Muscle for life

6 Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Steroids

6 Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Steroids

If you want to learn the facts about steroids–how they work, how effective they are, what kinds of side effects they cause, and more–read this article.


Some people say steroids are safe and awesome. Others say they cause permanent damage to your body and can even be deadly.








































































Many drug users swear they’re not addicted and can quit at any point. Others admit that life is just better on steroids and don’t plan on giving them up.

Many recreational bodybuilders often claim that steroids don’t make as big of a difference as everyone thinks. A quick look at professional fitness competitors suggests otherwise.

My point is there’s a lot of mystery surrounding steroid use and even more confusion. Like most things health and fitness, opinions are all over the place.

I assume you’re reading this article because you want to know things like how steroids work, how effective they are, their side effects, and how to know if someone is likely natural or “enhanced.”

Well, in this article we’re going to take an in-depth look at steroid use and touch on all of those points and more.

Before we start, I’d like to make my position on steroids clear:

I’m mostly (but not completely) anti-steroid, I’ve never used them and never will, and I think most people don’t need steroids to achieve their goals.

Keep that in mind as you read the first half of this article, which may give you a bit of a chub for doing at least a cycle or two of steroids. Get through the rest of the article before you run off to the juicehead in your local gym.

So, let’s start at the logical beginning: what are steroids, exactly?

What Are Steroids and How Do They Work?

When we stay “steroid,” what we really mean is “anabolic steroid,” which is a man-made substance that has similar effects to testosterone in the body, including increased muscle growth and recovery, strength, and leanness.

Steroids accomplish this through various different mechanisms, but the net result is the same: protein synthesis rates are greatly increased or protein degradation rates are greatly reduced or both, which results in rapid muscle growth. The mechanisms whereby body fat levels are reduced or suppressed vary from drug to drug and aren’t worth diving into here, but just know that’s part of the “package” that steroids deliver.

While testosterone itself is the best known steroid, there are many others that are quite popular among athletes and bodybuilders, like…

  • Nandrolone
  • Stanozolol
  • Trenbolone
  • Oxandrolone
  • Deca Durabolin
  • Dianabol
  • Methandrostenolone
  • Boldenone
  • Oxymetholone
  • Drostanolone

Why so many different types of drugs, you wonder?

Because each have unique profiles in terms of potency, toxicity, side effects, and synergism. They, and others, are combined in various ways to create different types of steroid “cycles” for different purposes and goals.

For example, if you were a competitive bodybuilder and wanted to add 20 pounds of muscle in your off season, your steroid cycle is going to be very different than when you’re cutting for a show and need to reduce body fat while preserving muscle and increasing muscle fullness, dryness, hardness, and separation.

How Effective Are Steroids?

Many steroid users would like you to believe that their superhuman bodies are more a result of hard work than drugs, but this just isn’t true.

Yes, it takes a lot of hard work to build a top-tier physique but it also takes a lot of drugs.

The reason for this is quite simple: you can only build so much muscle and get so lean naturally.

But before we talk about natural limits to muscle growth and fat loss, let’s take a brief look at the facts of how powerful steroids really are.

One study conducted by scientists at Maastricht University found that, during a period of ten weeks or less, the average muscle gains in people doing resistance training while on anabolic steroids ranged between 4 to 11 pounds. The most impressive amount of muscle growth researchers found was nearly 16 pounds of lean mass gained in just 6 weeks of weightlifting with steroids.

If those numbers don’t boggle your mind, consider this: the most accurate science-based models of natural muscle growth predict that men can gain no more than 20 to 25 pounds in their first year of weightlifting (and women can gain about half that).

Thus, with the right steroid cycle and training and diet regimen, you can do in just 2 to 4 months what would take a year to accomplish naturally.

Another bit of research that lends insight to the power of steroids was a case study conducted with an elite bodybuilder. He worked with scientists for a year, using steroids for all but four weeks of the duration. In that year, he gained about 15 pounds of muscle, which is about three to four times as much as someone natural with his level of training experience and conditioning could gain.

Another refutation of attempts to downplay the effectiveness of steroids is a study conducted by researchers at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

43 men were randomly assigned to one of four groups: placebo with no exercise, testosterone with no exercise, exercise only, and testosterone with exercise. They were given a standardized diet to follow as well but it was self-reported, which isn’t ideal, but also doesn’t really matter given the results of the study.

The exercising subjects squatted and bench pressed three times per week for a total of twelve sets of six reps, with varying amounts of weights lifted in each workout. Muscle size was measured by MRI and strength was determined by actual one-rep maximums.

After ten weeks, here’s what happened:


No, that’s not an error.

The testosterone-only group gained more muscle than the guys weightlifting three times per week.

Some people will try to argue that what we’re really seeing here is increased water retention in the muscles registering as lean mass, but other research conducted by the same group clearly demonstrates that anabolic steroids increase muscle fiber growth.

Another thing to keep in mind is that study involved the use of 600 mg of testosterone per week, which is a moderate dosage by today’s standards. Many people are using multiple times that amount with multiple other drugs, and research shows that the more anabolics you take, the more muscle you gain.
Muscle growth and strength aren’t the only benefits of steroid use–they also help keep you lean.

Research shows that testosterone directly inhibits the creation of fat cells, which helps explain why higher levels of testosterone are associated with lower levels of body fat, and lower levels of T with higher body fat percentages.

And, as I’ve mentioned, that’s just testosterone. Several other steroids also promote a leaner, more muscular physique and, when combined properly, are incredibly powerful in this regard.

The bottom line is steroids are incredibly effective at increasing muscle growth and strength and promoting leanness.

You don’t need steroids to build a great body, but they make it a much easier and faster process.

How Much Muscle Can You Build Naturally?

To better understand how much muscle we can ultimately build drug-free, let’s look at the research done on the correlation between fat-free mass index and natural and chemically enhanced bodybuilding.

First, a couple definitions.

Fat-free mass is everything in your body that doesn’t contain fat, such as muscle, bone, and water.

Fat-free mass index (FFMI) is a measurement of how muscular you are. It’s calculated by dividing your fat-free body mass in kilograms by your height in meters squared.

Now, the research.

A study conducted by scientists at McLean Hospital involved the analysis of 157 male athletes, including elite natural bodybuilders and strongmen. About half of the men had used steroids (with two-thirds of them having used steroids in the past year) and half had never used steroids at any point in their lives.

Here’s what researchers found:


As you can see, the average steroid user had an FFMI of about 25 whereas the average non-user was close to 22. The most muscular steroid-enhanced physique clocked in at about 32 and the best drug-free physique around 25.

Yep, the average steroid user was as muscular as the best of the natural athletes, and the best of the steroid group was about 50% more muscular than the average natty.

Now, let’s put some visuals to various FFMIs. I’ll start with myself.

I’m 6’2, I’ve never used steroids, and my FFMI is about 23. Here’s a recent picture of me at 188 pounds and about 7% body fat:

I know what it’s like to work incredibly hard in the gym with little to show for it. I know what it’s like to jump from diet to diet without ever finding something truly workable and sustainable as a lifestyle. I know what it’s like to think I just don’t have the genetics for the type of body I really wanted. If you’re in that boat, I understand. It’s frustrating and discouraging and it sucks. It doesn’t have to be that way though. One of my biggest fitness “aha” moments was the realization that I can use a handful of relatively simple diet and exercise principles to do whatever I want with my body composition. Every time. Without fail. I can get shredded eating foods I like and maintain this look for months at a time. I can put on muscle while gaining minimal fat. I can even go buck wild for a bit, like over the holidays, and undo the “damage” within a few weeks. This knowledge is incredibly liberating and my mission as an author and educator is to share it with other people like you and so you too can come to the same understandings. And don’t think that I’ve just figured out MY body, and that what I’ve learned somehow won’t work or doesn’t apply to YOURS. Trust me–your body was built with the same blueprint as mine. Your metabolism runs on the same laws of thermodynamics, your muscles respond to training in the same ways, and your body fat percentage changes for the same reasons. Sure, some bodies are able to build muscle and lose fat faster than others, and there are various reasons for this ranging from genetics to hormones, but the underlying mechanisms are the same in everyone. Once you truly understand the physiology of muscle growth and fat loss and use that knowledge to guide your training and diet, you can’t help but reach your goal. It may take a bit longer than you’d like, but you WILL get there. And that’s my goal for you. If you haven’t already, check out my site (link the in the bio) and start perusing through my articles. In just an hour or two of reading on my site, you can learn more about building muscle and losing fat than years of brotips and gymlore.

A photo posted by Mike Matthews (@muscleforlifefitness) on

And here’s a picture of well-known fitness model and competitor Jaco De Bruyn:


Jaco’s 6’1 and competes at about 194 pounds (4 to 5% body fat), putting his FFMI around 25. Jaco says he doesn’t use steroids.

And here’s Phil Heath, the current Mr. Olympia:


Phil is 5’9 and weighs about 250 pounds on stage (4 to 5% body fat), making his FFMI about 35. Phil claim’s he’s natural too.

And, just for comparison’s sake, here’s a shot of the legendary Frank Zane, who has been open about his steroid use:


Frank is 5’9 and competed at about 185 pounds (4 to 5% body fat), pegging his FFMI at about 26 in his prime.

And here’s The Oak, who has also admitted to using steroids throughout his bodybuilding career:


Arnold is 6’2 and weighed about 235 pounds on stage (4 to 5% body fat), which gave him an FFMI of about 30.

So, as you can see, once your FFMI starts approaching 25, every uptick equates to a pretty significant change in terms of your overall physique. And in terms of how much muscle you can build as a natural weightlifter, it’s safe to assume that 25 is going to be your FFMI ceiling.

Another reliable way to determine your muscle growth potential is to use a simple formula devised by Martin Berkhan.

Here’s how it looks:

Height in centimeters – 100 = Upper weight limit in kilograms in contest shape (4-5% body fat)

And here’s how it plays out for a few heights and poundages:






 160 lbs

 170 lbs

 153 lbs


 171 lbs

 180 lbs

 162 lbs


 182 lbs

 192 lbs

 173 lbs

To calculate numbers for other heights, multiply the inches by 2.54 to get centimeters. Then subtract 100 for your maximum weight in kilograms at 5% body fat. Multiply this number by 2.2 to get pounds.

According to this formula, the biggest I can get naturally would be about 194 pounds at 5% body fat. This would require that I add about 9 pounds of muscle to my frame, which I do believe would be doable over the course of the next 3 to 4 years. (Yes, building muscle after 5+ years of proper weightlifting is that slow.)

Want a workout program and flexible diet plan that will help you build muscle and get strong? Download my free no-BS “crash course” now and learn exactly how to build the body of your dreams.

What Are the Side Effects of Steroids?

Steroids may not be as dangerous as some people think, but anyone using them in the belief that they’re safe and harmless if managed properly is whistling past the graveyard.

  • Research shows that some of the side effects of steroid use are reversible and some aren’t. Permanent damage is possible.

For example, reversible changes include testicular atrophy (shrinking), acne, cysts, oily hair and skin, elevated blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol levels, increased aggression, and lowered sperm count.

Irreversible damage includes male-pattern baldness, heart dysfunction, liver disease, and gynecomastia (breast development).

One study found that 30% of steroid users developed a dependence syndrome, and if you speak to enough honest drug users, you’ll hear about the addictive properties.

One of the more common things I hear from steroid users is how much better they feel while on cycle than off. I often talk with a long-term user of several steroids in my gym, and he puts it simply: when he’s on cycle, he feels utterly invincible. He can train hard, he has sky-high energy levels all day, he pursues his goals more aggressively, he needs less sleep, and his confidence is out the roof.

When he’s off cycle, though, he says he feels like a shadow of his “superhero” self. It’s like he’s stuck in second gear.

He’s open about regretting ever starting steroids for this reason alone. He knows the many health risks associated with long-term use but can’t bring himself to quit because it makes him feel too good.

Some people argue that you can mitigate or even eliminate the risks of steroid use by properly managing your drug cycles and health. This is wishful thinking.

Yes, you can greatly reduce the risk of catastrophes by being smart about your drug use and overall health, but you can’t bring this risk to zero. Steroids put a lot of stress on the body and every time you inject or swallow them, there’s a chance something can go very wrong.

How to Tell If Someone is On Steroids

It’s pretty easy to know if someone is on steroids.

If they look better than you…if they’re stronger than you…if they are making better gains…if they have more money…if their girlfriend is hotter… Steroids. 100%.

Well, that’s how the average gym bro thinks at least.

The real way to know is the more they claim natty or talk about their #dedication, the more drugs they’re on.

…I’m only half joking there. Heh.

Before we get into how to spot steroid use, let’s talk about why we should even care. Because as a general rule, I don’t think we should.

People have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies. Using steroids isn’t “cheating” if someone just wants to look a certain way or competes in a league (any sport) where everyone is on drugs (regardless of its “official” stance on drug use) or if his job requires that he be in extremely good shape, such as fitness modelings or acting.

Where I object to drug use, however, is when people use steroids to achieve a physique that isn’t attainable naturally and then claim natural to sell others on their advice, products, and services.

This is a huge disservice because everything changes when you’re on drugs. You can train a lot more frequently and intensely. You don’t have to be as strict on your diet. You don’t have to be as concerned with recovery.

And when chemically enhanced “athletes” claim natty and advise others to do what they do, these people never get anywhere near the same results. Many then assume they just don’t have the genetics to have a great physique and either give up or relegate themselves to mediocrity.

There are fake natural trainers and coaches out there that understand this difference and know how to modify routines and diets for natural weightlifters, but they’re few and far between.

So, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about spotting steroid use.

Their FFMI is too high.

As you know, this is a very reliable indicator of drug use.

  • If someone’s FFMI is between 25 and 27, it’s almost guaranteed that steroids are involved.

I feel like there are probably a few people out there with freak genetics and a couple decades of training under their belts that could do this naturally, but I’ve never met one yet.

  • If someone’s FFMI is over 27, they’re on drugs.

It just can’t be done without it. No way no how.

They have a massive upper chest, shoulders, and traps.

This is a reliable sign of drug use because these areas of the body have a lot of androgen receptors, which are special types of proteins in cells that respond to certain anabolic hormones in the blood.

Here’s a good example of this look, which I pulled from a steroid forum where guys openly talk about their cycles:


His shoulders are almost as big as his head, his upper chest is incredibly full, and his traps are several inches thick. This just isn’t attainable naturally.

They’re ultra-shredded, dry, and full, with amazing muscle separation.

You can get very lean and dry naturally, but you can’t achieve that look of being carved out of marble with full, striated, “3D” muscles that “pop” off your bones.

For example, here’s a shot of me at about 183 pounds and 6% body fat:


This is more or less the best I can possibly look without drugs. And while I think I did a good job getting lean and preserving muscle, compare it to the following picture of a well-known bodybuilder and fitness model:


…I guess I just don’t have as much #dedication.

They stay extremely lean, full, and dry year round.

This is a corollary to the previous point.

With proper training and dieting, you can naturally look impressive for a photo shoot but you just can’t maintain that look for long. Trust me–I’ve tried.

