It is amazing to me how many “Average Joe” type men approach me and ask me about what they should be taking to pass a PT test in the Air Force, get in shape by the summer, or “to build muscle and lose fat.” They’ll talk about how there is a new supplement that is “almost as good as steroids” at GNC or Vitamin Shoppe. Even better is going into GNC and talking to the skinny sales rep just to see what they have to offer and what their sales pitch is on their new supplements. The best part is giving them both a dose of Endocrinology 101.
1st and foremost, if something is “almost as good as steroids” and it is available through GNC, it is probably going to get banned or it doesn’t work. If it does work, there is surely going to be a toxic “batch-dosed” substance in the supplement. What some leading supplement companies do is use a proprietary blend listing and they integrate ingredients at an unknown level. Another common practice is putting an unlisted ingredient in the supplement so you get a desired effect, then once a reputation for this compound builds; they pull the batch-dosed ingredient from their next batches to prevent detection.
What people need to understand is that bodybuilding and athletics aren’t just “take a steroid and whack balls like Bonds” field. They both require discipline, planning and trial and error. If a person is interested in fine-tuning their endocrine system with chemicals, they need to do so with nutrient-timing and exercise timing first. This is a process in its own. There are many means to reach and end result when discussing diet. You can do a keto-diet, a wellness diet (following the government’s recommendation), the Paleolithic diet, and thousands more. You need to find out what kind of training you’re interested in and taper your diet to this training. If you’re an endurance athlete, you’re going to need significantly more saccharides/carbohydrates than a bodybuilder and a bodybuilder is going to need a much greater protein intake than an endurance/aerobic based athlete.
This is part of what we in the field call “hitting your genetic potential.” There are a lot of bros that I am very fortunate to call friends who hit their genetic potential, then starting using compounds. This practice is why those bros are successful and get more out of their cycle then the average juicehead. Hitting your genetic potential means exhausting every natural option available to you before utilizing non-genetic compounds to reach your goals. The following emphasizes the importance of genetic potential and is a checklist for the incorporation of anabolic compounds:
Have you been working out naturally for 2 years or more?
If you have not been working out for 2 years, bare minimum, you haven’t reached your genetic potential and have no business touching anabolic or catabolic compounds. By working out naturally, we do not mean going to the gym for 45 minutes a day or putting in a few days a week. We’re talking balls to the wall here ladies and gentlemen. We are talking about pushing until you’re exhausted, doing advanced movements like drop sets, circuits and supersets.
What is your meal plan?
Can you tell us exactly what your meal plan is? Can you tell us your exact caloric intake? I want to know how you’re spreading it out. Are you eating after a workout? Before? Taking amino acids during the workout? What do you eat in the morning? Do you skip breakfast? Do you eat within an hour of sleeping? How often do you take recreational drugs and alcohol? These are all questions that need to be answered if you are going to play with your hormones. If you can’t answer any of the above with a positive and honest answer; stay away from anabolic substances.
Do you know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)?
Basal Metabolic Rate is the base rate at which your metabolism operates. This includes, sleeping, the thermic effect of food, thermogenisis, working out, yard work, EVERYTHING you do to burn energy. If you do not know how to adjust your caloric intake to match your BMR to your goals, you should not be taking compounds. If you have and you do not notice quantitative or noticeable progress, you should be checking with a doctor before you self-diagnose or you should be looking in between your ears and assimilating expertise before assimilation of anabolic compounds occurs.
When was the last time you improved a PR?
If you have a personal record you want to shatter but it has been a long time, you should be changing your diet or routine. If it’s the routine, we refer to FITT. Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type. Frequency can be the amount of times per week you perform the exercise. Intensity can be the reps or the weight. Time can be the time under tension/the total time you are exerting force against this weight. This can also include the reps and it can include the time for each rep (the concentric and eccentric motion). Type. This is the type of exercise. Is it an isometric movement (pushing against a weight without moving it)? Is it isotonic (pushing against a weight and moving it)? Are you swinging the weight? Are you focusing on the negative or are you just letting it drop? Are you using a partner, are you using two partners to blast the negative in extremely higher weights (e.g. negative repping 115% of your 1RM)? These are all ways to adjust your PRs. Have you tried adapti