Within the wild world of fitness there are a lot of truths, half-truths, myths and lies. Many of these have been debunked, debated and dispelled over the years to both the disappointment of those making money off of them and the benefit of trainees everywhere.
A trickier category to talk about is the grey area where something is neither true nor false. It’s in this area where you come across the ideas that I consider to be drug induced.
What do I mean?
Drug induced training ideas are those which have been passed down (typically from bodybuilding competitors) into the mainstream training consciousness. The interesting aspect to these is that they are true, and important, when it comes to “enhanced” trainees but are negligible for those training naturally.
Now, as I’ve talked about before, there are a lot of side effects to using drugs (no pun intended) without being open about the usage. Potentially the most confusing are these drug induced ideas which distract people from the methods that will work for them in place of the methods that would work for them IF they were on drugs.
There are a lot of these ideas out there, and hopefully by the end of this you’ll be able to identify them when you hear them, but here are the 5 I see most often…
#1: The More Work The Better
One of the biggest reasons that drugs work so well is that they increase the rate your body is able to recover from training. This means that you’re able to stuff more work into a given routine without having to worry very much about balancing your ability to handle the work and respond to it favourably. This affects people who are looking to get bigger and stronger more than most other groups. Listening to the advice, or routines, of people on drugs would give you the impression that if you want to get better you simply need to do more. Not sure which lift you need to do to get bigger arms? Don’t sweat it, do your top 3 choices and something is bound to work.
And this does work… for people whose recovery capacity is massively elevated. For anyone else what inevitably happens is they end up beaten down, under-recovered and (if at all) marginally improved.
Results with Drugs
On drugs work and results have (nearly) a perfect correlation. The more you do the more results you’ll get!
When training naturally work and results follow a inverted U curve. This means that more work means more results only to a certain point and after that the more you do the less benefit you’ll see.
#2: The More Protein The Better
I’ve talked about this a lot (like HERE) so I wont get into this too deeply but here’s the short version… taking steroids increased the ability for your body to use protein. Because of this, and other economic reasons, the recommendations for protein consumption within the fitness world are hugely inflated. If you were to observe some pro bodybuilders you might be convinced that 400 grams of protein per day is what you’re missing to have the muscular physique that you’ve always wanted… it’s not.
Is more protein a bad thing? No, it’s not. If you’re under consuming protein then more if it will absolutely help you get better results however consuming 1+ grams per pound of bodyweight each day isn’t going to do anything extra for you unless you’re doing something extra as well.
Results with Drugs
When it comes to using drugs the more you take the more protein you’ll be able to use. Provided these two things increase together the sky is essentially the limit.
When training naturally there is a ceiling for the amount of protein your body is able to use. Amounts above and beyond this ceiling wont hurt – but they wont help either.
#3: Nutrient Timing Is Super Important
This is a really interesting one for me because I see this more and more lately. When you eat matters much, much less than what you’re eating when it comes to getting results as a natural trainee. Knowing this might make you wonder why advice about eating “X amount of carbs pre and post workout” has become so prominent. The answer is insulin, something pro bodybuilders and weightlifters use to build even more muscle.
Because of insulin’s effects on your blood sugar it’s very important to make sure that you’re timing your food, carbohydrates especially, with your dosages. Obviously without the impact of insulin these intricate details become trivial compared to the other aspects of your training plan however there is some merit in the “OCD-ness” that comes with this as the hallmarks of disordered eating lend themselves quite well to bodybuilding success.
Results with Drugs
If you’re using insulin nutrient timing is a major aspect to your plan – there’s no way around it.
Training naturally the results are negligible however being more neurotic in general might help your results… even if it hurts your happiness.
#4: Super Aggressive Diets Work Great
Super aggressive diets are pretty miserable for anyone. They feel terrible, can be damaging to your body and are horrible mentally. That said, they can work wonders, appearance wise, for enhanced athletes. One of the most damaging effects of a crash diet for a natural trainee is muscle wasting. When you take massive chunks out of your daily intake your body will respond by doing everything possible to find reserve energy and cut metabolic expenses – like muscle.
It doesn’t take a wild imagination to envision why this isn’t a fun result to any diet program! That said, drugs have a very interesting muscle-sparing effect which allows users to use more drastic weight loss methods and still have their muscles live to tell the tale. Knowing this it’s clear why mimicking the intense diets used by some enhanced trainees can leave you wondering where you want wrong.
Results with Drugs
When you’re enhanced crash diets are still brutal mentally but physically the results can be amazing.
For natural trainees these diets are just as bad mentally as physically.
#5: You’re Just Missing “IT”
I’ve saved the most important drug induced delusion for last. Thanks to youtube and instagram (and whatever else) we’re now blessed with the philosophical works of bodybuilders and weightlifters everywhere. Generally these boil down to some parody of “The Secret” or lecture on attitude, mindset and “toughness”.
Let me tell you first hand, as someone who has been on both sides of the fence, there is nothing less “tough” or “hardcore” or contrary to the “law of attraction” and the power of positive thinking than training with drugs. It’s really the opposite of all of those things – it’s playing the training game with easy mode on.
It might sound like this bothers me, but it truly doesn’t, everyone is welcome to use (or not use) anything they like – I really don’t care. What I do care about are people using these enhancements and then standing above others using their results as a platform to talk about the mindset that got them there or the virtue they have that those without the same results clearly haven’t cultivated.
Results with Drugs
When you’re using drugs results come easier – period.
Training naturally is tough and the results are hard-won. Don’t let anyone who gets their toughness from a bottle tell you otherwise.
Hopefully this gives you an understanding of where some common misconceptions come from (as it stands for natural training) but more so I hope this inspires you to question the advice you hear and read. Much like they say when it comes to health care - you have to be your own advocate.
Craig was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo. Craig grew up in martial arts and boxing before transitioning into strongman and ultimately competing at the world amateur championships. Craig’s transition into coaching came with mentorships from the greats including Louie Simmons and Bill Kazmaier and led him to be considered one of the top strength coaches in the world. Craig works with athletes internationally including: Olympic athletes, professional UFC fighters, some of the best boxers in the world and top ranked amateurs in a variety of sports.