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Bodybuilders can take a 7 week dose and increase their gains by more than 20%. Most people don't know the side effects and how it can KILL YOU! Learn about the most common steroids and their effect on the body!

By: Planet Muscle

Even prior to 1940, there was some spotty medical use of testosterone and its various extracts in medicine. In the mid 50's, John Ziegler, M.D., who happened to be a consultant to the York Barbell weightlifters, began to suspect that the rapidly rising Russian lifters were ingesting more than borscht and Sholichnaya vodka.

Sure enough, after bellying up to the bar with the Soviet team physician, Ziegler (always the patriot), managed to finagle from the Russian team M.D. that his troops were washing down Methyltestosterone tablets with their vodka.

Dr. Ziegler (ever the chemist, too) went to work, and with some important chemical modifications to testosterone, the doctor, in collaboration with Ciba, developed Dianabol (methandrostenolone), an oral steroid with an unparalleled powerful effect. Complete rights were retained by Ciba pharmaceuticals (who long ago discontinued the drug's manufacture).

It was rumored that weight lifters of the day, such as the great middle heavyweight, Bill March (military press, 390 lbs.) and even York head honcho, Bob Hoffman, (270-lbs bent press), experimented with Dianabol and made great gains on 5-15 mg/day. These gains were over and above those induced from the Hoffman Swing bell system, Energol, Ivaton and Protein from the Sea!

In the 1961 - 1965 years, certain west-coast bodybuilders started to stand tall, head and shoulders above the rest, and it had nothing to do with shoe lifts. Neither was it due to Rheo Blair's (Irvin Johnson) Protein, York Functional Isometrics, or Joe Weider's Super Pro 101. While these things helped, no doubt, Dianabol was rapidly becoming the undercover Breakfast of Champions amongst the big boys.

My Own Experiences With D-Bol

Why was Dianabol in particular, and steroids in general, so seductive? I started training in 1962, at age 11-12. No John Grimek, naturally, at the end of seventh grade I weighed all of 105 pounds. After some 15 years of regular training, I was able to get my lifts up to a 420- lb. bench press and 375-lb. clean and jerk -- all naturally. Progress was slow, as it is biologically ordained to be.

To put this in perspective, it took me 4 years to go from a 300 lb. high school senior bench press at 195 lbs. bodyweight, to a 420-lb. college senior bench press, at 260 lbs. body weight, naturally. And then, because I didn't gain any weight (in fact, I lost about 20 lbs. of water weight), from about age 21 to age 27, my bench press never moved beyond 425 lbs. (and that was with six years of painstakingly, regular hard work).

Then, after watching lifters I used to trounce start passing me by, I did a 6-week cycle of Dianabol. The first 3 weeks, I used 10 mg. a day. The second 3 weeks I used 15 mg. per day. My bench press moved to from 420 to 460 lbs. in that six-week period.

My body weight increased 5-10 lbs. I stayed off the drugs for 7 weeks and then I began a second cycle that lasted 7 weeks. The first 4 weeks, I used 15 mg. a day and the last 3 weeks I used 25 mg. a day. My bench press leapt from 460 to 500 pounds. My weight was up another 10 lbs. On two short cycles, I went from 420 to 500 lbs. I could identify no side effects except being in a much better mood, having more energy, transient liver enzyme changes, bigger armpit stretch marks, better recovery and growing out of my shirts.

Breaking it down, from a high school senior to a college senior, over a space of four years, training on protein, milk and filet, I gained some 60 lbs. in body weight and raised my bench press 100 lbs. Then, over a six-year period, without any weight gain, I moved my bench press up about 500 lbs (showing how an increase in strength after a while is most dependent upon body weight increases).

Comparably, on two short cycles of minimal Dianabol use, 15-25 mg./day, in effect, over 13 weeks, my bench press went up 80 pounds! So, 11 years of training natural moved me from a 300-lb. to a 420-lb. bench press and 13 weeks on Dianabol moved me from 420 lbs. to 500 lbs.

