Most of us know steroids as a drug that makes muscles grow faster, there are harmful side effects to our health, and most sports organizations have banned them, and that they are illegal without a prescription.
How do they actually work though? Does someone just pop a few pills or give themselves an injection and then just wait for the muscle to show? No, anabolic steroids are the synthetic derivates of the naturally produced hormone testosterone. They will promote growth of muscle and the typical male characteristics of puberty, the androgenic effect.
When we lift weights heavier then what we’re used to, we cause tiny micro-tears in muscle fibers. The body’s natural repair process repairs the tear and then overcompensates by adding bigger cells to build a stronger fiber, this is called muscular hypertrophy. Over time, this repeated process of teardown and re-build will result in muscle growth. Natural testosterone is the body’s main ingredient in this process, when we use an anabolic steroid it serves as a supplement for it.
Once ingested, an AAS travels through your blood stream to the muscle tissue. It is drawn into the muscle cell’s receiving dock, called an androgen receptor. Once delivered to the muscle cell, the steroid interacts with the cell’s DNA and stimulates the protein synthesis process that promotes cell growth.
Different amounts of AAS can cause different reactions producing either massive body-building physiques or a more toned athletic muscle. Athletes will experiment with different combinations (called stacking) in attempt to fine-tune the final result.
Steroids are also used to help sports players heal from sore, overused muscles. Intense exercise releases cortisol, known as the stress hormone, which breaks down muscle tissue, producing sore muscles.
AAS can block cortisol from binding to the muscle cell receptor sites, which will diminish the breakdown process. Less muscle breakdown means less muscle fatigue which will allow a sports player to recover more quickly.
Besides all the know side effects of using steroids for enhancement reasons, there is also the uncertainty of what exactly you are taking. Sometimes you may believe you are taking steroids made for humans however you’re taking veterinary steroids made for cattle. Steroids are made illegal and are smuggled into the country just like other contrabands and just like those contrabands you never really know what’s in them.
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