Bodybuilding is a rigorous discipline that requires dedication, hard work, and a strategic approach to achieve your desired physique. Many bodybuilders seek ways to enhance their performance and results, and one option that has garnered both attention and controversy is the use of "gear."
In this article, we will explore what gear in bodybuilding entails, how it works, why some bodybuilders choose to use it, and the potential side effects and risks associated with its usage. We will also address the fundamental question at the heart of this article: Should you use gear for bodybuilding?
What is Gear in Bodybuilding?
In bodybuilding, "gear" is a term for various substances, including anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). These substances boost muscle mass, strength, endurance, and recovery.
Anabolic steroids, or anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs), serve different roles. In the off-season, bodybuilders limit use to one or two compounds, often testosterone. This hormone promotes muscle growth and male secondary characteristics.
Before a competition, bodybuilders may use three to four different substances for specific purposes like muscle gain, fat loss, and stage appearance. The choice of steroids depends on their goals and training phase.
Related: Powerlifting vs. Bodybuilding
How Does Gear Work?
Steroids travel through the bloodstream, binding to androgen receptors in muscle tissue. This interaction with cell DNA stimulates protein synthesis, promoting cell growth.
The effectiveness of these substances in bodybuilding depends on factors such as steroid quality, source, training, diet, and recovery routine.
It's essential to note that PEDs are illegal in many parts of the world, and possessing them is a felony. Consequently, a black market for steroids has emerged, resulting in substandard and potentially harmful products.
Why Do Bodybuilders Use Gear?
The market offers a wide variety of steroids, and bodybuilders often turn to them to enhance their performance in terms of strength, muscle development, and fat reduction. Despite their many drawbacks, steroids do offer several benefits, often without the rigorous training demanded by sports.
Increases Muscle Mass
One of the primary reasons bodybuilders turn to gear is its ability to rapidly increase muscle mass. Steroids stimulate the growth of muscle fibers, allowing bodybuilders to pack on muscle size more quickly than through natural means. It also provides a longer-lasting muscle pump after workouts.
Bodybuilders are constantly doing strenuous exercises like power cleans and deadlifts to build their strength. Steroids are known to boost strength levels, enabling bodybuilders to lift heavier weights and perform more intense workouts. This added strength can increase youraverage bench press, enhance muscle development, and improve overall athletic performance.
Builds More Lean Muscle
Bodybuilding gear, such as supplements, can help you build lean muscle mass by providing your body with the necessary nutrients and amino acids to support muscle growth. For instance, some supplements contain a unique blend of amino acids–peptides are a popular example among bodybuilders–that can help you build lean muscle mass and endurance. Additionally, some supplements contain extra doses of L-Lucine, which is considered the most effective form of glutamine in building human muscle.
However, it’s important to note that supplements alone cannot help you build lean muscle mass. You also need to engage in regular strength training exercises that stress your muscles so they grow stronger. During these workouts, your muscles face mechanical tension from your body weight, machines, or free weights. That tension may cause metabolic stress that allows your muscles to grow over time.
Steroids can increase stamina and reduce fatigue, allowing bodybuilders to train longer and more intensely. This endurance can lead to better overall results in the long run, as well as a considerable edge over other bodybuilders.
If you’re looking to increase your stamina while using bodybuilding gear, there are a few things you can do. One way is to decrease your rest intervals between sets. While the ideal rest time between sets is 2 to 6 minutes, shortening this period can benefit your physical health and improve your stamina and body composition. Another way to increase your stamina is to use bodybuilding gear for other physical activities that require you to be active. This can help you build endurance and improve your overall fitness level. Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, especially if you’re new to working out or have any underlying health conditions.
Side Effects & Risks of Taking Gear
The use of anabolic steroids can lead to numerous temporary and permanent health issues, including some fatalities allegedly linked to drug use in bodybuilding.
One significant problem with using these substances is that the body can develop a tolerance over time, leading individuals to take larger doses to achieve the same effects.
Moreover, synthetic testosterone can potentially cause the body to stop producing its natural testosterone, necessitating testosterone injections for normal bodily functions, even after discontinuing bodybuilding.
Many bodybuilders, particularly newcomers, often experiment with steroids through a trial-and-error approach. They may switch between different drugs, doses, and timings, relying on information from fellow athletes, coaches, websites, or gym acquaintances.
Aside from physical consequences, the use of these substances can also have adverse mental effects, such as unfounded jealousy, extreme irritability, known as "roid rage," false beliefs (delusions), impaired judgment, and episodes of mania.
Consuming steroids can also cause health issues, most of which carry over even after you quit using. Here are some of the following issues that can occur:
- Kidney failure
- High blood pressure
- Liver damage
- Blood clots
- Abnormal heart size
In women, some of the following side effects can occur:
- Deepened voice
- Reduced breast size
- Deeper voice
- Facial hair
Should You Take Gear for Bodybuilding?
The use of anabolic steroids is strictly prohibited. The United States government classifies them as a controlled substance, and many other countries also have regulations governing their usage. If you are caught using these drugs without a valid medical reason, you could face severe consequences. They have been linked to increased aggression, especially in young men with naturally or artificially elevated testosterone levels. However, it's important to note that most steroid users are not inherently aggressive.
But, you must recognize that “gear” can have a profound negative impact on both physical and mental health. Since most anabolic steroids are illegal, whatever you acquire in the market could be substandard and even more harmful. Therefore, it is advisable to discourage their use if you suspect someone is taking them without a legitimate medical need, and whether or not the benefits truly outweigh the risks for your own personal use.
As always, consult a trainer or a medical professional before making a serious decision.
Gear in bodybuilding remains a contentious topic, with proponents touting its advantages and opponents emphasizing its risks. The decision to use gear should be made after careful consideration of your fitness goals, health, and commitment to a well-rounded training regimen. At the end of the day, it all boils down to one question: is it truly worth it?