Monday, June 23, 2014

Hey Bret, you're just a little off here....

I happened across this article from booty guy Bret Contreras this morning, and while interesting and informative, is also just a little bit off in some regards....

First off, I want to say I agree with Bret on a few things.

Namely, I don't think it's cool for anyone to look down on another lifter who is natural if he is enhanced.

Hell, I will take that one step further.  I don't think we as lifters should be looking down on each other at all, thought it does happen at times, and even I have been guilty of this.  But it's a bad habit and all of us need to do a better job of offering up the minimum amount of respect to each other for simply putting in the work, and being brothers in iron.

With that said, I want to go over some things Bret wrote in this piece.....

Anabolic steroids make the average lifter WAY stronger and more muscular. When steroids are added to the mix, it changes the rules.

This is more or less a half truth.  

Some guys respond really well to drugs, and some guys get very little.  All the studies in the world don't back up all the years and years of anecdotal evidence behind what I am saying here.  

Some guys can take a little, and get a lot out of it.  And some guys can take a lot, and get very little.  

Taking anabolics will make you stronger and more muscular, but the degree to which it will varies greatly from person to person.  So my gripe here is using the words "WAY stronger".  

One thing missed in this is that some guys can't take a large enough dose to get "WAY stronger" because they end up with side effects so great that "upping the dose" isn't possible for them.  

Regardless of what guys read on the internet, or what studies read, each individual will respond quite differently to different drugs.  I know guys that flat out cannot take tren because of the side effects they get from it.  And I know guys that can run a gram a week with virtually no side effects at all.  There is no "one size fits all" model here.  

I also know guys that can run tren, and get almost superhuman strong on it, and I've had other guys tell me they got very little from it.  So if you're using the phrase "way stronger" or "more muscular" then I guess we'll play semantic games.  Some guys get "way stronger" from the same compounds that another guy does not get "way stronger" from.  The same rule applies to the "more muscular" quote.  That is a pretty ambiguous term, to say the least.  I've known guys that got "more muscular" from cycles but not to the degree you would expect, given their overall dose.  

So this is a fairly broad stroked phrase.  

Steroids don’t do the work for you, sure they help you recover faster but you still have to put in the work,” and, “Natural lifters love to play the steroid card, but 90% of it is hard work, nutrition, and consistency.”

I have to agree with the guys that said this.  

Regardless of how much a guys drug cycle is doing for him, if his training and diet are not dialed in, then just like a natural trainer, his results are going to be sub-optimal.  Now will those sub-optimal results still be greater than what he would get if he weren't on cycle?  Of course.  But training and diet are still going to be the corner stone of efficient and optimal results.  

In other words, both the drug user and natural guy can't take advantage of their "environment", i.e. a highly advanced anabolic state/natural genetics unless he makes training and diet the most important parts of his program.  Otherwise they both end up with the short end of the stick.  Again, this doesn't mean the drug users short end isn't longer than it would be if he were natural, but the drug user is doing himself a massive disservice if he isn't programming and eating in the most efficient manner as possible.  

In my experience, many steroid-users grossly underestimate the role that steroids play in their strength development. I’d have a lot more respect for the lifter who admitted that without steroids, he’d be pretty ordinary in terms of strength and physique.

That completely depends on when the guy started using anabolics, and what he accomplished naturally.  Ronnie Coleman became an IFBB pro completely natural, I do believe.  Now he didn't start winning Mr. O titles until he found the "holy grail" however there are LOTS of guys out there that have built impressive strength and physiques without playing the drug card.  I myself managed to work my way up to 250 pounds without being a total fat ass before I ever took a single thing, and was accused on being "on" quite often.  

I could name off about two dozen guys that are incredibly impressive as natural strength athletes.  So I feel that your broad stroke here is again unwarranted.  SOME guys might be unimpressive completely natural, but this doesn't apply to everyone.  Genetic ability ranges greatly from world class sprinters and powerlifters to dudes that can't get off the couch without tripping over their Xbox controller while covered in Cheesy Puffs crumbs.  

Many steroid-using powerlifters don’t have a good grip on what transfers best for the natural lifter, and they don’t optimally understand program design for the natural lifter. Why? Because many of them have never controlled variables. Fluctuating drug cycles confound training/nutrition cycles. Because when the going got tough, many of them simply took more steroids. Many figure out quickly that taking another gram of testosterone or adding in trenbolone transferred very well to strength and got them through their training ruts. Because it came too easy for many of them. Most never spent 8 months hammering the bench press, only to gain a meager 10 lbs of strength. Many never took the time to learn the effects of different protocols. When they were stagnating, many simply took more juice.

Eh, this is misinformed at best.

I know of at least one guy that literally got worse, or at least he didn't get any better, over a 4 year span despite virtually doubling his dose in that time.  

It's not as simple as "taking more drugs" for every guy out there.  Yes, that works for some guys, and doesn't work for others.  There will always be a point of diminishing returns when it comes to "doses".  