The problems are many: you can’t eat enough food to feel good, your training goes to shit, your sleep suffers, your sex drive plummets, and your energy levels bottom out. The human body just wasn’t mean to stay that lean.

The right drugs change all this completely. You can stay absolutely shredded while eating quite a bit of food every day and training extremely hard and your body won’t have issues with recovery or hormone levels (because you’re artificially inflating them).

If you have good genetics, maintaining 7 to 9% body fat year round is possible (I do it), but it requires that you carefully watch what you eat and how much exercise you do.

They have bad acne and male-pattern baldness.

Some people are genetically prone to breakouts and baldness, but steroids can aggravate these problems.

If someone is huge, shredded, dry, and full, with acne all over their backs and deeply receding hairline, they’re on drugs.

Are There Natural Alternatives to Steroids?

Forget what the supplement companies tell you–there are NO natural substances that even come close to steroids in any way, shape, or form.

“Test boosters” are worthless and HGH boosters belong in the trash can with them.

The only supplement that will directly help you build muscle and strength is creatine. It’s not nearly as effective as steroids, but it does work.

The Bottom Line on Steroids and Bodybuilding

I hope this article has given you a well-rounded understanding of steroids and has also shown you what to realistically expect in your own physique.

If you’ve been chasing the dream of naturally achieving a physique that is only possible with drugs, or following the poor advice of a fake natty, you now know better. Adjust your expectations and unfollow the asshole.

If, however, you want to do well as a competitive bodybuilder or physique athlete, you’re going to need steroids. End of story.

And while I personally have no interest in competing or drugging, if that’s your passion, I understand. Nobody should judge you for that.

What’s your take on the effects of steroids? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


















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Leave a Comment!
  • Allen

    Just out of curiosity, how much does a typical cycle of test cost? I’ve heard anywhere from $50,000-$100,000/yr for a Mr. Olympia contender, obviously lower for a normal bro.

    • O contenders are on a lot more than just test of course. And yes I’ve heard the same–$50-100k of drugs per year. A big chunk of that is GH.

    • Shawn B

      Contenders at that level are typically on 14-16 different drugs: anabolics, androgenics, GH, clen, insulin, aromatase inhibitors, etc. Walking pharmacies cost megabucks, as you indicated. That is why sponsorships are essential to these folks. When you see an ad with Joe Steroid holding a bottle/can of some worthless crap supplement, just remember Joe Steroid has never used that sup and is paid to be photographed with it.

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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    • Zoe

      Hey Mike,
      Really interesting, well-written article. Would you consider writing a similar one about women and steroids and about the maximum amount of muscle women can expect to build naturally?

      • T

        Yes, please! Great request. So hard to tell what is real and isn’t, what is possible naturally and what isn’t. Some of the most amazingly fit, well-defined female bodies out there claim to be all natural. On top of that, they often claim to have such physiques doing workouts based on lighter weights, a lot of circuits and HIIT routines with mostly bodyweight exercises and 12 lbs dumbbells and 12 kg ketllebells, and within 15 to 20 minutes a day. Would love one geared more for your female MFLers to gain a better, and more realistic perspective.

        • Yeah it’s a good idea! I’m definitely adding it to the list. 🙂

      • Glad you liked it!

        And that’s a good idea! I’ll add it to the list. 🙂

  • Nikki

    I know the cost of competing food,supplements and coaching you’re looking at easily over 2 grand in a year and maybe closer to 4 if you’re using drugs. My ex who competes was on 3 different steroids and various other shit. I don’t judge people but it’s not healthy his mentality and mood swings were all over the map.

  • Donald

    Ben Coomber did an awesome two part podcast with UK steroid expert Dave Crosland that covers this topic very well for anyone that wants to learn more.

  • Anthony Hernandez

    I’m a little confused on average FFMI statistics. I’m 247 lbs @ 27% body fat (erring on the higher BF side of the measurements I’ve taken). This would mean I’m about 180 lbs FFM, or 81.65 kg. I’m just under 6’1″ (1.85 meters). According the formula, I’m already at 23.85 FFMI, but I can’t even bench 225 or squat more than 185 yet. It seems very odd to me that I’d already have more muscle than the average natural bodybuilder of my size.

    • Walter M

      Strength is a skill, you can get stronger, without getting bigger.

    • FFMI gets less and less accurate as body fat % goes up. You’ll want to get to 10% and then see what you’re working with.

  • Jacob Sappenfield

    Question about FFMI: Like you, I am 6’2 (that rhymed). So my maximum weight would be 194lbs. At 5% BF that would make my lean mass 184lbs. I currently am 210lbs at about 14% BF which means my current lean mass is 181lbs. Does this mean that I can only add 3 more lbs of muscle, assuming I drop enough fat to get down to 5%? I feel like I’m missing something…

    • Arti

      The FFMI calculations get less and less precise as body fat % goes up. Its only useful for sub 10% and ideally in contest shape so more around 5-4%.
      basically when you cut to 5% your gonna weigh in at a substantially less then you think.

    • Basically what Arti said.

      FFMI calcs get accurate once you’re at/below 10%.

  • MsJadensDad .

    So let me get this straight……………..there’s a mirror directly in front of the shitter at your gym? That’s just downright odd…..

  • Pedro Mendes de Araújo

    You will get a lot of hate because of this article. Some people can’t handle being told they won’t look like Simeon Panda without taking ‘roids. But it’s exactly what we need to hear – cold hard truths. Thanks.

    • Benito

      Hey man that was exactly a question of mine. I see Simeon Panda, Jaco, Sergi Constance, these guys are shredded all year long. The fact is that they claim they are natural, how is that possible?

      • Walter M

        If they claim that they aren’t natural, their contracts with supplements companies ends forever.

        • George T.

          I think you’re just hating on their #dedication.

          • Walter M

            Too much dedication and hard work for me. I think that I would stay small and fat forever and ever.

          • Hahaha

        • That’s a good point haha.

    • Haha thanks Pedro.

    • Haha yup… Thanks for the support brother!

    • Thanks for the support brother!

  • saveourskills

    this is a fun blog http://nattyornot.com that basically analyzes various lifters and attempts to determine if they use or not. Pretty fun stuff

  • Walter M

    I really enjoyed this article Michael, pretty interesting.

  • Bob

    Hi Michael, Great article. I was wondering if you have watched the documentary Bigger Stronger Faster and if you had any thoughts on how they handled the steroid debate. I thought they addressed both sides of the issue, but the slant was more towards steroids aren’t bad for you.

    I was also wondering if you knew of any other documentaries that cover the subject that are worth watching and go more indepth?

    • Thanks! Yeah I have. I liked it overall but felt it was a bit too pro-steroid and dismissive of the legitimate concerns.

      No I don’t.

  • Mark Duddridge

    Great article, Mike. Thanks a lot!

    It’s an important issue to be informed about because yeah… totally… it sucks busting your ass off in the gym day after day and religiously watching your diet only to see small, progressive gains that never make you even remotely resemble the dude in the ads by the supp companies or the bodybuilder on stage.

    Something I’ve been curious about is… Where do you even buy steroids? I have absolutely no intention of using, but I’ve always been curious. Do people get them online, or do you need to know some secret password or handshake at your local supp store to get access to the “good shit under the counter?”

    I’m also curious about how many people use steroids without really attaining the “Godlike bodies” they’re supposed to generate. I know one guy at the gym I workout in must be using (the gym bag he leaves open in the locker is full of syringes/needles/alcohol swabs), but he doesn’t really look all that great (if in fact he’s using). He’s got more mass then I do, but I’ve only been lifting for five months. I’ve just finished cutting, and my muscle definition and leanness is better than his. I’m just wondering if a lot of people use steroids in the hopes that they’ll get huge with no work, and it doesn’t end up doing much for them? Or… Is the guy at my gym perhaps just starting into them or in a stage of his “cycle” that hasn’t started generating noticeable results?

    Thanks again for the article, and thanks to anyone who can satisfy my curiosity on the above two mentioned questions.


    • Donald

      You should really check out Ben Coomber’s podcast on steroids I mentioned below. It covers all of your questions in depth.

    • Thanks!

      IMO if you just ignore the druggers and focus on your physique and achieving your genetic potential, you’ll have it made.

      Honestly I don’t know how people get “good” drugs. I know some people go to Mexico for certain ones and others are made in underground labs, hah.

      Many guys on drugs actually look like shit. It’s very very common. If you really don’t know what you’re doing with diet and training, drugs can’t save you.

    • Shawn B

      Steroids are prescription drugs with a real medical purpose. That said, they can be obtained from docs who will prescribe for cash (obviously illegal), or Crazy Louie down on the corner. I had a former student who was obviously a user get busted for illegal possession with intent to deliver. He is now a guest of the state. My cousin was a border patrol officer for three decades on our southern border and tells of intercepting more steroids (some real, some fake) on some days that recreational drugs!

  • Eli

    Thanx so much for the awesome article! Was just wondering, do physiques like greg plitts or jeff siads fall out the natural category?

    • Thanks! I don’t like to speculate publicly about things like this.

      • Eli

        I guess I’ll take that as a yes…lol.

    • Shawn B

      Just compare their stats to the stats of the physique competitors of the mid-1960s to mid-1970s who freely admit to the use of steroids, then make your own informed decision!

  • George T.

    Phil and Jaco are all natty – they just take creatine 😉

    Seriously though- the use of steroids is so widespread, the hotels at the time of the Arnold and the Olympia post signs in rooms not so dispose of needles in the toilet. Yep.

    • Lol I didn’t know that.

    • Lukus Leonard

      omgosh that sh#t just made my day!

    • Hahaha sure. 🙂

      Yup it’s crazy how it’s everywhere now.

  • Manish Arya

    After completing the steroid cycle, how much of those gains in lean muscle mass or fat loss are retainable? assuming one doesnt want to do the cycle again

    • It depends what drugs were involved and if the PCT was handled properly.

      • Ryan

        Also a lot will depend on how far you are past your genetic ‘limit’ muscle gained below your limit would more than likely stick around with proper training and diet. Above your natural limit? Forget it. It will disappear over time, no matter what you do.

    • Shawn B

      Back in the early days of steroid use by bodybuilders, the guys would go off steroids completely for part of the year. I have read about Larry Scott, the first Mr. O, who would talk of looking like ‘just a regular guy’ when off steroids. The drugs are much different and more numerous now, but the users no longer go completely off use. In fact, most of the top competitors claim to be clean when they are “only” using 2-3 drugs vs. the dirty dozen.

      • I’ve also heard people talking about the “new natty,” which is T plus maybe 1 to 2 other drugs. Heh.

  • Borislav

    There is different about what people do, and what people say… I can take steroids in my bathroom and same time I can talk about my “natty” dedication and my great genetics… F**K this shit, Phill claim he is natty… I cant live on this planet anymore…. And yes! Every proff bodybuilder is natty I know it, don’t tell me that 😀 There is something better than our minds and that peoples call “marketing” 😉
    Excuse me for my uneducated English skills 😀

  • Easily the best article I’ve read about steroids, EVER.

    Keep up the awesome work Mike!

  • john1821

    Hi Mike i just finished BLS and i really like it.But i have a question for you.Due to a health problem i follow the paleo diet,i’m sure you known about it.But the problem is my doctor said that i also have to follow a low carb and high fat diet.So my question is how am i suppose to make a meal plan with low carbs and by that i mean no more than 60gr per day and still see results?Cause from what you’ve write in BLS and the example custom meal plans that you put there either you bulking or cutting you need about 150-200 gr of carbs per day.
    I know i’m off topic but i didn’t know where to post this.
    I really need your help on this.Thanks.

    • Thanks!

      Totally fine. You can adjust your carbs up and fats down. For every 2 grams of carbs you remove, you can add 1 gram of fat.

    • James Winne

      hey dude if u read this, ur doctor is a dickhole… and he is a doctor (3 hr credit nutrition class, that is the extent of his knowledge on diet). Paleo is stupid and terrible for you dude, you’ll be guzzling down all those aromatic amines, saturated fat, cholesterol, heme iron, and fukin sulfur containing amino acids. here’s a fact I bet he didn’t tell you, meat is low on the glycemic index but is as insulinogenic as PURE SUGAR. Your problem is that you are overweight correct (i assumed because that should be the only reason someone is concerned about eating carbs)? Well, follow Mikes advice here on diet like normal and eat those damn carbs til you’re lean enough that insulin resistance isn’t a problemo m8. oh and one last thing, fuck ur doctor and all doctors in general practice, they are drug pushing masters of subterfuge who enjoy all the kickbacks from the pill mills and the insurance companies while their patients suffer and die thanks to that prescription.

  • A very comprehensive and detailed article!

    It has always bothered me how the masses thought Justin Bieber had started taking steroids after gaining 10 pounds of muscle in a few months, yet think that people like the ones you mentioned above (and a few other well-known fitness personas out there) are all natural.

    These so-called ‘natural’ athletes set up unrealistic expectations for many guys who are not that familliar with what can be attained naturally and what simply can’t and I’m very thankful that you wrote this post and compared your natural physique to the others who claim ‘natural’ to really shed some light on this issue.I will share this on social media and make sure it reaches as many people as it possible can because it’s really great!

    Thanks again, Mike!

    • Thanks Philip! Glad you liked the article.

      HAH @ the Bieber comment. What a waste of steroids if he were to have used. 😉

  • Brian Copeland

    Yes, there are pros and cons. The most honest article on the subject I’ve ever read. Nice job!

  • Steve Crook

    Nice article. What irks most are the Hollywood buff-ups who claim to have drop 30lb of fat and put on as much muscle in 6 months all through an ultra-intensive gym routine.

    They set false expectations of what’s possible and actually drive others into the arms of gym dealers. The stars get their shit from better sources and have medical supervision while they’re using it.

    If they’re doing it for the film part I don’t see it as anything different to the starvation look (Dallas buyers Club and The Machinist) for parts they played. Why not be honest?

    Completely OT I know, but you’ve shuttered the Forum and dropped the link from the site. This perma thing or just for a refurb to try and exclude the junk commenting that’s started recently? Didn’t see any announcement…

    • Steve Crook

      If I wanted better looking pecs there are three ways I could go about it:
      1. Chest workouts as described on this site. Results in 1-2 years. Good exercise and better strength with minimal risk.
      2. Visit plastic surgeon. No benefit of gym work. Costs thousands, various risks from operation and failure of implant. No fitness benefit.
      3. Chest workouts + steroids. Costs similar to implants, results much quicker than gym alone. Risks from side effects of drugs.

      The question is why #2 is legal and well advertised and #3 isn’t. Would the risks from steroids administered by a doctor be so much greater than those from implants installed via surgery under general anaesthetic?

      I choose not to use drugs. But I don’t see why #3 is worse than #2…

    • Thanks Steve.

      You know the actors thing doesn’t bother me because for the most part they don’t claim natty. They just don’t say they’re using drugs. Haha.

      Yes they have top trainers and pharma quality drugs.

      I’m actually going to launch a private FB group for all us MFLers instead of the forum. I think it will be better.

  • Zach James

    Mike I have posted both on this site and your facebook before with comments and questions and I just want to say thanks for taking the time to answer them, it really means a lot to me and I’m sure many others feel the same way. Anyway this post is as much a venting sessions as anything else. I always read the MFL articles, I listen to your podcasts weekly, and I am a big fan of Legion and use Pulse, Whey+, and Phoenix regularly. I have seen how valuable the information you give is first hand, as I am about 15 months into using the BLS and just started adding some periodization to my workouts after reading BBLS. With all this new knowledge it is just extremely frustrating for me to even go on other fitness sites. This morning I was doing my normal rounds and stumbled a crossed this http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/real-people-real-results-nathan-gerdts.html which I guess is very common the more I think about it. The cliff notes is this guy is 22 and got HUGE in under 2 years with this plan of 10 reps of all the basic lifts. Of course they show you the plan and the diet of 100 meals a day and have some quotes from him about how if you are consistent in the gym and with your diet you can do what he did. It’s just a complete load of BS and the worst part is that its tricking people (like me until recently) to spend money on useless supplements and follow shit plans, even with the best of intentions. The moral of my story is just that I’m sure as this site and your brand in general has continued to grow, it would be easy for you to start doing the same crap as EVERY OTHER DAMN FITNESS SITE!!!! It’s awesome that you haven’t done this and you even reassure your supporters that even though you get those offers all the time we are in good hands. Thanks a lot and hopefully this site continues to grow and your information and message can save many more people from all of the horrible information basically every other fitness site promotes.

    • Thanks a ton for the kind words and support Zach.

      I hear you on the BS that’s out there. I fell victim to all it myself years ago so I know firsthand how frustrating it is to wonder WTF is wrong.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted on your progress. Thanks again.

  • Corey Geer

    Enjoy reading the articles Michael. Out of curiosity is there some bug currently with the forums? I don’t really post but enjoy seeing other’s questions/your answers.

    • Thanks Corey. No I have closed the forums for now and am going to open a private FB group instead.

      • Corey Geer

        Do you need to know a secret handshake or how do you get invited?

        • Walter M

          HAHa, secret handshake.

          You’ve to know the secret protein shake (?)

          Note: I want to be in the group too :]

        • Hahah I’ll be inviting all the MFLers don’t worry! 🙂

  • Shane Sorrento

    How to Tell If Someone is On Steroids.
    – “If they look better than you…if they’re stronger than you…if they are making better gains…if they have more money…if their girlfriend is hotter… Steroids. 100%” lmao. your articles are great and very timely! The sad truth of that statement is that because that’s what people believe, they themselves are prone to fall into the trap of pursuing a “short cut” to achieve their own objectives. I have been training religiously five days a week for the last 19 months in a very strategic way, eating properly (never depriving myself of a dinner with friends or a night out), training properly and employing a lot of what I picked up from BLS and your articles and I am starting to get that question a lot now, while I’m almost flattered that other people notice the differences, its very sad that the thought process of people automatically defaults to that, rather than searching for what you promote, learning proper form etc… Big Fan, keep up the great work!

    • Haha thanks Shane. 🙂 You’re totally right and I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. Keep it up man.

  • Lukus Leonard

    Yup. The only problem I see, is if a person on drugs claims natty #1, and then sells stuff under that title. If you wanna use them, which I have no qualms in one day using them to experience it and probably get off quickly, then its that persons problem, not mine, except when competing in a tested competition for drugs. rant over

  • Lukus Leonard

    Whats even more pathetic than bodybuilderssss…Is powerlifters….They be like 6’+ and still rocking 300+lbs most of the time, putting up numbers in their total like 300+ lbs more than Stan Efferding…Think about it. Farm chores didn’t grow those boys, and “heavy arse lifting” didin’t do that either.

  • Felix

    Hey Mike You heard about anafuSe ?
    It Shoud be a Kind of Alternative


    Would be Great to Know your opinion !!

  • Roger

    Mike what do You think about that supp and supposed Alternative for steriods called anafuSe

  • Thanks for sharing.

  • Hans
    • Juan Aguilar

      Looks like a scam to me. Don’t waste your money.

  • Hans

    Why do You block me bro ?

  • Hans

    I am just curious about that Product.
    It is no Kind of Promotion or such a Stuff
    i believe You Know better

    • Oh okay sorry I thought you were just trying to spam/promote bullshit products, hah. The product is shit.

  • Okan

    Hey Micheal!

    Sorry, may be off topic but I just finished reading your book Bigger, Leaner, Stronger. I absolutely enjoyed it! Just a quick question: It feels like I don’t really get the pump on arms day, because of just 2 excercises for each biceps and triceps. Is it ok to do an extra biceps excercise on back day, and an extra triceps excercise on chest day? Or do you suggest doing something else? Or just stick to the same? Btw, I’m not a beginner. Just wanted to try something new. Thanks in advance!

    • Yeah it’s okay if you want to add a few sets on those days.

      It’s important to note that with the heavier, lower rep training, you’re not really supposed to be getting a pump. You’re lifting heavy to get stronger and build muscle. The higher rep training will result in a pump.

  • Colin Taylor

    I am 50, a pretty good looking 50 so I have been told. I work hard 4 times a week and never more than 30 mins. But I do get fed up looking at young guys twice the size as me, but then remember I am twice their age. Twice their money and still don’t need drugs. Just a few whisky sand a beer is enough. What a good article thanks. Proof you can work hard, have a reasonable body and still enjoy all the bad bits

    • Haha it’s important to remember your own positives! 🙂

      Glad you liked the article!

      Keep up the hard work and LMK if you have any questions!

    • Shawn B

      Cheers to a fellow weight trainer with a half-century of earthly experience!

  • steven Keinath

    I just calculated my FFMI and it is 27.7 never used steroids a day in my life. Maybe the calculator was wrong
    5 foot 11
    220 lbs
    10% body fat.

  • Affan

    A very informative column that gives a clear cut idea of what steroids actually are …great work

    However while thinking of many Mr O contenders (recent and past),I dont see many of them with baldness or acne, (Dorian Yates , Kevin Levrone , Jay Cutler , Shawn Ray , Oak , Franco columbo , Banaut , and so many more ) so can we assume that expensive cycles dont come with above mentioned side effects !!!

    • Shawn B

      Correct! Some of the more designer-type drugs will be less adrogenic. Also, genetic predisposition to male pattern baldness plays a role here as well.

    • Thanks!

      Yup you can manage those sides and genetics come into play too.

  • Hey Mike. I’ve been considering using steroids for a little while because I have a genetic hypermobility condition–basically, the collagen in some of my joints is weaker or more mobile, which means that doing a lot of sets or a lot of reps can cause overuse injury quite easily (especially where my knees and back are concerned). Some types of anabolic steroids increase collagen synthesis dramatically, so I’m considering using them while working out for that purpose. I might not be able to lift long-term otherwise.

    I know there is no totally risk-free method to use steroids, but what in your opinion are the best resources for reducing the risk as much as possible?

    • You know I’m not sure because your case is a specialized one. Personally I would find a good endo and follow his/her recommendations.

    • jared

      Avoid oral types which can damage your kidney

  • Phil La Mere


    Is it safe to assume that these actors shredding for roles in just a few months time are being given ‘juice” by their “trainers”?

  • Thewods

    Long story short. My body/ joints are riddled with arthritis and I have spondylothesis ( serious spinal
    Issues ha) and have trained naturally for 14 years. I came to the decision I would try based on Research about certain steroids, I did a cycle of deca durabolin, alongside test, at a very mild dosage of 200mg per week test at 250. Full cycle support and a very intense PCT. this was last year. Just to clarify, I MADE THE DECISION. I told my partner and parents and close friends as was doing it so I could do things like sleep and do a press up. My shoulders were in a very bad state and it was affecting my job which was worrying me stupid. ( I’m a machine fitter hence very labour intensive ) I’m no clown, I didn’t do it to look good or lift heavy. I did it out of total desperation, until I could have surgery on shoulders which I now have done. Strength and development wise improvements were marginal, slight improvements in both, but man did my joint pain improve, it was unbelievable. I haven’t and won’t do one again, but people shouldn’t judge too harshly, as I compare it to alcohol use and drug use, there are sensible sides and abusive sides to all these things and like alcohol, people abuse steroids and thus this image is created and used. I had no issues or side effects, as I had levelled with my doctor I had tests done after and my doctor was impressed that I was that honest with him. For me they were “helpful” and I now know guys that use them older blokes who use them as sensibly as you can and understand the dangers. I think it’s a largely mysterious topic and maybe if the judgement was removed people might be more open about it. By the way I still hate myself for doing it but it literally changed my life for a while. Please feel free to comment.

  • Lady_Lee

    I was discussing this very topic with my husband last night because I was curious if I could take steroids since I’m a female. I know testosterone is the male hormone and I definitely do not want to end up with a deep voice and facial hair! I’ve been working out for about a month now and haven’t noticed anything. So that’s why I was curious about it. I just want to get to my goal and then maintain from there. I’m not interested in looking super cut. I want to be toned and shapely. Is that possible for a female to achieve on steroids?

    • You definitely don’t need steroids to reach your goal. Women needs steroids to get HUGE. Hah.

    • sullenday

      I’ve heard that anavar is the steroid of choice for women as it’s less androgenic and light on sides, if any at all.

  • Alberto

    Great article. Always good to read the bottom line on any fitness topic. The bottom line here is to focus.

  • biker joe

    Back 44 years ago I took Dianabol. We called it Big D. It was legal, and was able to get a prescription form my doctor and got it filled at Walgreens. I took 10mg a day for 30 days. Back then there were warnings of bad reactions from taking steroids long term. So I just took it for 30 days as an experiment. The changes I got were dramatic and fast.. My weight at the start was 152 pounds at 5′ 8″ tall. The only lift I kept track of, was the bench press. At the end, I weighted 173 pounds and my bench went from 250 pounds to 325 pounds. By no means was I lean at the end. I kept eating the same during my experiment. So maybe that’s why. At end of the 30 days I just stopped taking the drug. I did not cycle off of it. In the next 30 days I lost all my weight gain and more. I went down to 147 pounds. I still ate the same and worked out the same. My bench press went back down below 250 pounds. My job at the time was very physically demanding. I unloaded and load semitrailers. About 80,000 pounds a day. That’s right, that’s not a typo, 80,000 pounds and still worked out 5 days a week. The job might have made me weaker because of the volume of weight I lifted all day and at the gym. I don’t see after all this time any health problems form this experiment. It did make me gain weight and made me stronger for a while. But I wasn’t going to take it longer than I did. I still work out 6 days a week. And plan on working out till I can’t any more.

    • Thanks for the comment Joe. I’ve heard the strength gains on dbol are crazy.

    • John Mergendahl

      I totally understand what kind of job you had. I work at a Wally World distribution center. Started in shipping, loading about 3 to 4 full semi’s a day. Didn’t know how much weight I loaded. Then switched to non conveyable. When in dog food, I’d stack about 60k/lbs in 12 hours. That was MUCH easier than shipping. My first year, I struggled. Then I talked to my bro-in-law, who is a personal trainer, found bodybuilding.com and I started to do good. I was taking creatine and C4 prior to work, and took an Animal Pak with UniLiver every break, while eating protien every 3-4 hours. This brought me to Muscle for Life and The Books. I’m in maintenance department now, and are about to join a gym. I’ve been wanting to get the Legion multi’s and switch to Legion supplements. I’m about done reading BLS, and are gonna start the year one challenge. I’ve aready bought BBLS and Shredded Chef. I get excited every time I think about my goals.

      • biker joe

        Three four semi’s a day will take a lot out of you. And still have the energy to work out. My job consisted of 25% driving the semi and 75% unloading and loading. In the summer the trailers were 100+ degrees inside. The tractors had no power steering or air conditioning. I drove local (Chicago Area) so I was home every night. I worked the same as you, 12 hours a day and got to the gym and put in 3 hours plus doing a full body routine. The main thing is, you have to get enough food and rest. Keep those calories up and sleep sleep sleep. Keep at it, in a few months you will see a different you in the mirror. And if you stall and we all have, Don’t worry because it might take a few days or weeks but you will see one day, you added more weight to your lifts or that extra 1/4 inch to your arms. Good luck. Oh, keep reading Mikes articles, There’s so much information here to help you meet your goals.

  • Drew

    Good work again Matthew. Let us know when you do a 99p deal on your shredded chef book – cheers!

    • Glad you liked it!

      I will definitely let you know on the book deal. 🙂

  • Buffet

    I thought you did a good job of presenting both sides of the Anabolic Androgenic Steroid “debate” – both fairly and honestly. When I first saw the title of the article, I thought to myself ‘Oh oh, here we go again with another jealous pencilneck perspective’? I WAS WRONG! I also completely respect your choice to abstain, as well as anyone else’s. If only all “abstainers” would respect the choice of higher level competitors, perhaps we could all one day get along?
    Keep up the good work. I’d recommend your site to anyone…….on either side of the fence.

    • Hahah glad you enjoyed it!

      Everyone getting along with be nice. 🙂

      Thanks for the support brother!

  • Renier

    as always a very enjoyable article Mike, infinite thanks to you brother Here are my numbers so far after finding your website:
    bench: before= 155 x 5 now=232 x 4
    squat: before= 155 x 6 now= 315 x 4
    deadlift : before 200 x 5 now= 335 x 6
    front squat: before 135 x 5 now= 225 x 4
    Incline Dumbell press: before 45 x 5 now= 80 x 6
    Body weight is around 177 and fat between 10-15%, I’m cutting right now to get down to 9-10%, I’m struggling a little bit on deadlift, which makes me wonder, what is your top assistance exercise to increase your deadlift?(and avoid arching the back during the pull)
    god bless you

    • Awesome man. You’re killing it!

      What’s the issue you’re running into on your deads? That will dictate the assistance work needed.

      • Renier

        it seems that I arch my lower back a little bit during the pull(at the start of the movement) it’s not like a big arch, I don’t feel pain when performing the lift whatsoever, though, I would like to pull with a completely flat back, appreciate your time mate.

    • SimonD

      Wow, these are incredible strength gains! Well done!

      • Renier

        Thanks mate!

  • Jenny

    Hi Mike, love all your articles and am always excited when a new one comes out… I just found this article a bit men-centric… I know there may well be more men that want to get big than women, but as a woman who struggles to build any muscle with any speed and who trains similar women while discouraging steroids, it would have been really very interesting to see your thoughts on the research, numbers for gains, and side effects for women included in this article ☺

    • Thanks!

      The sides are the same with women but you need to add “masculinization” to the list. For some drugs at least.

