T Nation

CT's Frank Opinion on Using Hormones?


#1

Hey CT hope this topic isn’t off limits, geniunely interested in your thoughts here.

Assuming one trains hard/lives the lifestyle and wants to do so for as long as possible (i.e. i started “lifting” when 15, now im 28, want to go into old age of course) at what point is it helpful to look at anaoblic support? At what point is it “needed”?

Goal is not to be a competitve bodybuilder, but rather understanding the physiological limitations of the body, paricularly as one ages.

I see points on TRT, or even cycling “prohomorones” (for that mens physique) once folks approach early/mid 30’s. Seems quite common, whether recommended by personal trainers, competitors or even doctors (given modern men’s declining T levels)

At some point, it seems (could be untrue) the body will simply stop having the optimal internal mileu for gains (or even to maintain gains) and training without hormonal support becomes ineffective if not counterproductive (Could heavy training damage the natural, aged body?)

Your many points recently on natural vs. enhanced training & also some other blogs I follow got me curious on this, appreciate your view…


#2

I think that anabolic hormone levels indeed decrease with age. But I also believe that if one does everything right, lifestyle-wise and training-wise, that decline can be reduced.

But a certain decline is unavoidable.

When is it “ok” to seek “help”? When you have a medical reason to do so. If a man is diagnosed with low testosterone levels (below normal or in the low range of normal) then being prescribed and using testosterone to get back in the middle to upper part of the range is acceptable (IMHO).

I would actually avoid pro-hormones or pro-steroids because these (especially the newer ones like superdrol) are actual steroids and will further shutdown your natural production, which actually makes the matter worse.

So I don’t think it’s an age thing. Some men in their 50s can have T levels in the upper portion of the normal range while some guys in their 20s can be on the low side.

If your question is indeed about staying in the optimal range then what is “okay” is using bioidentical hormones (testosterone, growth hormone) when your natural levels are low, and only to bring you back to normal/optimal natural levels. Anything more would be “doping”… I’m not saying it’s bad or anything, but it is not what you were asking.


#3

Thanks.

I mean, assuming one’s level is in “normal” range, after many years in the game (training) and in life (age) does it just make practical sense to “dope” (yes supraphysioglical levels).

Otherwise there will be no progress (physique/strength) and fighting a steep decline every step of the way.

Also is it possible for a natural trainee that heavy intense training WITHOUT ped/doping could in fact be harmful to body?

I think about burn victims or HIV patients given roids to prevent muscle wasting and also that study which showed roided, non training individuals gained more muscle than hard training natural trainees.

If the cost/benefit is weighted approrpiately (and this is difficult i know, not much “mainstream” info here) it seems cruising/cycling on something makes sense long term…

Basically, is smart drug use really that harmful? Or it could it acutally help?

Thanks again


#4

Sigil

Are you asking this because you are considering using yourself? You don’t have to answer that but imho for someone who is a stimulus addict and obsessed with training like yourself (no offence, I am the same!) The more is better way of thinking can be dangerous when it comes to drugs, as well as an unhealthy body image and impatience when it comes to gains. I think this is the reason for abuse of ped s for most people.

Or maybe you just asking out of curiosity but I just wanted to say that as I’ve had to stop myself using because I knew it would open a can of worms


#5

I’m 32 and been training seriously since I was 17. I had moments in college where I was stronger than I am now. I’m smarter now but smaller. I can’t say I’m weaker b/c I’ve changed my technique and range of motion in some exercises. I’m smaller but leaner.

I consider PEDs from time to time b/c I grind year after year and fell like I’m spinning my wheels. My typical year has points where I match my PRs, get sick or injured or both, then fight to get back where I was, then repeat.

It sucks but it’s reality. On your point of getting older, yes there’s a decline and yes heavy lifting can be detrimental over time. Talk to any veteran lifter and you’ll learn that you have to make adjustments and remove certain things over time.

My point is this: what is your reason for your training? Be honest with yourself. I want to be stronger than most, bigger & leaner than most, and be able to hold my own in a fight (I’m a cop). If my size and strength are the same at 30 as they were at 20, same at 40 as age 30 and so on, then I’d say in doing pretty damn good. Maybe I’m not making progress but I’m winning the battle against time and aging. Most people decline as they age. I think it’s safe to say that the LACK of decline, or maintenance, is real progress when compared to the average male.

