Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Darksidin’.......obsessions..........PART 1

There comes a point in most lifters lives, where they will ask themselves if it’s time to start darksidin’.  

If you are unsure of what I am talking about I’ll spell it out for you.

Pro-hormones, anabolics, or androgens.  Steroids if you aren’t following yet still.  

I’m not going to get into all the health shit about it.  Anyone who is lifting weights heavy enough to tear tendons from bones doesn’t give as much a shit about their health as they let on.  

Enough said.  

People who want to get as brutally big and strong as possible aren’t thinking about apples and figs and organic sunflower wheat germ sprouts.  They are thinking about “what the fuck can I do to scare other people by the sight of me?” in some way, shape, or form.  

If you are asking me what I think, then I will answer this question of whether or not to take the plunge, with one statement, and then a question.  

My statement is.....

Teenage dudes have ZERO fucking reason to be using anabolics or pro-hormones.  None.  Not a single one.  Your test and GH levels are as high as they are ever going to be naturally.  If you’re a teen you have zero reasons to use anything other than a fork and knife to eat the food on your plate.  

My questions is....

“Have you maxed out your natural genetic potential?”  

If the answer to that is “yes”, I’d also have you ask “how do you know?”  

Because your bench hasn’t moved in two years?  That don’t mean shit.  My bench didn’t move for the better part of a decade because I couldn’t bench for more than a few weeks at a time before my shoulders and pec tendons were killing me.  My squat sucked because my technique sucked.  My deadlift suck(s) because I suck at deadlifting.  

But I didn’t max out naturally for a very long time.  And I managed to get to 250+ pounds in decent condition naturally, before I ever took a thing.  

If you are sure that you have maxed out naturally, then at that point it’s up to you to decide if you want to take the plunge.  The phrase “once you go black, you never go back” applies very well to this scenario.  Once you take Darth Vader’s hand, your status as a natural, is over, and you need to learn a whole new language for the most part.  If that doesn’t bother you, proceed on.

Maybe the darkside of the force had tren in it?  

If the answer to that question is “no”, then my advice for you, is to shut the fuck up, train hard, eat big, condition, and do this until you squeeze every last drop of natural ability from your body.  When you can answer “yes” and you want to start darksidin’, ask yourself that other question.

Since there will be without question, some little bitches who read this and balk, I will explain all the reasons why the guy that maximizes his natural ability has such a bigger advantage over the guy that doesn’t.  

A lot of what I am about to write isn’t backed by medical studies or scientific lab rats.  It’s backed by years of being in this game and knowing the truth.  Talking to guys who have used anabolics for years, even decades, that know what the fuck they are talking about.  

Simply put, If you want to know about combat, you don’t ask the computer nerd that does combat simulations on his PC, you ask the battle hardened enlisted guy that’s seen it up close.  If you want to know about anabolics, you can read lots of studies and scientific text.  But if you want to know what they REALLY do, ask guys that have actually spent years putting shit into their bodies.  

Knowing your body -

One of the biggest advantages to being natural, is that you really have to experiment to find out exactly what works for you.  How much you need to eat to grow, how much food makes you fat, what kind of training you really respond best to, how much sleep you really need, and what supplements (legal non-PH ones) really do something for you, or are just bunk.  

In other words, after years of slinging iron and trying various “diets”, and learning how to eat big (or small) you start to know your body.  

You understand training stress in its most natural state, and what it really does to you.  You have to learn how to manipulate volume, intensity (both perceived and loaded), and you have to experiment to find things that really work.  

This image alone should raise your natural test levels........

When a guy starts using too young, or after just a few years of training, he really doesn’t know a god damn thing about his body.  I know tons of guys who use a lot of shit, but don’t look like it.  I won’t lie, I laugh my ass off when I see pics of guys using a gram+ of shit a week and they look like nothing.  They generally look like nothing, because they never built a real base of mass naturally.  They didn’t spend years and years building a natural base.  Truth is, there is no amount of “gear” that can make up for this.  It’s one of the greatest lessons you can learn about lifting and yourself.  And you rob yourself of that gift when you start using anabolics too early.  

