The S Word — Side Effects and A Higher Dose

TAGS: roid rage, testicles shrinkage, steroid side effects, increase in strength, HCG, arimidex, The S Word, HRT therapy, testosterone levels, blood tests, chad aichs, steroids, hair loss


In part one of this series I discussed my knowledge of steroids as a teenager and in my early twenties. I then went on to write about how I was thrown a curve ball and ended up needing to go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In this part I will continue with the story, writing about how I took my HRT therapy to a new level and how my initial ideas of steroids began to change.

RECENT: The S Word — When My Perspective Changed

I was on the gel for quite some time. The last meet I did before moving to the anti-aging doctor and going on the needle was APF Senior Nationals on June 5, 2005. My test results, which were done about every three months, showed that I was in the 300 to 400 range. I don't remember what place I finished but I squatted 1052 pounds, benched 705 pounds, deadlifted 705 pounds, and totaled 2463 pounds. Was this my last drug-free total or was my 2375-pound total my last drug-free total? I can see that as debatable either way. My levels were still middle to low for my age but I was using artificially produced testosterone (the gel). I am more or less telling the story and leaving it up to you, the readers, to make your own decision. Personally, I considered this my last drug-free total because the gel is kind of shit and my levels were still within the normal range.

squat chad aichs

After going on the needle I figured it was time to enter the darkside. To see if it really worked like people said. To see if it was really as bad as people said. To actually find out for myself firsthand. I had already been put on HRT, so what the hell, let's try a little more. I look back now and I wonder if it’s not the natural evolution of a lifter. The vast majority of top-level strength athletes are using. We are all super aggressive and that's how we make it to the top. Just look at all the other things we do to make it to the top level. Given all the sacrifices and all the work, it seems logical that we will all eventually try it. Not all do, though. Would I have tried it if I had not started HRT? I honestly cannot say. I was still making gains and still moving in the direction I wanted. What if that had stopped at some point before I made it to the highest level? I just can't say for sure. What I can say is that I did do it and this is what I experienced.

I am not sure the exact date I finally went above and beyond my prescription dose but I know it was before my first WPO Semifinals in October 2005 in Chicago. By this time I had started with the anti-aging doctor. The new doctor was way more knowledgeable about all of it. He ended up getting me on arimidex and HCG, along with increasing my test to keep me in the 800 to 900 range. I can't remember exactly what I took or how much I took the first time I kicked things up. It was nothing crazy from what I had learned. All I really did was increase my test. At that meet, I did a 1102-pound squat, 810-pound bench, 710-pound deadlift, and 2623-pound total. This was a 50-pound increase in squat, 105-pound increase in my bench,  five-pound increase in the deadlift, and 160-pound increase on my total in five months.

Did just being on steroids do all this? It is hard to say in my mind. I had never really slowed down making gains when I did finally increase the test. It did take me from August 2004 to June 2005 to go from 1014 to 1052. To then jump from 1052 to 1102 in five months is pretty impressive. My bench was the craziest but even that always jumped sporadically for me. It took me forever to hit my first 500 and once I did 600 came super fast. Then it took me a long time to hit 700. Plus I really should have benched more at APF Seniors. Still, 705 to 810 in five months is insane and it would be hard to argue that steroids did nothing. Of course, these are also meet numbers and some of them were not really what I was capable of. There is no real answer here, but without a doubt I took a huge jump in a very short time. No matter how you look at it, they did something.

squat in the hole chad

My experiences at this point were enough to keep me dabbling in the steroid world. I say "dabbling" because I feel like that's all I ever did. Due to the fact that I did not want my doctor to get in any trouble, most of the year I was only on my prescription dose. I would make sure we did my regular blood test nowhere near competition, that way I was always in the range he wanted: the 800 to 900 area. I would ramp up for two meets a year, usually 12 weeks out. So I would do basically half the year on more than prescription dose and half the year on only a prescription dose. Funny thing was that my strength never fluctuated much.

How lean I was did fluctuate, though. The doses for competitions that I took were never super high from what other lifters were taking and the cycles I did were never really complicated. I always stuck mostly with test and one other substance. I tried a couple orals but never saw much out of either of them. The couple I took I tried twice from different sources just to be sure, but neither did much. I know there is always a chance of getting fake stuff and that is why I tried them twice from different sources. I even used them with other lifters who did see results from them. This did not actually surprise me much because of my insane tolerances to medications. During this time I never had a lot of money either, so I always looked at it the same way I looked at gear: keep it simple and just look for that little boost. With gear I always used off-the-shelf stuff and did not switch a lot. I found what I liked and used it the best I could, the same with steroids.

