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'Teenage Steroid Use': Do faulty training protocols perpetuate it?

I remember being taken aback by a visualization I had while reading Steve Courson’s book, ‘False Glory: Steelers and Steroids’, many years ago. Within the pages, Courson described the cavalier method by which anabolic steroids were dispensed and accepted during the early days of their use in pro football. Picture a bowl (like a candy dish) sitting on a table in the middle of a dungeon-like gym. Instead of being half-full of candy, envision blue pills with the name ‘Dianabol’ etched inside as the bowl’s contents. It doesn’t take much of a stretch from there to imagine a long-time gym member holding up the bowl to a newbie and saying:

“Care for some steroids with your weight training?”


Teenage Steroid Use

'Teenage Steroid Use': Why would the average kid need more testosterone?


Okay, so the short dialogue in that scenario is of my own imagining. However, it’s not too far off from what Courson described in the book. It’s as if the sequence of events for building the body was of the ‘cart before the horse’ variety: “Here’s the training protocol… which, by-the-way… is ineffective unless you add THIS.”

When I think of this story, my mind goes back to my high school weight training gym. I think about how naïve and relatively innocent we were, and whether we’d have been susceptible to take up such offerings with our combined naiveté and insecurity. I might have just been lucky that ‘teenage steroid use’ hadn’t become an issue (much less a problem) yet. At most, it might have hit its silent embryonic stage back then in 1981-82. Nowadays, while still dwarfed by recreational drug problems, it’s a well-known temptation among a percentage of high school kids.

While contemplating ‘teenage steroid use’, two notions converge for me that intensify the senselessness of it:

1. The added potential harm it could do to a still-developing body.

2. The seeming needlessness of it considering a person in their late teens is at a time in life when most gifted with natural anabolic hormone secretion.

First, the added potential harm: This might be due to nothing more than a teenager’s relative predilection for lack of good judgment. Whatever teens use, they’re inclined to think more is better than less. They’re prone to the insecurities that can provoke a mild depression upon experiencing the negative side effects from cessation of such drugs – thus, increasing the likelihood of longer and repeated use. Teens are more likely to hide use of such drugs from the watchful eye of a qualified physician who could monitor their body’s vital readings. Lack of such monitoring can raise the odds of excessive dosages that can lead to liver damage and a host of other bodily stresses.

Perhaps the biggest risk in ‘teenage steroid use’ arises from the very real evidence that it can prematurely fuse the ends of the long skeletal bones in a still-growing teen. I covered this health threat as a possible deterrent to ‘teenage steroid use’ right here.

On to the second point: It’s ironic that steroid use is both highly tempting and potentially harmful at a time in life when most young males should be least in need of resorting to it. The typical testosterone levels for a male in his late teens/early twenties is somewhere in the range of 900 to 1200 ng/dl. That’s an average of twice the amount of a middle-aged man. The only thing that can thwart a quest for steady muscle growth in such an endogenous environment of anabolic hormone is a misinformed adherence to ineffective training methodologies. These are what often perpetuate the phenomenon of teenage steroid use.

This takes me back to that “cart before the horse” analogy. If I picture someone handing me that “candy dish” as a young high school kid in the weight room, I see a vivid link that demonstrates the inextricability between steroid use temptations and highly erroneous training principles.

To cut down ‘teenage steroid use’, we’ve got to get the horse in front of the cart.

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