  • Rusty Lovett

    So Mike, just out of curiosity, I did the math and according to the Martin Berkhan formula, at 5’7″ I would be 155 lbs @ 5%. I do not want to be 5% but am aiming for the 8-10%. so that would mean I would weigh somewhere between 162-168 at that BF %. Does this mean I could never be heavier than that naturally at that BF% or just means that I could possibly get to the 175-180 range at that % naturally but it would just take a lot of time and grind?? I figured a FFMI at 5’7″, 175lbs, and 10% would be 24-25. Is that attainable without drugs and if so, what factors play roles in attaining it?
    I am seeing a lot of progress on your program and meal plan Mike so thanks. It has been very slow but I think that is due to the fact that I underestimated my starting BF % (used a very inaccurate caliper evidently). I am currently at 17% down from about 25-27%. I am trying to maintain and possibly build a little muscle while cutting so I haven’t used cardio as a tool to finish out my cut yet. I was trying to ride my newbie gains to build a little and lose fat, but now that seems to be coming to a halt so I have started implementing cardio into my program to help finish off my cut quickly as possible, so I can transition to a bulk and start adding some more muscle and strength to my frame. Thanks for all of the insight to what’s real and attainable in the fitness world. I have developed a much better lifestyle for myself and find it hard not to share your work with everyone that even mentions fitness around me.

    • It’s hard to guesstimate weights like this because as your body fat goes up, you hold more water and glycogen as well.

      But yes FFMI of 24 to 25 is achievable naturally regardless. No doubt about it.

      Great job on what you’ve done so far. That’s awesome. I’d love to feature you on the site once you’re done cutting. What do yout hink?

      Thanks for the kind words and support too. You the man. 🙂

  • SimonD

    Could you do an article on prohormones? Unlike steroids these are “technically” legal.

    • Maybe. I’m not too familiar with them so would have to read up.

    • The
      Prohormone Ban also known as HR 4771 has been signed into effect. The
      president signed the bill that passed legislation and it is now in
      effect. The bill was passed by Senate on December 11th 2014.

      • SimonD

        Hi J.Loren, thanks for your email. I’m from the UK and prohormones are still legal here. I think there are some talks of us following the US however nothing has come of this yet and the selection is like walking in to a candy shop. You have tablets or topical sprays (which are meant to absorb faster) however all of which have some degree of toxicity on the liver due to methylated group in chemical structure.

  • Rob Power

    I spotted the bit about sex drive plummeting when cutting and trying to maintain an ultra lean/ shredded look.
    I must admit since being on an MFL cutting diet I have noticed my sex/ libido is dropping quite severely, can anyone suggest a proven method to boost it back up as I am worried this will cause problems with my other half but I physically can’t help it at the moment as I have no explanation for it happening.

    • Hmm what’s your weight, activity level, and macro breakdown like?

      • Rob Power

        Currently sitting at just under 12 stone at around 11.12/13.
        I’m weight lifting around 4 -5 times a week (using the BLS recommended workouts), slacking on the HIIT workouts atm I must admit, when on form I usually do about 4-5 10 to 20 minute HIIT sessions immediately after weightlifting.

        Currently on a cutting plan of 1868 daily calories and macros as follows 186.8 P / 186.8 C / 41.5 F

        • BC

          I’m not Mike but yeah man…sounds like you need to reverse diet your calories up and take a cutting break. 1868 sounds close/at BMR for you and gotta be taking its toll.

          • Rob Power

            Cool, thanks man!

        • Hmm. Check your cals and macros against this:


          If you’ve been eating at or close to BMR, yeah, reverse diet up to maintenance and then go back to a cut. If not, eat at the cals and macros you calculate from the link above and see how it goes.

  • I’m glad my program has helped you gain muscle and lose fat. 🙂

    For the creatine, as long as it’s creatine monohydrate, you should be fine. Here’s mine:


    Great to hear your on the program and making gains too!

    You look great btw! Keep that shit up and keep me posted!

    I’d love to feature you in a before and after success story if you’re interested! What do you think?

    Thanks a ton for the kind words and support. It really does mean a lot!

    • Thank you Mike! Yeah I’d love to be in your feature!! 🙂 What do I need to do? Do you have a UK distributor for your sups? 😀

      • YW and awesome!

        Shoot an email to [email protected], and he’ll get everything set up to get you on the site. 🙂

        I’m working on the distribution center now! It’ll be ready in a few months.

  • SimonD

    Hi Mike,

    Great article. To add to the negativity of this product, because steroids are illegal I have often heard of vials containing sunflower oil or canola oil instead of testosterone derivatives. One of my friends was taking steroids and got addicted to the euphoric feelings following gym sessions, however received a dodgy batch of steroids which landed him in hospital on a life support machine for 3 weeks. Very lucky to be alive. He stopped straight after.

    On a more ‘legal’ note, can you do a story on prohormones? I have heard many stories about these are very similar to anabolics however can be bought off the internet and in some sports shops. For example: M1T, M-Drol, Epistane, Halodrol. However are completely legal.



    • Thanks Simon!

      Yeah I’ve heard the same types of horror stories. Scary shit.

      I replied to your other comment on the PH. 🙂

  • Simon

    Hi, Michael.

    I’ve been body building for about a year now and like most people starting out, the gains just don’t come quick enough. This problem is made a lot more apparent when your “natty” friend who has been body building for the same amount of time has made considerable gains.

    I’ve been to the point where I’ve seriously considered going down the steroid route to become bigger, leaner and stronger, but always decided against it.

    After reading this article, I can definitely say I won’t be going down that path. I had read up on steroids a little before, but never realized I could potentially end up bald and with breasts! These two things combined with the rest of the information have really opened my eyes to the effects steroid can have. I mean, if you’re body building, you’re trying to look your best, right? Since when did breasts, baldness and liver problems make any man look their best?

    Besides, looking at the pictures you posted of yourself shows that you really can look incredible without pumping yourself full of nasty things!

    Thanks for the information and keep it up!


    • Yeah results vary from person to person mainly due to overall diet and training compliance and training intensity. Genetics do play a role too though.

      Glad to hear you’re going to stay natty. It’s a good choice I think. Yeah it takes longer to get to where you want to be but you don’t have to worry about any health complications and you can maintain it healthily for the rest of your life.

      Thanks for the support. 🙂

  • Keith Falvey

    Hi Mike, great article as always!

    I might be asking a stupid question here but here it goes: I’ve been training naturally for the last 4 or 5 years and I think I’ve gained about 15 pounds over that time period (i think it’s all muscle!) I’m 5,10 and I currently weigh 160 pounds. According to Berkhan at 5,10 in order to have 5% body fat i would be 171 pounds- does that mean at 160 i’m less than 5% body fat? I’m probably not getting it all and judging by my physique i can’t imagine that I am less than 5% body fat, I’m probably more around 10% but i just wanted to ask.



    • Thanks!

      It’s hard to estimate weights like that because as you get leaner you start weighing less and less than you think due to reduction sin water retention and glycogen storage.

      Given your numbers, I’d think you could easily gain another 30 to 35 pounds of muscle.

  • kai

    Hey Mike! What are your thoughts on SARM’s ??

    • Haven’t read up on them much TBH.

      • Mitch A

        SARM’s (selective androgenic receptor modules) are pretty good. Most of them are illegal, but there are few that aren’t- ostagenin being the best in my opinion. I have run ostagenin a couple of times, and it works pretty well. Don’t expect insane gains, but it can definitely help you break through a plateau. As to whether or not they are “natural”, it is debatable. Personally, I don’t think anything about weightlifting is “natural”, but because they do not directly add hormones to your body through ingestion, I consider them “natural”. If you would like to stay clear of any controversy or are under 21, try epicatechin and laxogenin. They are non-hormonal and are completely “natural”. I can personally testify to their effectiveness. Don’t get the cheap brands, though. Real laxogenin is pretty pricey, running up to $60 per bottle.
        Hope this helped,

        • Thanks Mitch.

          Lol someone on SARMs is most definitely not natural. Natural = no anabolic or cutting drugs whatsoever (besides caffeine/ephedrine of course).

          But for those reading this, I want to say I do NOT recommend steroids unless your life goal is to get freaky huge and you don’t mind taking your health into your own hands.

  • Toni

    Curious to see what would be the average woman’s FFMI? I did the math and mine came out to about 17.

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  • Christian Habihirwe

    Ive been training for 8 years currently seating at 220 14.8% bodyfat. bench around 430-440 and have seen my strength gains slow down it now takes months to get any stronger on the benchpress. Alot of people think Im on steriods however i have never taken any Im 5’10. How do I get STONGER!

    • Damn that’s really impressive. Honestly pure strength training isn’t my specialty but it’s an area I want to get more into.

      • Christian Habihirwe

        Ive never trained for looks honestly the looks came with it. Im a NCAA athlete and strength has always been the most important thing. The looks gain from the genetics I would rather have the strength then the looks but once again you cant choose what your born with.
        My instragram name is strongestislander. Im trying to be as strong as possible naturally while still keeping below 15% bodyfat and any advice is welcome!

        • Yeah I hear you. Have you tried strength programs like 531, Westside, Juggernaut, etc.?

          • Bobby Juncosa

            I second Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. It’s considered “slow” by some (who probably don’t realize it’s benefits), but some gains are better than no gains.

          • Very true.

  • dave
  • sahil

    Hey Mike !
    I found your website just last day and i went through all of it.
    i think you give the best suitable advice for everything..love your physique and dedication…keep it up 🙂 Thanks

    • Thanks for the kind words and support!

      LMK if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

  • Emily Stolan

    Mike can you tell me your thoughts on clenbuterol? I really respect you opinions. I’m a 5’8 140lb female at about 17% body fat. I follow your workouts from the book daily.

    • Great on your stats.

      Clen definitely increases your RMR but it’s bad for your heart. I wouldn’t do it.

  • manish

    Hello Mike. Very informative article. You quelled a lot of my disbeliefs! Now about me. I’m 5’6″, 75-76 kgs, 16% body fat. I have been working out for a year & have gained about 7 pounds of muscle. But I don’t seem to lose much fat! Also I don’t take any supplements, its just eggs. Can you help me out?

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

      For help with the fat loss, check this out:


      Supplements aren’t necessary to reach you goal. They can help get you there faster, but you don’t need them.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!


        Again a very informative article. I now know exactly where I was going wrong. Thank you so much Mike.

  • Paulesha

    Damm its a bad drug

  • Paulesha

    steroids are bad and good

  • Jack D Ripper

    one of most informative article i’ve ever read on the net so far.

  • Bmanstrong

    What do you think of t3 cytomel thyroid hormone to lose body fat?

  • I assume people take drugs because they want to look good. Then why take it when it can cause baldness? That just doesn’t make much sense to me.

    But that’s still a minor compared to the health risks. At the very least I would think you have to be rich to use drugs so you have a doctor to monitor you 24/7.

    But it just blows my mind to see people who can hardly afford it inject themselves with expensive shit that can do them serious harm.

    All out of some egotistical need to stand out and be noticed. It’s unreal how people allow themselves to be brainwashed by society to fit in and conform.

    If these people only knew the power of their own minds they could have any body they want without a shred of dope.

    • Because they don’t believe the negative things are going to happen to them.

      • Geez. That’s just dumb. Not even naive. I guess bodybuilders are just dumb dudes in general then.

  • Pedro B.

    I’ve been training for 20+ years (drug free) and this is one of the best articles about the subject I’ve ever seen. Bookmarked for future references.

    Anyway, your claim about the 25 FFMI being the ceiling for naty’s seems spot on! Achieving that with 10-12% BF is sure doable after several years of continous dieting and training, but maintaining that while decreasing BF drug-free is where things get trickier.

    • Thanks Pedro! I’m really glad you liked the article.

      I agree on the FFMI point.

      Keep up the good work.

  • Kelvin Guzmán

    Hey Mike, you said that’s as good as you’re gonna get but you aren’t at 25. Btw Martjn Berkhans current stats have him over 27 FFMI now. I think he was tired of the plateau… On a random note, what isolation exercise do you believe is the best for the upper trapezius? Deadlifts work well for me, but i wanted to add accessory work. Anything better than shrugs or maybe a specific way to do them? Thanks for taking the time to read and answer this post when you do!

    • Good point BUT my weight has always been strangely low–a good 10 pounds below where basically anybody guesses me, including the weight guessers at fairs and stuff, lol.

      That said, I DO think I could gain another 5 to 8 pounds of muscle if I really wanted to. Maaaybe 10? It would take a couple years at least.

      IMO good old shrugs are the way to go to work the traps. Personally I just deadlift as I don’t want more than I already have.

  • Kelvin Guzmán

    You’re site has the best content man. Gotta say it again. Sources, logic, and personal experiences plus pictures and links. Best regards to your family Mr.Matthews.

  • fitfam

    I recently purchased this http://goo.gl/822cHy product along with the HGH supplement. I did not have high hopes when buying these I assumed they be subpar like most herbal supplements. I have been surprised with the increase in energy and strength I have had. It is a clean feeling energy as well not a speedy type that you’d expect. I literally just feel healthy and more vibrant. I have not been as disciplined as I would like in my lifting regime but I have seen a great improvement in my body even though I have only been getting a few workouts in a week. I have kepting trying to attribute my increase in strength and energy to something other than these products but truly they have been awesome

  • Tim Clark

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for this incredibly informative monster post!

    There is no doubt that the use of anabolic steroids gives one that edge but after using them for years, I just can’t handle the side effects anymore and like to try and keep things natural. I have done copious amounts of tren and dbol and had to throw in the towel last year.

    If anyone wants to try an alternative to anabolic steroids that isnt a prohormone, check out a brand called flexxlabs.com. I have been using them for the last 3 months and am actually seeing really positive results.

    They have a pretty solid range of legal steroids that dont come with the side effects.


  • Com3755

    The main problem isn’t even just steroids. The problem is even with so called natural athletes, who are ingesting 1000X different supplements full of chemicals, and then call themselves natural because they dont take steroids or HGH.
    Essentially…Anything that gives you an edge over pure food…Is a PED and thus you ain’t natural. For god’s sake, even Creatine, the substance behind most supplement use gains, is a PED. And creatine is one of the worst offenders: People on creatine build ridiculous amount of muscle, which is mostly sugar and water (and evaporates once the supplement isnt taken or transforms into fat).

    The entire supplement industry is a fraud, really. If you are really natural and want to be healthy, eat real food. If you want to be a pro athlete and be that level, take real injections from a doctor/scientist, not supplements.

    • Who cares what people consider “natural” or not.

      The point is the right supplements, like creatine, give you benefits without risking your health.

      Steroids, on the other hand, are many times more effective than creatine but place your health at risk.

      There’s no reason to not take any supplements whatsoever unless you physically can’t tolerate them (creatine gives some people the shits, for instance).

      • Com3755

        The point is creatine is not a supplement, its a PED. Like you say, not an anabolic steroid, but a PED nonetheless. Its HUGELY popular in the fitness industry because its relatively cheap and you get massive strength gains in short time with it.

        My point, anyway, is that supplements should be labelled supplements, and PED PEDs. Supplements mean supplements: You supplement your diet of carbs, vegetables, proteins, etc…With some powder which contains exactly that, if you cannot get enough in with normal food.

        Creatine isnt anything like this. Its not a food. Its a substance naturally produced by the liver, and humans have enough creatine naturally. But what ingesting more creatine does, is push the body more. The disadvantages is that your liver & kidney are working overtime to process this. I bet that it does damage those organs in some people, but that gets swept under the rug by the supplement industry.

        Long story short: Creatine is a cheap PED which passes as supplement, gives people big (unnatural) gains, and thus is obviously key to alot of easy money in the “supplement” industry.