Do you know what happens when you do this?  When you never learned how to put on mass naturally, and get stronger naturally?  What happens is, you hit a roadblock and the only thing you know to do is “up the dose”.  What happens when your dose can’t get any higher due to side effects?  You don’t know how to manipulate your diet or your training.  Then your whole “training life” becomes what cycle you need to do next, or what you need to add in to your current one.   

Not only that, but if you get on gear and have this big jump in strength, but the truth is your technique sucks, what do you think happens then?  Yeah, you’re going to get all fucked up eventually.  I still see big guys that can’t even fucking squat properly yet move “decent” weight on it because their cycles have allowed them to.  It’s actually quite comical to me, to see a guy that looks like he should know what the fuck he’s doing, but doesn’t have a god damn clue.  They wonder why their knees hurt and why their squat won't move. Because no matter what you take, if your technique sucks, you limit your potential.

So in essence, the questions you ask yourself change.  

Instead of asking yourself.....

“Do I need more rest?”  

“Do I need to eat more?”  

“Do I need to lower my volume, or raise it?”

"Is my technique wrong?"
You ask.....

“Do I need more test?”  

“Do I need to add in an oral?”  

“Do I need to add in an anabolic?”  

The first set of questions should always be the FIRST set of questions you ask yourself, your entire training life.  

I mean for fucks sake, I read where guys ask what steroid they should take to lose fat.  It’s a steroid called dietcardio mother fucker!  It’s free, legal, has been around forever, and it works you lazy bitch.  

Guys that never understand how their body responds, naturally, under training stress never learn how to properly manipulate their training cycles.  They just take more shit and watch their lifts go up.  So they have no clue how to manipulate their training in the most efficient manner.      

If you like to drag race, and do the own work on your car to make it faster, you know every in and out of that car.  You know if something breaks, what it is, how to fix it, and how to make it better.

If you just pay some guy to do it, you don’t have a clue.

going fast in a Civic is still gay........

Building a base naturally over a decade or more, is fine tuning that drag car.  When or if, you decide to add nitro, you know every in and out to how that car works.  This gives you a wealth of experience that is invaluable.  

You with training knowledge and “supplements” > you without real training knowledge and “supplements”.  

Don’t rob yourself of that experience by getting on too soon, because you’re an impatient dickwad.

Pro-hormones - Pluses, minuses......

Cutting right to the shit, pro-hormones are steroids.  Period.

You can’t use PH’s and claim natural status, ok?

This isn’t like the old days when Andro was on the shelf, but it didn’t really do anything.  The shit you can buy today is no different than using a “real” oral.  

The only difference is, you don’t have decades of use behind what you’re using.  So you can only ask the other buck-65’er on the bodybuilding board, what it did for him.  You also don’t REALLY know what it is you’re ingesting, and what it’s really doing to your body.  Most guys that go this route don’t go get blood work done before and after a cycle to see how their body reacted to it.  

Not to mention, most guys that comment on this shit just regurgitate shit they have read about what it does to you from some guy that read it from another guy.  

With real anabolics, you have both years of research and years of guys who have ran these drugs to get feedback from.

The big plus to PH’s, is that they are legal.  That’s about it.   

Spoiled, insecure brats -

The reason a lot of guys circumvent the process of getting as good as they can get naturally, is because they want it all now.  Usually for reasons of feeling insecure in regards to a pecking order with their peers.  Or because of pressure to be something they are not, say for example on the football field.  If you need anabolics to dominate at high school football, fucking give up dominating in college.  Because you won’t.  You’ll get foot broke off in ass every day at that level.  

Kids see other kids bigger and stronger and they want that.  Which is fine.  I did too.  But I didn’t mind just eating and lifting and working for it naturally.  Most of the kids I know or knew, that used at a young age, didn’t keep lifting.  Mainly because they aren’t lifers.  They didn’t love the iron.  They loved instant gratification.  

