Addressing the Elephant in the Room – Pt. 1: The Elephant Itself

In a number of places, I’ve seen people who are dismissive of someone’s progress (including my own) or minimize it with statements like ‘Dat dere CellTech’, which is really just a euphemism for ‘He’s on steroids’. While this has bugged me, I’ve never posted on it mainly because I don’t feel like there’s any point. If someone wants to believe that the things I don’t say are more responsible for my success than the things I do, then probably nothing I can say is going to dissuade them. However, there are two things about this that I think make it worth addressing, if for no better reasons than to set the record straight and show the fallibility of this line of thinking.
First, I’m not taking (and never have taken) any anabolic agents at all other than Testosterone. I am taking Testosterone, as part of my TRT, and have been since August of 2010. However, it is important to understand that is not the same as taking Testosterone to gain muscle mass, so I’m going to explain this a little more.
For starters, let’s examine dosing. As Paracelcus said, ‘The dose makes the poison’, and the amount of Testosterone I take is tightly controlled so that it is only sufficient to increase my levels to be equal to the levels of a normal, healthy male. This happens to be 140mg per week, taken as 20 mg per day. This keeps my levels nice and stable at the upper end of the normal range, and allows me to feel normal, instead of feeling like a 90 year old man.
To offer some perspective on the difference between a TRT dose and a bodybuilder dose, a ‘beginner’s cycle’ for gaining muscle mass is 500mg a week, which is a little over four times my dose. And this is for a beginner. Pro bodybuilders might take as much as 2,400mg per week. To put that into perspective, it takes me over four months to use what a pro would use in one week. And that’s just Testosterone.
A fact most non-bodybuilders don’t know is that pro bodybuilders use a large number of chemicals to increase mass, some of which are significantly more anabolic than Testosterone. Insulin, HGH, and Anadrol are good examples. Anadrol, in particular, is illustrative of how much these additional compounds assist, as its anabolic ratio is so high that it is roughly 320 times more potent than Testosterone. This means that the 100mg pro dose is roughly equal to 3,200mg of Testosterone, taken in addition to the 2,400mg of Testosterone that the bodybuilder is already taking. When you view it in perspective, the TRT dose of Testosterone is actually quite laughable.
However, this does not mean that I can really call myself ‘natural’. There are certainly a few minor advantages to taking exogenous Testosterone. For example, in most men, natural Testosterone levels will ebb and flow based on a number of factors, including nutrition, stress, and sleep. Since I am injecting the same amount every day, however, my levels are steady no matter what. So this may (speculation here) allow me to pull myself out of a bad training situation (like overtraining ) a little faster than a natural. On the other hand, some men naturally have an inflated Testosterone level, and those men would have a natural advantage over my TRT levels, as my levels are strictly kept in balance.
All this said, the best example I have of how much you can gain with clinically low levels of Testosterone are in the results from my first 8 months of lifting. This is because, from January 2010 – August 2010, I was untreated, and made all of my gains on a natural Testosterone level of ~230. This is roughly the equivalent of a 90 year old man, and only 3 times higher than a normal female Testosterone level. What kind of results did I get with these levels? Take a look:

5 RM Jan 2010

5 RM Aug 2010
5 RM All Time

Bench Press

My bodyweight also dropped from 292 to 275 during this time period, even though I was not dieting at all. So, it should be obvious that you can gain a significant amount of strength and (presumably) muscle while simultaneously losing fat even on chronically, profoundly low Testosterone levels.
It should also be equally obvious that, despite the fact that Testosterone is proven to improve muscle mass, I really did not increase my lifts all that much in the nearly three years since beginning TRT. Now, some of that is due to my injury sidelining me for over a year, but it’s still a significant data point.
In the end, in analyzing my own results with TRT, I’ve actually come away with the conclusion that the overall impact of normal levels of Testosterone is vastly overstated. In fact, I would speculate that even pro bodybuilder levels are insufficient to propel you to elite performance levels without a sufficient focus on consistent, intense training. It’s simply not magic, as far as I can tell. And that means that, logically, you should be able to achieve much greater results than most would believe completely naturally.
This is running long so I’m going to end it here, but in the next post in this series, I’ll examine what I think is the much more important component of this line of thinking: The mental and emotional impact of it on the person doing the accusing. See you then.

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