This is a question I get asked all the time, primarily by young aspiring athletes that are looking for that competitive edge or disbelievers wondering how I broke the Guinness World Record for Fitness. The answer is always NO.
When I was in high school I was a competitive power lifter. A few of my friends started taking steroids to get ahead and tried to get me to join them. I had one friend almost die from the drug and lost others due to "roid rage." I never gave in and strongly urge others not to.
I can understand why people look for that competitive edge, but steroids are not the answer. Many people ask me today whether I use any type of steroids or muscle building supplements to get in shape. And the answer is always no.
What exactly are steroids? Steroids are a synthetic version of the male hormone testosterone. You might also hear them referred to as anabolic steroids. As a male, your body produces testosterone naturally--that's what makes guys into guys. It helps you grow body hair and deepens your voice.
There are many American athletes that are currently involved in steroid abuse scandals, which is another reason to stay away--you will get caught. What's more, the NCAA bans the use of all steroids from their competitions. So don't even dream about a football or basketball scholarship if you're busted.
When it comes to sports, some athletes believe that taking steroids will give them that "winning edge." In many cases, they use them to get bigger, stronger muscles or to get faster. Many times this will happen but regardless, they are illegal and come with many life-threatening side effects that just aren't worth it. Here are some examples, courtesy of the National Center for Drug-Free Sports:
- cancer of the liver, prostate, kidney
- high blood pressure
- enlarged prostate
- liver damage
- post-use depression
- aching joints
- injury to tendons, ligaments, and muscles
- HIV disease from sharing needles
- acne, swelling of feet or ankles
- heart arrhythmias
- stunted growth in immature individuals
- breast growth in males
- "roid rage" or aggressive behavior
And this is only a partial list of the horrible side effects. Yes, they may be building bigger muscles but just look at the price they're paying.
If your dream is to become a competitive athlete or to be the best that you can be, there are lots of other ways to get bigger, faster and stronger. Focus on the basics like serious strength training, cardiovascular conditioning and incorporating stretching. Make sure you're eating a diet that consists of lots of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than junk food and fast food. Most importantly, work hard and always believe in yourself. That's what it takes to become the world's fittest you.
I don't mess with steroids and neither should you. I believe that if you start playing with Mother Nature, you're going to get into trouble. My grandfather always told me that the things we value the most in life are the things we work the hardest to obtain. "If you use steroids, you are cheating. End of story!"
For more information on the National Center for Drug Free Sports go to their website: www.drugfreesport.com
Active Expert, Joe Decker is an ultra-endurance power athlete and renowned fitness trainer who has helped thousands of people get into shape. He has completed many of the world's toughest endurance events, including the Badwater 135, and the Grand Slam of UltraRunning. In 2000, Joe broke the Guinness World Records? Twenty-four-hour Physical Fitness Challenge to help inspire and motivate people to get fit. He is recognized as "The World's Fittest Man." Visit his website at www.joe-decker.com .