Is it hard to walk into the gym and bust ass for weeks and months on end and only improve by microscopic amounts?  Fuck yeah it is.  You think you’re the first guy that trained his nuts off for months on end with almost nothing to show for it?  Nothing sucks worse than to be busting ass and have people say stuff to you like “Oh, you workout?”  

This is where you get tested.  

Are you able to shrug that shit off, put your head back down and do work, or do you cry like a little bitch about it?  Doing the latter is still acceptable for a few minutes, so long as you end up doing the former.  In other words, yeah I remember crying like a bitch about it in my head and being frustrated.  But it just made me work harder and want it more.  It didn’t want to make me want to run a cycle though.  I was young and I knew I had a lot of room for improvement.

This is all akin to the two kids who both want something, but one is willing to work to earn money for it, and the other just wants to throw a baby fit and hope he gets his way.  

Sure in the end, the brat could get the same reward, and someone might say “well that’s all that matters” but that’s bullshit.  Life should always be about getting better.  Bettering yourself and gaining as much valuable experience as you can.  You lose out on an opportunity to gain knowledge, and build some self respect.  You also don’t get the appreciation that comes with earning something, rather than crying like a bitch for it.

In part 2 I am going to talk about idiots who use pro-bodybuilder dosed cycles, but don't compete and guys that don't use, that think a cycle would turn them into Ronnie Coleman.


  1. Paul, it's funny because I just watched this Dave Tate video the other day, where he says some of the exact same stuff. In particular, his "it's an ace card and you can only flip it once" speech is pretty great:

    I do feel like his bit at the end about CrossFit is a little shaky. I'm always skeptical when someone claims that there is an athletic event where steroids won't give an advantage.

    1. It would depend on what one was taking for what athletic event.

      Dave knows his shit, and I agree with him.

    2. I hear that. My skepticisim comes from being a basketball fan where for years people in the sport have claimed there aren't an PE's that benefit the sport, and slowly we're starting to see more guys get suspended for testing positive for "a banned substance," and see those guys come back and not perfom at the same level.

      But the main thing was I just wanted people to hear that 2nd opinion to the effect of "it will only take you up ONE more level, so how much is topping out at that next level worth to you?"

  2. Loved the post man. Seriously, what a damn good read. You're no bullshit writing is a breath of fresh air in regards to lifting. You absolutely killed me with this quote, "I mean for fucks sake, I read where guys ask what steroid they should take to lose fat. It’s a steroid called dietcardio mother fucker!" Dead on man.

    Everyone wants to take a shortcut for immediate results, but they'll never last. They haven't put in the time and gained the experience to really appreciate what they now have.

  3. "going fast in a civic is still gay" LOL


  4. This should be posted on the wall at every highschool gym and serious lifting gym in the country. I know a couple guys who took stuff in highschool or college and they come across very much like you described- they wanted instant results, and now years later dont lift or only lift sporadically and then take months off. Years later they also have shoulder problems, even though they barely workout anymore, because they used juice to push their bench way up without having good technique, just like you said.

    Im not against using either, I just think its weak to take short cuts. The guys I mentioned, their only advice for me is to get on something. They have no clue about how to maximize technique and levers, or what that even means. I actually use them as motivation because they think Im naive for believing you can get big without taking stuff. Any dude who is bigger than them is automaticaly assumed to be taking stuff. Im going to prove them wrong.

    Good stuff Paul.

