When you take anabolic steroids, the steroid molecules attach themselves to certain parts of your DNA and then start to form new protein strands. These protein strands that are produced by NO (Nitrogen oxide) and phosphorus give your muscle cells that extra boost they need to grow larger and stronger than before.
You might guess that more proteins mean a greater quantity of muscles, but it takes time for these new proteins to build up in large amounts. In fact, the effects from steroid use only last as long as you continue taking them since after about four months or so, your body stops creating those extra proteins from the steroids. This makes it impossible for you to achieve any permanent muscle growth from using anabolic steroids alone because these new proteins never stick around long enough to make any noticeable changes.
When your muscles are exposed to stress (by weightlifting, for example), they can repair themselves stronger than before so that next time the same stress comes along, they can better handle it and break it down more efficiently. Anabolic steroids mimic this process in your muscle cells while you lift weights by speeding up protein synthesis. Steroids also increase the number of satellite cells in your muscles. Satellite cells act like stem cells do elsewhere in your body; when an injury happens, these cells go out into the surrounding tissue and either reproduce other satellite cells or form new muscle fibers that will be added onto existing fibers.
These actions result in less damage occurring each time you work out, making it possible for you to work out at a higher intensity and lift more weight before your muscles become too broken down to continue.
The only true way to actually boost the number of muscle fibers you have is through steroids because building new muscle cells from working out alone is nearly impossible. People with a very fast metabolism might be able to build up one new extra fiber every couple of years, but this isn’t enough of a difference to make any real noticeable changes in size or strength.
In addition to stimulating protein synthesis and satellite cell production, anabolic steroids also break down fat molecules into usable energy for your muscles so that even while you’re sitting around doing nothing, your muscles will still be getting stronger. Steroids also improve the efficiency of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), which is a molecule that stores the energy your cells need to function.
When you take anabolic steroids, your endurance and endurance capacity will increase, which means it won’t be long before you’re able to work out for longer periods of time without feeling tired. Steroids also stimulate red blood cell production, meaning more oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in your blood to give your muscles a larger supply of vital oxygen during exercise.
In addition to boosting muscle mass and strength from weightlifting short-term, anabolic steroids can have long-term effects on muscle growth, too, when taken over the course of several years or even decades. In younger bodybuilders, this is much less likely since their bodies are still growing, but even steroid users might notice that they’ve made more gains over the past six months to a year since they started using steroids than before they began.
When you take anabolic steroids, your body’s own testosterone production shuts down almost completely because your brain senses that there is already enough testosterone in your system and it doesn’t need anymore. One of the side effects of long-term steroid use is shorter height as well as a higher risk for cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke since these conditions are all aggravated by having too much estrogen in your blood from all those steroid hormones.
In addition to increasing muscle size and strength, some steroids also increase bone density which helps prevent osteoporosis later on in life. Although this benefit is helpful for building up bone strength, it can be problematic as well since your bones become more brittle and vulnerable to breaks.
If you use anabolic steroids over a long period of time, you might notice that your testicles shrink in size even though your testosterone levels haven’t dropped. This is because anabolic steroids convert excess testosterone into estrogen, which explains why steroid users often suffer from gynecomastia (development of female breast tissue) or have feminized body parts such as a growing stomach or breasts along with shrinking genitals.
In addition to suppressing the production of natural testosterone through negative feedback loops, anabolic steroids suppress your pituitary gland’s release of luteinizing hormone, which tells your testicles to keep making sperm, so if you take high enough doses for a prolonged enough period of time, you might find yourself unable to father a child.
Although anabolic steroids can produce plenty of benefits, including boosting your strength and endurance along with stimulating protein synthesis in your muscles, they also come with many side effects such as baldness, acne, liver problems, and gynecomastia.