[ Q ] I want to do a cycle of steroids, but I'm scared I will mess up my body. What steroid would you recommend that will give me good results but not have harsh side-effects?
[ A ] If you absolutely must do illegal steroids, my choices would be Oxandrolone - Anavar - or nandrolone decanoate - deca-durabolin.
Anavar is quite mild in comparison to other steroids, but it is also safer. Anavar is so safe that it is used often in children to encourage growth.
Oxandrolone, unlike other steroids, will not suppress your endogenous testosterone production. This is important because you want to avoid the post-cycle "crash" that occurs as a result of endogenous down-regulation in the presence of exogenous substances.
Anavar is not always easy to acquire, but has in recent years become more available. Several companies now manufacture legitimate Anavar. SPA Oxandrolone from Italy is somewhat difficult to get because it is no longer for sale on the Italian drug market. If you don't mind living in Mexico for a while, or if you know a "mule", Mexican Anavar manufactured by Ttokkyo is always a good choice.
It is slightly more expensive than the Italian Anavar, but it is also more convenient. Also from Mexico is Oxandrovet manufactured by Denkall. Denkall is very reputable and, if it were my money, I'd get Oxandrovet by Denkall over the Anavar manufactured by Ttokkyo. Anavar comes in 2.5 or 5mg tablets.
Nadrolone decanoate - otherwise known as deca-durabolin - is the most commonly used injectable steroid because of its stellar safety rating and because of the results it delivers. The down-side to this steroid is the fact that you must inject it. If you don't mind using needles on a frequent and on-going basis, then deca is the best choice. Having said that, finding enough genuine deca for a quality cycle is very difficult. Deca is often faked because of its popularity.
Faked versions of Nandrolona by the Mexican manufacturer Ttokkyo mentioned above is one example. Ttokkyo's genuine Deca is very safe, but unfortunately the fake version on the market carries the correct holograms. This can make distinguishing the real product from the fake quite difficult. The Greek vials of Deca by Norma Hellas are also rampantly counterfeited.
International Pharmaceuticals makes a deca product that is quite good, and for this reason is quite popular. If you can get some, that would be the best one to get.
The good thing about deca is that it stimulates rapid protein synthesis, is relatively free of harsh side-effects, and, because it is injectable, is easier on the liver than oral steroids.
When an external substance is introduced to the body, the body detects its presence. If the introduced substance is manufactured by the body naturally, the body down-regulates its own production of the substance to maintain homeostasis. It does this in accordance with the law of conservation of energy. I like to think of it this way: it's like someone paying your rent for you so that you don't have to work as hard to get the same result. This allows you to save your money for other things.
If you are going to use illegal steroids, make sure that you take an anti-estrogen substance during the cycle and a drug that up-regulates endogenous testosterone production post-cycle. A good example of a post-cycle testosterone up-regulator is clomid or 6-oxo. Clomid is most commonly used as a fertility drug for women, but it works wonderfully as a drug that up-regulates testosterone production post-cycle.
Of course, there are a number of pro-hormones still available on the market. These will soon be illegal, but if you want great results, I would recommend these as an alternative. 1-AD and 1-Testosterone work quite well without the physical and legal side-effects of illegal AAS.
[ Q ] I have been trying to gain body mass and become more muscular. I've tried creatine but the only problem is that the creatine I am using has a lot of sugar in it. It is making me fat. I thought creatine was supposed to make me more muscular. Why am I getting fat?
[ A ] Creatine alone will make muscles larger through intramuscular hydration, cell volumization, and an increase in protein synthesis 1, 2, 3, 4.
Many bodybuilders spike insulin through ingestion of simple carbohydrate, in an attempt to increase creatine delivery and protein synthesis, Insulin is a "storage hormone" that acts as a delivery mechanism for certain substances, and it has been shown to increase creatine uptake and protein synthesis. However, insulin spiking as a mechanism of protein synthesis and protein delivery is not always effective. Here is why.
The human body has adapted over time to utilize simple carbohydrates as its primary energy source. Because simple carbohydrates are metabolically important, the human body has adapted to store excess carbohydrate for later use. Any consumed carbohydrate is used for immediate energy requirements (oxidized), or is stored in muscle tissue and organs as glycogen.
When ingesting simple carbohydrates in considerable amounts in the presence of depleted glycogen stores, ingested glucose is used first to satisfy immediate energy requirements, and is then used to restore glycogen that is known to deplete at an hourly rate.
Any carbohydrate that is left after these processes have occurred is converted into lipids by the liver. In other words, excess carbohydrates are converted to, and stored as, bodyfat. This is known as the "spill-over" effect. It is akin to filling a glass of water to its limit. Any excess water that is poured into the glass will spill over the sides of the container.
Exercise causes muscular contraction, and this contraction utilizes glycogen as fuel, incompletely converting it to pyruvate. Pyruvate is then broken down into lactate, which has a negative PH balance. The depletion of glycogen stores by exercise can be offset by consuming simple carbohydrates, but the capacity to store glucose as glycogen is limited. Given this fact, and with the particular creatine product you are using in mind, it is obvious that your post-workout carbohydrate consumption is excessive.
Insulin spiking as a method of increasing protein synthesis decreases in efficiency and effectiveness over time as body fat levels rise. The reason for this is that insulin levels indirectly determine the ratio of testosterone to estrogen in the body. In the presence of elevated insulin levels, which are triggered as a response to the ingestion of simple carbohydrate, growth hormone levels and IGF-1 levels are reduced.