    - Drew -

  5. What's wrong with a civic?

    1. Absolutely nothing. Until someone puts a fart can tailpipe on it and make it sound like a god damn weed whacker.

  6. Thank you for this post. This was amazing. I've loved your blog since I discovered it some time back, and certain posts have resonated with me at some level, but nothing like this one. I've debated trying PH and I know that I will someday down the road, but I've always been on the fence about it. I'm turning 22 in a couple months and have been lifting for just 3 years. This post has helped me decide to wait for another few years or so to start considering them again. As you said, once you cross over, you're never natural again.
    I have a buddy who's done a shitload of cycles of hdrol, and while he generally looks good while on it, the combinations of fuckall diet and halfassed semi-regular training clearly shows. Plus, he kinda looks like a bag of smashed assholes when he's not running a cycle, losing 90% of his gains each time. I may be 25 pounds less than him (and 2 inches), but I'm oodles stronger, leaner, and better looking just standing around than he is at all times. It's crazy how you just have to focus yourself, eat semi-clean, and commit to a training regimen, and you'll see better gains and look/perform miles better than people on gear. Plus, my buddy's always getting injured and complaining about shit and taking "a week off" or whatever (or he's just a bigger pussy than I thought) while I'm just gritting my teeth and driving on.
    Sorry for the wall of text lol. Thanks again.


  7. Paul, I would like to hear your thoughts about sleep. I hear personal accounts of people trying to pursue excellence in both lifting as well as their professional life, and they often talk about getting by on 4-6 hours of sleep. Arnold, Kroc, and others have talked about it and frankly it makes no goddamn sense. Everybody preaches how important sleep is to recovery, and I believe it, because I feel like dogshit if I don't get 8-9 hours of sleep. However, these people somehow magically go on to be successful in both lifting as well as professionally despite sleeping half as much as a regular person?

    1. Well you're talking to a guy that has had insomnia his entire life. I think it's a very individual thing. I do think that sleep is needed, but how much will vary from person to person. No different than training stimulus. I couldn't train the way Jamie does, but does that mean it's wrong for him? Of course not. He probably couldn't train the way I do and make as good a progress.

      I generally find that I do best with 8 solid hours, but I've been fine on 4-5 before, and I've felt like shit after 9-10. I think there are probably more factors at play here than just sleep.

      For example, if I am awake because I have been fucking all night, I tend to feel fine on just a few hours of sleep. But if I am just having insomnia problems, I tend to feel like shit.

      Your mileage may vary.

    2. Hey guys. Here is a sleep calculator that I found a few months back. What it does is figure when you should go to sleep based on the time you plan to wake up. It's so you wake up at the end of a sleep cycle. If you do that, then you will feel refreshed every morning.

  8. This post was fucking amazing. The part about busting ass week in week out for incremental gains and getting tested by other people's comments - fucking brilliant and spot on.

    Thanks Paul.

    1. Easy to write about things you've experienced first hand.

  9. The "genetic peak" argument makes great sense, but we're not gonna live forever.

    I remember Justin Harris saying it takes about 15 years for someone to approach (not necessarily reach but get in the neighborhood of) their peak potential. This wasn't in specific reference to steroids but just in reference to development in general and the amount of time you can expect to put in before getting a good glimpse of your ceiling.

    So, what if I'm not at my genetic peak yet but by the time I do get to that peak, then go chemical, I've just wasted a few years where I could have gone chemical earlier and hit a higher peak.

    Say you have a 25 year old who can Squat 500 and has lifted for 7 or 8 years. Somehow we know his genetic peak is a 600 Squat that will be reached at 35. But if he had gone chemical at 25 he could have made it to 675 or 700 at 35yrs.

    So is reaching Maximum Genetic Potential, which is pretty unknowable anyway, really necessary or do you just have to reach a certain level of development to justify going chemical?

    1. You're saying you'd have the foresight to do that. Well if we all had that kind of foresight then we'd all have billions of dollars.

      Second, you're also overestimating what you'd get had you used. But this is pretty standard and I'm going to cover it in part 2. Lots of guys think that they are going to do a cycle, or do a few cycles and "squat 700".

      And last, but most important........

      It's not just about X number of pounds on the bar. It's about learning, the journey, and gaining the knowledge that comes from those years. They can't be replaced.

      All you see is numbers on the bar. You fail to see the knowledge you would have gained from going from a 500 squat, to a 600 squat without steroids. If someone asked you how you got your squat to 600, truth is you won't have much to give back. Why? Because you will really know, all that happened is you started using.

      Everytime you put in the years and effort to move up a notch, there is knowledge gained with it. And that is what everyone else is after. That's the part that is invaluable.

