Actual and Perceived Effects of Anabolic Steroid Use on Maximal Strength Performance: A Brief Review

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Physical Education

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EC Neurology

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Anabolic steroids (AS) have been repeatedly identified as an effective way to increase muscle size, strength, and plasma free-testosterone levels with or without exercise. Improving these variables can give athletes a performance advantage in competitive sports. