by Morley Evans
THE EFFECTS OF SUPRAPHYSIOLOGIC DOSES OF TESTOSTERONE ON MUSCLE SIZE AND STRENGTH IN NORMAL MEN
On July 4, 1996, the New England Journal of Medicine published a gold standard clinical trial evaluating steroid use to increase muscle mass and strength.
It should surprise no one that steroids work. This study does not advocate steroid use or evaluate its effect on health and longevity. It does not include a follow-up of the participants. It is an excellent example of a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study that was carefully designed and conducted.
Steroids work. One need only look at the baseball players and sprinters who took steroids to enhance their performance. Lance Armstrong's cycling team was sponsored by the USPS and Bayer Pharmaceuticals (oh oh). The East German girls on the GDR Olympic teams are paying the price today for the doping their coaches had them doing 50 years ago. The GDR teams provide a long-term look at the effects of doping. Germans typically keep careful records so it might be possible to find out what exactly they did if those records haven't been destroyed. Sadly, most of those records were destroyed when the German Democratic Republic collapsed.
At Gold's Gym — where I go every other day to lift weights — I have found zero interest in adding fruits and vegetables to daily diets. Some may be taking steroids. I don't know. I am now 66 years old. Last Wednesday, I pulled 200 pounds for 5 reps on the Deadlift. I can Bench 110 pounds 5 x 5. That may not be much, but it's good for me. I weigh 154 pounds and I can parallel Squat 150 pounds 5 reps. My best blood pressure is 103/60 pulse 68. As I have continued over the years, people have begun to notice. Some young men are beginning to look up to me and pretty young girls smile — those pretty young girls make everything worthwhile. They make me feel like Bond. James Bond. In five years, I'll be 71 and I'll still be powered by Juice PLUS+ and lifting weights. I see no end ahead. Will I be doing this when I'm 81? 91? 101? Barring injury, why not?
The study in the NEJM was well-designed to test the limited things it set out to test.
Length of Study: 10 weeks.
Muscle Size: The mean cross-sectional areas of the arm and leg muscles did not change significantly in the placebo groups, whether the men had exercise or not (Table 4 and Fig. 1). The men in the testosterone groups had significant increases in the cross-sectional areas of the triceps and the quadriceps (Table 4); the group assigned to testosterone without exercise had a significantly greater increase in the cross-sectional area of the quadriceps than the placebo-alone group, and the testosterone-plus-exercise group had greater increases in quadriceps and triceps area than either the testosterone-alone or the placeboplus- exercise group (P 0.05).
Muscle Strength: Muscle strength in the bench-press and the squatting exercises did not change significantly over the 10-week period in the group assigned to placebo with no exercise. The men in the testosterone-alone and placebo-plus-exercise groups had significant increases in the one-repetition maximal weights lifted in the squatting exercises, averaging 19 percent and 21 percent, respectively (Table 4 and Fig. 1). Similarly, mean bench-press strength increased in these two groups by 10 percent and 11 percent, respectively. In the testosterone-plus-exercise group, the increase in muscle strength in the squatting exercise (38 percent) was greater than that in any other group, as was the increase in bench-press strength (22 percent).
To dope or not to dope. That is the question.
In my opinion, if one's objective is good health and long life, it is best to avoid drugging. Avoid doctors and drug stores. Don't even take Aspirin. Instead, one should adopt wholesome living, exercise, good nutrition (combined with optimal absorption and elimination), rest, and sound sleep. If one's goal is winning something, however, one might consider doping and risk disgrace if caught for cheating along with long-term health problems and a shorter life. The question becomes: To cheat or not to cheat? To lie or not to lie? To steal or not to steal? It is a moral question.
It does seem that drugging athletes is commonplace today. As long as winning is rewarded, there will be cheating. German researchers say:
One of the largest pharmacological experiments in history has been running for more than three decades, namely, the administration of drugs to athletes to enhance performance in many different kinds of sports. Notably, androgenic-anabolic steroids were used with particular success for virilization of adolescent girls and female athletes. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this large and still ongoing global experiment is its widely accepted clandestine nature. Although the drug experiments involved many thousands of athletes, physicians, scientists, and sports and government officials, and although the success of these programs has been publicized through print, radio, and television, the nature of the program and its results largely have been kept inaccessible to direct scientific, medical, or judicially valid investigation.