Look at it another way. I ultimately bench pressed 580 lbs. in the gym and 556 lbs. earlier in competition at 280 lbs. body weight. In my last workout preparing for a contest, 600-lbs. bench attempt, I unfortunately (or fortunately as the case may be) tore my right pectoral badly--thereby ending my bench press insanity. That was back in 1987.

I figure it this way, at the same body weight, if I had never used steroids, I would have probably bench pressed about 460 lbs. allowing myself that 20-lb. weight gain. So, steroids gave me 20% plus, over my active duration of use.

Just a 10% improvement in a skill activity makes a 64-foot shot-put sail to 70 feet. At 20%, a 2000-lb. natural power-lifting total becomes 2400-lbs. total, and an 18" hard natural biceps becomes 21.6"! This is why steroids can be so damn seductive or even psychologically addictive.

Negative Side Effects And Dangers?

Oral steroids do not survive the first liver pass as do injected drugs. Medicine modified the basic testosterone compound into Dianabol so it could be absorbed orally. This means the oral drugs are concentrated more heavily in the biliary and hepatic systems.

Thus, their potential for liver and kidney damage is high. Despite stomach degradation, for most users, oral steroids on a mg. per mg. base, always seemed more effective than injections, too. Oral steroids are in and out of the system quickly. Thus, believe it or not, for women, controlling unwanted side effects is easier with oral steroids. Taking 20mg. of an oral daily, one could lower or discontinue the total dose, if for example, a voice change started appearing. However, if one has administered an injection (or injections), and this side effect begins to show, you are screwed because you can not discontinue the dose and injections do hang around for a lot longer time while exerting their effect. This is the reason, a reasonable, (considered safer) steroid, like nandrolone, can produce those receptor responsive muscles -- deca-delts and a deca-voice in the case of women!

Orals are removed from your system so much quicker that it makes drug test detection harder. In experiments I conducted years ago with an IOC-accredited laboratory, I could take 25 mg. of Dianabol each day for four weeks and test negative at day seven (seven days off). A slightly less dose of Anavar actually cleared out of my system in 4-5 days.

However, the two, 100 mg. injections of Deca-Durabolin (nandrolone) I took were still testing positive at 11 months post use. You could verify that with Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale since he and I were communicating about the unique retrospection of one of the three metabolites of nandrolone, at the time.

In years past, the most common oral steroids were rated ambiguously (for good reason, hardly any legitimate M.D. ever studied this kind of stuff) for producing size and strength roughly as follows:

    1) Dianabol
    2) Anadrol-50 (oxymetholone)
    3) Halotestin (fluoxymesterone)
    4) Anavar (oxandrolone)
    5) Primobolan (methenolone acetate)
    6) Winstrol (stanozolol)
    7) Methyltestosterone
    8) Maxibolin

Anadrol-50 and Halotestin were considered the worst for bad side effects, with Methyltestosterone and Dianabol right behind. Winstrol and Maxibolin were used more by women (because of lower androgen potential) and, frankly, seemed to do little for strength for most men.

Because HIV/AIDS causes depressed immune function and a general gradual muscle loss at some point in the disease progression, many medical professionals are rediscovering the nitrogen retention characteristics of oral steroids, (Anavar by Oxandrin) nandrolone decanoate and testosterone. Legitimate, real Winstrol is still around, and supposedly Anadrol is also. Dianabol and others are still made in foreign countries, like Mexico, Thailand, Russia and Greece. Most steroids around today are probably counterfeits and, presumably, less than 100% effective.

The following list reviews the worst dangers of steroids' side effects:

  • Elevations in triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins, with a corresponding decrease in high-density fractions (HDL)
  • Acne
  • Testicle shrinkage
  • Prostate irritability or hypertrophy
  • Fat deposition in the breast of the male
  • Clitoral growth and sensitivity increase in the female
  • Male pattern baldness in both sexes
  • Increased body hair in females
  • Deepening of the voice in females
  • Immediate libido increase followed by a gradual loss of libido in males
  • Lower sperm counts and motility/viability in males
  • Disturbed electrolytes
  • Loss or gain in appetite
  • Headaches and anxiety
  • Increase in blood pressure and heightened aggression
  • Jaundice
  • Bloody liver cysts called peliosis hepatitis
  • Elevations in enzyme makers for liver (SGPT,SGOT) and kidney stress (BUN and creatinine)
  • Protein in the urine
  • Possible promotion of existing pre-cancerous cells.

