The ambient noise of clinking weights and occasional grunting fills the gym as dozens of men press and push and sweat. Two guys next to me with comic book bodies are discussing what cycle of steroids they are on right now while casually groping their own ample pecs and shoulders. I look around and wonder how many other guys in the gym are juicing.
The use of steroids, testosterone, and other things you inject or swallow seems pretty prevalent in urban gay culture. I was rather naive about it all until friends around me started talking openly about their usage and then I quickly realized more people than I thought have used some form of enhancement at some point in their lives. It’s no wonder that men turn to these chemical methods when we live in an image-obsessed culture that demands and rewards thick hot bodies with perfect abs.
I certainly appreciate the results of enhancing chemicals when I drool after some ripped daddy strolling down the street, but at the same time this “artificial” bulking rubs me the wrong way and I feel conflicted about what would be acceptable for myself. I workout a fair amount, but there’s no way I can compete with men who use steroids. Thus part of me is frustrated and jealous (and now I finally understand how some guys get the amazing bodies they have). Another part of me wants to be all idealistic and believe that having a super hunky body isn’t that important and the real measure of a man is in found in his heart and his actions. But still, I’m curious and since this is something in our community it would be great to explore the topic more.
I started by talking to 3 men who either have used or are currently using some form of enhancement. I asked them about their experiences, results, thoughts, and insights on cycling.
What motivated you to start your first cycle?
Chris: My motivation came through friends’ positive experiences and wanting to see how I could manipulate my body somewhat without threat to my long-term health. I basically wanted to see how ripped I could get.
Vincent: I have numerous factors which led me to do my first cycle, but I think the biggest factor was truly my own insecurity to how I look. After 5 years of working out hard I had already transformed my body to a certain point, but wanted to push it to the next level. I went into doing the cycle fully aware of my own insecurities and knowing that doing a cycle wouldn’t necessarily change them.
Hector: I have worked out consistently for more than a decade. Over the last year, I decided to really focus on adding mass. Prior to trying steroids, I had successfully put on 15 pounds of lean muscle, but then I hit a plateau. I was eating right, lifting heavy and getting plenty of sleep, but I had stopped growing. I considered steroids at that point to push me past my plateau, but not seriously. I started talking to the bigger guys at my gym and slowly realized that all of them, without exception, had done at least one cycle and many were regular users. I felt more than a little jaded. One of my goals is to eventually compete in a physique competition (not necessarily bodybuilding as I don’t want to be abnormally huge), and I was fairly surprised to learn that most of those guys use some form of steroids as well. As I push through my thirties, I have begun to realize that the window of time to have the body I really want is fleeting. I tried steroids because I thought they would help me get there faster.
What are/were your goals?
Chris: My first two cycles were both pretty amazing and met my goals. I gained a lot of strength at the gym, built lean muscle mass, and lost body fat. The third cycle wasn’t as good as I believe the fat burner wasn’t as potent. Thus I only gained muscle/strength but didn’t lose any fat. My workouts were also super intense as one of the things I was taking gives you pumps and a certain kind of energy that’s great for the gym. My sex drive and orgasms were also through the roof (and they were already good to begin with). I perceived that I got far more attention from hotter guys and tried to take advantage of that. Friends, family, co-workers and strangers noticed the difference and I could honestly tell them it was mostly about having crazy workouts and good eating habits. I felt like the cycle was really just a boost to take it to a level that probably wouldn’t have been possible without them. It also quite honestly improved my self-confidence not only about my body but in general.
Vincent: Honestly, I had no idea of what results I would ultimately see, but I am happy with the progress after 10 weeks on.
Hector: I want to look like a beefy underwear model. I want to look in the mirror and see that my hard work has paid off. I want my body to be more impressive than the bodies around me. What have I achieved? I’m happy with my muscularity, finally. For the first time in my life I consider myself an athlete. I feel confident. It’s completely fair to say that I’m compensating for poor body image (I was a fat teenager), but it feels good. I didn’t actually gain much weight on them, only about 10 pounds. I had done more with diet. What they did do was turn my good physique into a great one in terms of muscle size and shape.
Chris: I countered the relatively mild potential side effects by taking supplements for cholesterol, liver, and joints. The main potential side effect of any oral anabolic is liver damage. I did notice a little more joint issues than normal and on the last cycle I bruised easily. The bruises would also stick around for long periods. Overall these were mild and I never considered cutting the cycle short. I can confirm that a few months after one cycle all of my blood work was perfectly normal.
