1. Does taking testosterone affect your body’s natural production of testosterone?
Yes and no. You may think your testicles stop producing testosterone, and you live off it for the rest of your life. It does turn off your natural testosterone production, but if you do it smartly and have a solid PCT, you’ll minimize the chances of a permanent shutdown. The problem is that when people abuse the PCT or don’t know what the PCT is, then they run into problems, they have permanently damaged the HPTA system, and their bodies can’t resume natural production.
2. How do anabolic steroids make you stronger?
Anabolic steroids work because they disguise themselves as one of the body’s basic hormones: testosterone. In general, steroids are compounds with a common structure. There are many different kinds of steroids; Anabolic steroids are just one of several hormones that work in your body.
When you take anabolic steroids, your body breaks the drug down into molecules that can enter your cells. There, steroid molecules bind to androgen receptors. This is where anabolic steroids really play the role of testosterone because the androgen receptors are very special in shape to bind to the body’s natural testosterone. Anabolic steroids, however, also bind to receptors.
Once anabolic steroids are in place, androgen receptors are activated. Depending on the type of cell the steroid is in, this activation can alter the behavior of certain genes — especially those that control the changes that occur during puberty.
Steroids affect your normal metabolism in two basic ways, and together they lead to greater muscle mass. Once these androgen receptors are activated, some cells increase protein production, and your body USES the protein to make more cells. This is a phase of the metabolic cycle called anabolism, where small molecules accumulate into more complex molecules and store energy. Anabolic is also when your body builds muscle — so now you know why they’re called anabolic steroids. During anabolism, cells in skeletal muscles, or the strong muscles that attach to bones, begin to replicate and grow. Soon, your strength and agility will increase.
But not all activated androgen receptors trigger this response. Some inhibitory hormones are called glucocorticoids, another steroid. Suppressing glucocorticoids accelerates the breakdown of complex molecules, such as proteins, into smaller units, such as energy-providing amino acids. The whole process is called catabolism, which is the other half of the metabolic cycle.
Anabolic steroids shorten the catabolic stage of metabolism by inhibiting glucocorticoids. This means your muscles take less time to recover between workouts, and you can get more done with less rest. You can see how steroids improve athletic performance.
3. Do steroids work?
One study showed that men who used steroids for 10 weeks gained 2 to 5 kilograms of lean weight — in other words, muscle. They also reported a 5 to 20 percent increase in strength. Study participants gained more muscle mass in the chest, lower abdomen, shoulders and upper arms than in any other area. It’s not because they’re kicking up their legs, but because muscle cells in these areas have more androgen receptors. Not surprisingly, these participants improved significantly on bench presses compared to other weightlifting events.
It’s not like alcohol or fast drugs, which gradually start to feel stronger. Anabolic steroids are not an automatic magic potion, you still have to work hard to get paid.