Do You Need Steroids or Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
An increasingly popular topic in the fitness industry
When it comes to your fitness journey, the chances are that you want to hit these goals that you have set. Whether your goals involve putting on more muscle mass or getting stronger, you will want to do everything in your power to hit them. There are plenty of supplements to take and lifting and diet programs to follow, but will they give you what you want? Then there is the other side of lifting, which consists of things like testosterone replacement therapy or anabolic steroid usage, taking your gains and progression entirely to the next level.
But there are a lot of things to consider with anabolic steroids and TRT before taking the plunge and jumping on a cycle or getting a prescription for testosterone, such side effects, if you have hit your natural limit, and is this something that you really want? Many times, anabolic substances will have long term effects, for example men planning on having children should avoid TRT and steroid usage, as they can decrease sperm count and fertility. Something else to watch out for is elevated hematocrit levels and thrombophilia - People who have a high red blood cell count and thrombophilia should also be cautious when considering TRT or anabolic steroids. Usage of these substances can increase red blood cell count, leading to increased blood viscosity and potentially causing blood clot formation, stroke, and ischemia. A 2021 research study conducted on trans men using long-term TRT concluded that TRT caused an increase in red blood cell count.
This was actually a topic that came up when Boostcamp’s founder, Michael Liu, sat down with Geoff Verity Schofield on the Boostcamp Podcast. They discussed testosterone replacement therapy and steroids, and if you really need to use these anabolic substances.
Let’s break it down.
What Happens to Your Testosterone?
As you age, a man's testicles will produce less and less testosterone, meaning that their testosterone levels will deplete, that is no secret. This will make it harder for older men to build and maintain muscle, you may have higher body fat, and mood swings to name a few side effects. Other side effects include changes in sexual function, such as reduced sexual desire and infertility, which can also occur as a result of lower testosterone levels. As far as what causes this to happen, things like bad sleep schedules, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and genetic issues can have a negative effect on your testosterone levels. But, this is as time goes on and you age, your testosterone levels do not typically make a significant drop until after your 30s. It's important to determine if a low testosterone level is due to normal aging or if it is due to a disease (hypogonadism).
During the Boostcamp Podcast, Geoff brings up that a lot of guys are getting prescribed testosterone at a younger age than they really need it, or they are hopping on steroid cycles to make progress. Geoff himself is 34, and still making gains without any performance enhancing drugs.
Difference Between TRT and Steroids
Now, there is a big difference between testosterone replacement therapy and steroids. Many men with low testosterone report improved energy levels, sex drive, and mood after undergoing testosterone therapy. Testosterone therapy, also known as testosterone replacement therapy, involves the administration of exogenous testosterone through injections to increase the levels of this hormone in the body. This prescribed medicine is specifically given to individuals diagnosed with low testosterone. The dosage used in testosterone therapy is significantly lower than that used in a standard anabolic steroid cycle. The goal of testosterone replacement therapy is to provide optimal levels of testosterone to improve both physical and mental health. By adding testosterone therapy to the original paragraph, we emphasize the importance of this treatment option for men who experience symptoms of low testosterone.
Anabolic steroids are different in the fact that they are meant to be taken to make gains. They are synthetic versions of hormones typically produced in the adrenal glands. Bodybuilders, powerlifters, and other strength athletes use anabolic steroids to put on more size, lose body fat, harden their muscles, and get stronger. However, steroids are seen in other professional sports from professional fighting to Major League Baseball. Unlike testosterone replacement therapy, anabolic steroids are usually not prescribed in the medical field.
While testosterone replacement therapy consists of just testosterone, with anabolic steroids there are many different types. Most people who use steroids will use testosterone as a base, but then add in other steroids to put on more size, cut down, or give the muscles a hardened look.
It seems as though with social media these anabolic substances are becoming more and more prominent. You see more insane physiques of people that are on copious amounts of anabolic steroids, and you see ad after ad for testosterone replacement therapy, there is so much temptation in this industry that it is hard to stay away.
Is MorePlatesMoreDates an Influence for Steroid Users?
The topic of popular YouTuber, Derek, otherwise known as MorePlatesMoreDates came up during Geoff’s appearance on the Boostcamp Podcast. For those of you who don’t know, MorePlatesMoreDates discusses the topics of steroids, testosterone, and other hormones and their effects on the body in depth. A lot of his audience includes newer lifters and younger generations eager to learn about these anabolic substances.
Though he puts a disclaimer on the videos that he is not a medical professional and his videos are not to be taken as advice, he does have a large following and it can only be assumed that some of his viewers do indeed take his information as advice. Geoff mentioned during the podcast, that maybe if Derek from MorePlatesMoreDates had more information on training and natural potential, then maybe people would be less eager to take steroids, and more eager to train harder and eat properly.
Do You Need Steroids or TRT?
Geoff brings up the idea of natural lifters and states that this image has pretty much been skewed. He says that people have this idea that a natural lifter will only ever be “skinny fat” and have a physique that will not even appear as if they workout. However, that is not the case, as you can look at Geoff Verity Schofield who is 34 and a lifetime natural bodybuilder, or Jeff Nippard who is also a lifetime natural and world class bodybuilder and powerlifter. These two examples did not need steroids and are training to try and hit their genetic potential.
Geoff also happened to bring up how eager people are to jump on a steroid cycle when they think they need it. People have a hard time building muscle, or experience low libido and a lack of energy, and immediately think that it is time to start doing steroids, when in reality a diet or training adjustment could be the solution to it. Geoff even stated that he believes the vast majority of men do not even need testosterone replacement therapy until they are 50 years old or later.
He brings up the point that testosterone and muscle growth are not as strongly correlated as people may think. You can have someone who has low levels of testosterone and still put on a decent amount of muscle mass. On the other hand, you can have people that have higher levels of testosterone and not know how to properly train or eat, and they will not look impressive at all.
Geoff states that the main focus should be optimizing your training and lifestyle before optimizing your hormone levels. All that being said, the answer is really no, you more than likely do not need steroids or TRT just yet.
Overall, we are not medical professionals and are not giving advice here, but asking you to consider every factor that you can to make sure that you make the most educated possible decision. There is a lot that goes into your fitness journey that helps with progression, and sure steroids and testosterone replacement are there, but getting every other factor in check is something you may want to consider before jumping to the conclusion that you need those things.