Not only that, I know lots of guys that use and work their asses off for very little in the way of returns.  I know guys that spent a year working the shit out of their bench or squat to add that extra 10-15 pounds on it.  There comes a point when even with drugs, you start to reach your genetic ceiling and no amount of drugs can push you past it without an incredible amount of hard work.  In that regard, the user is no different than the natural trainer.  When both of them get close to the ceiling of what their environment is allowing, then it's going to take a metric fuckton of hard work to inch upwards even in the smallest of increments.  

As a consequence, I’ve found that many training programs written by steroid users are too harsh for natural lifters; some of these programs contain excessive volume which the average natural lifter could not recover from.

I used to believe this too.  However what I've really figured out is, that it's not the recovery factor that comes into play.  It's that the drug user tends to see results faster than the natural dude.  I've never had to adjust for a guy being on or not.  Some may find that hard to believe, but it's true.  And I've never had a client that didn't see extraordinary results.  In fact, I've had some guys that were on drugs, that actually needed MORE recovery time than guys that were natural.  It came back to things like age, and injury history as being the reasons why.  So once again, there are too many factors here at play than JUST drugs in that regard.

In your last segment you go into the drug cycles as listed by Ryan Kennelly, and basically paint the picture that Ryan's drug cycle was the primary reason for his enormous strength.

And that's where a lot of guys using get sort of irritated.

There are LOTS of guys using similar stacks to what Ryan listed, and will never ever be as strong as him, or anywhere close.  And that's where the argument of "steroids don't do the work" come into play.  All the drugs in the world won't turn anyone into a 700 raw bencher if mom and dad didn't give them all the things they needed in order to achieve that.  

I know you understand this, but the article more or less paints a picture of a guy that simply took more drugs to get where he was, and as I've stated before my guess is Ryan would out bench most everyone else by a wide margin if drugs never existed.  In other words, even if you took all of the drugs away MOST of the same guys would probably still be at the top.  Sure, it would cancel out some guys, but the NFL isn't filled with awesome athletes because of drugs.  It's filled with awesome athletes because of genetics and personal interest in a sport by the individual.

I don't think strength sports would be much different.  If you removed all the drugs, genetics and personal interest in strength sports would still probably produce the same world record holders that you see now because they were "made" to be world record holders.  

Steroids are powerful, and without a doubt will make some better than what they would be if they didn't take them, however they won't turn you into a world beater if all of the other variables don't co-exist along with them.  

In closing, I do agree that there's no reason for a guy that is using to look down on a guy that is natural, and there's no reason for the natural guy to scream out that the drug user is only where he is because of some injections and orals.  Every guy is going to decide what path he takes on his strength journey and be responsible for the choices he makes.  As lifters we should simply respect each guys person choice one way or the other, and no look down on someone for using or not using.  


  1. It can be quite misleading for the average guy to look at training logs on popular strength forums or even base their program on that. Every other person is obviously juicing but noone talks about it.

  2. I was hoping you would comment on the increase in frequency that Bret recommends to naturals. Do you think that is just the "fad of the week"? Seems like everyone is jumping on the high frequency train lately.

  3. In my experience, when a natural guy squats something in the mid 400s, or whatever Bret squats, steroid users don't come up to him and start telling him he's weak, they nod, say good job, brofist, etc. I'm guessing that if he's having problems with people calling him weak, it might have something to do with proclaiming himself the world's premier expert on glute development while squatting mid 400s.

  4. Your primary gripe here is person to person differences in using steroids which is primarily genetic. You're blatantly ignoring what steroids do for that individual on a person by person basis. How long will it take for person A to to get from point A to point B with or without steroids? It doesn't matter if person B gets there faster that's irrelevant to the argument. You're changing the direction of the topic being discussed and completely disregarding original argument.

    1. I'm not ignoring anything at all. Maybe you need to read it again without your Bret C. colored glasses on.


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Replies
    1. You don't know anything about that stuff. At all.

  7. Bret shouldn't be recommending anything. What's his best total? 1300 at 242? I personally know women putting up bigger numbers in the usapl (drug free) at 181. Why does this guy think he's an expert? It's kind of sad. He sounded butt hurt as hell in his little article because he'll always be weak no matter what. This is why I hate the Internet. Any loser whose done a meet all of sudden thinks they are an expert coach and have earned the right to talk shit. Bret needs to get over himself. He could take all the drugs he wants and he'd still be weak as hell. Suck it up man, go play golf or something and stop giving out shitting advice. You're FAR from qualified.

  8. "If you removed all the drugs, genetics and personal interest in strength sports would still probably produce the same world record holders that you see now because they were "made" to be world record holders"
    Agree but not with the same records. Obviously when Bret said that: "Anabolic steroids make the average lifter WAY stronger and more muscular" He means in average; the point is that the same person will be WAY stronger geared than natural regarding the same training, thats all and its simple. And the thing that is really unfair and absurd is put to compete or compare someone geared with someone natural.

    1. I forgot to say that when there is the case that roids and other drugs are used, and the one that had the genetics and interest to hold a world record decided to be natural, is not true anymore that “If you removed all the drugs, genetics and personal interest in strength sports would still probably produce the same world record holders that you see now because they were “made” to be world record holders”. But what it is really terrible of this is when it happens that in a competence that it is supposed to be drugs free someone lie about being natural.