When most people think of anabolic steroids, they think of celebrities like Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger with their impossibly huge and muscular physiques.
Though steroids can certainly help achieve these bodies, the truth is that steroid use in sports is a bit different. Here, you’ll learn the answers to one of the most commonly asked questions of all time – “How are steroids used in sports?”
It’s Not About the Muscle
There’s a common misconception that people only use anabolic steroids when they want to pack on borderline obscene amounts of muscle and look like the Hulk.
This simply isn’t true. There are many reasons why people use anabolic steroids. For example, a bodybuilder will typically use anabolic steroids for one of three reasons:
- To add bulk – During a “bulking” cycle, a bodybuilder eats tons of calories, takes steroids, and works out regularly to trigger protein synthesis and muscle growth.
- To maintain muscle while cutting – On the other hand, during a “cutting” cycle, bodybuilders cut their calories and incorporate different workouts into their routines in an effort to burn subcutaneous fat that hides their muscle definition. Unfortunately, this caloric deficit can sometimes cause muscle loss. Certain types of steroids can help bodybuilders maintain their mass, even when consuming calories at a deficit.
- To recover more quickly – Bodybuilders work out constantly. It’s not unheard of for them to spend hours a day in the gym. This can lead to extreme fatigue, and without help, these individuals would need rest periods of at least 48 hours after such intense workouts. Testosterone boosters work recovery to the point that bodybuilders can work out every day for hours without stopping.
How are Steroids Used in Sports vs. Bodybuilding?
How are anabolic steroids used in sports, then? Do these athletes want to pack on muscle, burn fat without losing muscle mass, or recover more quickly after their workouts?
Sometimes, the answer is a resounding yes. However, more often than not, steroid use in sports is all about performance enhancement (i.e PEDS).
Though it might serve a linebacker well to be huge and muscular, this isn’t the case for a cyclist, a swimmer, or even a baseball player. These individuals would only be hindered by too much mass, and they certainly do not want to burn fat. How are steroids used by athletes? They’re used to improve focus, speed, and agility.
Injecting one’s body with anabolic steroids is much like reaching back into adolescence. When men are about 18 to 25 years old, they have more energy and vigor than they’ll ever have in their lives, and that’s a scientific fact. After the age of 30, testosterone levels start to drop slowly each year.
The less testosterone in the body, the less strength a man possesses, the less stamina he has, and the more fatigue he feels. Steroids can help average men pack on pounds of sheer muscle and improve their ability to lift weights or work out, so imagine what they could do for an athlete who’s already in fantastic shape. The possibilities are endless.
Steroids in Sports – The Most Common Uses
Now that you understand the differences between steroid use in sports and bodybuilding, you can better grasp the reasons so many athletes take the risk of using steroids, even knowing they could be banned or stripped of their medals if they are caught.
- More speed – In many cases, the faster you are, the better. If you can get to second base before the runner, you might very well win the game. Athletes take steroids because they want to be faster than everyone else, and in many cases, they succeed.
- Better endurance – Sometimes it’s all about being able to keep up with the competition. Consider Lance Armstrong, winner of Tour de France. He’s the perfect answer to the question, “How are steroids used in sports?” With the marathon cycling run, his ability to not only keep up with, but even outrun his opponents, led to many victories. Unfortunately, he was eventually caught doping, stripped of his medals, and banned from competing in the future.
- More focus – Again, it’s important to keep in mind that using steroids is much like going back in time to one’s youth. With a little performance enhancement, athletes can better focus on what happens on the field, allowing them to make better decisions.
- The fountain of youth – As athletes get older, they are often replaced with younger, more “spry” athletes who recover more quickly from injuries or who have more natural stamina. When older athletes use steroids, they can keep up with the younger athletes and stay in the game longer.
- Faster recovery from injuries – Finally, some athletes have been known to take steroids so they can recover from traumatic injuries more quickly and lead their teams to victory.
How are anabolic steroids used? It depends on the setting and the individual’s reasons. In sports, anabolic steroids are used primarily for performance enhancement. They allow athletes to be faster, more focused, and stronger than their opponents, and in some cases, they can even get them back out on the field more quickly, as well.