It’s Not Even Close
As most of us can already guess, the average person using anabolic steroids will generally get much better results in terms of building muscle and improving performance over someone who is natural and not using anything (especially with all else being equal). That’s common sense, right?
But what might surprise you is the actual degree of difference. As it turns out, there is one specific study that shows who would win in a steroids vs natural competition.
This 10 week steroids vs natural study took a group of 43 men of normal body weight between the ages of 19 and 40. These were men who all had some degree of weight training experience. These men were then split up into 4 different groups:
- Group 1 did NOT do any form of exercise, and did NOT receive any form of steroids or drugs. (Natural guys doing no weight training)
- Group 2 did NOT do any form of exercise, but they received weekly injections of 600 mg of testosterone enanthate. (Steroid users doing no weight training)
- Group 3 DID exercise, but they did NOT receive any form of steroids or drugs. (Natural guys doing weight training)
- Group 4 DID exercise, and they also received weekly injections of 600 mg of testosterone enanthate. (Steroid users doing weight training)
|Group||Exercise||Testosterone 600mg / week|
All of their diets (calorie intake, protein intake, nutrient intake, etc.) were standardized according to each person’s body weight, recorded, verified and adjusted when needed. The 2 groups who were weight training (groups 3 and 4) followed the same supervised workouts each week.
The exercise was standardized in all the men, and therefore the effects of testosterone on muscle size and strength cannot be attributed to more intense training in the groups receiving the treatment. Careful selection of experienced weight lifters, the exclusion of competitive athletes, and close follow-up ensured a high degree of compliance with the regimens of exercise, treatment, and diet, which was verified by three-day food records (data not shown) and the values obtained for serum testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. Except for one man who missed one injection, all the men received all their scheduled injections. It has been argued that studies in which large doses of androgens are used cannot be truly blinded because of the occurrence of acne or other side effects. In this study, neither the investigators nor the personnel performing the measurements knew the study-group assignments. Three men receiving testosterone and one man receiving placebo had acneiform eruptions; these men may have assumed themselves to be receiving testosterone. Thus, it cannot be stated with certainty that the men were completely unaware of the nature of their treatments.
Steroids vs Natural Results
The four groups were similar with respect to age and weight, height, and body-mass index before treatment. Acne developed in three men receiving testosterone and one receiving placebo, and two men receiving testosterone reported breast tenderness, but no other side effects were noted. The serum liver-enzyme concentrations, hemoglobin concentrations, hematocrits, and red-cell counts did not change in any study group. Serum creatinine concentrations did not change, except in the testosterone-plus-exercise group, in which the mean (±SE) serum creatinine concentration increased from 1.0 mg per deciliter (88 μmol per liter) to 1.1 mg per deciliter (97 μmol per liter) (P=0.02). Plasma concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides did not change in any study group; plasma HDL cholesterol decreased significantly in the placebo-plus-exercise group. There was no change in the serum concentration of prostate-specific antigen in any group.
The base-line serum concentrations of total and free testosterone in the four groups were similar. The serum concentrations of total and free testosterone increased significantly in the two testosterone groups, but not in the placebo groups. The base-line serum concentrations of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and sex hormone–binding globulin were similar in the four groups, and the concentrations decreased significantly in the two testosterone groups.
Body Weight and Composition
Body weight did not change significantly in the men in either placebo group. The men given testosterone without exercise had a significant mean increase in total body weight, and those in the testosterone-plus-exercise group had an average increase of 6.1 kg in body weight — a greater increase than in the other three groups.
Fat-free mass did not change significantly in the group assigned to placebo but no exercise. The men treated with testosterone but no exercise had an increase of 3.2 kg in fat-free mass, and those in the placebo-plus-exercise group had an increase of 1.9 kg. The increase in the testosterone-plus-exercise group was substantially greater (averaging 6.1 kg). The percentage of body fat did not change significantly in any group (data not shown).
The mean cross-sectional areas of the arm and leg muscles did not change significantly in the placebo groups, whether the men had exercise or not. The men in the testosterone groups had significant increases in the cross-sectional areas of the triceps and the quadriceps; the group assigned to testosterone without exercise had a significantly greater increase in the cross-sectional area of the quadriceps than the placebo-alone group, and the testosterone-plus-exercise group had greater increases in quadriceps and triceps area than either the testosterone-alone or the placebo-plus-exercise group (P<0.05).
Muscle strength in the bench-press and the squatting exercises did not change significantly over the 10-week period in the group assigned to placebo with no exercise. The men in the testosterone-alone and placebo-plus-exercise groups had significant increases in the one-repetition maximal weights lifted in the squatting exercises, averaging 19 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Similarly, mean bench-press strength increased in these two groups by 10 percent and 11 percent, respectively. In the testosterone-plus-exercise group, the increase in muscle strength in the squatting exercise (38 percent) was greater than that in any other group, as was the increase in bench-press strength (22 percent).
Mood and Behavior
No differences were found between the exercise groups and the no-exercise groups or between the placebo groups and the testosterone groups in any of the five subcategories of anger assessed by the Multidimensional Anger Inventory. No significant changes in mood or behavior were reported by the men on the Mood Inventory or by their live-in partners, spouses, or parents on the Observer Mood Inventory. Supraphysiologic doses of testosterone, with or without exercise, did not increase the occurrence of angry behavior by these carefully selected men in the controlled setting of this experiment. Our results, however, do not preclude the possibility that still higher doses of multiple steroids may provoke angry behavior in men with preexisting psychiatric or behavioral problems.
Steroids vs Natural Summary
- Group 1 (no exercise, natural) experienced no significant changes. No surprise there.
- Group 2 (no exercise, steroids) was able to build about 7 pounds of muscle. That’s not a typo. The group receiving 600mg weekly testosterone injections and NOT working out at all gained 7 pounds of muscle.
- Group 3 (exercise, natural) was able to build about 4 pounds of muscle.
- Group 4 (exercise, steroids) was able to build about 13 pounds of muscle.
|Group||Exercise||Testosterone 600mg / week||Muscle Gained (lbs)|
So What Does This Study Show Us?
Well, for starters, if you are natural and not doing any form of weight training, your muscle building results will suck. But we all knew that already.
Second, the muscle building effects of steroids are pretty significant. Despite using identical workout routines and diets, the guys who were also receiving testosterone injections gained over 3 TIMES as much muscle as the natural guys in the same period of time. The average difference was 13lbs gained to just 4lbs gained.
Third, here’s the most insane part of all. The group getting the testosterone injections and NOT doing any form of weight training whatsoever still gained significantly more muscle than the natural guys who WERE weight training. The difference was 7lbs gained to 4lbs gained.
Let me repeat that again just in case it did not sink in.
Guys using steroids and doing NOTHING have built more muscle than the natural guys who were weight training 3 times per week.
Steroids vs Natural. Now you know the truth backed by scientific research.