If you’ve got your training and diet bang on track and are looking to gain an extra advantage, supplements and compounds are the next thing to consider.
The most well known form of bodybuilding supplement are anabolic steroids but not everyone is willing to risk the potential side effects. Prohormones offer an alternative, giving a boost to lean muscle but with milder possible side effects.
So as a bodybuilder, what’s the difference between taking prohormones and steroids? We take a look at the facts.
The biological process
There are many different types of steroid, but the ones which are of interest to bodybuilders are known as Androgenic Anabolic Steroids (AAS).
AAS are made synthetically and created to closely resemble testosterone. This means that within the body they will bind to androgen receptors in the same way that testosterone would, creating the same anabolic effect. This process is what leads to enhanced fat burning and a greater ability to build lean muscle tissue.
Prohormones are a group of compounds which are known to act as a type of “precursor”. They enter the body in an inactive form which then convert to become active, and can then encourage the body to produce its own natural steroids.
The types of prohormone which bind to the androgen receptors will lead to the same kind of effect as anabolic steroids.
The benefits of steroids
Anabolic steroids have been around for many decades and much is known about their action in the body, and in some cases, how to control the side effects.
There’s a great range of steroids available and they can be used for both bulking and cutting. It’s possible to build lean muscle tissue very quickly and the results can be absolutely astonishing.
Going off cycle can result in a loss of some of the benefits acquired but the right kind of PCT can help you to hang on to much more of the mass gained.
Steroids can be taken either orally or injected. The benefits of being injectable mean that the drug bypasses the typical hepatotoxicity problems which arise with oral C17-alpha alkylated steroids.
By contrast, the effects of prohormones tend to be weaker, but with the same risk of side effects occurring. In addition, as an oral compound they carry a much greater risk of toxicity to the liver.
The benefits of prohormones
Because they are taken orally, prohormones are very convenient and great for users who don’t like to inject.
Although not as strong as anabolic steroids, prohormones still pack a powerful punch and you could experience a range of beneficial effects including:
- An increase in lean mass
- Improved endurance and strength
- Faster recovery
- Higher libido
- Greater sense of competitiveness
Side effects are possible when taking prohormones, and are largely the same as those you could experience when taking anabolic steroids. However, aside from hepatotoxicity, you may find that any side effects aren’t quite as severe and can be more easily controlled.
Finally, the issue of legality is one which has meant that for a long time the slightly weaker effects of prohormones were preferred because of the legal position.
However, the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2014 changed the position.
Pro hormones are now treated in the same way as anabolic steroids, with the burden of proof being on the manufacturer to show the compound is legal rather than the FDA being forced to prove its case against each drug individually.
This tightening of the law in 2014 effectively wiped out one of the main advantages for prohormones, making them just as illegal as anabolic steroids.
Both sets of drugs offer significant advantages for bodybuilders but neither are without risk, so anyone considering taking them should do their homework before starting a cycle.
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