These anabolic and lipolytic hormones will favorably impact testosterone production. When these hormones are suppressed and when the spillover effect of excessive carbohydrate intake occurs, not only do body fat stores increase, but estrogen levels increase as a consequence of having anabolic and lipolytic hormones suppressed.
This further increases insulin's lipogenic abilities, and decreases its effectiveness as an anabolic agent.
I recommend that you stop taking the creatine product that is making you fat, and replace it instead with a regular creatine product free from excessive carbohydrates.
[ Q ] I have a problem with my right arm. Although I am right handed, my right arm is smaller and weaker than my left arm. I do not feel that it can contract as well as my left arm. I went to visit the doctor and he said that I have a neurological problem with my spine. I want to know: is there anything I can do to make the signal from my spine reach my right arm better?
[ A ] My first recommendation is that you be referred by your health practitioner to a neurologist. Neurologists specialize in brain function and brain-determined bodily behavior.
It is true that people free of medical complication can benefit from using higher repetitions with less weight. Doing this can often increase the ability to contract muscle groups, and it can reinforce biomechanical patterns of adaptive movement.
However, people with spinal problems often have signal transmission difficulties. It may be worthwhile to visit a qualified chiropractor, but only if your neurologist indicates that this is an acceptable course of action.
It is commonly recommended that persons with abnormalities of the spine undergo exercise programs. I believe that exercise would be of benefit in your case. Consult with your doctor on this matter, and request a referral to a neurologist, a chiropractor and physiotherapist.
Do this so that a medically appropriate exercise program can be designed to best assist you in maintaining your current physical function. Hopefully, you might regain any lost physical function as well.
[ A ] If it is strictly a choice between ISSA and NSCA, my answer would be: it depends. The certification that you acquire as a personal trainer will have as much to do with your personal preference and view of the organization from which you are going to be certified, as it will with how applicable the certification is, and how much leverage and versatitility that the certification will give you.
Both the ISSA and NSCA are recognized certifications. The programs offered by each are comparable and equally highly regarded.
I advise that you consider your own wants, needs and expectations as a personal trainer. This includes considering your own psychological and economic needs. Consider your motives and expectations, understand and know what it is that you want to get out of being a personal trainer.
Consider possible options for expansion. How do you want to expand in the future? What sorts of things do you want to be doing in the future? These are the things to consider. After you have done this, take a look at the programs offered by each.
I should point out that it is not necessarily a choice of either-or; it can be both. There is no rule against getting both certifications should you desire to do so. If you find that one program does not offer some of the things offered by the other, you could do both programs.
In the personal training industry, it is best to have as many certifications as possible. This will allow you to remain competitive, offer your clients added value, and to receive a higher wage.
[ Q ] I have a question about body types, as indicated in your article Grocery Shopping for the Bodybuilder! Because endomorphs hold more estrogen than other body-types, would it be beneficial for me to take testosterone supplements to lose weight?
[ A ] It may be beneficial for you to take testosterone supplements, but only within the context of a low-carbohydrate diet and sound exercise regimen. A low carbohydrate nutrition plan is critical to fat loss, because only by keeping insulin levels low can one avoid fat storage. Here is something you may not know.
Fat loss is not determined by testosterone or estrogen, but the relationship and ratio between the two hormones. This balance is determined by growth hormone and IGF-1 levels. These levels depend on insulin.
In the presence of insulin, growth hormone, IGF-1 and testosterone are supressed. Supplementing with a testosterone boosting supplement is effective and efficacious only when insulin levels are low. Only in the presence of low insulin levels allow for a testosterone boosting supplement to assist in weight loss.
Testosterone is diuretic, anabolic and lipolytic. If insulin levels are chronically high due to excessive carbohydrate consumption, estrogen levels will be elevated which will increase body fat storage, and this storage will be further promoted by the action of insulin and the spill-over effect that often occurs from consuming carbohydrates in excess of the bodies ability to store glucose as glycogen.
Only in the absence of insulin or in the presence of low insulin levels will a testosterone supplement be efficacious. This necessitates a sound eating plan.
Weight loss can not occur in the presence of simple and refined simple carbohydrate sources. Weight loss does occur in the presence of glucagon that is secreted by the pancreas in response to amino acid intake. In this way protein burns fat and has thermic value. Protein also is anabolic because its amino acids are converted into amines - related chemical molecules - that are anabolic and that have an impact on the bodies hormone system.
Using a testosterone boosting supplement in the absence of a sound nutritional regimen is strongly discouraged. To do so would be to waste your money, to waste your time, and it would cause unnecessary damage and stress to your body.
Focus instead on your nutritional intake and fat loss will be easily obtainable.
- Racette SB. Creatine supplementation and athletic performance. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003 Oct;33(10):615-21.
- Kreider, R.B., 1999. Dietary supplements and the promotion of muscle growth with resistance exercise. Sports Medicine 27:97-110.
- Becque, M.D., et al. 2000. Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body composition. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 32: 654-658.
- Ingwal JS, Weiner CD, Morales MF, Davis E, Stockdale FE: Specificity of creatine in the control of muscle protein synthesis. J Cell Biol 63:145-151, 1974.
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