        The problem I have is labelling creating as a supplement, not a PED.
        Its misleading the customer. I bet tons of people would not buy creating if it was labelled a PED with strong warnings.

        • PED = performance enhancing DRUG.

          Creatine is not a drug–it’s a peptide. It’s in steak.

          Creatine use is very safe. This has been well established (it’s the most well-researched molecule in all of sports nutrition).

          • Drew Harrison

            Not so fast. Back in 1997, I was taking Creatine and some other OTC stuff. When I got my blood checked, my creative levels were so high, they told me if I didn’t stop that I’d die of kidney failure (short answer). I took this as directed. My Dr. Then told me that some people’s bodies don’t handle Creatine well. Now, I don’t know if that’s true nowadays, but if you are on Crestine, you should get you blood checked regularly so it doesn’t crystallize in your kidneys and kill you.

          • It’s well known that creatine supplementation raises creatinine levels and if docs don’t know this or that you’re taking creatine, they can think your kidneys are failing.

          • Christopher Matthews

            Thank you Mike 🙂 That’s exactly what I was thinking. While reading this post.

          • My pleasure! 🙂

  • Ratnesh Singh

    sir, nice collection of perfect info,
    I’m 19 now and working out for 8 months, and used two different weight gainers, about 8 lbs collectively, I workout with pretty weights also, but my body and muscles are not hard, I was so skinny last year, but now with very little muscle gains, and after taking these gainers, it feels like some kind of fluid has filled in my muscles and body, soft and not tough, I am panic about it,
    and also some of elder jim friends told me to take DIANABOL but I’ve read so much of side effects…and also I’ve been suggested to go for light steroids,,and WHEY PROTIEN, is that better for me,,,can I go for steroids safely..please suggest me some advice or any product (which can be available in INDIA)…thanks

  • Brady John Price

    Say that someone is hypothetically taking synthetic testosterone, wouldn’t that increase their protein synthesis so much that they would need to substantially up their protein intake? Would it affect carbs and fats as well? Love your book and articles Mike. I’m a believer and I’m referring you to everyone when the opportunity presents itself. Thanks for all your well written articles!!

    • Not really, no. Your body will just be able to use a large portion of what you’re eating for muscle building. You don’t have to change your calories either.

      Thanks so much man! You rock! 🙂

      • Brady John Price

        You’re the bomb. I’m naming my first born after you. 😉

        Last question, does steroids change the way someone should workout? More reps, less weight? Longer workouts and smaller rests? Less days to recover?

        I know you’re a very busy man and you deserve it all the success! Hope you change 10 million lives! I love that you take the time to respond to comments. Thanks again

        • Hahahahah yessss. 😉

          Yeah it does change things. I’ve spoken with a lot of guys on drugs and the long story short is:

          1. Recovery is much better. You can do quite a bit more in the gym every week and recover from it.

          2. High-rep training becomes much more viable. Many druggers have told me they can basically just chase pumps and grow.

          3. Heavy training is very effective as well, but you have to be careful that you don’t get hurt because you can find yourself in a situation where your muscles feel up to very large loads but your tendons and ligaments can’t support it (snap).

  • Eunuch Powell

    So, what are you on Mike? What’s your juice stack? Orange or grapefruit?

  • Jason

    Hey Michael, I was wondering if people could get a career in fitness without using steroids. I’ve always wanted to but it’s a deciding factor for me if you need to use steroids to get to where you need to be. I see fitness models and would love to get in the position they are in and I’m not sure if they are using steroids or not. I’m thinking of some of the people who do physique competitions. Great article by the way, sounds like you know a lot.

    • It depends what you want to do. If you want to compete at a high level, no. If you want to be a fitness model, yes, although you’re going to be up against guys on drugs with fantastic genetics so it’s going to be hard…

  • Jason

    Thanks so much for responding. What do you think about Steve Cook?

  • Daniel

    Okay! So its a bit more complicated than it sounds.
    I’ve used a bit of steroids myself.

    The first time i used steroid was a year ago.
    And i used dianabol. It worked wonders for me.
    I saw a difference of 1 good inch on my biceps. I was very happy.

    I was greedy af!
    So after a month i took them again.
    But as muchh to my expectations! There were no results!
    What i came to know is! You should have atleast 3-4 months gap b/w a dianabol cycle.

    So i waited!
    Gathered some money.
    And now i’m on a stack of steroids!
    I’m currently using testa, boldi, dianabol, testesteron booster(non-steroidic) and protein, creatine.
    Its a 10 week cycle

    So far you’d think i would have got the best body, Of my age. I’m 20 btw.
    But no.
    There still is no difference.
    I don’t know what i’m doing wrong.
    I’m 3 weeks into my cycle.
    And now i’m gettinbf depressed with every week!
    That there is no difference.

    I can’t seem to know what i’m doing wrong!
    Please guide me!
    I really need some professional help.

    • Get off steroids before you explode your endocrine system. Do a proper PCT cycle, etc., but get off.

      • Daniel

        That’s perfectly fine. I will get off. And can you just tell me the reason for this?
        Why should i get off? And why did i not gain any muscle or size with those steroids??

        • Did you read this article?

          You probably didn’t eat or train correctly and/or got bad/low-quality drugs.

          • Rouge Surreah

            I lol’d so hard @ Did you read this article? hahah…

  • Michelle Hackney

    Sunestron suppliment has been the best product I have ever taken. I’m 50 years old man and after I take Sunestron suppliment my endurance is non stop along with the pumps. I have been out doing the youngsters in cardio and cross training. I highly recommend the product.

  • Aron

    Hey Mike,
    Nice article, and I agree with you with mostly everything. One question, lets say I just wanted to do a short cycle to gain a little more muscle, maybe 10lbs, would any of it be permanent or would I lose it once I got off the stuff. Thanks

    • Thanks brother.

      You’ll lose some visual size as the fluid retained in your muscles will shrink, but any actual muscle fiber you gain will be retained (assuming you don’t do anything stupid after).

      That may sound like me condoning steroid use but I’m not. I’d much rather see you NOT do it because I’ve heard from so so many guys that started with “just one cycle” and wound up completely hooked.

      • Aron

        Yeah addictive personality and all that, I hear ya.
        Side note, I wanted to highlight how awesomely refreshing your supplement section is. You are one of the few honest people about supplements on what and what doesn’t work, citing clinical research and correct dosages.
        Too many broscience pages saying “its our number one pick because the biggest guy in the room uses it! ROARRR!”

        • Thanks! Glad you appreciate the referencing!

          Yep, that’s pretty standard in the supplement industry haha.

  • Ray G

    Hey Mike, great article as usual. I am 49 years old and drug free for life. 5.6″ 168lbs everyday (149 on stage) Lifting since I was 13 but training like a BB since about 20. Competed at 30yo and competed nationally 1 1/2 years later. Left the sport because I could not be competitive nationally without drugs and I was not willing to take that step. I continued training and continued with slow and steady gains. Fast forward 18 years…decided to compete again in Oct/Nov 2015. Did 4 shows in 7 weeks. Two NPC and two OCB (Drug tested). Won my open division in both NPC shows (one local, one regional) and won the overall in both OCB shows. Here we are in 2016 and I am considering competing nationally again but once again know that being drug free, I will not be competitive without and additional 4-5lbs of muscle. Based on the Martin Berkhan formula, I have reached my muscle growth potential. I continue to train hard and heavy and eat loads of clean food and supplementing properly. I am not seeing any gains on the scale. Do you think there is any hope that I can add that 4-5 pounds of muscle considering my age?

    • Thanks Ray!

      Great job on everything you’ve done.

      Shit that’s tough. I hate to say you couldn’t gain anything but if you can put on 5 more pounds, it will probably take 1 to 2 years…

      • Ray G

        Thank you for your prompt reply. Well, i am staying drug free and I will just compete in the NPC Masters class and In the WNBF as a Masters Pro (I earned my Pro card at the 3rd show last year). I will try for my Open Pro card in the WNBF and compete in a drug tested organization.

        • YW! Happy to hear it. 🙂

          I look forward to hearing how you do!

  • Kal-El

    Hey Mike.
    I started training with BLS one year back. I’ve lost 21 pounds of fat and gained 9 pounds of muscle in the first year. But, I still only weigh 132 lbs. I can put on maybe 10 pounds this year naturally but I just wanna stop looking small asap. So, I was thinking maybe run a short cycle of 4-6 weeks, gain about 10-15 pounds, do a proper PCT and return back to training without drugs. What do you think?

    • Great job! That’s awesome.

      I mean, theoretically that could work but I’m always loathe to recommend that anyone starts steroids because of how many people I’ve heard from that get hooked (psychologically, mainly).

      My honest recommendation is to stay natty and just put in the extra time. Patience is a good virtue to build anyway. 🙂

  • Jamal Mahmoud

    Great article,

    I appreciate that you took the time to imbue us readers to articulate the difference betwixt steroid users and natural builders.

    “You don’t need steroids to build a great body, but they make it a much easier and faster process.” As I read the article, are your for steroid use or are you a “naysayer” for drug companies. What really is your position; albeit, you do not take steroids?

    The impression is that you give us (readers) that you have justified steroid usage contingent on what people’s goals are. You make it clear in the preliminary stages of your article, “I’m mostly (but not completely) anti-steroid, I’ve never used them and never will, and I think most people don’t need steroids to achieve their goals.” In other words, if I want to be a model for corporate america,or get into body building competitions, its our bodies– we can do as we please.

    “Research shows that some of the side effects of steroid use are reversible and some aren’t. Permanent damage is possible.” I agree with Mr. Mathews here, the risk do not outweigh the rewards. Why take the chance for unreachable aesthetics, and hurt your physical body for a short moment of notoriety.

    Another issue that causes an enigma, Mr. Matthews shows pictures of males and celebrities who have admitted to steroid use. This I think creates fallible ideas, while reading your imperative article. On the plus side, he does add to the existing literature of debunking the myth that steroids in intermittent sessions are harmful.

    Other methods to losing weight would have been more insightful. Like fasting, is great practice to cut the fat out of our precious bodies. I would be naive to think the author, who I think is an intellectual in this health industry, overlook the opportunity to incorporate fasting as a strategy to reducing body fat and retaining muscle. Here is a link to fasting, 3 minute read.


  • Pasi Ripari

    Hi Mike,

    Great article. This bit:

    “Before we get into how to spot steroid use, let’s talk about why we
    should even care. Because as a general rule, I don’t think we should.”

    Yes, we shouldn’t, but it’s REALLY HARD not to, isn’t it? Because NATURALS, are the ones who give muscles the “hard to gain reputation”. And steroids users gain them without the work. We give muscles the respect, they reap it. How can you not get upset? Just needed to vent a bit, haha. 🙂

    I’ve considered steroids many times, but luckily A: I don’t care enough B: I’m curious about what *I* can do.

    • Yeah but at what price are steroid users gaining this advantage? And for what ultimate purpose? Vanity?

      The ones that deserve our scorn are the fake natties that use their physiques to sell bullshit products and services.

  • Sahil

    Hi Mike,

    Why you said T-booster are waste, they atleast can boost testosterone 30%-40% not as good as steroids (300-400%)
    My friend said he fond low testosterone in his body, and i suggested it to go for T-booster, did i suggested something wrong , My question here is T-booster may not be good for everyone , but atleast for peoples who are at lower levels

  • Hi Mike this is an excellent article and you nail it straight on, however my son an (amateur bodybuilder) has managed to gain around 40 lbs in 2 years with strictly supplementation, heavy training and diet, his genetics do help.

    We are always actively discussing steroids and supplements, including testosterone and HGH boosters. I believe just from personal experience that they do work to some extent, many times it is simply mind over matter (placebo effect) but I have seen certain supplements that have helped my son immensely, especially those that combine DHEA, Creatine and Tribulus. At the end of the day anabolics are way more powerfull but I don’t think we can totally rule out that supplements do not work.

    • Thanks!

      That’s great with your son. Very impressive for first two years.

      Creatine works. No doubt at that. The other two…not so much…

  • rudresh naik

    Sir pls tell.me crazy mass steroids are safe and build muscle

  • Tarun

    Hey mike, I really liked your article. I just have one question which I believe you are the right person to ask from. If I take legal steroids lets say for a couple of months and there is some improvement in the body. Does that mean I will have to keep buying the product to maintain the growth I had or I could just use it for a couple of months, get the results and then pretty much keep up my protein and exercise.

    • Thanks!

      You’ll definitely lose strength and visual size but muscle gained should be retained.

      That said, I don’t recommend you mess with steroids unless it’s absolutely necessary for your goals and you’re educated and know what you’re doing.

      • Tarun

        They say there is a supplement by muscletech called clear muscle. It’s a pill which increases muscle growth and strength. I was wondering is it safe to use? Also is it like steroids that if u use it once and then stop using it, you will loose the strength and the visible changes on the body? So is it a more like as long as you are using it you get the strength and once you stopped using it, you will loose everything like steroids do.

        • It’s safe to use, but it isn’t very effective for increasing muscle growth/strength. It’s useful for preventing muscle breakdown from fasted training. Otherwise, there’s no need for it.

          If you were to start using it, no, there wouldn’t be any visible changes once you stopped.

  • Ikfe

    Hi Mike,
    very good article . I am just surprised you said natural steroids dont work because I thought they work. I mean Crazy mass for example, they say that it works and I have seen so many positive reviews..

  • bowen

    great article. as a veteren of steroid use, i will testify that there is no magical, quick shot for 20″ biceps or a 500lb bench press. still takes years upon years of training. what i have found, is the “healing” process is tremendous and seldom talked about. its like a squirrel drinking coffee, you just keep going and going. Addictions? most i have seen, myself included, is when you quit cycling you become “just a normal man”. No, not sexually, or strength. im talkinging, stamina, phsycological sharpness, and reflexes. This is huge to many men advancing in years. Are steroids bad? yes, in some ways. but so are twinkies and coffee and pasta when abused. I feel the “T” level is optimal. For me at 42, a level between 700-800, i feel my best. but varies from man to man. blood work is everything, diet is second.

  • Joey David

    Ahhh, that’s why many weight lifters using steroids wear hats, to hide the receding hairline. I take Avodart (for 10 or so years) to avoid anymore hair loss, I don’t need a drug to reverse that. While steroids is tempting as I look at the pics of Adonis bodies, why mess with my body like that it just doesn’t look healthy to see every muscle fiber and vain pop out, it’s not sexy or appealing at all. And some guys on roids have unproportionate bodies, huge body with small head. Even those who weight lift naturally, the vains in the neck is unappealing too..lol..which just means they have very low body fat. I’m unlike most with their goals, I don’t want to be cut, I just want muscle and trimmed down with some meat. To each their own.

    • That definitely could be the reason, haha.

      Yep, exactly. The point is whatever your goals are, you can reach them with proper training and dieting.

  • Angat Chahal

    Hey matt,
    Very informative article. Im 19 years old, and I have a really good physique in others eyes. People are always shocked by my age and my body. I have never taken steroids in my life, but I have been asked if I have. I have really nice round delts and almost every muscle is well developed and striated. My physique is like in between the picture of you at 7-8% and the really veiny guy. Does that mean my genetics are really good? I also have a really big passion for lifting, and I want to compete in fitness modeling, but do I really have to inject steroids into my body to compete in this field? or is it possible for me to achieve my goals without it?