Medical Literature

Rumors of serious side effects related to steroid use, and particularly oral steroid use, in otherwise healthy individuals, began in the early seventies. However, the bulk of actual data revolved around hospitalized patients.

In a landmark literature review in 1975, researchers reported 12 cases of cancer development associated with steroids. Again, the caveat was that these subjects were already hospital patients, compromised in some medical manner and subsequently treated with steroids.

For example researcher Johnson reported a case of Fanconi Anemia where a 20-year old male received 10 months of treatment with Anadrol 50 (oxymethylone). The patient developed liver cancer with bloody cysts and died. One patient who Dr. Johnson reviewed developed leukemia after being treated with 300 mg. per day of Anadrol (ouch!) for a nine-month period. A different patient with a case of non-descended testicles, treated with Methyltestosterone, developed primary cancer, which then spread.

Doctors have also noticed that liver tumors often shrink and disappear with cessation of steroid administration.

Here is Dr. Johnson's original list of the oral anabolic steroids, doses and time length of use, associated with side effects of a serious nature in hospitalized patients:

In the mid-eighties, the athletic world was shocked by the development of heart ailments and stroke followed by a few cases of serious liver problems in healthy athletes, without any personal or family history of liver problems.

Bob Goldman, DO, first reported in FLEX magazine, and his own book, DEATH IN THE LOCKER ROOM, the case of Daniel Baroudi, a serious bodybuilder who had self-prescribed a series of different anabolic steroids over a 5-7 year period. Baroudi developed primary liver cancer and his doctors concluded that it was his heavy use of oral steroids that had induced his cancer. Sadly, Mr. Baroudi died in 1984.

In 1985, another serious recreational bodybuilder, William Loomis, was hospitalized with a cancerous tumor of his liver. Mr. Loomis had been using doctor-prescribed Anadrol, non-stop, for almost two years. It was not a high dose but Anadrol is a notorious liver-unfriendly, oral steroid. Mr. Loomis did have periodic blood exams, which often do not detect the presence of a tumor which was the case here.

When his tumor was discovered, it was operated upon immediately. It was encapsulated without metastasis. Two thirds of his liver was removed and his story also ran in FLEX magazine years ago. The last I heard, he was alive and recovering. I hope this is still the case.

The Best Steroids

1). Deca-Durabolin - Nandrolone Oil-Based Injection.

In general, USA Deca-Durabolin is probably the post popular, sought-after steroid. It is oil-based and comes in either 100-mg./ml. or 200-mg/ml. injection. The drug is considered slow to convert to estrogen, a good mass and strength-builder and, for a variety of suggested chemical reasons (none really proven), it is considered to ease joint pain.

However, it will suppress the pituitary-testosterone loop in due time. The USA pharmaceutical versions are hard to obtain. Lately, Some of the Mexican veterinary steroids (of all kinds) have tested poorly. Testosterone Magazine has written that the Ttyokko version of Nandrolone, which is supposed to contain 300 mg. per ml, is not even close. Likewise, Planet Muscle had the Ttyokko Dianabol tested (supposed to contain 10 mg. per tablet) and the results came back ND as in none detected! That's nice. (See Planetarium for proprionate test) I guess if you're going to cheat, your best bet is to cheat with American veterinary steroids.

2). Depo-Testosterone - Cypionate Oil-Based Injection, 200 mg./ml.

This is the longest acting, the slowest effecting T-ester, and of course, also stays in the system longest, with the Depot variety being released on a more or less continuous basis. This is a drug for size and strength and is given to normalize depressed testosterone levels. The reliable USA manufacturer is Pharmacia/Upjohn. There are Varying formats of Mexican and Australian testosterone are around; but most consider them highly unreliable.

