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How Do Steroids Work?

Anabolic steroids also known as Anabolic and Androgenic Steroids (AAS) are synthetic derivatives (which means they are made in laboratories) of the naturally produced hormones that are similar to the male sex hormone testosterone. These compounds are known to promote the growth of muscles (offering the anabolic effect) as well as boost the male sex characteristics (offering the androgenic effect).

Well, these synthetic hormones are identical to those found in our bodies and when they are reaching the bloodstream, they work the same way as naturally occurring hormones. In short, anabolic steroids work by boosting the number of specific hormones in the body (mainly – testosterone) and that’s leading to various benefits.

Anabolic steroids are binding to the androgen receptors. The compound is diffusing into the nucleus of the hormone receptor which is altering the expression of genes and is activating the processes that are sending signals to other parts of the cells.

This is how steroids are capable of genetically altering the limit of muscle growth. Helps men grow more muscles than their genetic limit is. And also helps grow muscles way faster than they would naturally.


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Steroids: Corticosteroids vs Anabolic Steroids

Is important to know that steroids are categorized as anabolic steroids and corticosteroids.

  • We talk specifically about anabolic steroids because only these types of steroids are helpful for growing muscle mass and general physique and performance enhancement.

In fact, corticosteroids are detrimental for growing muscle mass so these types of steroids are only used specifically for medical purposes when a doctor prescribes them.

Steroids are synthetic compounds that are called this way because they are having a similar structure and they are binding to the hormone receptors in the body.

Nonetheless, anabolic steroids are binding to the Androgen Receptor (AR) but the corticosteroids are known to bind to the Glucocorticoid Receptors (GR) (hence the name). Due to this – it leads to completely different effects and results.

Anabolic and Androgenic Effects

They are called specifically Anabolic and Androgenic Steroids (AAS) because these synthetically made hormones are having anabolic and androgenic effects. Anabolic means they are promoting anabolic (helps cells grow). Androgenic (virilizing) means that it enhances the development of masculine characteristics.


Anabolic effects include: increased protein synthesis, increased appetite, increased red blood cell count, increased size of skeletal muscles, increased bone density, and many others.

Androgenic effects include: increases sebaceous gland oil production, increases sex drive, vocal cords, growth of sex organs (penis and clitoris); increased facial hair growth, and many others.

  • PS: that’s why androgenic compounds are not good for women. They are getting the process of masculinization boosted.

Steroids Results

Thanks to how steroids work (binding to androgen receptors – hormonal receptors) it often results in body composition and strength improvements. They are “dictating” how the body should work. Like inhibiting various processes in the body, for example, lowers cortisol and boosts other processes. For example, increases protein synthesis and nitrogen retention.

That’s why steroids are often used in medical settings in health conditions. Such as muscle wasting disease. Due to surgery, severe burns, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and others.

But bodybuilders and athletes use anabolic steroids to grow muscles, burn fat, gain strength and get an overall better body image. Anabolic steroid users are displaying a better muscle definition both due to less body fat and more muscle mass.


Those who use steroids claim that anabolic steroids:

  • Help them recover much faster and efficiently from intense workouts or even injuries
  • Make them work out for much longer periods of time and way more intensively (more weight)
  • Those who reached their genetic limit in muscle size – found out steroids are altering this limit.

Nonetheless, at the same time, anabolic steroids are associated with adverse side effects such as:

  • Various cardiovascular issues
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Natural testosterone suppression for men
  • Masculinization for women
  • Cholesterol related issues
  • Androgenic side effects
  • Estrogenic side effects
  • And others

Before running anabolic steroids, it is highly recommended to learn how to properly administer them.


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