      It's not always about numbers on the bar, or the destination. It's about the journey, and what comes along with it.

  10. Fuckin' preach it, Paul

    One of the main reasons I like the lifestyle is that it's so fascinating and inspiring to me how humans adapt naturally depending on what kind of shit you throw at it. Our built-in survival/adapt mechanisms are just amazing to behold when you look at the diverse kinds of physiques that thrive (or subsist) considering our DNA is all basically the same.

    I figure adding extra chemistry into the mix is just another variable in an already painfully esoteric biological system. It should be reserved only for the very advanced.
    I forget who it was who said (paraphrasing)the only problem with kids taking steroids is that it limits their availability to legitimate athletes who really need it.

    1. Oh there's plenty of juice to go around.

      As I told the other guy, it's not always about pounds on the bar. There's a bigger picture here that some guys aren't getting.

  11. Where do the HRT guys fall on this scale? I actually have full blown "Low T" symptoms at 31 years old, and I still don't want to go on. I have had a script for test cyp on my fridge for a couple of weeks and I still don't want to pull the trigger. I think this choice would be actually easier, if I WASN'T a lifter. The whole want of doing things naturally, and not relying on a synthetic med to maximize who I am on a genetic level seems to supersede the delusions of feeling "good". What the fuck does feeling good even mean? Life isn't some shitty beer commercial, you get bloody banged up and if you're lucky you get to die as an old man in your own bed. Even with my shitty hormone levels I have still squatted 405x20 and pulled 455x15 because my mind told me I had to. The best anabolic is having balls, make no mistake.

    1. Dude, if you're legit low, like I was, get on. Don't even hesitate. You'll feel tons better.

      Guys with legit low test levels should BE ON.

    2. Last check my total was 243. I really have reservations about doing this. My endo said it is likely due to the years I spent boxing and that people in contact sports generally end up this way. Other than that, I can't see why my body crapped out on me which is why I am hesitant. What changes have you noticed that makes it worth it?

    3. Uhhh everything? You will feel like a new man. Don't know how much else I could say.

      Your sex life will go through the roof, you will feel more "even" in your temperament, and training and dieting will "work" again.

    4. I guess I'll give it a go then. My doctor gave 200mg Test Cyp, 1 injection every 2 weeks. How long did it take to kick in for you? It's funny you brought up the diet/training thing working - it totally doesn't anymore. While I can still get stronger for short periods of time before my body shits out on me, being on a diet just doesn't work, the fat just lingers.

  12. Paul, I had one other thought I wanted to throw out to you. I only started lifting a year ago, when I was 33. I voraciously consume information on lifting now from guys like you and Jamie. Wendler and Tate. This guy Marauder Meat over on the T-Nation forums, and various other sources (but not message boards; I took the hint early and stayed away). I believe I've only got about an 8-15 year window to get done what I can get done having started so late. I actually wish guys were as open as you are being about their experience with this stuff. It doesn't make me want to take it, and it doesn't make me discount your advice on training. In fact, I feel more confident buying in to your ideas and philosophy on training as a result because I know you're not holding anything back. To someone like me making up for lost time, it's great to have that confidence that what I'm learning about, and trying to implement, can really continue to provide results. If I lose confidence and start shifting from concept to concept in training, I know I won't build a stronger base to maintian going into middle-age, and hopefully shore up my later years as well. So thanks for all the honesty.

    1. You're 33. You don't hit your lifting prime until your early to mid-40's. So you're not late in the game. By the time you're 42 you will have been training for almost a decade. Hardly late in the game, and if you play your cards right you'll be stronger and leaner at 42 than you are now.

  13. Hey Paul, since you say you were legit low test, what are some signs that you are low? How did you realise it? I've been looking around some med websites about test deficiency and i do fit SOME symptoms however it could also be a million other things, from having something really serius to having low thyroid or just being exausted. So what are some "sure fire" signs to know if you are low or not? (before i go out and throw 100 bucks to a doctor lol)

    1. Tired all the time. Cranky as hell. Sex drive fell off. Training went into the shitter. Tons of issues.

    2. Having most of these signs unfortunately... After you were diagnosed, what was the procedure? Did the doctor just prescribe T meds "for life"? Or is there some kind of cycling?
      Sorry for the ignorant question but i have no idea how the hormone replacement stuff works.

