Flip Your Script

John J. Schessler, Wellness Coach/Personal Trainer

Why I (personally) loathe bodybuilding culture…

Let me start out by saying that I truly admire bodybuilders for the hard work that they put in to their bodies day in and day out because obviously it’s not something everyone can do. What sparked this entry was a conversation I was having at work about somebody who frequents the gym, actively competes and uses PED’s. I made the comment, “Oh, so he’s taking the easy way out then.” As long as I’ve been in the fitness industry as a professional and even as an athlete, I’ve always looked at the usage of PED’s in a bad light because of the toll it takes on someone’s body and mental state. It also turns the person into someone who’s most likely pompous, annoying and a jerk to be around.

I’m focusing on males in this article only because they are the larger consumers of PED’s and steroids in the lifting and bodybuilding communities. When I started lifting myself, steroids were just becoming prevalent in mainstream with lifters, etc. From an outsiders perspective, I totally get it. Steroid’s/PED’s give you a solid advantage over those that are competing naturally and most men in the sport today want every advantage they have at their disposal so that they can win their weight class and the overall competition. From a medical standpoint, I don’t get it. The risks, IMO are just not worth it. Some of the side-effects: pain/discomfort, hematomas or severe bruising underneath the skin, flushing of the face, infections, shrunken testicles, erectile dysfunction, acne, heart problems, etc, are they worth it? This list doesn’t even begin to cover mental health problems you may face either. Everything from mood swings to ‘roid rage’, most athletes who are using acquire some sort of mental instability during their cycling phases and even thereafter. It’s a rarity when you ask athletes whether or not they’re using steroids. Usually they dance around it, saying things such as “Bro, I just take creatine” or “It’s just all hard work and dedication”.

Look. I’ve worked in the fitness industry for almost 16 years now and can usually spot when someone is juicing up on some PED’s. I remember I confronted a buddy about 15 years ago. I would see him each summer as we worked together in a seasonal summertime job. One summer, he literally blew up into Chris Hemsworth. When I asked him was he on anything, I remember what he replied with. “I just drink a lot of juice.” Whether or not he meant for me to read between the lines of that answer, the denial on his part was still evident. You don’t go from being stick-thin and slender to a behemoth in under a year and a half without some sort of help outside of the gym. It always concerns me when I hear of someone that I know starting to use steroids or other enhancing-drugs because my medical brain takes over and all of a sudden, I assume the worst case scenario for that individual. I’ve also known a few guys who’ve done them and have come out perfectly fine, at least on the surface. Veteran bodybuilders and those athletes who have been on the active competition routes for a long time have probably developed some sort of tolerance for them or haven’t gone full force in terms of dosing measurements. Bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger has in the past admitted that he’s been on the sauce and has never regretted it because it was under doctor’s supervision and they were experimenting with it. A lot of actors in preparation for roles have also done their share with PED’s. Mickey Rourke, in prepping for the 2009 film, “The Wrestler” when asked if he took steroids stated that “When I play a wrestler, I behave like a wrestler.” Other actors known to dabble with steroids are Sylvester Stallone, Joe Rogan and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

The science is there as well as the research, taking steroids is not without its risks. However, with the bad, let’s talk about the good too. There are some good steroids out there that men take for these athletic purposes too. The use of testosterone based therapy have given many, many men back some or a lot of what usually happens when we age. Men using TRT have regained their stregnth, stamina, sexual desire/functioning and a multitude of other things from it as well. Testosterone causes hefty gains in muscle size (20-30lbs) and remains one of the most popular steroids in bodybuilding; despite coming to market over 80 years ago.

Another good steroid on the market is Anavar. Anavar is one of the few steroids that is adept at building muscle and burning fat simultaneously.Muscle gains are not extreme on Anavar; however, an increase of 10-15lbs is common. Anavar is a mild steroid, that remains FDA-approved for medicinal purposes. It is commonly prescribed to patients suffering from bone pain due to osteoporosis; and those needing to gain weight quickly (as a consequence of trauma, infection or surgery).

Do these ‘good steroids’ have side effects? Of course, which is why you should only be prescribed them under a doctor’s supervision as is the same with the ‘not so good’ steroids. People are going to do what they are going to do in ways of taking illegal and lethal drugs to help them gain strength, performance gains, etc. It’s sometimes not the fact that a person takes them but they end up abusing them. When that happens, it’s very hard to come back from it. So what am I saying here? Do your research, consult your physician so you know the risks AND the rewards. If you are serious about using PED’s, make sure that you are dosing under the physician’s guidance so that serious medical issues do not happen because when that happens, nobody’s a winner.

John J. Schessler is a Pittsburgh-based Master Trainer, Exercise Therapist and Tactical Conditioning Specialist with over 16 years of industry experience. He is also a Men’s Life Coach and the host of the podcast, “ManAlive!”, available on Apple Podcasts. If you wish to contact John concerning personal training services, podcast bookings, etc., please email pghwellnesspt@gmail.com.

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