T Nation

Looking for Soldiers on Gear


T-Nation is looking for subjects for a new roundtable discussion article similar to our previous Cops on Gear and Docs on Gear articles.

This one will be about US soldiers who use steroids. Specifically, we'd like to talk to soldiers who've been in Iraq. Interviewees will remain anonymous, of course. PM (private message) or email Chris at CS@T-Nation.com for more info.



I've got an idea for a new suplament program. German Military Stimulation. Pretty much just consists of using speed, but hey, it almost worked for the Nazis.


I would be very interested in learning about this.


I think this is a great topic. There is probably alot of crazy shit that some of those soldiers can talk about. Looking forward to reading this one.



War is an endurance sport. I was a Ranger and a Pathfinder. I trained with weights a little bit but the bulk of our training program centered on cardio. When I RIP'd most of the guys that survived looked about like I did. i.e., medium to light build medium height - I'm 6' even. The bigger guys usually had problems with their ankles or knees. Although, the few that did make it ended up as M-60 gunners (big guy = big gun).

The most important thing is the ability to hump a ruck 5 miles over rough terrain as fast as you can and arrive at your rendezvous point with a heart rate slow enough to allow you to drop a man size target at 300 meters with an M-16.

It's a different skill set.



lol, usually they give the smallest guy the M240 or M60.


Or the guy who shoots the best with it...


It is incredibly common in the Special Operations arena (to include regiment).


They are two types of overrated builds in special ops;

  1. The Muscle Freak: This soldier looks great by the pool and the gym, and has an extremely high anabolic rate in the blood......but can not go for more than three hours without consuming protein... at that point rendering the extra 35lbs of muscle useless. Also if the soldier's activity doesnt include a gym lift (running or rucking) he finds himself confused and out of breath.

Strongpoint: If you need to breach a wall, run 3 feet, and shoot something in an aggressive manner, then this is the physique for you.

  1. The Trifagalete: Although this soldier impresses its commander to no end with his constant ability to run 6 minute miles and 5% body fat, after an hour under a rucksack or at carb depletion(which ever comes first) this soldier falls to the waste side.

Strongpoint: Great for promotion!You can always go for a marathon on the weekend with your commander! Also, while lying broken after a day without pasta in the field you can always say, "oh yeah, well a ran a 5:15 mile!"

A lot of extra weight usually proves to be useless in the field. Also, being 130lbs and 5% body fat doesnt always last long either. Of course there are always exceptions.

Unless you are running through a door and doing a 10 foot sprint across a room, 30 extra pounds of muscle never seemed to do much good.

And when you are a 8% body fat triathelete you also starve to death in the field after you miss 3 or 4 "carb loaded" meals. But they ran soo fast during unit PT.

Although, we did have our "freaks" the most useful builds were more the ones who could run 20 miles at a 8:30 minute mile pace and still bench press their bodyweight + 100lbs at the end of it. These people could go a few days without a meal, still perform, and carry your ass out if you got hit.


Interesting, Viking. It does make sense that the most useful soliders in the long haul are those middle of the road ones.


I have to slightly disagree with Viking on this one. I was a fairly big soldier at 6'7" tall and 270lbs at 16-17% body fat. I was able to smoke most other soldiers on long humps. I always caught shit from my commanders about how muscle is a liability and they would watch me fall out. Most of the time I ended up helping out the lagging soldiers by carrying some of their gear to help them catch up.

I was always accused of using roids, it became a big issue every where I went. I knew many soldiers and Marines that I injected myself, and also watched them become stellar performers.


Viking hit the nail on the head as far as the physical aspect of it. Combine that with heart and a "if I quit now, my buddy dies and it's my fault" mentality, and you've got it. There's always the wild card, though.

SPECOPS guys have certain intangibles that can't be pinned down, but they are there. Oh, and that loud mouth at the back of the bar bragging about his exploits as a SEAL, PJ, Delta, Force Recon, etc. - probably about a 95% chance he's full of crap.

Should be an interesting thread, nonetheless.



I was going to say, there are a few guys at my gym that talk so much shit about being Rangers and how tough they are. But they are fat asses, not what I would consider a desirable physique. I am sure they are full of shit.

I don't think you want a beach body to be an effective soldier. But you don't want to be Lance Armstrong either, yeah he has endurance, but what if you have to wrestle and go hand to hand with someone. Even a wimpy Jihadist would be able to subdue you and cut your throat while screaming, "Allah al akbar". There has to be a happy medium. I just think it would be tough to use gear in the field, not very sanitary and you have to account for your ancillaries. Just seems like might make things worse.


Josh has hit the nail on the head with this one. There's no formula that makes you an operator. It's just that some people are and some aren't. The various programs like BUDS and RIP are designed to weed out those that aren't. After the weedout process is complete, it's like any other military training program - maybe with a bit more intensity.

