Different people think of different things when they hear the term “steroid”. Some think of medications prescribed by doctors to help reduce inflammation and treat illness, but others think of their impact on performance, size and strength. This comprehensive guide to the differences will help you better understand what they are and how they work.
Corticosteroids are the types of steroids that your doctor may prescribe to you if you have a condition such as lupus, asthma, or even a rash. They mimic the effects of hormones that your Adrenal gland creates naturally. When you introduce corticosteroids in higher levels than are naturally present in the body, it has the effect of fighting inflammation, which is why it is so commonly given to patients who have different inflammatory ailments.
The most common corticosteroid is known as prednisone, but there are plenty of others. Corticosteroids come in injectable and oral forms, and you can buy some creams over the counter that contain very small amounts of corticosteroids. Many of today’s OTC nasal sprays for Allergies contain corticosteroids, too.
Oral corticosteroids –
Available with a prescription only. These are generally short courses of treatment given at home to help combat inflammation that is causing pain. There are several different types and strengths available, too.
Injectable corticosteroids –
These injections are given directly in a physician’s office or in a hospital, and they serve the same purpose as their oral counterparts. However, it is possible to give a much larger dose when injected rather than taken orally. Most doctors reserve injections for patients who have very localized and severe swelling. Asthma patients are sometimes given very high doses intravenously to help them recover from acute asthma attacks.
Topical corticosteroids –
You can find these over the counter in many drug and department stores. Many people keep them on hand to treat itching and redness associated with anything from bug bites to the rash caused by poison ivy. Concentrations of 10% or less are available over the counter, and stronger topical options are available by prescription.
Anabolics, on the other hand, are the types of steroids most often associated with athletes and bodybuilders. Nonetheless, there are many medical uses for anabolics. Doctors may prescribe Testosterone or other compounds to treat conditions like low testosterone in men (Low-T) or to help people who have AIDS, cancer, and other health conditions retain (or gain) the muscle mass needed for good health.
Anabolics are derivatives of testosterone, and when they bind to testosterone receptors in the body, they facilitate Muscle Growth, energy, strength, and stamina. Like corticosteroids, anabolics come in a variety of types. There are oral and injectable, and there are also gels, creams, patches, and pellets.
Oral Anabolics –
There are several different types of oral anabolics. Andriol, which is a pill form of testosterone undecanoate, is commonly prescribed to men to treat low testosterone. Other orals, like Anavar and Dianabol, are common among those who want to gain muscle mass and improve their overall athletic performance.
For the most part, orals are known for their ability to cause significant liver damage in a short period of time. Some, such as Andriol, are very mild when compared to others, like Dianabol.
Injectable Anabolics –
These types of steroid are given in doctors’ offices or at home, and they are also common among athletes and bodybuilders. Some of the most well-known injectables include Trenbolone, Deca Durabolin, and Primobolan Depot.
These do not cause liver damage like orals, but they should still be used responsibly. Taking too much for too long, or taking injectables without the proper supplementation and post cycle therapy, can lead to irreversible side effects like testicular atrophy and Gynecomastia.
Anabolic steroid gels, creams, and patches –
These are difficult to find outside of a pharmacy, but they do exist, and millions of people around the world use them to help treat Low-T or muscle wasting disorders.
In fact, transdermal testosterone patches are becoming increasingly more popular among men dealing with low testosterone because they are easy to use and apply. None of these delivery methods contain a dose high enough to benefit athletes, though.
Anabolic steroid pellets –
These types of steroid were originally developed for veterinary use. They are often implanted subcutaneously into cattle and other animals in an effort to increase their size before sale. Anabolic testosterone pellets for men are also available, and they are gaining popularity.
Called Testopel, they are surgically inserted under the skin and allowed to release testosterone for about four to six months. Many of the oral and injectables found on the black market were prepared in underground laboratories from veterinary-grade steroid pellets, which are legal and easier to find than pharmaceutical-grade.
Anabolic vs Androgenic
You may hear the term “anabolic steroid” used far more often than “androgenic steroid”, but this is the key difference between the ones found in athletic circles.
All types used for performance enhancement are both anabolic and androgenic to some degree, but the way a particular steroid is rated will ultimately determine its effect on your body. These two types of steroid have different sets of effects, both positive and negative.
