by Mike Arnold
Yes, that’ not a typo. I said 13 grams of gear per week. Does this type of abuse really take place? If so, what kind of man would take such a dose? Surely, a BB’r like this must be shattering our preconceived limits of muscular development. If not, then at least we have another Big Ramy on our hands, right? I wish this were the case, but unfortunately the truth is a bit less impressive. Let me put it this way. He is in his early 20’s, looks like he has been training his legs for about 6 months, and if I am not mistaken, competes on a state or possibly regional level.
Before I get accused of misrepresentation, in fairness I should also state that he is using insulin, GH, IGF-1, a small pharmacy worth of ancillaries, and good ole’ Synthol to top things off. Ohhh…and to his credit, he has built a decent upper-body, which is comparable to other BB’rs at the state level. Lest you think I might be betraying this man’s confidence, let me assure you that he has taken every opportunity to publically proclaim his drug use from rooftops, so there is nothing being said here that others haven’t heard 1000 times over.
As disturbing as some may find this to be, it is not the habits of one man I want to talk about. Rather, spectacles such as this serve to bring awareness of just how far this generation has fallen when it comes to the proper place of drugs in BB’ing. Over the last decade and especially the last few years our community has experienced a shift in consciousness, in which many have come to believe that drugs are the be-all and end-all to BB’ing success. The more is better philosophy and has now become the more is necessary philosophy.
Being that we currently know more than ever about performance enhancing drugs and their effects on the body, how did we ever arrive at this juncture? Doesn’t it seem a little ass-backwards that the BB’rs from the 70’s and 80’s, despite possessing inferior overall knowledge in nearly every aspect of this sport, had a more accurate understanding of the role PEDs play in BB’ing than most BB’rs do today? They understood full well that drugs were only one part of the greater whole; a compliment to one’s hard work in the gym and dedication at the dinner table, while BB’rs today seem to think that drugs are 90% responsible for building a great physique. Somehow, our community’s knowledge in this area has regressed over the last decade.
Make no mistake about it, drugs are absolutely essential for success in this sport on the pro-level. Drug use is mandatory…and using a few d-bol here and there isn’t going to cut it. Unless you are one of the rare genetic freaks, you will need to use plenty of drugs. Most pros today use a combination of AAS, GH, and insulin, among others. So, while we can all agree that large dosages are usually necessary, not everyone holds the same opinion as to what constitutes a “large” dose and this is where the conflict lies.
What is a “large dose”? It wasn’t long ago that 2 grams of total steroids per week was considered a massive dose of steroids. A fully grown adult male will produce roughly 50-100 mg of testosterone per week. A 2 gram per week steroid cycle provides a BB’r with roughly 20-40X the amount of steroid that his body would produce naturally, yet many of today’s younger generation have been brainwashed into thinking that this dose of drugs is insufficient for building pro-level muscle mass…and many believe one can’t even make it to a national stage without using at least this amount of gear or more. The truth is that the human body can build and support a massive amount of muscle tissue with 2 grams of AAS per week…and many pros have built their body on that dose or less, but more on that in a minute. Just a single 200 mg injection of testosterone cypionate has been shown to increase protein synthesis by over 200%! Although 200 mg is now considered nothing more than a TRT dose, it will still double the rate of muscle growth in the average person. Now think about what 5-10X that dose is capable of doing?
In my opinion, the #1 reason for the massive influx of ignorance into our sport is due to the internet. Today, anyone with a computer and an internet connection has a world-wide platform from which they can spout off any amount of nonsense they wish without consequence. I estimate that of all the people we see regularly frequenting BB’ing boards and other social media, maybe 1% of them have any real-world connection to the BB’ing industry or the BB’rs that define it. Very few of these people know the truth through personal experience. Nearly all of their knowledge is obtained from reading and hearing what other people have to say, most of whom are simply repeating what they have heard from other ignorant people…and the pattern repeats itself. So, when we hear people say what “all” the pros are using (which is a completely ignorant statement in itself), we can be rest assured that in nearly every case, this information did not come from the pros themselves, nor anyone who knows them. It is all speculation and guesswork with these people…and they are usually wrong.
You may be wondering how many times I am going to type the word “ignorant”…and the answer is as many times as it takes to convince you that there is very little reliable information posted by those who communicate via social media. Even worse, when accurate information is provided, it is almost always laughed off as being bullshit…or the individual providing the information is called a liar. It seems that if anyone claims to have built their physique on anything other than absolutely monstrous amounts of drugs, the automatic assumption is one of disbelief. This has caused most pros to forgo any type of honest discussion about their PED use, as they don’t want to be subjected to the same type of abuse and ridicule so often encountered by those pros that do.