I've seen 5'5" skinny kids and 6'5" fat boys perform the same evolution with the same results. I think the biggest factor is desire. If you desire to be a Ranger, SEAL, Pathfinder, PJ or Force Recon Marine and have the tendon/ligament strength to survive, then you'll do it, regardless of your muscle mass/fat mass ratio.

Personally, I was never a strong swimmer so I became a Ranger. (Before you ask, Yes, I did nearly drown in RIP. Damn those Georgia swamps.)



I think this describes the most successful of the average grunt, excluding the Spec Ops guys (they are a small percentage of the infantry). I always wanted my guys to have a good balance of strength and endurance, and mental toughness. Steroids and field time never mix well. Dieting and field time never mix well. Personally it seemed every time I got a good eating program set up, we would go to the field and it would all get wreaked by those damn MRE's, and I would lose any mass I gained.


This thread leads me to an idea. Maybe we should start another thread on the best ways to improve strength and conditioning in the military. What kind of training creates the optimal soldier (soldier used as a non-service specific term)?


I am not a soldier, just a former athlete, but I'm going to contribute to this thread because i) I work with soldiers on just this issue, ii) it's fascinating enough and iii) frankly, it gets to the heart of a lot of cultural hypocrisy surrounding 'doping.'

My first comment is the general misunderstanding that most people have in thinking that testosterone-derivatives (anabolic-androgenic steroids) are just for bodybuilders. Yes, they CAN build huge muscles if you eat like a hoss and devote every waking second to PBs in the gym. But testosterone is a "multi-potent" substance that - at sane dosages - does a host of other things, many of which would directly contribute to military performance - from mood elevation during multiple deployments, to enhancing certain aspects of cognition under stress, to preventing the catabolism we regularly see during deployments, to increasing alertness and motivation.

If you think of the number one thing killing our men in OIF, it's IEDs, which is a function of largely paying close attention to your surroundings - a damned tough thing to do after you've eaten the Meal Rejected by Ethiopians, which will play havoc with your blood sugar and hormonal integrity. TDs can counter those and sane dosing for 6 months won't mean the entire 3rd MEF goes down with prostate cancer. Think of TDs as enhancing more things about performance of military folks than muscular hypertrophy - although we sure would like our adversaries to think that's all they do.

Okay - already too long. Last comment for now - the American notion that competition is a game and it should be "fair." The Eagles lose the Super Bowl, they go home to their Escalades and bikini and thong Fluff - in that case, I can sort of understand that people get upset that someone, having agreed not to use TDs, ends up doing so.

However, if the Lance Corporal or Staff Sergeant loses, then IF (s)he even goes home, it's without legs or eyes and probably means sitting upright in Walter Reed for two months with IVs and a couple of yellow ribbons to console them. If TDs could help prevent this - and I'm not saying for certain they can, but at least we should look at the possibility - then we should get our heads out of our asses and stop thinking that soldiers should be on a level playing field.

You think that mattered to the insurgents in Fallujah who shot up amphetamines and adrenaline, forcing Marines to make headshots to drop them? FYI, a headshot in urban ops is a pretty tough ask at the best of times - wonder if there's a substance that might improve spatial judgment and aim in guys whose testosterone levels have been suppressed due to bad food and chronic stress?

Oh, wait. Journal of Andrology, Vol. 24, No. 4, July/August 2003
Cognitive Changes Associated With Supplementation of Testosterone or Dihydrotestosterone in Mildly Hypogonadal Men: A Preliminary Report

We're not giving this to guys because?...


Sorry - one more thing. "Gear" should not mean just TDs.

EPO would be ideal for certain military operators, as would mIGF - with gene therapies coming down the line that will be even more so. I'd be interested to hear guys' thoughts on ALL kinds of gear. GH for example? Tough to do in the field right now, but won't always be (I suspect that, like insulin, they'll get to the inhalable point sooner rather than later). And don't forget ampakines and Modafinil...



they used to issue dextroamphetmine to LRRP's back in 'Nam....


Yeah, the famous Go pills. And I know they use Stop pills (Ambien). My point of mentioning it is not that we don't use this stuff, only that we don't use it well. Go pills can cause dissociation - and they still use them, as if psychoergogens haven't improved since 1968.

Modafinil seems not to have a dissociative effect and I know the USAF is using it in two-seaters, but I think others on the horizon will make an even bigger splash - ampakines, orexins, even trans-cranial magnetic stimulation. Someone on a link a while ago mentioned that he was shipping Spike to some operators in OEF - but we never heard how they went down. You still out there? Any thoughts?

Also, our culture seems to accept sleep deprivation as an "illness" for which we can use a cure (amphetamines, Modafinil) - but "enhancing" performance is still a no-no, military or otherwise. Agree?