T Nation

Do Steroids Enhance Neuromuscular Efficiency?


I know that recently Tyson Gay had tested positive for AAS, which is obviously a banned substance in sprinting. However, I've wondered why anabolic steroids have to be prohibited from being used for a sport that is based only on the speed of the athlete. I mean, I know that the speed of a given movement depends on just the efficiency of one's nervous system (with regard to skeletal muscles of course).

So, if pro sprinters are using AAS then does that mean that anabolic steroids do increase the speed of the nervous system or is it that steroids metabolically enhance the size of the muscles (provided that the athlete consistently weight trains) thereby improving the athlete's overall force production which would subsequently lead to substantially greater explosiveness during each moment the sprinter pushes off the ground?



Thats a hard question to answer but I would have to say, tentatively, no, but you really have to appreciate the difference between strength and power.

AAS do have a very poignant effect on strength, and provide more raw muscle to train but power is about the synchronous recruitment of muscle tissue which is a specific training response and ultimately the domain of the central nervous system.

So would AAS benefit a sprinter, absolutely, but does it improve neuromuscular efficiency I would say no at least not directly. Each electrical impulse will cause a contraction in tensile muscle tissue. Imagine the individual contraction to be stronger under the influence of AAS, but the coordination of electrical impulses, the frequency of the signals, and the syncronous stimulation of fibers are not enhanced.

So far as I would understand it


Well think of this. If you have a skinny guy with twice as much testosterone as a guy the exact same weight and muscle size, might the one with more testosterone be stronger and faster.


I'm certainly not an expert and may well be mistaken, but my understanding was that at least some AAS in fact do enhance neuro-muscular efficiency.

How they do this, what the mechanism is, I don't know, but I do recall reading in what I remember as reputable publications that steroids can and do make the nervous system more effective in producing power.

This is one reason why back in the 1980s and early 1990s (and maybe until this day) both olympic weightlifters and sprinters often favored a steroid like stromba/winstrol/stanozolol. It boosted strength significantly without adding too much weight either through water retention or hypertrophy. And one of the ways it did this was through enhancing the nervous system.

This was my understanding, but I defer to those more knowledgeable about biology and PED.


Well it will increase strength and power output but not by means of nervous system. Androgenic activity in the muscle will increase the force per unit which will in turn produce more power all else being equal.

I guess this is considered an increase in 'neuromuscular efficiency' but I dont suspect it to do anything directly to the CNS.

I like these questions though because by figuring them out we learn things.