Consider the following. Back in the 80’s, during the days of Lee Haney, growth hormone usage was basically non-existent, as was insulin. Even if someone did want to use GH, the price was astronomical and availability was so low it was next to impossible to obtain. For this reason GH was not a significant part of pro BB’ing scene in the 1980’s. While insulin was available (only Humulin R) at that time, it was not yet regarded as the potent muscle building drug it is today. Most BB’r didn’t give a second thought to this drug. Hell, most BB’rs did not even realize insulin was anabolic in nature. Most simply viewed it as a medication designed to help diabetics manage their disease. It would be several more years before Dan Duchaine brought the hormone to the forefront of BB’ing drug culture.
The point here is that the pros of the 80’s, in almost every case, built their physiques on steroids and steroids alone. There was no insulin, no GH, and certainly no IGF-1 or myostatin inhibitors available to this generation of great competitors. Despite these limitations, we saw BB’rs like Lee Haney, Rich Gaspari, Mike Christian, Lee Labrada, Jeff King, Matt Mendenhall and others build extremely impressive physiques. Some might say “OK, but they still used a ton of steroids to reach that level of development”…and to that I will say, how do you know how much they used? In reality, the amounts used by the pros of that era were as diverse as they are today. Some used more and some used less, but by and large the dosage employed by the average pro back then were a mere fraction of what they are today.
For one, testosterone wasn’t nearly as popular then as it is today. Many BB’rs used no testosterone at all and if they did, it was more often small dosages of 200-300 mg/week. Sure, there was a small contingent of BB’rs who relied more heavily on testosterone than the rest of their peers, but this segment of the population did not reflect the majority. The typical Deca & D-bol stack ruled the day when it came to off-season mass-building. It was nearly unheard of for a BB’r to use a gram of Deca and 100 mg of D-bol in the same cycle, like we see today. Your typical dosages were around 500-600 mg of Deca per week combined with 40-50 mg of D-bol per day…and this was for pro BB’rs. Of course, as a contest approached, many BB’s would begin leaning more heavily on drugs such as Winstrol, Anavar, and Primo, but in many cases drugs like Deca & D-bol remained part of the cycle right up until competition day.
If I BB’r really wanted to get crazy he might combine 2 injectables and maybe 2 orals (most BB’rs in that day used only one oral at a time)…and the total dosage might reach 1,500 mg weekly. However, this was not the norm and was considered excessive by most. I am sure at least a few people reading article this will call bullshit because they know of someone who used more, but like I said, there have always been guys who have pushed the dosing envelope in their generation. However, these men do not adequately represent the average BB’r of their era. They are the exception, not the rule.
Believe it or not, these doses remained pretty normal even into the early 90’s, although more and more BB’rs were beginning to go beyond previously conceived limits. In my own person experience, I was taught quite a lesson early on regarding the drug habits of serious competitive BB’rs. The place was Powerhouse gym and the time was 1990. Even though the 1st Anabolic Steroid Control Act had just been passed, many BB’rs were still quite open about their use. It was all too common to find BB’rs injecting each other in the locker rooms or elsewhere. Syringes would be left in the trash bins and empty pill bottles on benches. A few decades ago most serious gyms were BB’r oriented. It was nothing to see a few national level competitors, multiple state & regional competitors, and a handful of state level guys all training at the same gym.
It was under these circumstances that I was first introduced to the reality of steroids in BB’ing. I was not completely ignorant regarding the use of steroids in the sport, but I had no clue how much or what BB’rs were using. After speaking in depth with most of the BB’s that trained there over the years, they did not hold back about their drug use when I inquired. Remember, this was 1990. Lee Haney was about to win his 7th Olympia title and Dorian Yates was about to make his mark on the scene, so we were already witnessing the arrival of some big guys on the pro & national circuit. Of all the high-level BB’rs who trained at my gym…several were 5’10-6’3 and weighed between 250-310 lbs. I regularly saw these men benching 500 lbs or more and behind the neck pressing 3 plates for reps. The average dosing range for these men was about 1 gram of gear per week…sometimes slightly more. NONE of them used GH or insulin.
