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The question asks about whether or not anabolic steroids (test, tren, dianabol, inhibitors, insulin, HGH, etc.) are required to reach a specific level of strength or musculature. Some people, even medical experts, have told me that there are certain "sizes" that are only reachable with anabolics -- but some people (and there are plenty) claim they're natural and that these levels of musculature came through years of work. You also have people claiming that steroids/anabolics don't change genetics -- so you can't just take testosterone and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger even over a lifetime of training and perfect diet. This brings up a few interesting points that have no clear or reasonable answer:

  1. Is there really a limit to how big someone can get (musculature) without steroids? Or does it just become so difficult to continue seeing progress that people just end up maintaining after a while?

  2. If steroids don't change genetics, they can't change potential much, I've heard. If so, would it theoretically be possible to be IFBB level or elite bodybuilder without steroids, assuming the right genetics? Because if steroids DID alter DNA/genes in the muscles, clearly the opposite could be true -- that theoretically anyone COULD also affect how big they could truly get if no drugs were involved.

  3. Everyone on steroids won't be as big. Some guys take them with a lifetime of training and never get as big as some of those unbelievably large bodybuilders. If this is true, wouldn't that imply the fact that genetics CANNOT be changed too much with steroids? If so, genetic potential would be somewhat UNCHANGED -- so the "end result" would not be affected whether or not one DID steroids -- which could mean that, in theory, with good genetics, anyone can get "huge" without the need of steroids in general (since steroids may not actually help much in potential, but just speed up the initial process).

Basically, would steroids change potential? If so, they would do something impossible to do naturally -- which implies they alter DNA/gene expression in muscle cells and synthesis/satellite cells/etc.

If steroids did NOT alter potential much, it implies you can get as BIG and STRONG as steroid users, in theory, assuming your genetics are "right." That means steroids aren't "required."

  • In the scope of the site, drug use is almost always considered off topic. See this meta – John Mar 20 '17 at 9:30
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about drug use. – John Mar 20 '17 at 9:31
  • It is an interesting question, but it is off topic for the site. I asked a couple other moderators of other SE sites that it might fit and they all rejected it as well. – JohnP Mar 21 '17 at 15:24
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  1. Yes, there is a natural genetic limit that everybody reaches. This is different depending on the person's age, gender, and genetic makeup.

  2. Steroids allow your body to go beyond your natural genetic limit and approach your physiological limit - the point where your body simple cannot function at a given size. For example, Andre the Giant (who didn't take steroids) grew to such a large size that his organs and skeleton could not keep up.

  3. Correct. I've heard that all types of athletes can benefit from the effects of steroids, even long distance runners who obviously aren't hugely muscular. Steroids have a lot of effects on the body including a faster recovery. Body builders use this to build muscle, but other athletes use this to train longer, harder, and more often.

The bottom line is that steroids are not a magic button you can press to become swole. Even if you're on steroids you still have to put the time in at the gym or on the track to achieve your goal. Will you get there faster and go further than you would without steroids? Certainly.

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