3). Testosterone Enanthate - Oil-Based Injection, 200 mg./ml.

Usually, this also comes as a 200 mg./ml. delivery and is a middle-range acting T-ester also used for size and strength and to elevate depressed T-levels. Because it does not seem to promote as much water retention as T-Cypionate, it's probably the most sought testosterone. The reliable USA manufacturer is again Pharmacia / Upjohn.

4). Testosterone Sustenon 250 - Oil-Based Injection.

This also has been a Mexican, oil-based, 250-mg. self-contained breakaway vial combination of varying T-esters, such as propionate, enthanate, and cypionate or other variations. In general, it's good for mass and strength, but it's not considered as reliable as USA pharmaceuticals. Testosterone Propionate is a 100 mg./ml. version of T-steroid and Testosterone/Suspension (100 mg./ml. water-based) are also available as USA injections.

Neither is considered as effective over the long range as T-C and T-E and the aqueous suspension form can be a very painful injection. Because these variants are in and out of the system relatively quickly with short half-lives, they are mostly used by power-lifters to peak their strength on a very short-term basis.

5). Equipoise - Boldenone Undecylenate Oil-Based Injection.

This was a 50-mg./ml., oil-based, veterinary steroid originally produced by Solvay. It's very hard to come by on the black market. Because it comes in so many names and varieties and offshoots (Ganabol, Equi-Gain, Maxi-Gain, Vebonol, Pace), it's impossible to keep up with the literature. Somewhat inefficient in its low level of steroid per ml. (25-50 mg./ml.), nonetheless, it's considered, in high enough doses, to be a strong size and strength drug without a lot of negative androgen activity and good for joint health. Your safest bet today, in a real form is the 50 mg./ml. version from E. R. Squibb & Sons for Fort Dodge Iowa Animal Health.

6). Anadrol 50 - Oral.

This steroid has gained in popularity for the prime reasons that it exists, while the original Dianabol has been discontinued. Most bodybuilders/lifters used to avoid this drug because of its high androgenicity and because it has red-blood cell-potentiating capacity, which means it can increase blood viscosity and thereby, potentially, elevate blood pressure. It's considered a good size and strength drug, but like its first cousin, Halotestin, too dangerous to use.

7). Anavar - Oral.

Anavar was originally made by Searle in the USA and was long ago discontinued. It was more of a size versus a strength drug with lower androgenicity. It was always 2.5 mg., per white tablet and today, made by Oxandrin, has made a strong comeback as the prime oral treatment for muscle wasting in advanced HIV patients. It is expensive, about $10 per tablet at full pharmacy retail.

8). Dianabol - Oral.

The once-and-forever king has unfortunately left forever. The original Ciba-Geigy Dianabol has imitations from Turkey, Greece, Rumania, Thailand, Bulgaria, Russia and Mexico/Columbia. No longer blue, they are usually odd-shaped, pink pills of 5 mg. or 10 mg. and 5-mg. white tablets. None approaches the original potency. Continue to avoid the Mexican varieties if you can find these. Reports are that some of the eastern European varieties work occasionally. Dianabol was the original size and strength king.

9). Halotestin - Oral.

10). Methyltestosterone - Oral.

11). Winstrol - Oral.

Halotestin and Methyltestosterone are androgens and strength drugs in general. Halotestin is still produced, very toxic to the liver, as is Methyltestosterone. It is still produced. as Methyl-T. Winstrol was a 2-mg. pink (or sometimes white) tablet. Winstrol and Maxibolan (yellow) were the favorite oral steroids for women because of low androgenicity.

12). Winstrol-V - Water-Based Injection

13). Primobolin Depot - Oil-Based Injection.

Many bodybuilders have always considered these two low androgens as good pre-contest drugs. They claimed both helped retain hardness and size while limiting water retention. Other bodybuilders and lifters call them chick steroids since they believe they don't really do anything for men. Both drugs can still be found. Primobolin is more readily available in Mexico as 100 mg./ml. and as pills called Sten.