As we moved into the 90’s the doses grew to the point where roughly 2 grams was considered a massive dose. Many, many pros built massive muscle size by topping out at around 2 grams weekly or less. Yes, some went higher, but there were plenty of BB’rs who did not. As we moved into the 2000’s and beyond, the definition of what constituted a “massive” dose continued to evolve. At this point in 2013 two grams is considered by many to be a minimalist approach, while 3-4 grams weekly is seen as more suitable for maximizing muscular development.
Now, being a BB’r at heart and a drug enthusiast, I do not judge anyone’s decision to use larger dosages, so long as the decision makes sense and by makes sense, I mean they body is actually able to use the gear that is being put into it. You see, the human body has a limit regarding the amount of gear it can use for recovery & growth, beyond which point results will level off and side effects will increase. Surpassing this point is flat-out stupid, as it provides no further benefit while simultaneously increasing the potential for health problems. How can anyone justify such a decision to exceed those limits in light of these circumstances? Unfortunately, most of the people who walk this road and advise others to do the same are acting in ignorance. They lack a fundamental understanding of these drugs and their effect on the human body. Often, they have been brainwashed into thinking that more is always better and that every pro BB’r today is secretly using monstrous dosages of every PED imaginable. Therefore, they believe that they must do the same thing if they want to get to the same place.
So, how much gear can the body actually use? We cannot say for certain, as there are several factors which can impact an individual’s ability to use AAS, but science has still provided us with a ballpark figure. According to medical research, the average human being will reach the point of receptor saturation at about 3,500 mg per week. That means at 3,500 mg per week, every single available androgen receptor site will be filled up! While AAS are also capable of inducing a growth response through non-genomic mechanisms (non-AR mediated muscle growth), AR activation is the primary mechanism through which steroids stimulate muscle protein synthesis. We do know that AAS themselves are capable of directly increasing AR count, so it is very likely this number will rise at least slightly beyond 3,500 mg in heavy steroid users, but we do not know exactly how much. In situations like this, the best we can do when attempting to come to a conclusion is to evaluate the available anecdotal evidence in light of scientific fact. Often, this will help us to fill in the blanks…and in this case we have more than enough anecdotal evidence to draw from.
Based on the personal response of BB’rs over the last 15 or so years (since the mega-dosing started in earnest), it appears that most BB’rs reach the point of diminishing returns somewhere between 3.5-5 grams per week. Among those BB’rs who do appear to receive additional benefit by increasing their dose to the 5 gram per week mark, most will readily confess that their gains barely improved by adding that extra 1,500 mg….and many BB’rs will notice no improvement in growth rate at all. Therefore, real-world experience appears to confirm what science has been telling us for years; that 3,500 mg per week is about the limit for the average person. Personally, I have never known a single BB’r who claims to have experienced measurably better gains when using 7, 8, 9 or more grams of gear per week than when using a more modest, but still massive dose of 3-5 grams weekly.
No matter how you slice it, absolutely no justification whatsoever can be found for using 13 grams of gear per week, as purported by a certain BB’r. I can understand why a serious competitive BB’r might want to reach receptor saturation; at least the body is able to find a place for all that gear, but finding a place for it and actually being able to use it to stimulate additional muscle growth are two different things altogether. You see, just because the body may have enough androgen receptors to accommodate 3,500 mg of gear or slightly more, it does NOT mean the body will necessarily be able to take advantage of all that gear. There are numerous factors involved in the muscle growth process and the body will only grow as fast as the weakest link allows it to. For example, you can take all the gear you want…fill up every receptor site available…and inject enough GH & insulin to put a pharmacy out of business, yet never gain an ounce of muscle if you are following a starvation diet. This is only one factor of many which have the potential to drastically alter our growth rate, regardless of how many drugs we take. Reaching receptor saturation only increases one’s potential for growth…it does not guarantee that growth rate will increase or that growth will even take place at all.
In 2013 just as many BB’rs are ignorant regarding the basic rate limiting factors which govern the muscle growth process, as they are regarding the amount of gear the body can potentially use. No wonder our sport is a mess. These are two separate subjects that every BB’r should have a working knowledge of before he even contemplates using AAS. Otherwise, he will never be able to extract maximum benefit from his gear use and will likely end up jeopardizing his health just to look remotely decent. Why do you think we are now seeing so many low-level amateur and recreational BB’rs use an amount of PED’s that would fell a horse, yet they don’t look half as impressive as the average pro from the 80’s, who used ½ to 1/3rd the dose? If this doesn’t start to raise some questions, then nothing will.