When thinking about steroids, the first images that may come to mind are those that are primarily used for accelerated rapid growth inside the body, often associated with bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. Contrary to this belief, steroids are extremely beneficial chemicals or hormones that your body uses naturally. Various steroids are developed in the lab that help to accelerate this production, but some may be harmful and have certain side effects, especially when overindulging.
Before taking a look at some of the best non-steroid supplements that the market and research have to offer, we will first completely define steroids and their uses - but ultimately, we will focus on natural supplements that will give you the edge at the gym or for your overall athletic performance and diet.
Steroids have gotten a bad rap over the years, but most of the time, this only refers to one type of steroids: the one that mimics the testosterone hormone.
In reality, steroids are naturally created in the body to help natural functions, as well as prevent disease and inflammation in certain areas. They also help to build muscle, hair, and other tissues and contribute to healthy body composition.
Two types of steroids are created in the lab: Corticosteroids and anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS).
These types of steroids fall into the class of medications and remedies. They have multiple application uses, primarily for fighting inflammation, or giving your immune system the boost it needs to fend off a viral infection or weakness. These types of steroids can also be found in certain allergy medications, as they help to clear the reaction.
One of the most common types of this steroid is cortisol. While we may know cortisol as the "stress hormone", it is an extremely beneficial function that is secreted by the adrenal glands to get you through prolonged tough periods (which is what we associate with chronic stress). Cortisol, when applied topically, keeps your immune system from producing certain substances that cause inflation, giving the immune system a break from the impact to fight the upcoming infection (such as acne).
Corticosteroids are also found in inhalers, nasal sprays, creams, and, in severe cases of an allergic reaction, an IV tube.
Anabolic steroids are the ones that we are aware of, mostly due to the media, movies, and Olympic and past coverage. Anabolic steroids mimic the naturally produced testosterone, which is primarily used in the rapid construction and development of muscular strength and definition. Anabolic steroids are not all for cosmetics and bodybuilding competitions. Examples of benefits include administration to boys with delayed puberty, men with low testosterone, and dangerous conditions such as AIDS. AAS has often been misused and abused by athletes and has a negative connotation associated with it. Abuse causes smaller testicles, lower sperm count, infertility, stunts growth and leads to fits of anger and rage.
Due to the high risk associated with taking steroids and changing your hormonal structure, here are the top three best naturally occurring supplements that can be easily added to your regular workout regimen:
Protein: Proteins are naturally occurring within the body and are created by certain amino acids, which are the building blocks associated with cells, muscle, and all proteins within the body. For optimal muscle growth, at least 1 gram of protein is recommended for every pound of your bodyweight. This does not mean that by taking protein you will have an admirable v-taper and enormous shoulders, but it does mean that your muscle growth will be optimal. To get the best out of this supplement, drink before and after a heavy workout and rest so that your muscles can take the available protein and repair the damaged and sore muscles and their respective soft tissues.
Creatine: Creatine is a naturally occurring substance within our body that consists of amino acids. It is stored in our cells and provides ATP (energy) for them to function properly. Supplementing creatine to your diet is not only great as a pre-workout, but can be taken on rest days as well to promote muscle repair, rejuvenation, and absorption. Creatine also increases the available water intake for your muscles, making them more hydrated. You can see a strong boost of up to 40% after half an hour of administration, so for maximum benefits, take it right before you ride to the gym or workout.
Mass gainers: Mass gainers are often a great choice for those who have an extremely ectomorphic body type; they are naturally tall and skinny and find it difficult to put on muscle due to body composition and metabolic burn rate. Not only is it high in nutrients, calories, whole food, and protein, but it also contains many of the essential amino acids that are extremely conducive to your body's available deposits. Amino acids are part of the best supplements that should be taken daily as a lifter.
How long does it take to see muscle growth?
Having a fit physique is something we all aspire to do, but should not be rushed. You can see noticeable results in as little as a week, provided a regular regimen is followed. Most of your noticeable results will happen within the first few months. This is how much muscle you can grow after 6 months of lifting.
Can muscle growth occur with light weights?
Yes, but more slowly. Strength training is considered an anaerobic exercise due to its short bursts of energy and lack of prolonged movement and respiration. Lightweight exercises focus on numerous reps, which are more conducive to aerobic exercise; it is more beneficial for a cardiovascular or "toning" approach rather than optimal muscle development. For maximum results, lift heavy, eat big, and reduce the number of reps.
Can muscle growth cause acne?
Yes, although uncommon and a misconception. This is normally associated with teenagers, mainly teenage boys, who are going through puberty. Weight lifting at that age will cause accelerated testosterone production on top of an already hormonally distressed group, which can cause acne and odor. Further, weightlifting in teenage boys causes them to sweat a lot, which can coagulate near the forehead and back, creating forehead acne and " backne". This is extremely normal.