If You Use Steroids Get The Right Tests!

Steroids are illegal. Because of past use and abuse, in general, one might only obtain a limited prescription, in the case of limited steroids used for muscle-wasting diseases, like advanced HIV or in the case of depressed testosterone levels.

I have always said I have never made a moral or ethical judgement about someone who has used drugs in the pursuit of performance. I have used them. But, if you have used steroids, or are now using them, do yourself a favor and have a complete blood and physical work-up supervised by a doctor. Males over 40 should have their prostates checked and both sexes should have urinalyses and both resting and stress-test EKG coronary profiles.

If female bodybuilders have used steroids to augment exercise (which would drive estrogen down) and who may have had long periods of missing their monthly menstrual cycle (due to exercise and low body fat), they would be wise to have bone density studies done.

All the chemistries of the blood become significant when measuring out of normal range. Here's likely what your doctor will be looking for if you are a bodybuilder and have used steroids. Your physician will likely examine your stool/urine specimens for any occult (or hidden) blood and protein. He or she will take your blood pressure and listen to your chest, lungs and heart, and do a physical examination. This will include physical palpation of your lung lobes and liver and may include a rectal examination in the male for prostate hypertrophy, or possibly a blood test for a specific antigen (PSA) for possible unseen problems with the prostate.

He/she may take a resting EKG and ask you to consent to a stress electrocardiogram, as well. Finally, he/she may test your blood for hepatitis and/or HIV.

Creatinine And Bun.

Creatinine is a crystalline substance. It's usually a metabolic end-product derived and liberated from creatine in muscle. The kidneys normally filter it out of blood into the urine. Averages are established so that with any excess kidney damage is suspected. More definitive tests are based on measuring specific creatinine clearance in much the same way one tests pancreas function and glucose tolerance.

However, since muscle creatine breaks down into creatinine, someone with abundant muscle will have abundant creatine and potentially higher blood creatinine levels. And, if you ingest a lot of red meat (roasts) and other proteins and foods with creatine, you may get higher readings.

If you are above average in muscle mass and workout with great intensity, your creatinine levels may be higher than normal. It would be wise to not to train with weights or eat red meat for up to 10 days prior to a blood test to get a truer blood value of creatinine. My creatinine levels have averaged 1.5, varying on blood tests from 1.2 to 1.9 over the last 20 years.

Of course, if other markers such as elevated blood BUN, uric acid, altered electrolytes, cast cells, albumin and other blood proteins are found in your urine, this makes kidney damage further suspect.


Sergio Oliva, certainly one of the top 5 greatest bodybuilders ever, had defected from Cuba in the early sixties and had made his way to Chicago from Miami where he worked double shifts unloading trucks. Sergio jumped to the IFBB and promptly won both the Mr. World and Mr. Universe and slammed through the Mr. Olympia in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

BUN is the acronym for Blood Urea Nitrogen. Urea is a waste product of protein metabolism and is eliminated from the body through urine, feces and perspiration. If you have ever noticed a bodybuilder who has an ammonia-like pungency, he needs to do two things: do his laundry more often and reassess his protein load.

The BUN test is another critical test to help assess kidney function. The kidneys filter nitrogen from the blood into urine. High blood BUN levels may mean the kidneys are not keeping up with the task. However, athletes who lift weights and eat a lot of protein may have slightly higher BUN and this might be part of the unfounded belief that high protein consumption damages healthy kidneys -- which it clearly does not.

BUN is sometimes confused with bilirubin. Bilirubin elevations may indicate problems with obstructive jaundice in the liver where normal bile flow is blocked. Jaundice of the liver gives the characteristic yellowish tint to the eyes and skin.

Liver And Muscle Enzymes.