    • Thanks! I’m glad you liked it and that’s awesome with your physique.

      It sounds like you have fantastic genetics, yes.

      You can definitely be a fitness model without drugs but you can only get so far in terms of competing in the physique class. IFBB pro, for example, means a lot of drugs.

      (I don’t recommend the drugs, of course, but I’m just being honest.)

  • Blaken

    Hey Matt,
    If I could look like you do on that picture I would be more than happy with my physique. I´m just a man who enjoys his daily running and biking (lots of cardio) so you can imagine how frustrating it is for me to gain muscle mass, even when I hit the weight room frequently, and watch my diet. I have entertained the idea of using steroids in the past but fortunately for me, articles as honest and unbiased as this one have come across my path. I really thank you for your honest opinion on this article and be confident that It will help a lot of people make the right choices. Best regards.

  • Dan

    Hi Mike, fascinating. Doing the math here: I’m 6 ft (183 cm) and 204 (93kg). Skin fold test is showing me at ~12.5%, so that means FFM of 178 (81kg) which means an FFMI of 24.2. If I had an FFMI of 25, I’d have about 184 lbs of lean mass, so I’m nearly topped out? Strength-wise I’m solidly in the Intermediate range for 1RMs. I’d hoped to realize some significant improvements into the Advanced range. I’m also 54, so getting a bit older, wonder if that’s throwing the numbers off? Or maybe I’m just ‘big boned’?

  • Toyoyin

    So what “if” a ” good friend” I know can’t get their legs – specifically their calves- to grow despite throwing everything he can at them ??? Everything means 85% 1MR , high intensity low volume vice versa, I mean the works. Deadlifts, squats, standing/seated calf raises ( all the way up and slowly all the way down), and nothing. Is this friend doomed to wear sweat pants for the rest of his life?( Which, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but are very pricey ( sweatpants))

  • Trent

    So, it seems, that as a small guy (like Phil), I’ll never be able to be as strong as a big guy without steroids? Or is it possible to make the muscle you have stronger or do you always have to add more muscle to become stronger? If the latter is true then a 5’9″ guy with an FFMI of 25 can’t be as strong as a 6’2″ guy with the same FFMI without resorting to bad acne and a receding hairline. Bummer!!

    • You can definitely gain strength without gaining size. And some people are naturally stronger than others (due to neuromuscular efficiency, body proportion, and other factors).

  • Sachin Bisla

    Hi sir I’m 22 and i want to be in bodybuilding nd i started workout 2 months ago so i just got your thought nd mine also that i need to use steroids. I just wanted to know how to reduce side effects of steroids

    • I wouldn’t recommend it. Why not see what you can achieve naturally first?

      • Sachin Bisla

        I started naturally first sir i didn’t achieve that much than i got fracture in my ankle i useds to play kabaddi. Doctor did surgery wrong so it took time to be well 1.5 years and i lost all my gains

        • You can achieve a lot without steroids. Check this out:


          Also, if you’ve already built up the muscle before, and you’re just trying to build it back, you’ll also have muscle memory on your side which will speed up results:


          LMK what you think.

          • Sachin Bisla

            I got it sir i will Start naturally again with ayurvedic things like asparagus nd nutmeg nd also with protien n multivitamin nd bcaa nd omega 3

          • Sounds great!

          • Nerpus

            what a retard

          • Sachin Bisla

            I got i will be natural nd work hard to achive goals

          • Sachin Bisla

            I want to be on cutting mode any advice??

      • Sachin Bisla

        I want quick results nd everyone know no one can achieve it without steroids so i should art early

  • pineapple paradox

    What’s the best thing to do to reduce the temptation of taking steroids?

    • Pedro B.

      Patience and hard work. Rewards are way better if you don’t take shortcuts.

    • Get on a program that works. Check this out:


    • Miguel Lozano

      In my case, I dont have temptation of taking steroids because if I used them I couldnt appreciate my achievements because they wouldnt be natural. Thus I wouldnt have the opportunity of enjoy what I really can get by myself knowing that I am not cheating and harming my health.

  • akash kasliwal

    hey mike. nice article. still confused what to do even after reading it but its made 1 thing clear that u r the right person to ask.
    ive never used ny of them bt i was recently advised to do so by my trainer. so ive started reading abt it b4 starting.

    another thing clear from ur article is dat if a person has a profession which demands that kinna physique , then its kind of a diplomatic necessity to stay in d competition.

    now iam no where near to any kind of a profession which requires that physique so as per u i should not risk taking them at all, but i am 27 yrs old now and have tried gym , supplements and extensive diets (obviously not totally committed , but decent enough to at-least ve a slight change in minimum ) but ve never been successful in gaining weight and reach to a decent weight. infact not a slight change which could ve motivated me to keep trying.

    iam 176 cm tall and weight just under 100 lbs.
    figured out dat ive a high metabolic rate, and not exactly a gr8 appetite.
    jus joinedthe gym last wk again to give it a last try.

    so in all iam currently prty much desperate to gain weight. ive no requirment or greed for those awesome muscular physiques, uve posted pics of which in d article but seriously need to gain some weight.i dont mind the fat at all until it gets distributed evenly and not jus the abdomen ( n i think the gym exercises ll help to make sure of dat). niether do i want every muscle to pop out in specific cuts.. jus need to gain some decent weight and expand my body proportionally to a normal physique which till date ive not been able to.

    so r there any specific drugs and dose regime or cycle which is safe enough to risk d side effects and a minimum time frame for which i could take dem and get off dem with minimum damage,jus hit the gym regularly and gain some weight and and mentain it widout those drugs ?

    n ya , time is a major factor for me coz ive tried enough b4 so if i do not get results early then its hard for me to stay motivated enough and keep hitting the gym and forcefully eat all that much .

    so dats the reason iam getting tempted to take those steroids and want to consult some1 who has knowledge abt it .
    awaiting response

  • Suzanne

    Hi mike,I’m a worried mum of a daughter who’s currently dating this boy in those photos he’s convincing her he’s not taking steroids which I find very hard to believe as she’s told me he has very small testicales,no diet plan,high sex drive and flat out in the gym all the time!! My worry is his controlling behaviour towards her,the list is endless of what he’s done to her,she’s very attractive clever young woman who also trains a lot and wants to enter the women’s bikini competition in September!! Oh and he’s not training for anything because he’s so thick he doesn’t know what to do so he’s told my daughter!! And I mean he’s really really thick!! Those dates of those pic range from the 1 with t-shirt Feb15, blue vest sept15 then March 16 & May 16 !! Oh and he’s only just turned 22yrs of age!!
    Can you say from just looking at him if he’s on steroids please?? I just hope he doesn’t end up doing something to my daughter he’s already shown her his temper!! Just what to know the trust!
    Thanks suz X

    • Tyler

      100% steroids but that is of no relevance to the issues you have described. This is a bodybuilding website not a relationship advice website. Besides, your daughter is a woman who can make her own choices in life. If he’s abusive, there’s always the abuse hotline.

      • Leo

        Tyler, shut up no need for any of what you said, she asked us to evaluate whether he is on steroids or not which is a reasonable thing to ask on an article about steroids. Suzanne, my personal judgement is that he is not on steroids; he simply isn’t that big, his shoulders are horrible, traps poor, nothing impressive stemming from his core and surely not lean enough for me to think he’s on steroids. The more pressing issue is his behaviour towards your daughter, no drug or alcohol use should justify abusive behaviour. If it’s as bad as you make it sound get your daughter out of that relationship because this guy looks like nothing but trouble.

    • Sorry for the delay! Your comment must’ve gotten missed among the hundreds!

      It’s definitely possible that he is. Small testicles can be a sign of drug use as well.

      Regardless, it sounds like your daughter deserves a better person?

  • Suzanne

    Very good article I’ve just read of yours to ! X

  • Jack

    Great article, some of my friends are clearly on steroids.

  • Tanner

    I’m 15 and my traps are huge…. I’m not on steroids tho….some of your stuff isn’t factual dude

  • Sri

    Hi Mike, I just plugged in the numbers for Ronnie Coleman and I was flabbergasted to see his FFMI at a whopping 40.2 assuming 6% body fat. He’s 5′ 10” and tipped it at 300 pounds while competing.

    But you can see the results of it. Now he’s in a wheelchair and has had several surgeries including a complete hip replacement.

  • flyjohny

    Hi Mike,

    I just came across some articles and message board threads about SARMs, Ostarine in particular, and I was wondering what is your take on that stuff? It’s not illegal afaik, they’re not steroids as such, and they seem to deliver mild results – yet the results a fitness enthusiast is after, not the freaky huge hulk-like muscles no one with even half a brain actually wants. Can you comment?

    • Honestly I haven’t looked into them much because I’m not personally interested in using or promoting them.

  • Ritnin77

    Man I am so tempted to roid up I have gone as far as purchasing them just not had the gahones to take them , I am 5,6 and way about 15 and half stone I had one of those body fat analysis done and at a plus I have 44kg of extra muscle mass for my size but woe is me , 20 kg of chub mostly around the mid section, I loosely follow the work out system in your book working down to one rep max just working one muscle group per session and arms have a day to themselves my strength is increasing loads , thing is if I follow a strict diet and loose the body fat I feel tired and can’t even get a chubby up ( erection) the moment I increase the calories mix up eating well and eating shit I feel great , got to be honest I feel like superman most days just really want to shift the pounds and keep the muscle coming is steroids the only way 😢

  • Pascal

    Question: I read in this article the following:
    – quote –
    you can only build so much muscle and get so lean naturally.
    – end quote –

    Isn’t it ‘can not’ instead of ‘can’ ?

    • It’s correct as presented. What it means is that your genetic potential will only take you so far. Past that, drugs are needed.

  • fendy_hj

    Hi Mike, Nice Article !! So far your website has been my primary source for bodybuilding, and they opened up my eyes about bodybuilding: that it is not as simple as it seems (I even suspect that the trainers in my gym are on steroids, because they don’t even know how much protein I should consume every day !!)

    btw, there’s something that always on my mind, here it goes:
    1. How much FFMI should you shoot for if you want to look more or less equal to the well known underwear model (Calvin Harris, Sean Andrew Sanders, etc), because so far there’s no answer on the web
    2. How much FFMI should you shoot for when bulking, example my Target FFMI is 22, should I bulk to 23 or 24 ? because muscle mass might go down when we’re cutting, right ?

    Pardon my english as english is not my native language

    Thanks for all your hard work to provide us articles about bodybuilding that completely isn’t BS ( you got research to back your argument, love it )

    • Thanks!

      The look most guys want is somewhere between 23 and 24. 25 to 26 is BIG. Beyond that is HUGE.

      When using FFMI as a standard/endpoint, I would assume about 10% body fat.

      • fendy_hj

        Hi Mike, Thanks for the answer !

        Okay, I will look forward to 23/24 FFMI. Another Question: I read your book and has been following the exercises and meal planning that BIGGER LEANER STRONGER provides. my LBM based on my most recent TANITA is 57.6 kg, height 165cm, and currently weighing 145 lbs. Based on the calculation provided in the book, the BMR would be 1614 (Katch mcArdle Formula), and BMR from TANITA between 1540 – 1570.

        Based on the cutting meal plan outlined in your book, my calculation would yield a total calories of 1542, which is below my BMR (1614 using Katch McArdle Formula), therefore should I make a meal plan which total calories equal to my calculation (below BMR) or just equal to BMR ?

        • YW!

          Hmm. Something isn’t right. First, let’s make sure you’re measuring your BF% accurately:


          From there, calculate your intake here:


          If it still puts you below BMR, try to increase your activity level to raise your TDEE hence raise your cutting cals. And if that’s not possible, just set your cutting cals at BMR.

          • fendy_hj

            Hi Mike ! Thanks again for the answer !
            The macronutrient calculator from both your book and the web’s macronutrient calculator yield different results:

            My weight : 65 kg (143.3003 pounds)
            Body Fat Percentage : 11.4 %
            Activity Multiplier : 1.35

            From the web’s Macronutrient Calculator for bulking yields the following results:
            LBM : 57
            BMR : 1613
            TDEE : 2178
            Protein Intake : 143 gr (572 cal)
            Carbs Intake : 359 gr (1438 cal)
            Fat Intake : 43 gr (386 cal)
            Total Calories : 2396 cal

            From the book’s formula:
            LBM : 57
            BMR : 370 + ( 21.6 * 57) = 1601
            TDEE : 1.35 * 1601 = 2161
            Protein Intake : 1*143 = 143 gr (573 cal)
            Carbs Intake : 2*143 = 286 gr (1146 cal)
            Fat Intake : 0.4 * 143 = 57 gr (515 cal)
            Total Calories: 2235 cal

            From the web’s Macronutrient Calculator for cutting yields the following results:
            LBM : 57
            BMR : 1613
            TDEE : 2178
            Protein Intake : 174 gr (697 cal)
            Carbs Intake : 174 gr (697 cal)
            Fat Intake : 39 gr (348 cal)
            Total Calories : 1742 cal

            From the book’s formula:
            LBM : 57
            BMR : 370 + ( 21.6 * 57) = 1601
            TDEE : 1.35 * 1601 = 2161
            Protein Intake : 1.2*143 = 172 gr (687 cal)
            Carbs Intake : 1*143 = 143 gr (573 cal)
            Fat Intake : 0.2 * 143 = 29 gr (258 cal)
            Total Calories: 1518 cal (below my BMR)

            as you can see, both yields different results, which one should I follow then ? any errors that I made ?

            Thanks again for the answer !

          • YW! The formula in the book is a simple, workable formula. The calculator from the site is more accurate since it take into account more info.

            So, you can go with the numbers you got from the calculator. That being said, you will always have to adjust things regardless based off results. If you’re not losing 1-2 lbs a week when cutting you’ll need to lower intake accordingly, and if you’re not gaining 1/2-1 lb a week when bulking, you’ll need to increase intake accordingly.

            Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • fendy_hj

            Thankss for the answer !! All right I’ll just follow the Calculator results, and I’ll let you know my progress.

            Talk soon !

          • NP. Sounds good!

  • Nox123

    One thing im wondering of… I’ve worked out 5-6 times a week for 3 years, recently got diagnozed with CFS, which I cannot do much what so ever .. some of the meds ive gotten has made me add 7-9 kg, I finally reached a point where i was pleased with my body, but now I just feel aweful. It is ruining me mentally knowing that all my hard work went out the window because of this, and there’s nothign I can do about it.. As of now, Im willing to do anything to get back to how I was.

    How would taking test or whatever else do to fatloss/weight loss? I know that you dont have to workout among taking roids to get more muscle, but I dont know how it’ll do when it comes to losing fat/weight. I know its stupid to take steroids, but I cant live with this shitty “life”, I need some positivity , and being pleased with how I look could very much be a major gamechanger for me so I can eep fighting this..

    • I’m sorry to hear about the troubles and understand where you’re coming from.