I found an article on another site that studied natural potential for bodybuilders based on bone structure. The science was reverse engineered by studying the natural champions over time. It helped me accept reality.


#6

That is a personal decision. i won’t be a hypocrite and tell you that PEDs are evil because I have trained bodybuilders who used them and I have used them about 12 years ago when I did a few bodybuilding competitions.

But I will say that if you are looking for a justification to use them (you “need” them at some point) you wont get it from me. Unless you are competing in a sport were PEDs are used by everybody then there is never any “need” to use supraphysiological level of hormones. You can always keep progressing as long as you train smart and have hormone levels in the normal range.

A lot of people are dissatisfied by what can be considered a normal rate of progression and thus turn to PED to get a faster progression. I understand that thinking, but that doesn’t mean that you “need them” to progress… it means that to progress at the standard you decided for yourself (which might be unrealistic) they might be necessary.


#7

That will only happen if your natural hormone levels are out of the normal range or if your training/nutrition is irrational.


#8

Everything done in excess can be harmful for the body, including excessive training. A lot of elite athletes, natural or enhanced are completely messed up because of the abuse of training. The problem is not training naturally, it’s doing too much, period.


#9

It depends on who you ask. Of course, PED users will tell you that smart use is safe… but in reality everytime you use any type of drug you risk having side effects that could lead to health issues. With PEDs the problem is that those health side effects often are not seen on the short term. You will not suddenly get a heart attack from taking a shot of trenbolone or some dianabol pills. The “apparent” short term side effects are often seen as mild, like gyno or elevation in blood pressure… because of that people assume that PED are “safe” and that can lead to abuse or becoming addicted to them and never going of. And that’s where the long term side effects can appear.

I know from experience that having elevated blood pressure for a fairly long time can be disastrous on the kidneys… it might take 10+ years to have problems, but they are irreversible.

Cardiac issues can also take a long time to manifest themselves.

The only way to use PEDs safely IMHO is to have FREQUENT health screens… by that I mean if someone wants to “cycle” he would have one health panel done at the beginning, in the middle and at the conclusion of his cycle. If someone plans on staying on low doses year round then he should have check ups every three months. And the doctor should be aware of what the person is doing.

That is the only way of being fairly safe. But don’t kid yourself, everytime you take any form of drug there will be some side effects that could lead to potential health issues.


#10

That is 100% correct!!! Stimulus addicts, people who have the tendency to always want to do more should stay away from the PED trap because it never ends well. Great post.


#11

All very insightful, appreciate the comments. Yes it is something of personal consideration and also curious since transparency/truth is hard to find on the subject.

Long term effects espeically are hard to appreciate (3 months - 1 year of unreal gains vs. the risk of kidney/heart issues a decade later) but CT’s experience is illustrative.

Yeah i could see a pyschological addiction manifesting. If I can hardly cycle of caffeine/neuro-stims I could only imaigne PED dependency being worse lol.

The path to take is natural then but adjusting expectations to match reality is important…and jmaier good to hear your two decades of experience lifitng but unfornate to hear you’re spinning wheels and simply maintaining. I would rather progress than just maintain/preven decline but we’ll see how my body plays out in the years to come


#12

The thing with you Sigil is that you always compare yourself to others. And the fact is that there will always be someone much better than you… it’s the same with pretty much everybody really. But if you compare yourself with others you will never be happy with your progress. Even if you take PEDs you will be dissatisfied because you will just compare yourself to those who are still in better shape than you.

So you’ll use more… you will never come off because when you come off you feel small, weak and soft…

Remember 1-2 years ago you wrote that you got your best physique from layers but then started ti regress and kept trying different things to get it back… remember how bad that felt? Well if you begin to use PEDs you will feel about 5x worse when you go off… but this time you will know what you need to do to get in back (use drugs again) and that will lead to non-stop use. But at one point your body will be used to it so you will start to use more… see where I’m going with this?

You can’t compare yourself with others. If you have a really nice house, with a pool, hot tub you are happy… until you see someone with a house that is twice as big then you feel like nothing. Just because someone has a bigger house doesn’t mean that your house is not great. Same thing with a physique, just because someone is bigger and more muscular than you are doesn’t mean that your physique is not good.