As I mentioned, the main reason I never thought about using steroids was all the side effects I read and wrote about in high school. Once the idea of me using became real and I started talking to people I knew who were using, I found that none of them were experiencing these side effects. If they were, it was minimal and rare. Now, I am not saying there are no side effects, but from my experiences they are way less than most of the medications I have taken in my life. I also feel they are safer than a lot of other things in life, like fast food or highly processed fructose sugar-filled treats — not to mention things like smoking, chewing tobacco, or drinking. I think it is more a matter of knowledge and how they are used. Like all those other things, if taken incorrectly, the chance and severity of side effects increases greatly.

chad aichs bench

From my personal experience, hair loss was the biggest side effect I noticed, but I really didn't and still don't care. I have heard there are things that can help offset this side effect but I never bothered with it. Testicles shrinkage is true but if everything is done right, including the post cycle treatment, it is not an issue. Natural production of testosterone will decrease and that happens in the testes, so yes they will shrink some. I have always heard it increases blood pressure and cholesterol. I question this because they both went up for me when I was bigger, but I was also not doing any cardio and I was eating like shit. Even then, I regularly challenged my doctor to find someone else at 385 pounds with blood work better than me.

When I cleaned up my nutrition, started doing some cardio, and lost weight, everything went back to normal levels, even when I was still on. My blood did tend to be thicker or have more red blood cells when I was on, but again, dropping weight and doing more cardio improved this greatly. These things could also be caused by my sleep apnea. Acne can be an issue too, but I have pretty good personal hygiene so it is not a big deal for me. To this day I have not noticed any major negative side effect from what I used. Granted, I was never on a ton of stuff, and half that time I was only on prescription doses. Still, I did use and saw nothing even close to the negative side effects I had originally read about.

One of the biggest side effects that I found to be completely and utterly false is roid rage. I have never seen it in person or experienced it at all in even the smallest way. Yes, if an asshole takes steroids he may now be a stronger and more energetic asshole, but there will be nothing in terms of rage he did not have before. I actually found steroids (at least test) to have the opposite effect. Like I wrote, my team members first commented on how nice and happy I was.

Along with cutting to my prescription dose I would randomly just go completely off. This of course upset my doctor, and he would make a point of asking me how I felt. My first comment would be about how pissed off I would get driving in town. He told me I should never go off. I do understand my case is a little different because I have low test, but I am not the only one who thinks this way. I feel so much better on test and I have talked to countless people who also feel the same.

chad aichs deadlift

One friend described how when he was off he would come home to his little girls and they would drive him crazy with all their energy running around. When he was on he would come home and color with them, calm as could be. I have heard tons of stories like this. I have actually heard some guys say they get roid rage, but when you really look at these people or hear about their life, you can see they were always hot heads. They are just hot heads who for some reason do not get the calming effect of test. It most certainly is not causing the rage, though. They were born with that. My training partner used to laugh at how backstage at a meet there would be twenty of the biggest, strongest men on the planet, and there would rarely be any issues at all. Usually we were all lying around like a bunch of hibernating bears. So if roid rage is such a thing, why wouldn't we all be at each other’s throats? We are all insanely aggressive and intense yet we got along just fine.

I think that going on HRT therapy before actually experimenting with steroids kind of forced me to pay more attention to my health. I always had regular appointments with my doctor and regular blood work done. I was always very honest with what I was doing and I knew they would always have to say they recommend me not doing that. There were definitely things in my blood work that would get a little bad and the doctors would always watch them. It was never anything crazy, just stuff not aligned with regular levels. From my research, it was always common with people weighing as much as I did. There was never anything so crazy that it worried me. I could clean it up easily with better nutrition, cardio, and some weight loss.

To me this was an accepted risk of being as big as I was and training at the level I was. I used to think, “If steroids are as bad as they always said, why aren’t all these tons of people I know dropping like flies?” Steroids are a multi-million or even billion dollar industry, yet it’s rare to hear of many people having problems. And even when they are, it is questionable if they can actually be tracked to steroid use. A lot of times it seems like lifestyle choices are more likely the cause of whatever problem they had. I just never saw the side effects that I had read about. If I did have any of them, they were way less than described and could have been caused by many other things.

Part Three coming soon.

Steroid Policy

Public health officials have concluded that possible serious health problems exist that are associated with the misuse and/or abuse of performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids. All athletes should rely on these messages in making all performance and health-related decisions.

EliteFTS believes that all athletes should be guided by the conclusions of health officials and medical professionals regarding the health effects of performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids, when deciding whether or not to incorporate these substance in their training regimens.


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