The term “anabolic” is used to describe anabolism, or constructive metabolism. Essentially, it’s a term that encompasses the processes behind breaking down complex molecules into smaller ones for use by your body, including energy.
For example, the breakdown of Proteins into amino acids is considered an anabolic process, and it is vital to the growth of lean muscle tissue. Anabolic processes are responsible for bone and muscle tissue growth, nitrogen retention, organ size, height, immunity, and more.
On the other hand, the term “androgenic” is used to define processes related to the development and maintenance of male characteristics. Testosterone is the primary androgenic hormone in humans, and it is present in both men and women. Most Anabolics are derivatives of testosterone, which means they are all androgenic to some degree. Androgenic effects within the body include the growth of the penis or clitoris, genetic hair density, voice pitch, sebaceous gland activation – things commonly attributed to puberty.
With this information in mind, a steroid that is more anabolic than androgenic can promote growth, but with fewer androgenic side effects. Ones that are more androgenic than anabolic, such as Halotestin, are known for increasing strength and muscle quality more than size, but they often have a significant risk for side effects that users must be careful to mitigate. The chart below shows a few different common used and the comparison between their anabolic and androgenic ratings.
|Steroid||Anabolic Rating||Androgrenic Rating|
With this information available to you, it becomes simpler to anticipate what a certain steroid will provide in terms of both risks and benefits.
Wet and Dry
Finally, it’s important to consider two more important categories used to classify different types of steroids, and these are wet and dry. The differences between the two are simple enough to understand, and doing so can help you make better choices about the performance enhancement you want.
A wet steroid is a compound that causes the body to retain water. Wet are estrogenic in nature, which means that your body will convert unbound hormone into estrogen. As a result, water builds up between your muscle cells.
Though this process can speed the muscles’ ability to repair themselves, it also results in a loss of muscle definition. Wet can help relieve joint pain because this excess water isn’t limited to muscles; it finds its way into joints, too. Dianabol is a very popular example of a wet steroid.
Conversely, there are some that do the exact opposite of their wet counterparts – they remove the water from between body cells. Dry are usually non-estrogenic, which means they will not aromatize and convert to estrogen. Like wet, dry ones also have their benefits; athletes tend to use them during cutting cycles to maintain lean muscle mass and promote muscular definition.
The biggest drawback is the likelihood of joint pain since these compounds also pull fluid from the joints. Winstrol is the most popular dry steroid. Of the many different types of steroids available today, testosterone is by far the most popular in the Bodybuilding and athletic crowd, while prednisone is incredibly popular for treating medical conditions that result in inflammation.
Each and every steroid is completely different, so it is important to understand the pros and cons associated with different delivery types before you start your regimen or cycle.
Dry Vs Wet
Although all are derivatives of the same natural hormones, they each have their own inherent set of benefits and drawbacks. Some are wet, which means they increase liquid in the body. Others are dry, and while they might not cause bloating, they leave the joints sore and achy. Learn about the dry vs. wet debate here.
What Makes a Steroid “Wet”?
A “wet” steroid is one that causes the body to retain water. This occurs in compounds that have estrogenic properties, meaning that they aromatize in the body and convert readily into estrogen. This increase in estrogen causes a buildup of water between the muscle cells, which in turn leads to a loss of definition.
However, that extra water between the cells also boosts the muscles’ ability to repair themselves and adds to the athlete’s overall strength. Wet are common in bulking cycles when bodybuilders want to add mass and strength. Popular wets include Deca Durabolin and Dianabol, which are often cheaper and in the case of Deca, require less frequent injection.
What Makes a Steroid “Dry”?
Conversely, a “dry” steroid is one that actually removes the fluid from between the muscle cells, helping to promote definition and a ripped, toned appearance. Winstrol is one of the most popular drys known to man, and while it can certainly provide the results you want, there are other things to consider.
A dry steroid not only affects the fluids lubricating the muscle cells, but also the other cells in the body. This is why many people who use Winstrol and other drys tend to experience joint pain; the compound actually dries the fluid in the joint.
How Do You Choose?
The fact of the matter is that all anabolic steroids come with side effects, so it is important to weigh the benefits against the potential risks. Choosing a wet or dry is often as simple as determining whether you want a bulking or cutting cycle.
Adding more fluid to the body boosts short-term gains and strength; removing fluid from the body provides a toned look prior to shows and competitions. Although the wet and dry effects of these compounds are beneficial in certain circumstances, they can also cause issues.
