Anabolic steroids are drugs which chemicallyresemble androgenic hormones. They are most commonly taken by athletes in orderto gain weight, strength, power, speed and physical endurance. The actualeffectiveness of these drugs is controversial even though majority of athletesacclaim beneficial effects of anabolic steroids. However, there is a huge differencebetween experimental findings and empirical observations.
How do Anabolic Steroids Work
Male hormones, particularly testosterone, areresponsible for developmental changes during puberty and adolescence. They haveboth, androgenic and anabolic effects. Androgenic effects are related to properdevelopment of the primary and secondary sexual characteristics while anaboliceffects include growth of muscles and bones, production of red blood cells andenhanced neural conduction.
Anabolic steroids can enhance the anabolicproperties and provide with enhanced tissue building. They also minimize theandrogenic properties. These drugs stimulate receptor molecules in muscle cellswhich are in charge with production of proteins and protein metabolism. Thisconsequently leads to enhanced protein synthesis and reduced proteindegradation.
Effects of Anabolic Steroids
Many questioned athletes have confirmed thatanabolic steroids helped them train harder. They have also said that theyrecovered faster and had no difficulty in holding onto the gains. All thepreviously mentioned points to the fact that anabolic steroids may havesomething to do with prevention of muscle catabolism. This has not been provenyet. Another theory is that anabolic steroids block the effects of certainhormones (such as cortisol) which are responsible for tissue breakdown duringthe exercises. This effect can also accelerate the recovery. These effects canbe only achieved only when anabolic steroids are taken. Once they are discontinuedthe effects are lost. Catabolic effects of cortisol are rather high onceanabolic steroids are discontinued and both, the strength and muscle size arelost rapidly.
One more effect of anabolic steroids is reducedproduction of testosterone. Long-term administration of anabolic steroidsresults in psychological addiction and several side effects such as suppressionof the immune system which may eventually lead to many illnesses.
Unfortunately, the effects of anabolic steroids onphysical performance are not clear yet. There have been several studies but theresults are conflicting. It is believed that most changes in strength duringthe initial part of training are neural and caused by increased ability torecruit motor units. Weight gain achieved due to anabolic steroids is alsoconsidered as something that increases performance. Still there arecontributing factors such as increased motivation and desire to be better whichcannot simply be related to anabolic steroids.