It’s not new, but nevertheless it’s interesting, this study done at the University of Southern California in 2004. The researchers gave thirty men over sixty a daily dose of 20 mg of oxandrolone for twelve weeks and observed what happened. After reading the study you might wonder whether giving androgens to people who don’t work out is such a good idea.
Oxandrolone is perhaps the safest oral anabolic steroid ever to make its way on to the market. One of the reasons for this is because it doesn’t metabolise easily.
The researchers wanted to know whether you can use male hormones to counter the decline in muscle mass and power that sets in with aging. For their experiments they selected thirty healthy men over the age of sixty, and gave them the dose that doctors advise for ‘undesired weight loss due to unknown causes’. Twenty got oxandrolone, ten got a placebo. The researchers gave them a course of twelve weeks of taking the steroid, and examined the men again twelve weeks after the course had finished. The men did no weight training.
The muscle measurements of those who had taken oxandrolone grew considerably. The figure below shows the thigh muscle cross-sectional area.
As you can see, after twelve weeks the men had more muscle bulk. How much of this was left after the men had been clean for twelve weeks the researchers didn’t measure, but going by the figure below it wasn’t much. This figure shows the change in the lean body mass. Lean body mass also includes muscle mass.
Most of the lean body mass built up during the course of oxandrolone had disappeared after twelve weeks.
Oxandrolone has a similar effect on muscle power. Twelve weeks of oxandrolone increased the weight the men could shift on the leg press, the lat pulley, the leg extension and the chest press in the lab. But twelve weeks after stopping with the oxandrolone the extra strength had all but disappeared again.
The effects of oxandrolone on the fat mass were more lasting. The fat mass decreased considerably in the first twelve weeks, and the effect could still be seen twelve weeks later.
The course of oxandrolone did not pose health risks. The researchers monitored the men’s liver enzymes, cholesterol, LH and the prostate cancer marker PSA, but noticed nothing alarming.
The men did not do weight training. Many chemical athletes notice that stopping with training after finishing a course of steroids results in loss of the muscle mass gained. Maybe the men would have benefited more from the oxandrolone if they had trained as well.
When steroids are taken, the body’s own production of testosterone declines. Therefore chemical athletes often use other substances to help boost their endogenous hormone production. This is referred to as post cycle therapy (PCT). The test subjects in this study did not do this either.
Treatment with oxandrolone and the durability of effects in older men
We investigated the effects of the anabolic androgen, oxandrolone, on lean body mass (LBM), muscle size, fat, and maximum voluntary muscle strength, and we determined the durability of effects after treatment was stopped. Thirty-two healthy 60- to 87-yr-old men were randomized to receive 20 mg oxandrolone/day (n = 20) or placebo (n = 12) for 12 wk. Body composition [dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), magnetic resonance imaging, and 2H2O dilution] and muscle strength [1 repetition maximum (1 RM)] were evaluated at baseline and after 12 wk of treatment; body composition (DEXA) and 1-RM strength were then assessed 12 wk after treatment was discontinued (week 24). At week 12, oxandrolone increased LBM by 3.0 ± 1.5 kg (P < 0.001), total body water by 2.9 ± 3.7 kg (P = 0.002), and proximal thigh muscle area by 12.4 ± 8.4 cm2 (P < 0.001); these increases were greater (P < 0.003) than in the placebo group. Oxandrolone increased 1-RM strength for leg press by 6.7 ± 6.4% (P < 0.001), leg flexion by 7.0 ± 7.8% (P < 0.001), chest press by 9.3 ± 6.7% (P < 0.001), and latissimus pull-down exercises by 5.1 ± 9.1% (P = 0.02); these increases were greater than placebo. Oxandrolone reduced total (-1.9 ± 1.0 kg) and trunk fat (-1.3 ± 0.6 kg; P < 0.001), and these decreases were greater (P < 0.001) than placebo. Twelve weeks after oxandrolone was discontinued (week 24), the increments in LBM and muscle strength were no longer different from baseline (P > 0.15). However, the decreases in total and trunk fat were sustained (-1.5 ± 1.8, P = 0.001 and -1.0 ± 1.1 kg, P < 0.001, respectively). Thus oxandrolone induced short-term improvements in LBM, muscle area, and strength, while reducing whole body and trunk adiposity. Anabolic improvements were lost 12 wk after discontinuing oxandrolone, whereas improvements in fat mass were largely sustained.