Too much fluid increases the volume of blood, which increases blood pressure in turn. Conversely, too little fluid may cause joint pain and muscle cramps.
Finding a Balance
The best way to make sure that you get the results you want without any of the truly adverse effects of wet or drys involves finding a balance between the two. If you will use a wet, counterbalance some of the negative effects by using a diuretic along with an aromatase inhibitor.
Conversely, if you will use a dry that may cause joint pain and discomfort, try lowering the dose if the discomfort becomes too much. Adding a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement as well as fish oil may help replace the fluids that the steroid takes away, too.
Wet vs. Dry Steroids: Using them Together
If you are thinking about creating a stack, but you aren’t sure about how to do it, it’s important to keep a few things in mind about wet vs Dry Steroids. First, you must understand which steroids are wet and which are dry so you will get the effects you expect. The table below provides a list of all the most popular and whether they are wet or dry.
|Steroid||Wet or Dry?|
Another prime example is the Dianabol / Winstrol stack that bodybuilders turn to for bulking. Dianabol is excessively wet, which means it can cause you to gain 10 to 15 pounds of water weight.
Some people will add two to four weeks’ worth of Winstrol on the backend of these cycles to help dry up that water and harden the muscles at the same time. This is not ideal for everyone as it can be a harsh cycle, but advanced users claim it’s the best way to get the most out of Dbol.
Second, it’s important to understand which ones work together to help you reach your goals. Many bodybuilders and athletes will purposely pair wet and dry to help them avoid the potential side effects of either. For example, someone using Winstrol during a cutting cycle may experience joint pain due to its drying effect, so they may choose to add a small amount of Deca Durabolin to counteract this.
Is One More Dangerous than the Other?
When comparing wet vs dry, there is some speculation that wet tend to be harsher and more dangerous than their dry counterparts, but this is simply not the case. This notion comes from the fact that wet are almost always estrogenic, which means they can cause Gynecomastia and other unwanted effects in men who don’t take the proper precautions.
By using aromatase inhibitors alongside cycles that can aromatize in your body, and by following your cycle with the proper PCT, you can avoid all the unwanted effects and realize your goals.
Wet vs Dry and Mitigating Effects
If you spend much time reading forums for users, you’ll find that there are a few different ways to relieve the side effects common of wet and drys. When using a dry, you are likely to experience joint pain due to the lack of moisture in your tendons, ligaments, and joints themselves. The following supplements can help:
- Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish and krill oil can go a long way. They reduce the overall wear on your joints, and they also inhibit enzymes called collagenases, which break down the collagen in your joints over time. It also helps to improve tendon health and reduce inflammation.
- Calcium reduces inflammation and joint pain, particularly in the knees.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that will keep your connective tissues in good health, and when your connective tissue is strong, your joints are better supported.
- Gelatin supplements act as lubricants for your joints, which comes in handy during a cycle with dry steroids.
Conversely, Wet Steroids can cause significant bloating in your hands, feet, and even face, as well as in other parts of your body. This can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but even outside of diuretics, there are a few different ways to counteract it.
- Reduce your sodium intake so that it falls below the daily RDA of just 2300mg each day. This can be difficult at first, but by decreasing your sodium levels, you will experience less bloating.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables to boost your circulation and keep bloating to a minimum.
- Drink more water to help flush toxins that may be latching onto water in your body. Though it sounds contradictory, it’s one of the best ways to feel better.
- Eat more Protein to combat bloat. Numerous studies have suggested that too little protein is a leading cause of water retention. You should be consuming adequate protein anyway.
- Consider lime and lemon juice or Dandelion tea, which are natural diuretics that can provide gentle relief from water retention.
Dry and wet both have benefits for athletes and bodybuilders alike, but it often comes down to mitigating the risks and discomfort that they bring. Remember that wet add mass while dry offer muscle tone and definition, and always purchase the supplements you need to counteract any side effects before you start your cycle.
Oral vs Injectable
If there is one question that comes up on forums more than any other, it has to do with oral versus Injectable Steroids. People want to know which compound is best in which situation, which has the least side effects, and which provides the best overall results. Here, you will learn everything you need to know about the similarities and differences with regards to oral vs injectable steroids.