Listen, I’m 40, I had health issues that made me lose a lot of mass and it took me a long time to regain a decent amount of it back. But I’m still not at the level I was at my best. And you think it’s bad for you because there are bigger guys in the gym? Try giving seminars in front on elite coaches from around the world, some with great physiques… how do you think it feels for me? There is a lot of pressure to impress them physically because like it or not that does play a role in my credibility as a speaker. But I don’t go out shooting drugs like crazy. I’m happy with where I am right now considering my age, history of injuries and health issues. I stopped comparing myself to others.

And take it from someone who had serious health issues: never do anything that might endanger your health… you never believe that you can get something serious (I know I never expected it) but when you get something you wish to God you would have done things differently.


#13

Very very good
Thanks sir


#14
  1. jmaier has a stressful lifestyle. I know many cops and it is HARD to make gains at any age on their schedule and type of work.

  2. I’ve known many who were able to progress up to a very old age. A former client of mine got his deadlift PR at 63 years of age. I also trained with a guy who was 69 years old and at a bodyweight of 170lbs could clean & jerk 280lbs and snatch 215lbs, he also push pressed 315 behind the neck.

  3. The key to long term progress is to treat your body well. If you stay healthy and do not get injured (acute or chronic injury) then you can keep progressing for a very long time. Abusing your body by doing A LOT of work might sound right, right now. But it can limit your capacity to make gains in the future.

  4. A former coach of mine has a way to train that I really like for long term progress. Now, the guys is in his late 50s and doesn’t look older than 35, still has a great physique. He divides his training in “seasons”:

Autumn he trains like a bodybuilder
Winter he trains like a powerlifter
Spring he trains like an olympic lifter
Summer he trains like a track & field athlete

And he is still progressing because you can always progress in some regard.


#15

And I want to reiterate my original point: using PEDs is a personal choice and I wont be hypocritical by saying that your are the devil if you use them. BUT the decision to take them should never be based on emotions and frustrations. It should be an objective decision that considered your own psychological profile and what you are trying to accomplish.


#16

For what it’s worth I’m still improving in some areas. My wife recently pointed out that I have a plump ass whereas before it was rather flat. That’s progress! Took 10 years to get it though. I have the problem of comparing myself to my 22 year old self. At that time I was an intern at the Lake Placid USOC Training Center. I worked 9-5 in the weight room, was encouraged to work out on the clock, had access to food all day including fish, steak, & chicken at lunch & dinner, and had no reason to go outside because it was below freezing all the time.

Those were some great conditions and I achieved a physique of 231 lbs and 8% body fat in a fasted state. I’m 6’5". Now I’m married, have a 3 year old & 4 month old, and work 4 ten hour days a week. I know there aren’t many people in my position who can say they’re 230-235 lbs with 12-14% body fat (haven’t checked recently). I also power cleaned 315lbs this year.

Compared to a lot of people I see on here I’m probably inferior. Compared to the average male I look pretty good. I’m in better shape than a lot if my younger co-workers.

All things considered I’d say I’m in a good place!


#17

Here are some pics from a photoshoot I did 2 months ago.You can see that I’m smaller than I was (I was 202 in those pics vs about 220, slightly less lean in the past) but I can still work on improving the way I look and perform.

I’m not as strong as I was in my upper body pressing because of a shoulder problem but I can work on improving other areas. You can always find ways to improve even if you aren’t always moving up on the scales.


#18

Wow on 6’5" that is a long way to pull! Impressive!


#19

Making a good case for shredded in the age old debate of swole vs. shredded! I’d say 202lbs suits you well.

I agree that I can (and will) continue to improve. Over the past couple years I’ve improved hip mobility and began to work on front squats. I’m still improving with those and pushing my max.

I fall into the trap of comparing myself to others. I’ve finally started to let that go. Usually I just tell myself that I’m taller and have longer levers than most. That’s why I can’t compare my maxes to everyone else… And then Lee Boyce posts a video of himself doing a clean and jerk with 315lbs and makes me feel weak again!


#20

It’s especially difficult since I catch it so high. My front squat max is 265 so I catch in a power position…working on that though.