AAS after one’s linear progression put you back in “linear progression” mode since your recovery rate has increased again?” (Justin C)

Good question. Let’s first talk about what it means to truly exhaust linear progression. Justin has previously mentioned how most people don’t finish linear progression. I would add the word “properly” as a modifier. I finished linear progression a couple years ago in that I added weight until I couldn’t anymore. However, I didn’t always eat or rest properly, so my recovery limited my progress. I exhausted linear progression per se, but I left about 15-40 pounds on each lift.

On the other hand, Justin and a handful of other guys did it right. I’m here to tell you that watching a guy train through his last weeks of linear progression is both inspiring and difficult. The amount of concentration and effort required to do this is staggering. Every set of squats looks like a five rep max—and it is. Yet they get under the bar and do it again two days later.

I recently spotted Brian (you’ve seen one of his videos) squatting 505 for three sets of five. I didn’t think he would finish his first set, yet he stood up with all 15 reps. It was amazing, and it looked like it nearly killed him. He looked to be within two workouts of finishing linear progression. Yet he went another month. I cannot overstate the amount of dedicated eating and resting this requires. That is what it takes to truly exhaust linear gains.

To answer Justin C’s question (finally!), yes, supplementation will yield more gains out of linear progression. And by more gains, I mean you will be linearly progressing for a longer period of time. We all have some “endpoint” by which we will exhaust linear gains. That endpoint is affected by genetics, training, and recovery factors. Steroids improve recovery by (simply speaking) enhancing anabolic (building) processes and minimizing and speeding up catabolic (tearing down) processes. By taking steroids, you are just moving your linear progression endpoint to the right (graphically speaking).

Rip has condemned steroid use for anyone on linear progression, and I agree. The consistent but modest loading and muscle building one experiences on linear progression helps the body and the nervous system adapt to increasing loads at a proper pace. Taking steroids and adding fifteen pounds to your squat every workout (instead of ten or five) spells trouble for a novice lifter who is still learning to squat correctly. It also robs you of the opportunity to truly find out what it takes—mentally and physically—to recover from this type of program.

So if you’re going to supplement steroids—and I’m not saying you should—you should wait until you’re nearly at the end of linear progression to do so. And I’m talking about the real dues-have-been-paid end of it. For example, if you reset your squat at 405 and again at 415, starting at a cycle at the third drop-down might get you to 435-445 (whereas you would have petered out at 420 before).

Natural or enhanced?

Natural or enhanced?

“How much of the gains made on steroids persist after going off steroids if you were near your physical strength limits before steroids?” (Dr. McFacekick)
It depends what you were taking, how much, and how you come off.

What you’re taking matters because some gear can be anabolic (promotes cell growth), androgenic (promotes virilization, or male characteristics), or both. As such, some are good for getting bigger and stronger, some are good for getting stronger but not bigger, and some are good for cutting fat while maintaining muscle mass (with no effect on strength).

A lot of the bulking agents (especially the heavy androgens) imply some amount of water retention, so true muscle size is inflated anyway on cycle. The question becomes how much of our non-water bulk do we keep when we come off cycle.

Generally speaking, you’ll maintain a greater percentage of your gains made off the milder (high anabolic/low androgenic) drugs. However, you will realize a greater net gain off of stronger gear (high anabolic and androgenic), assuming you come off properly.

Coming off properly refers to ending your cycle. When you’re on, your body stops producing its own testosterone in the presence of the artificial hormone. If you’re using a high enough dosage, some of the excess is being converted to estrogen in a process known as aromatization (this will all be covered). So you are in a situation where you have a surplus of estrogen but aren’t producing any testosterone. If you have ever dated an irrational woman (redundant?), you know how unstable this can be. So imagine quitting cold turkey and living like this.

Low test--high estrogen doesnt end well.

Low test--high estrogen doesn't end well.

The answer, of course, is to come off properly. This will be covered in detail later, but the simple course of dealing is to
1) address the estrogen issue by reducing androgens and taking a SERM (estrogen inhibitor) as you come off;
2) restart natural testosterone production with HCG (gets the testes fired back up);
3) reset your hormone axis with Clomid;
4) deal with any outstanding Cortisol issues with Clenbuterol; and
5) adjust your diet to deal with your old hormonal patterns.

This is not as hard as it sounds. And if it is done properly, you can keep a lot of your gains.

How much you are taking affects the gains you keep. When talking steroids, more is better in terms of gains. If you’re taking a small dose or a replacement dose, you can keep a lot of gains because the human body “understands” those hormone levels. However, if you’re taking 2 grams a week, i.e. super natural levels, your body will not be able to maintain those gains because the levels are so artificially high.