Orals are those that come in tablet or liquid suspension forms. Some common examples include Anadrol, Anavar, Winstrol, Dianabol, and Halotestin. They require daily dosing, either all at once or broken down into two or more doses throughout the day, and they are generally the most hepatotoxic (liver toxic) of all out there.
What’s more, orals carry side effects that include significant bloating, high blood pressure, and Headaches. However, expert users all agree that there is nothing like a powerful oral to promote massive gains in short order. For this reason, many bodybuilders choose orals over their injectable counterparts.
Injectables are those that you must inject subcutaneously or intramuscularly. For the most part, they require less frequent dosing than their oral counterparts do, though this depends primarily on the half-life.
Some popular examples of injectables include Trenbolone, Deca Durabolin, and Winstrol depot (Winstrol is available in both forms), to name a few. Although injectables are not as hepatotoxic as orals are, they can still present some risks.
Side effects vary based on the exact compound. Expert users all agree that injectable are best for higher quality gains over time and there is nothing at all like them when it comes to cutting cycles.
Which Come in which Forms?
The chart below shows some of the most popular anabolics for performance enhancement and whether they are available in oral or injectable forms.
|Steroid||Oral Available?||Injectable Available?|
Almost all come in an oral form, but these are not as bioavailable as their injectable counterparts. Along those same lines, it’s important to remember that you may find someone selling injectable Anavar or Dianabol, but these were made in underground labs rather than pharmaceutical companies. It is up to you whether you choose to trust the maker.
Which Should You Choose?
Oral and injectable both have their benefits. Primarily, orals offer huge gains in short periods, and injectables offer smaller, higher quality gains over longer periods of time. Most of the bodybuilders and athletes who utilize anabolics will actually use both during a cycle.
They will start out with one of the orals as a “kick-start” for their gains, then switch over to an injectable before the side effects become too much to handle. This way, they can enjoy quick gains from the start, then turn them into lean muscle without much water retention throughout the rest of the cycle.
Considerations when Choosing Your Steroid
The most important thing to do before you decide on oral vs injectable steroids is think about all the pros and cons. When thinking about oral versus injectable, think about your unique wants and needs along with the recommendations of others.
It may be clear that injectable Trenbolone is the best for your needs, but if it simply isn’t available to you, or if it doesn’t fit your budget, then it isn’t right for you. Here are some things to consider:
Your Privacy. Most people who use anabolics like to do so privately and discreetly. If you are frequently away from home, then injectables may not be the right choice for your needs. Some people have no issue with carrying syringes and taking them to hotels, but others simply prefer oral vs Injectable Steroids because they are more discreet and afford them more privacy.
Ease of use. For others, injections are simply too difficult to measure and prepare. The margin for error is larger with injectables, which means you can err in filling your syringe or even in injecting. Pills do away with some of these potential issues, which is yet another reason why some people prefer them.
Frequency of Dosing. If you are someone who dislikes taking a daily dose of a medication, then injectables may be the best choice for your needs. Most need only twice-weekly or every-other-day dosing rather than once-daily dosing or even multiple doses each day.
Availability. You will need to consider not only the availability, but also the availability of syringes and other accessories you will need to take them safely. Aside from simple availability, you should also consider the cost of syringes along with the costs.
Personal Preference. Finally, think about your personal preference for and experience with anabolics. If a friend recommends an injectable Trenbolone, for example, but you know you prefer Anavar or Dianabol, think about what you like and how your body will react. What works well for one person may not work as well for you.
The Winner: Injectable
In the grand scheme of things, anabolic users almost unanimously agree that injectables are the better choice. Some of the benefits include:
- Fewer (or more tolerable) undesirable side effects
- Better libido
- Less expense
- Better for the liver
- Longer time to develop muscles and maintain gains
- Less frequent dosing
- Better overall sense of well-being
Individuals who prefer injectables will often use the oral kickstart method to truly enhance their cycles, particularly for bulking. When looking at oral versus injectable steroids, you must remember that injectable versions take longer to come to peak concentration and therefore provide results.
As such, starting out with an oral can enhance those results and help you stay motivated. As you can see, in the debate between oral vs injectable, the injectables are the clear winners.
However, there is also a time and a place for orals, namely at the front of a cycle to help kick-start gains. You can also use an oral in the middle of an injectable cycle to help you bust plateaus in your gains.