By Mike Arnold – In days past, when female bodybuilding was the sole physique oriented division on the block, the issue of steroid-induced masculinization was accepted as part of the game. Sure, most of the women would have preferred to avoid such side effects, and the IFBB even implemented a few rules designed to curtail the problem, but with success dependent on extreme muscular development, those who aspired to competitive greatness weren’t left with much of a choice. Either use what was necessary to compete, or stay on the sidelines.
With the arrival of figure, bikini, and physique, the number of competitive outlets skyrocketed, providing women with new opportunities to showcase their physique. More importantly, it provided them with the freedom to model their development after a different standard; one which didn’t force them to compromise their femininity in order to realize competitive success. This fact didn’t go unnoticed, as evidenced by the immense popularity of these divisions.
But let’s be honest here, while these new divisions may have eliminated the need for excessive drug use, they did not eliminate drug use altogether. Anytime an advantage can be gained through chemical enhancement, drugs will remain part of the competitive landscape. This stands true for all sports, whether they involve lifting hundreds of pounds overhead or strutting around stage in a bikini (please, spare me the proper definition of “sport”).
Knowing this, it’s not a question of “will”, but of “what”, as the primary objective of competitors in all divisions is the same—to build muscle and burn fat. It’s just a matter of degree. This means that drugs such as steroids, growth hormone, fat burners, diuretics, etc, are all still viable contenders. However, with each division judged according to different standards, the specific drugs and dosages necessary to earn top placings can vary tremendously.
Development aside, femininity plays a much bigger role in the judging of bikini, figure, and physique than it does in female bodybuilding, with an increased emphasis on femininity in the less muscular divisions. Therefore, those who compete in these divisions should be familiar with the full cornucopia of bodybuilding drugs, while actively taking steps to minimize/prevent the occurrence of masculinizing side effects. With that said, let’s take a look at each major category of performance enhancement and their place in a competitor’s regimen, but before I do so, all prospective PED users should understand that the following guidelines are just that—guidelines. There is great diversity among individuals in terms of personal response, so it is impossible to predict with any certainty how one might be affected by the introduction of these drugs. Because of this and due to the fact I am addressing a wide audience, I can only speak in generalities.
Without any doubt whatsoever, steroids present the biggest risk to a woman’s femininity. Why? Because of their androgenic nature. While some AAS are certainly less androgenic than others, all possess both anabolic and androgenic characteristics. It‘s the potency of this androgenic component which determines how likely a steroid is to cause undesirable side effects. Obviously, this makes steroid selection crucial for those wishing to keep masculinization at bay.
If you’ve done any research on the androgenic aspects of AAS, you may have come across the term “androgenic rating”, which is used as a measure of androgenic potency. Basically, the higher the number, or “rating” that a steroid receives, the more androgenic it is considered to be. The problem with androgenic ratings is two-fold. One, a single number is used as an estimate of potency in all androgen-dependent tissues and two, they were derived from measuring prostate growth in rats. Not only is the prostate just one of many androgen-dependent tissues (and irrelevant to women), but extrapolating animal research data to humans frequently leads to flawed conclusions.
Experience has shown that just because two steroids may possess similar androgenic ratings, it does not mean they affect all androgen-dependent tissues equally, making them an unreliable predictor of masculinizing side effects in non-prostate tissues, such as bone, skin, sexual organs, vocal chords, etc. With these being responsible for the majority of external side effects, it doesn’t make much sense to base a steroid’s overall androgenic rating on the responsiveness of a single tissue.
For this reason, each steroid must be evaluated individually. Unfortunately, many people assume that if a steroid is harsh in one area, it must be harsh in the others, as well. This just isn’t the case and has resulted in many side effect conscious women shunning perfectly good steroids in favor of more traditional drugs. But what exactly qualifies a steroid as female-friendly? The criteria is fairly simple. It should not cause hair loss, changes in facial structure, facial hair growth, and voice changes when used at reasonable, effective dosages. For the most part, these side effects are permanent and can have dramatic, negative effects on a woman’s femininity. Although no steroid is 100% safe, the best AAS typically provide little to no discernible effects in these areas.
Of all the female-friendly AAS, Anavar is probably the most popular of the bunch, followed by Primobolan. Both have been successfully utilized by women for generations. Although they definitely deserve high praise, I am going to go against the grain for a second in stating that there are other steroids out there with an even more desirable anabolic-androgenic balance. Keep in mind that Anavar is a relatively weak steroid (from a myotropic standpoint), requiring men to take 50-100 mg/day in order to experience even moderate growth, while women usually need at least 10-20 mg/daily. It just doesn’t have the anabolic punch necessary to generate the type of growth seen with more powerful AAS.
On the other hand, a steroid like Superdrol (yes, that Superdrol) is an extremely powerful muscle builder, surpassing the even the strongest traditional AAS (Dianabol, Anadrol, testosterone, etc) in terms of myotropic potency, while also being about as likely as Anavar to cause masculinizing side effects. Read that part again and let it sink in. I mean that, as most people are going to immediately discount the validity of this claim without bothering to check the facts.
With an androgenic rating of 20, Superdrol ranks right alongside Anavar, but unlike other AAS with an equally low rating, SD really is comparable with Anavar in terms of overall androgenic potency—in the areas that matter most, but here’s where it gets interesting. Because of SD’s vastly superior myotropic ability, just 5 mg/day is likely to produce greater gains in muscle mass than 20 mg/day of Anavar, while 10 mg’s of SD will blow 20 mg of Var out of the water.
Real-world experience has also shown that 10 mg of SD per day (70 mg/week) is frequently more effective at building muscle than several hundred mg’s of nandrolone, boldenone, trenbolone, and even testosterone. For women who are no longer making good gains with Anavar or Primo alone and wish to begin combining them with the injectables listed above, why take the risks associated with these drugs when you can get equal or better results with less risk? As a bonus, gains with legitimate SD are hard and dry, making it ideal for women who prefer to avoid water retention, which is most.
At some point after SD’s introduction to the marketplace, a misconception arose regarding its overall character. More specifically, its harshness in the areas of liver toxicity and lipid health caused some to mislabel it as harsh in general, when in reality, it is extremely mild from an androgenic standpoint. While it is true that SD is a bit harder on the liver (per effective dose) than most other orals, this really isn’t a concern when used at female appropriate dosages. At 5-10 mg/day, SD is actually considerably easier on the liver than normal doses of orals like Dianabol, Winstrol or Anadrol; three drugs used every day without issue by millions of men.
When it comes to its affect on lipids, 5-10 mg/day is no worse than 10-20 mg/day of Anavar, as Anavar itself, despite being known as a “mild” steroid, has a pretty substantial impact on cholesterol levels. However, when cycled responsibly, this is a non-issue for most, especially when countered with appropriate supplementation. The point here is that Superdrol is a great steroid for women, allowing them to build hard, dry muscle at an accelerated rate without being anymore detrimental to cardiovascular and hepatic health than many other orals.
In Part #2 we will look at the other categories of performance enhancement, while exploring new and unique options for today’s female athletes.
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