Vincent: I’ve been lucky and haven’t been plagued with too many side effects – and overdrive in my sex drive (which was already high) and some ball shrinkage (but since I already had a large set of balls, they aren’t completely gone – like I know in some people this happens). Other than that, I’ve been pretty unaware of any side effects.
Hector: There were both positive and negative side effects. First, the positive: testosterone made me feel great. Actually, that’s an understatement. It made me feel incredible. There’s a physiological reason for this as it’s the hormone responsible for making men feel like men. I felt strong, happy and more horny than I’d been since I was a teenager. Looking in the mirror and seeing that underwear model physique was also pretty wonderful for my disposition. The negative: everything you’ve heard about steroids and acne is true. They don’t inherently cause acne, but they do cause your sebaceous glands to produce more oil which can lead to more clogged pores. I broke out badly on my back, face and chest and several months later am still struggling to clear up. This was pretty demoralizing as I had built this awesome musculature, but felt ashamed to show it off. Second, my balls shrank. A lot. Since your body doesn’t need to make its own sex hormones, they shut down. It was totally cosmetic and they came back once I was off my cycle, but it was embarrassing to have such an obvious marker of steroid use. I did not experience any of the behavioral side effects that people talk about and personally think that “roid rage” is more an excuse for guys who are aggressive jerks to begin with to act out.
Would you do another cycle in the future? What are your long-term goals?
Chris: It’s likely I’ll get the urge to do them again. I think like many things it can become somewhat addictive… not physically but psychologically… like wanting to see how far I can push it without causing myself harm. Part of me wants to try injectable testosterone once just to do it but I have more concerns about negative impacts of that even though I know the results will be more significant.
Vincent: Well, I’m just about to finish my 12 week cycle and looking forward to the next cycle, which will have to wait for another 12 weeks. 12 weeks on, 12 weeks off. I have to say that I don’t have a long time plan or goal, but I do want to push this to see how far I can take it. I’m 40, so not sure how big a change I would ultimately see, I also am trying to keep my dosage on the lower end of things. But I do look forward to adding more muscle and definition. And just cause I’m cycling off, I plan on continuing to push as hard in the gym, as I always did.
Hector: I don’t intend to become a long-term steroid user. I’ve read enough of the medical literature to know that it’s too difficult on your liver, kidneys and heart to use long-term without significant risk. I will probably use them again, however, as short-term use in reasonable dosage has been shown to be relatively safe.
Thoughts/insights you’d share with friends considering cycling?
Chris: To me the key about anabolics or anything else I put in my body is taking the time and effort to do a LOT of research and know exactly what you are doing. I spent a ton of time researching what was out there, what effects/benefits each thing had, what recommended combinations and doses were, what good/legit sources are, etc. I would never purposely do something that I legitimately thought would cause me grave harm in the short-term or contribute largely to long-term health problems. It is important with anabolics to understand what they are doing to your body internally even if there are no outward effects and being sure you are counteracting those things through supplements or PCT (post-cycle therapy). I’m 95% confident that nothing I did caused me any ongoing physical issues and the fact is I’ve maintained a better body than I started with even off-cycle.
Vincent: I would recommend reading the piece by David Mason on his blog. He’s pretty open about his steroid usage. I also toyed with the idea of doing a cycle forever and it wasn’t something I took lightly. I did my research and came up with something that worked for me.
Hector: I would only recommend steroids to a friend if he was already extremely serious about his body (e.g., worked out consistently for several years, ate a solid diet) and if I felt he was smart enough to learn about them. No one hands you a pamphlet on drug interactions, risks or dosage when you do steroids. You have to seek out the information from multiple sources and try to separate medical fact from bro-science. This is daunting as most of the information in forums on the internet is crap. I would also not recommend them to anyone not willing to accept the potential legal ramifications of getting caught buying/possessing them. Unless you have a very supportive physician who will write a prescription, you’re going to be buying them on the black market through dealers and shady foreign websites. You often don’t know if what you’re getting is legitimate, effective or even sterile enough to put into your body. They are a Schedule III Controlled Substance under federal law.
This concludes the first part of my exploration. In my next entry I’ll talk more about my own personal thoughts and experiences after hearing these guys’ stories.