The literature establishes that anabolic steroids, especially oral steroids that have been alpha-alkylated at the 17th carbon position, change liver function tests. SGOT (Serum Glutamic Oxaloacetic Transaminase) and SGPT (Serum Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase) are used as entry level indicators of liver disease. Usually, when LDL, SGOT, SGPT and CPK (creatine phosphokinase) are all grossly elevated, doctors first consider some damage to the myocardium (heart).

The SGOT and SGPT enzymes catalyze the transamination of proteins in the liver. Many laboratory reference standards now go up to 50 - 60 units as normal for both, because skeletal muscle also contains high levels of both enzymes, especially SGOT.

Bigger, more muscular athletes training hard, or those athletes having muscles temporarily degraded or deformed through physical contact (deep massage, street-fighting, football, karate, etc.) usually have higher levels of both these enzymes, although SGPT is more indicative of liver stress.

Lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) helps oxidize lactic and pyruvic acids in energy cycles in all the muscle cells of your body. This enzyme may also be elevated in muscular athletes who work out hard. In fact, many tests have now been adjusted so that 280 would be considered the upper level of normal with LDL, and again, 50-60 is considered upper level normal for SGPT and SGOT respectively.

In general, doctors express concern in athletes using steroids when SGOT and SGPT enzyme levels reach about 2-4 times the upper limit of normal (100-240), and if they do not return to normal levels after 4-12 weeks off the drugs.

To further confirm liver damage via blood tests, doctors check for elevations in GGTP, alkaline phosphatase, cholesterol, iron and bilirubin.

Cholesterol And Triglycerides.

Research with steroids is unclear as to subsequent cholesterol changes. Many subjects experience a decrease, many an increase. Testosterone use actually seems to lower cholesterol in a majority of individuals.

However, the research is very clear on what happens to the protective high-density lipoprotein fractions of cholesterol -- they go down, way down. This is not good but niacin intake and aerobics will raise these levels.

My highest cholesterol ever was 222. My lowest was 104. Why such a difference? Diet and exercise are huge direct factors for many people, but to keep LDL low, I use guggul, niacin and red Chinese rice yeast.

At any rate, my personal bias, looking at my years of tests is that, disregarding the effect of changing training and eating, steroids raise cholesterol overall and lower HDL levels. Triglycerides don't seem to respond as much as cholesterol to steroids. They seem more sensitive to alcohol and sugar.

In conclusion, The American College of Sports Medicine says, "The cardiovascular effects of the anabolic-androgenic steroids, though potentially hazardous, need further research before any conclusions can be made."

The Reproductive System.

In men it's well established that steroids cause a decrease in the number and motility of sperm (poor swimmers), and even a lack of sperm in the semen. The testicles decrease in size and there will be a reduction in testosterone and all the gonadotropic hormone levels. I have talked to a couple of bodybuilders who were long-range users of fairly high doses of steroids and even with the medical use of Clomid and HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin), it took them well over 2 years to regain a functional sperm count. Some never regain the count.

Many bodybuilders drive their testosterone levels down to zero during a heavy, prolonged cycle of steroids. Generally, testosterone levels will recover within 3-6 months time off drugs. However, it appears that some bodybuilders have permanently damaged their hypothalamic-pituitary gonadal axis so that testosterone remains depressed. In this case, permanent supplemental testosterone may be prescribed.

Testosterone can deviate (10-40%), on a daily basis. (It should suggest to you why the idea of taking pro-hormones like androstenedione for raising testosterone is a bunch of nonsense.) When women use steroids, they run the risk of reducing circulating levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, estrogen and progesterone. They also may experience an inhibition of ovulation, clitoris enlargement and increase in sensitivity and menstrual irregularity. As with the male, many of the effects are reversible with cessation of steroids, but some aren't, enlargement of the clitoris, for example.


If you have used, or are using steroids, I recommend a blood test once every six months to a year. Although blood tests can't possibly reveal every possible neoplasm or problem which may be brewing in the involved workhorse organs (like the liver and kidneys), along with a good, thorough physical examination, blood tests can allow the physician to catch early signs of damage.

Steroids: Muscle Miracle Or Dangerous Myth?

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