      Higher levels of T is associated with lower levels of body fat but I wouldn’t expect to lose noticeable amounts of fat by getting on it.

      IMO the better strategy is really digging in on getting 100% healthy so you can exercise regularly.


      • Nox123

        My problem is that I cant work out what so ever as my situation is now , I can barely even be social without having a really freakin hard time for a few days after .. I miss working out, and i’d do alot to just be able to continue how I was before all this crap, but its not gonna happen any time soon unless a medication or something suddenly pops out to help me.

        I’m basically just sitting here unable to do anything, watching the fat grow on slowly, which hurts the hell outta me, just pushes me further down the hell hole..

        My brother studies how the body works while working out, and everything that happens with the muscles and all that (cant remember the english word), and he said that steroids will help you lose fat wether you work out or not, but some might hop back on after you stop, BUT will see a difference nontheless. I’m just not sure if its true or wether he is bullshitting me (long story). I’m desperate at this point ,I dont think I have anything to lose..

        • Ah okay. Again, just bide your time, get healthy, and then hit it hard. Taking steroids is going to cause more problems than benefits. Trust me.

      • Seymore

        If he has a medical condition and needs to be on testerone of corse it’s going to help with everything. Energy body fat etc. some people may have a medical reason and testerone will help its for a doctor to determine

    • Seymore

      I would make an appointment to see an endocrinologist. Perhaps you have low testosterone and need to be on it just to be at a normal level. Perhaps you need to be on hgh, thyroid meds who knows. There must be a reason why your doctor says you have cfs- get blood work done etc..

  • K L

    Im trying to better understand the natural limits to muscle and the associated equation. I’m a 39yo, 5’9″, 178 man who is new to lifting (~3months lifting 3 days a week doing Fierce 5 and adding cardio/core work on 2-3 other days). I have never taken drugs of any sort (beyond vitamins, creation and whey protein) and was not planning to.

    I am on my first real cut (SW 217 and 35% BF by impedance) and recently used a more advanced impedance measurement that told me 13% BF when I was 180. This calculates to a LBM of 156. This seems wrong as the formula indicates that I can only add another 10 lbs of muscle mass naturally (?) and calculates to a FFMI of 23 (???).

    Is it just that the BF measurement is really far off and gave me too low of a number for BF%? Or am I only really capable of 10 more lbs of muscle? I was really looking forward to starting a lean bulk (as you outline) and enjoying these “n00b gains” I keep reading about.

  • Anthony

    Hey I’m 20 year old guy who started working out 8 months literally 8 months ago. However, I thought it about it taking steroids, but I need somebody opinion about my progress. So I started 8 months ago during this 8 months I saw myself getting stronger for a beginner who never deadlift first tried 315 who couldn’t bench at all and a teenager squated 135 and fail and got embarrassed and scare so I decided to skip leg the past 4 months, but right now I bench 315 deadlift 545 squat 505 now do I really need steroids to get stronger idk because I started 8 months ago I feel like I don’t need it but at the same time I need it ironic right? So what you think???

    • Anthony

      Should I take steroids, but I didn’t tell you how I got strong on squat this one time occasional I was working out with a pal and I was doing squats doing not much doing 135 but I my body fail on me and I fell with the weight then I didn’t train squats almost 4 to five months because I was scare of failing again then one day my friend decide to squat and first instinct was like nah but at the time I was I didn’t squat for the longest and I was trying to get stronger on deadlift so I decided to do 405 by myself with no spot then I did so few weeks later I squat 505 now think should I take steroids I been telling people but they said no because you still young and just started 8 months ago and funny part is that people excuse me taking steroid and I don’t but I do want to take steroids 😭😂

      • Sorry to hear about what happened when squatting. That’s why it’s very important to keep proper form and not put on more weight than you can handle for the full ROM.

        From what you’ve said, it doesn’t sounds like you need them at all…

        Why not see what you can do naturally with proper training and dieting?

  • Gary

    First the author says up front he does not believe you need steroids to accomplish your goals and then a few sentences later says it take A LOT of drugs to accomplish a muscular physique. Which is it? Second, It is physically impossible to gain 20-25 lbs of lean mass in a year without steroids. What he should have said is you can 20-25 total lbs. using the ideal approach which is a 1:1 approach (a lbs of fat for every lbs of muscle). He also says you can lean out on steroids. NO, Steroids add a lot of fat to your body. What me should have said is you can lean out while keeping a lot of your gains be eating right and using steroids. But to build you have to gain fat. A lot of it.

    • Alex Bijma

      That’s not what was said. He said you need steroids for THAT perticular superhuman physique. You know, that steroids look. He also said you can expect 20 to 25 lbs in the FIRST year not 20 to 25 lbs a year. If steroids are adding alot of fat for you you might want to have a look at your diet…

    • Pedro B.

      No need to gain fat to get bigger. And yes, it is possible to naturally gain 20/25 pounds of muscle in a year when starting out…providing you do everything right and have average to good genetics.

      BTW, you need to change your mindset asap.

  • Billy Roberts

    Hey Mike

    I just read this and I’m a little confused and freaked out, but not about what you think.

    Regarding Berhan’s formula for estimating how much muscle you can naturally gain, I’m having a real hard time. I’ve been following BLS religiously for 8 months and I’ve made really good progress.

    I started out, having not been in a gym in years, at about 17% body fat, 173 pounds, and I’m 5’9″ and 41 years old. I started with a cut which, with the reverse diet, took 3 months to complete, and left me at 159 pounds and about 9% body fat. I definitely gained muscle during this time. I followed with a bulk, which I overdid a little, so I hit about 16.5% body fat in about 3 months. That left me at 185 pounds. I’m just coming to the end of my second cut which has taken about 2 months. I’m currently 170 pounds and about 10% body fat.

    So according to Berhan’s formula, at 5’9″ the most I can hope to achieve is 175 pounds at 10% body fat. Now you tell me, how is it that I have nearly achieved that in 8 months, only 3 months of which were bulking? I also did the FFMI calculation. Know what i scored? 22.97. How is this possible? I was just about to start a reverse diet, and then was going to do a long, slow, 6-month bulk. I figured I could hit 195 pounds this time before I reached 17% body fat and then cut down to 180+ pounds and 10% body fat easily. But according to all of these calculations, I can only gain another 5 or so pounds of muscle before I hit the wall.

    So I’m figuring either something must be wrong or I have god-like genetics, and I doubt the latter. I have the calipers you recommended and they’re giving me my body fat percent. Right now I can wear a 30″ waist blue jeans, I had to throw out all of my medium t-shirts and buy larges, which are still tight in the chest and arms, and I can see my abs if I flex, so I think the 10% body fat estimate is pretty right on. What are your thoughts?

    • Hey Billy,

      Great job on your progress so far. That rocks.

      It sounds like you have good genetics for muscle building. Just keep going because gains don’t really start to slow down until year 3 or so.

      • Billy Roberts

        Will do!

  • Simon

    Hey mike, I need advice as I’m kinda losing my will at the moment. I’ve trained for years (a lot at home lifting body weight etc) but started proper training at a gym this year and since February I’ve gone from 12 to 14 stone, become stronger and leaner etc. But it’s all gone to hell recently, I’ve been hit with several injuries, my bench has drastically dropped due to shoulder and chest injury! I only take whey protein and creatine monohydrate and I refuse to use steroids. But my biggest problem is in the last month I’ve suffered from extreme fatigue and tiredness yet I eat healthy I sleep the right amount etc. I’m not recovering properly and I’ve gone from a 4rep 120kg bench press down to 100kg 4-5rep. (I was aiming for 130kg) as that was my goal at that point. But recently I run out of steam super quick and fatigue at an unnatural rate. Plus due to lack of recovery I’m getting injuries all over the place. Do you have any advice or know what this could stem from?
    Many thanks

  • Deuce

    I really want to take steriods just for 4weeks for football performance do you think its a good idea?

    • Hey Deuce, I strongly recommend against that. You can make significant gains naturally. Not worth the side effects. Why not see what you can do naturally with proper training and dieting?

      • Deanb

        How can you advise against something you never tried? That’s like telling a woman. I strongly advise against having children. I heard it can hurt and you can potentially die.

        Don’t talk about something you’ve never done yourself

        • James Straub

          Incredible ignorant comment. You would be surprised what research shows you. You don’t have to do Steroids to know what they are about, Silly.

        • Did you read the article?

          “reversible changes include testicular atrophy (shrinking), acne, cysts, oily hair and skin, elevated blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol levels, increased aggression, and lowered sperm count.

          Irreversible damage includes male-pattern baldness, heart dysfunction, liver disease, and gynecomastia (breast development).”

          Doesn’t sound like a fun time to me.

        • Bink Natawijaya

          People like deanb, all over the gym these days.

          They hates people get proper education and advise

  • Manas Man

    Thank you very much. Great comprehensive article.
    Opened my eyes.
    I am now left with two choices – use steroids or give up on my drugs.

  • Cody Poole

    Hey Mike. I loved the article. I was really on the fence about steroids. Thanks. Now I’m a 27 yo male. 5’6 and 220lbs. (I know,its horrible) I’m really an iron addict on the inside but a fat boy on the outside. This is the problem I need your help with. I need a “diet” that works without literally starving myself and a workout plan that goes with that “diet” to achieve maximum fat loss. I love to work out but can’t handle starving myself. I’m a country boy so you know I love to eat. Lol. I love to run and do sit up as well but get discouraged when I go to eat because I lno to much and don’t really kno what’s right to eat or how to eat right. I’m ready trying to lose weight before my wife comes back home in April. My “happy weight” is 170lbs. I dont care about looking like arnold or anything. I just want to be skinnier. Can you point me in the right direction for a work out plan and “lifestyle diet” that will help me achieve my goal? It would mean a lot. Thanks.

  • Riley

    Hey Mike, thanks a lot for this article.Before reading it I was kinda scared that I might end up into a hulking bodybuilder but now I know that’s not possible at all.
    And truth be told, lean is what I want. Anyway,thanks again and I’ll share this article the best I can.

    • That’s great, Riley! Glad you got a lot out of the article.

      Thanks for your support. 🙂

  • Thanks for this wonderful information. It seems that steroids are stigmatized due to the very few people who abuse or simply overuse them. Like any other pharmaceutical, steroids should be used with extreme caution and only in otherwise healthy people.

    Steroids have side effects. Not everyone can tolerate them. These are the facts. However, when used safely and within recommended doses, they work, and they’re safe for most people. Those are also the facts. This is a great article with great information.

  • Zynal

    Hey mike thankyou so much for the information! But id like to know if i inject the testosterone only once like for a month or just 1 cycle, will the side effects still be huge?

  • Joshua

    Thoughts on Anavar or Winstrol. Do they have side effects. Should they be cycled.

    • Yeah, they have side effects and would need to be cycled.

  • seawarp

    Hi Mike, I’m a 26 year old woman and I’ve been working out a year or more on my lower body (my butt). I am very happy with my body except that I feel like I am not making the gains that I want (on my butt). I feel like no matter how many squats, glute exercises I do, it’s not getting bigger. What can you recommend?

    • Have you tried this yet?


      Also, being on a bulk will help.

      • seawarp

        Hi Roger, yes, in fact I do all of those exercises in heavy weights and low reps except the Romanian split squats- I’ll give that a try! I would say my entire workout is built on my butt (and it’s the reason I started weight training in the first place). I found that the shape of my butt has greatly improved, but am I just limited to how much it can grow due to my genetics? 🙁

        • Great! Did you hit your glutes with the same frequency and volume as laid out in the 30-day program?

          Genetics will limit how much muscle you can grow, but I doubt you’ve reached that point yet.

  • Oddur Højgaard

    Hello my ffmi is 29 and im 100% natural its true.
    Weight 138 kg
    Bodyfat 31%
    Height 180 cm
    I train powerlifting/bodybuilding/strongman

    • Wow that’s awesome man!

      • Oddur Højgaard

        Yee probadly, but i dont know if i belive this.

        • Extremely genetically blessed…

          • Anders

            You’d think a MFL coach would understand the FFMI equation and that an FFMI of 29 is not attainable naturally,

          • No, you’re right in response to Oddur. Admittedly, I didn’t fully read his post and gave him the benefit of the doubt. That was my mistake!

    • Anders

      Since your bodyfat percentage is pretty high you will get misleading results. That equation is based on lean individuals, between 8-10% bodyfat, the further you stray away from that the more skewed the results will be. Your true FFMI is not 29.

      • Oddur Højgaard

        Okey, this sounds legit.

  • Brett M.

    Mike, I have a question. I realized before and after reading this, steroids are bad. But at the first of the year I am considering getting testosterone shots from those Body Medical places that help with low T. They say it’s natural testosterone that your body produces, but starts to lose once you hit 30 (I’m 33). They say it will help build muscle, lose fat, give you energy, and help with sex drive. It’s kind of expensive but if it helps, I feel worth it. What is your opinion on this?

    • It definitely will help with those things, but why not see what you can do first with proper training and dieting?

      Also, there are natural ways to help increase your testosterone:


      Not to mention, when you start taking testosterone it negative affects your ability to produce it naturally.

    • Mill

      Steroids are not bad. Steroid ABUSE is bad. Totally different from steroid USE… for every retard juice head gorilla that blows himself up with steroids that you read or hear about in the media every few years, there are thousands and thousands of guys using steroids and are perfectly fine… this guy MIKE doesn’t have a fucking clue about this shit

      • Hey Mill, I would mostly agree with you. I don’t think it’s fair to say steroids are all completely “bad,” and that yes, many people are able to use them in a safer manner than others. That said, they always have side effects, for everyone, and many people do overuse and abuse them.

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  • Ddos Mirwa

    Doctors are encouraged to try and push vaccinations on patients. The drug companies that manufacture them give pretty good financial rewards to doctors successful in making a target number of vaccinations. If this isn’t an example of a doctor being a sales rep for a drug company I’d like to know what is? In some cases,

  • Tony

    What about prohormones and sarms???

    • SMorganWriting
      • If suppressed natural testosterone production, a negatively impacted endocrine system, and an increase in cancer risk sound like a good trade-off, sure.

        We also don’t know what the long-term side effects are, and there very likely will be side effects.

        • SMorganWriting

          If you had read the study I posted, it backs up your claim about testosterone suppression being a negative side effect. 70% of users had experienced suppression even at low dosages.

          Not sure where you’re getting the facts about SARMs increasing the risk of cancer though? I’ve seen a few mention it but never been referenced except in the Carnadine and GW501516 studies which are only two of many, many SARMs.

          • I’ll step in here. I talk about SARMs and your risk of cancer here:


          • Mill

            Men get cancer because of low T. Your whole life, into your 50’s your prostate is fine due to the presence of testosterone. You go long enough with low T and shit falls apart and increases risk of cancer. Of course taking testosterone or any synthetic form will cause your natural T production to stop. So… don’t ever stop taking T. The issue isn’t taking Test, it’s STOPPING…. if you stop, use plenty of HCG to help reignite your own T production. I’d rather be healthy on synthetic test than unhealthy using nothing.

          • Hey Mill, that’s certainly true that low natural levels of testosterone can be problematic, and that coming off of synthetic testosterone can cause a fair number of problems. That said, there are still some negative side effects from taking large doses of exogenous steroids.

