A natural facilitator of muscle-building is Creatine. Creatine is a nitrogenous compound made by the Liver mostly, but also by the kidneys and pancreas. It is found in abundance in meat and fish. Its production requires three amino acids, two of which the body makes by itself (Arginine and Glycine) but one of which (Methionine) it does not. Methionine is thus an “essential” amino acid (the M of LMPT T LIV)
Creatine is important because in one of its forms (Creatine Phosphate) it can serve as a substrate for the formation of the energy-supplying compound of ATP. As our authors tell us, “as Creatine Phosphate stores become depleted, the ability to perform high-intensity exercise declines.” And, the “depletion of muscle CP during high-intensity exercise is the primary mechanism leading to fatigue.”
Creatine Phosphate depletes in muscle 35 to 57% after just 6 sec of maximal exercise; at 30 seconds, Creatine Phosphate is reduced by 64 to 80% of rest levels. In fact, “during bouts of repeated high-intensity exercise, Creatine Phosphate levels in the muscle are almost completely depleted.” This makes Creatine a prime candidate for supplementation by bodybuilders. And according to our authors, “Creatine supplementation is reported to increase the Creatine content of muscles by approximately 20%.” However, after that “saturation point,” no additional benefits accrue.
They typical regimen of Creatine supplementation is two grams per day. However, before this routine dose, users usually undergo a “loading” period of about five days, in which they take 20 to 25 grams per day. Studies have shown that such “loading” doses greatly speed-up the body’s response to the supplemental Creatine.
Our authors state the benefits of Creatine supplements outright and without reserve: “Creatine supplementation has been shown to increase strength and improve training by reducing fatigue and enhancing post-workout recovery.” Furthermore, “controlled studies have been unable to document any significant side effects from Creatine supplementation.” Nevertheless, during the “loading” phase, there has been reported some gastrointensinal upset (ranging from gas to mild diarrhea). There are, however, still some who worry about the strain on the kidneys due to the high nitrogen content of Creatine and increased Creatine excretion. And remember what our authors said: Creatine is found in abundance in meat and fish.
Another supplement which seems to come with no dire side-effects is Caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to enhance power production, though no one is precisely sure how.
If we subscribe to the theory that muscle fatigue occurs due to lowering body pH during exercise, then it is only logical that something which raises body pH would be helpful in delaying muscle fatigue. Sodium Bicarbonate (found in Baking Soda) is an antacid (alkalinizing agent) which counteracts and neutralizes the acidic conditions that define low pH. And indeed,
supplementation with Sodium Bicarbonate has been shown to increase the pH of blood. However, such large doses of Sodium Bicarbonate are needed to have any real effect that side-effects start cropping up, which include cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting.
An alternative to Sodium Bicarbonate is Sodium Citrate, which causes less gastro-intestinal distress. However, studies so far have shown that Sodium Citrate is more effective for exercises lasting between two and fifteen minutes than for the short-duration exercises utilized by weightlifters.
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Now we come to the use of synthetic anabolic steroids in weightlifting…
One of the FDA’s definitions of a drug is anything that stimulates hormone secretion and is taken like a drug (pills, injections, etc).
The most common endocrine-system-manipulating “drugs” used by athletes revolve around testosterone— either as synthetic derivatives of the hormone itself, or as substances which induce testosterone production by the body.
The latter group, the supposed “pre-cursors” of testosterone production, has not actually proven to be very beneficial for strength enhancement. Similarly, the direct ingestion of testosterone also doesn’t do much good… Testosterone taking orally is merely rapidly degraded by the body.
It is only synthetic testosterone derivatives— which have undergone “chemical modification” in order to “retard the degradation process”– that seem to work well.
One testosterone-promoting drug I find particularly strange is Human Chorionic Gonadoptropin. This is taken from the placenta of pregnant women. “When injected into men, it can increase testicular testosterone production.” In fact, testosterone production can nearly double in four days using the drug. Nevertheless, for whatever reasons, testosterone precursor drugs such as this one haven’t proven that effective for actual muscle-building.
What Chorionic Gonadoptropin is used for is when bodybuilding men go OFF their synthetic testosterone steroids. Why? Because… while they were artificially punching up their testosterone with their drugs, their bodies recognized the deluge of the steroid in their blood and figured that their bodies must be overproducing the stuff– so their bodies started turning OFF the natural taps of testosterone. Therefore, when bodybuilders cycle off synthetic testosterone, if they do not artificially stimulate the production of this manliest of hormones, they will experience the development of some (probably) unwanted, feminine-leaning characteristics.
You may be confused as to why bodybuilders would ever go OFF their synthetic testosterone steroid injections. Well, that’s because, as is fairly typical with nature, the body adapts to this excess of testosterone, and over time the injections become less effective—without getting any cheaper. One way this happens is that the body starts producing less testosterone receptors at the cellular level. Another way might be the direct reduction in testosterone production itself.
For those of you curious about the whole steroid culture, our book tells us that the average serious user of steroids is on three different drugs in any given time-period. This is called “stacking“– the right drugs taken in the right combination increases the potency of each drug.
The typical cycle-on period lasts from five to ten weeks. And these guys are definitely NOT taking small doses. For whatever reason, experience has proven that– when it comes to the steroids that work– “more is better”… as our authors state: “the total dose of anabolic steroids has a logarithmic relationship to increases in lean body mass; low doses produce only slight effects”– but with high doses, returns approach the exponential.
The number one injectable testosterone derivative is “Testosterone Enanthate” (which is also used in the health profession). It is injected once every one or two weeks, typically in the butt.
After synthetic testosterone derivatives, the most common drug used by athletes for strength-enhancement is Human Growth Hormone. Prior to 1986, guess what the only source for Growth Hormone was? The Anterior Pituitary of human cadavers! This is because the receptors for Human Growth Hormone cannot be tricked into accepting growth hormone from any other animal. And yes, injecting something into your body from a corpse most definitely came with health risks!
Nowadays, however, they can make “Recombinant Human Growth Hormone.” It still must be injected (administered orally it only breaksdown, similar in that way to testosterone). Depending on your situation, this could be a pertinent fact: according to our authors, Recombinant HGH is NOT detectable by urine tests because it’s a peptide molecule. And a pertinent fact for all: some possible side effects of this drug include: internal organ enlargement and disfiguring bone-widening.
For me, a bizarre moral twist to the invention of Recombinant HGH is that we can actually give this drug to children to increase stature… but should we?…
Wrapping up, some other hormones taken by athletes include….
Insulin– which is taken to “potentiate” other drugs taken by facilitating the uptake of glucose and amino acids into cells. One side effect of Insulin dosing is Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)– which can prove fatal. Because, like Human Growth Hormone, Insuline is a Polypeptide Hormone, it is also NOT detectable in urine tests according to our authors.
Newer to the scene is synthesized Recombinant Insulin-Like Growth Factor One, also a Peptide Hormone (our current drug testing limitations encourage the use of undetectable peptides apparently). When the technology is perfected, our authors tell us that it will likely produce the same effects as Human Growth Hormone.