    3. Dave - If you are low you'll be on forever. Your test levels don't just "come back".

  14. I see, thanks for answering my questions man. If you can, in the second part of this article, add a subsection on the low test guys, your personal experience and stuff, i suspect there are people out there with low test feeling like crap that has never crossed their mind to go get checked.

    1. that might be another article Dave. that's not the premise of this one. but good idea.

  15. Glad to see you bring up this topic Paul. Just one scan of some popular gear boards online will show a ton of 5'10 175lbers stacking 5-6 compounds to get "cut for the summer". It's very sad.

    1. Oh man don't even get me started. You're pretty much hitting on my second part. When someone asks someones stats, he's never been training for 10 years, 225 with 8% bodyfat. He's always 180 @ 10% training for 5 years or some shit. Fucking dumb.

  16. Got to say thanks for putting all this quality information out there . This article in particular really echoed with me. I know I'm not ready for any kind of PED use ,but sometimes when you really want to get bigger and stronger and you observe the speed of strength/size gains friends make on their first cycle in a few short months weeks even, it can be hard to make a logical and not an emotional decision.
    This article really helped me understand why I simply need to patiently and consistently just put the years in.
    Hope that sinus infection doesn't mess things up for you too much and good luck with the meet.

    1. Glad I could help.

      Sinus infection gone.

      Hip flexor is killing me.

  17. LMAO! At a time in my life when I wanted to gear up I also drove a loud ass civic you could hear coming for miles, lol.

    Hard work with the iron has really translated into hard work ethic in every other aspect of my life.

  18. I have been training for 8 years, 7 consistently and have decided to take the plunge. I am doing it because I would like to reach certain strenght goals. I squat and deadlift 425 for 2, but can only bench 255. I am 5'5" and weigh 170 pounds with a BF% of 10%. I have been stuck at these weights for the last 3 years, and have not been able to add more than 5 pounds to each lift. I really wanted to remain natural, but instead went with a mild PH that was recommended by a friend who uses. I have researched the stuff for the last year, and took 2 months to gather all of the stuff I needed to start. In your opinion, would you say that I made a mistake by joining the dark side before the ten year mark? Do you think that the consequences will be cycling from here on out? All I want to do is reach 1200lbs. on the Bench, Squat, and Deadlift. After that I will be happy with where my strenght is at.

    1. Dude, did you read my testimonials page? Where one of my guys went 9-9 1300 @ 165 drug free?

      If your lifts haven't moved in 3 years, it's because you train like shit, or lift like shit. I'm just being real with you. You either have technical flaws or are using some really bad programming.

      You need to learn how to overcome this hump on your own.

  19. Paul,

    Thanks for being real.

  20. I've been to tons of blogs, but this blog, and specially, this article: A.W.E.S.O.M.E.
    Dont really know what else to say, just a big thank you

  21. Hey Paul, what was your total testosterone levels right before you got on trt?

  22. My own total T is 372 ng/dL, just got it this morning. Been symptomatic for 2 years but I have a feeling my problems stem from insomnia. How was your sleep when you got on trt

    1. Initially it improved dramatically but I still have bouts of insomnia.

  23. Hey Paul,

    This series of posts is probably the best on the subject I have ever seen.

    I noticed the supplement shop you recommend "Strong" says that pro hormones are safe for 21 year olds.

    However they are pretty much "legal" steroids and everyone says to wait until your in your late 20's to start darksiding.

    What is your opinion on this? Would it be safe for a 21 year old intermediate (430lb squat at 195) looking to increase rate of strength gain while leaning down?

    In part two you said to research pro hormones, but there is so much conflicting information out there, could you point us to some good learning resources?

    I understand this is a grey area and understand if you don't respond.