            If you’re taking a smaller dose just to keep your levels within range, that’s less problematic, but is also generally a sign that other issues may be present as well that are causing your body to produce less testosterone.


  • Chris

    I’ve been training natural for 27 years. I’m 6′ 4 ” and at 5% bodyfat weigh 224lbs. However if I try and maintain my condition for any length of time I start to lose muscle and look ill. My waist goes down to 31 inches at 5% bodyfat, which is tiny considering my height. At 260lbs my abs are still visible and waist 34 inches. At 5% bodyfat I consume 350 grams of protein and 350 grams of carbs daily, with fats coming from 2 egg yolks and 10oz of salmon.

    • Impressive. Yup, maintaining at 5% BF long-term isn’t a good idea. Also, I’d make sure you’re getting enough dietary fat. Check these out:



      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

    • Mill

      Basic biology 101…It is physically impossible to lose muscle (tissue) unless you are 0% body fat and in starvation.. your body burns calories in a specific order. Recently digested carbs, digested fats, digested proteins. Once you’re out of digested calories your body uses stored fat for energy. It will not consume stored muscle tissue until you have literally 0 fat left. You will lose muscle “mass” when dropping weight because of the intracellular fluids diminishing. So the individual fibers will deflate, causing the muscle bellies to be smaller. But the fibers do not actually go away… your body will actually go after organ tissue once stored muscle is gone. (Pretty crazy to think about)

  • Gobin Daimary

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  • Tanya Jean

    I’m a 33yr old female, 5’8″ tall weighing around 145lb n 19-20% body fat. I’m been working out for 3 yrs and on Mike’s Leaner program for a year. I figure competed in 2015 before the program. But I wanted more muscle so started the Leaner program. I have seen lil change not where I want to be. I eat clean n track everything and got the calculations of amounts out of the book. I use creatine, whey protein and casein at night. I have thought about steroids but I don’t know what because I’m a female. And advice on anything else I can do??

  • John

    7-9 % year round? Yeah this guy probably takes a low size of test

    • Believe it or not, John, but is is definitely is possible to stay that lean year-round without taking test. Kinda obvious, but the key is “that you carefully watch what you eat and how much exercise you do.”

  • Mannie

    I don’t think you are natural buddy.

    • Thanks 🙂

      • ff lk

        Low doses of test still not natural boy, nice try tho 🙂

  • MetalGod

    Hey Mike, I’ve always been curious:

    How do strongmen reach such incredible weights? For example, Big Z competed at something like 410 lbs at 6’3. Brian Shaw may be 6’8 but hes a jaw dropping 425 lbs. Eddie Hall is 6’2 and weighs like 409 lbs.

    These guys are absolutely massive. I understand they have high body fat levels, but even if I try to solve the FFMI for something like Big Z at 6’3 and 410 lbs, and assume a body fat of 20%, I get an FFMI of 38!
    Calculation: (410 – (410*.2))/2.2 / (1.92^2) = ~38

    I’m pretty sure that these guys take steroids, but even then, their FFMI is through the roof. Is it some sort of freak genetics for putting on sheer size? Am I underestimating their body fat percentage? Are their bones so incredibly dense to be able to lift such insane weights that its skewing the FFMI calculation? I always thought it was the bones being too dense because they don’t look like they weigh as much as they do.

    Are any of them natural?

    • Hey man, there are a few factors in play. First off, their body fat percentages are almost certainly higher than that, probably closer to 30-40% in some cases. With the amount of muscle they have, they can carry a lot without looking quite as flabby as people with less lean mass. Drugs certainly play a role there as well, as in most pro sports. Combine that with good genetics, and it’s possible some of them might have FFMIs of over 30 or possibly even higher.

    • Mill

      Why are you asking this guy who clearly has zero knowledge of these topics… strong men use massive amounts of ababolic steroids such as testosterone, trenbolone, methalanbolone, decca (the list goes on)… usually compounds engineered for mass and strength gains, not body fat loss. The also use human growth hormone and time their insulin injections. They train like maniacs and eat like freaks. All of this of course on top of already large frames given to them by mommy and daddy (genetics).

  • Mill

    You lost me the minute you said testosterone is the best know steroid. Lmao. It’s obvious you don’t have any experience with them

    • Well, that’s true I don’t have any personal experience with steroids, but in general, testosterone tends to be one of the most studied AAS. Hope you still got something out of the article.

      – Mike

      • Mill

        I stopped reading the second you said that testosterone is the best known steroid. It just isn’t. I mean my god did you even try to research the top before spewing more miss information idiocy?! You’re just another clueless goon who knows nothing about anabolic steroid and are the last person who should be writing about them.

    • Ian Davison

      It is the best known steroid by far bro. Everyone knows what test is. Almost no one who doesn’t train has ever heard of tren or deca.

      • Mill

        Almost no one who doesn’t train? The fuck?! What kind of double netgative is that?! testosterone is not the best steroid. Technically it isn’t even a steroid. It is simply synthetic testosterone… only the other anabolic compounds such as tren, deca, masteron, winistrol etc are steroids. Regardless of what the masses have or have not heard of, test is one of the weakest things you can take. Test only helps the other compounds work more. Synergy is the best route. This mike guy who doesn’t know jack shit about steroids is on here spewing regurgitated false information about something he is clueless about while trying to push natural body building. Why does anyone feel the need to tell anyone what they should and shouldnt do? Oh that’s right, because his very livelihood and income revolves around people taking his information as fact and buying it. This guy has done zero research on his own and is trying to stand on the shoulders of others to pull in his paycheck. It’s absolutely despicable. Every word I’ve read from this guy is predicable repeated BS BROfermation he’s heard at the gym. I can not take him seriously as a source of legitimate meangingful information

        • Ian Davison

          Don’t be dissing my double negative! I agree, this is a bogus article all the way. But testosterone is a steroid. That’s not remotely debatable. Brush up on your biochemistry, brother.

          • Mill

            Within the medical field, testosterone alone is not technically a steroid though many wrongly claim that it is. I have a masters in biochemistry and currently earning my doctorate thank you.

          • Ian Davison

            A steroid, by definition, contains 4 carbon rings, one 5-membered, three 6-membered. So, per the definition, whoever told you testosterone isn’t a steroid is simply wrong. That isn’t debatable. No degree in the world will change that. Not sure how you could be so stubborn about basic organic chemistry definitions.

          • Mill

            You are just wrong. Let me explain it simply… Testosterone is simply that. It is not altered at all to mimic testosterone with slight variations like the other compounds which are steroids. Regardless, you’re arguing the color of oranges when we are talking about apples. This mike Moron doesn’t know anything about these chemicals but is speaking as if he does

          • Randy

            That’s why all the pros load up on the shit. Test is best!!!

        • Caleb Gaddes

          Hey man I assume you’re ESL so I’ll not be a jerk to you online… but BEST KNOWN and the BEST that is KNOWN are absolutely different things.

          The best known exercise is probably dumbell curls. But, the best exercise we know is… not. Yea.

          It is the steroid that most people know about. External test you introduce to your body is a steroid.

          • Mill

            Pitifully wrong and you type like an uneducated fool not worth my time or acknowledgement

  • Mill


    I cannot believe so many of these people are asking for your professional opinion when you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to steroid use. You have zero personal experience and should only be talking pro natural and dieting. And nothing about steroids because you just don’t know.

    Your responses to me are 100% miss aligned with the information you put in your article. Your article makes steroids seem like these God awful horrible things that fuck people up for life.

    The SIDE EFFECTS of stereoid use are higher testosterone levels and therefore perpetuated youth. Stronger leaner muscle, less body fat and a plethora of other BENEFITS. There are ZERO scientifically proven BAD SIDE EFFECTS related to long term steroid use, and way more proven problems that come with aging naturally. Again, steroid ABUSE is of course not good for you. But neither is MOTRIN abuse, or even FOOD INTAKE abuse …

    There are tens of thousands of men who take steroids safely and knowledgeably who are in much better health than they would be otherwise who you will never hear about.

    The fact is you are not educated or qualified enough to be writing on this topic and if you had any ethics you would take down your article as it is not based in scientific fact. You’re just regurgitating all of the fear monger bullshit that’s been around for years.

    Steroids are not illegal because they are bad for you. They are illegal because they extend life and youth when done properly. Our govt knows this and has made them illegal hoping to control our population. Steroids are 100% safer cleaner and more pure than they were just 20 years ago.
    And no shit taking steroids effects your ability to make your testosterone naturally.
    That is the whole fucking point of taking steroids. To RAISE your testosterone. If you’re taking the correct amounts you don’t need to make your own. But if you ever want to stop and need your own stuff to start going you use HCG, a long known DCT / PCT which is scientifically proven to make your own testosterone kick back in. This is why young men or men wanting to father children should not use steroids. Nobody under the age of 25 should touch it. I’d personally say age 30.

    Please further educate yourself before writing more.

  • Brandon

    Hey Mike, long time follower/owner of Beyond BLS here(fantastic program btw). I have almost 4 years of experience and am 5’7 at 184 currently with about 13% BF. I was wondering what your opinion on SARMs are, or if you had an article on them. Specifically, what do you think about the HGH secretagogue known as MK-677? Are these effective? Worth any time? I hear good things about them but have also heard that some are known carcinogens(well I mean these days what ISN’T a carcinogen righ?). If you already have an article about this I apologize. I’m just curious.

  • Hi i just wanted to ask that i need to reduce weight, so should i go for natural methods or steroids, plz help.

  • Naem

    Hey Mike ,thank you for sharing all these useful information about steroids,bodybuilding and diet
    I did steroids cycles for about
    4 years and now it’s been almost year that I decided and stopped it at all
    But I can’t come to the shape and can’t be leaning
    I am puffy and looks like water retaintion or fat
    I work hard and dieting
    But it doesn’t work
    Before I start steroids
    I was always lean and muscular
    But didn’t have size
    So that was the only reason
    I start steroids
    My email is
    [email protected]
    Please advice

  • Eddy Hollestelle

    New to all of this. Worked out a bit when in college, mostly legs as I was a skier. However, recently I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my spine, with moderate to severe disc degeneration. I try to stretch and build my core muscles, but can’t seem to build them strong enough to get the results I need . I was wondering if anyone can advise me on taking steroids to speed up muscle growth. I am not planning on gaining muscle mass to be a model, but simply so I can go back to being mobile and active with my kids, again. I am 6′, 165 lbs, with low body fat, I would guess less than 10%? And I am 47 years old. I don’t think I have time left in my life to do it all natural. Any advise would be great. Thanks

    • Hey Eddy, that’s the kind of thing you should really discuss with a doctor. There are a lot of other side effects of steroids as well that you’d do well to consider, and other potential ways to deal with disc degeneration.

  • Every thing has two sides: good and bad. If you abide by the rules, it is good, the abuse is bad. Do not listen to others say but evaluate something. I’m also a steroid user, and it’s really good and fast.

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  • Craig Ross

    What do the pictures show? The people who train hard, eat right and don’t take steroids look good and can function. Steroids make you look like a shaved panda.

  • Tom

    This article is bad. Heath used nearly every steroid, every pro bodybuilder does. It is not possible for human genetics that duplicate as these bodybuilders display. Just have a look at them when they retire or hit 50, Arnold for example! This article is lying, and this Mike guy will never see a scale at 220 while looking like that (natural) without the help of steroids. I myself am very low on test levels and require injections, they give me energy, awareness and remove depression. They saved my life, and I am young! Anyone who sits here and claims you do not “need” steroids is lying, not everyone is the same and some of us have deficiencies!

    • Tom

      It is not possible for human genetics to duplicate **typo**

    • Hey Tom, the point is that, assuming you’re healthy, you don’t need steroids to get leaner or build muscle. If you want to look like a drugged-up bodybuilder, then yes, you will need anabolics.

  • Tom

    I hate to come down on everything you stand for; “I believe everyone can achieve their fitness goals” blah blah.

    I trained in boxing and Muay Thai for years, cardio was more than likely something you have not experienced unless you have fought. Yet, due to my low test levels I look as if I don’t train, I eat clean but it looks as if I live off pizza! I cannot have gluten as I am allergic, I am lactose intolerant as well so I should look great right?

    Nope, my estrogen is higher than test levels and that is not something you could fix by waving your hand in my face.

    Thanks to steroids I now look the part, you don’t understand how these drugs save people..literally you have no insight on this! I would love to sit down with you on camera and have a discussion for your YouTube channel and discuss how important these drugs are for some people.

  • Marcus Sidoti-McNary

    And there’s me thinking it was all about ‘genetics’. thank you for being so candid. Many people on these sites are often delusional and in utter denial about the widespread use of steroids. I also think you are quite correct in that this IS a moral issue particularly when people pass themselves of as natural but quite patently aren’t. I am really pleased also that you pointed out that there are many people who are canny enough not to get too huge but are still undeniably on steroids albeit less obviously.

  • Marcus Sidoti-McNary

    ..Additionally. You look like one of those ancient greek statues which is the kind of physique I aspire to- Riace bronzes in particular. Naturally this was before steroids were invented. I’m also pleased that you highlighted the point that some people who take steroids accuse those that don’t of simply not working hard enough whilst at the same time concealing the fact that they have a completely unfair advantage.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Marcus. I’m glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

  • León de Nemea Joc

    Bro nice article! You forgot to add steroids are efimerus while a natural well shaped and strong body last forever! no need to go to gyms to develope a body like yours, It can also be achived with natural training and helathy life style.

    • I’m glad you liked it, Leon! Whether in the gym or at home, I do think resistance training with barbells and dumbbells is the most effective way to develop a strong, muscular physique.

  • Amirul Syariz

    Nicely interpreted and explained.. love it.. i’ve
    been wondering how long does it take to achieve that body of yours, Mike? Ive been hitting the gym for about 8 months now but still progressing slowly .. However, Im grateful that my body now is above average than most of the guys.. still no abs though haha

    • I’m glad you liked the article!

      Well, I’ve been lifting for 14 years, but I made a lot of mistakes during my first 7 years haha. I’d say if someone has the genetics and is willing to do the work, they can go from nothing to my physique in 5ish years.

      Most guys are going to be very happy with their physique after 3 years of lifting properly. Check this out:


      I hope this helps! Keep up the good work in the gym, and keep me updated on your progress!

  • Michael

    Thank you for the info! I was looking for some pills to help build muscle with but wasn’t sure what to get or where to start but then I see how you accomplished what I want to do naturally so I guess I will keep pushing and pulling I wasn’t big on the idea of steroids to begin with but I was looking for that Competitive Edge I was told to use testosterone booster and glutamine what is your out take on that?

  • Shukovsky

    Thanks for the great overview. I noticed you did not talk about body types all that much. For example, I am an ectomorph, so putting muscle on my thin frame is never easy. For an endomorph, they have a harder time with keeping weight off. The mesomorph is the natural who is going to make the most progress putting on muscle. Still, with the body type you have you can change yourself pretty drastically with proper diet and exercise. Being fit is important to me so I weight train four times a week, swim once a week, and run twice a week.

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