So it’s not a simple answer. If you run a low dose of testosterone for 12 weeks and come off properly, you can expect to 3-8 pounds (or more in some cases) of lean body mass, which is incredible over a three month period. If you’re popping Anadrol-50 from a Pez dispenser, nah, you don’t get to keep that.



“But isn’t steroid supplementation cheating?” (Everyone)

This is going to be the discussion question of the day.

There are a lot of variables, but let’s confine it to this:
1) Steroids are banned substances in professional sports;
2) They are banned because they give a performance edge over someone who doesn’t take them;
3) Professional athletes take them because they give a competitive edge; and
4) Professional athletes have to take them to stay competitive with other athletes who are using.

Is it cheating? Absolutely. But cheating becomes a relative term in professional sports. It’s like playing poker where everybody is looking at everybody else’s cards.


Questions not answered here will be addressed in the forthcoming article.

It’s PR Friday, boys and girls. Post up weights lifted, calories consumed, or functional fitness gurus made of fun of. Natural, assisted, or otherwise. We’re a big tent here.

PR Friday, Steroid Preview, etc.

Apparently the whole town is having Internet issues. I was going to post for Justin, but my connection sucks, too, so I”m going mobile. Sorry, guys.

It has been a month since I did the steroid primer post. I have spent the last several weeks gathering facts and talking to current and former steroid users about the ins and outs of supplementation. I should have something pretty good for you by next week.

So, in addition to your normal PR Friday posts, ask me any questions you want answered about steroids and I”ll try to cover it next week.

In the meantime, check the trailer for BSF.

Steroids: Part I

Anabolic steroids.

If you train with and around people that lift heavy weights, you know at least three people that are on steroids. If you don’t, then you are either naïve to that fact or you’re not really training heavy.

This is the first installment in what will be a multi-part discussion on the hows, whys, and what-fors of steroid use. If you’ve been in the iron game for awhile, you’re not going to learn anything new. If you’re reading this stuff for the first time, you’re not going to learn as much as you would from a good site on anabolics. The point of this article is to get the geared up elephant out of the room and clear up one unfortunate misconception.

I’m going to give away the ending so the 70’s Big detractors can quit reading. Yes, Doug Young, Anatoly Pisarenko, and company took steroids. Damn right. Back in the day, they stacked their stacks. Breakfast was meat, eggs, black coffee, and DBol. Lunch was a cigarette and 200mg of Cyp. They had more test than a boy band. But to say that this is the only reason they were champions is short-sighted and ignorant.

Roger Estep could have passed CrossFits drug test but not WADAs

Roger Estep could have passed CrossFit's drug test but not WADA's

For the record, 70’s Big advocates hard, clean training. The guys that are shown lifting on this site—Justin, AC, and Chris—are all natural. I know this because I’ve seen them train and I’ve seen their logs, but mostly because I’ve seen them in person. They are strong as hell and densely muscled, but they don’t have the look (we will talk about the look later).

I want to address a Rip quote that has been taken out of context numerous times. A guy asked Rip about taking steroids while doing linear progression and got this response:

“There are no shortcuts. The fact that a shortcut is important to you means that you are a pussy. Let me be clear here: if you”d rather take steroids than do your squats heavy and drink enough milk, then you are a fucking Pussy. I have no time or patience for fucking Pussies. Please tell everyone you know that I said this.”

Most people cite this for the proposition that steroids are a shortcut and bad in all instances. This is wrong, and it is not what Rip meant.

The linear progression program in Starting Strength works. If you work your ass off in the gym and in the kitchen, you will get stronger every week and add muscle. Thousands of people have figured this out. There is no point in short-cutting a process that gets more weight on the bar every time you lift. Rip took issue with the fact that the guy was looking to avoid time in the gym.

Our co-captains were in a different situation. At the elite levels of sport, there are no shortcuts. At that level, progression is limited by the ability to recover. The Piz didn’t juice so he could miss workouts. He used so he could work more, work longer, and work harder. That is a key distinction.

There are no shortcuts to a 733# deadlift at 220 while wearing short shorts.

The bottom line is that you can and should squat, deadlift, and eat your way to male adulthood (over 200 pounds) and beyond. No alternatives should be considered until you are well into intermediate programming (if ever). We’ll talk about what some people do next in a future issue.

Next: Chemistry, Benefits, Side Effects, and Misconceptions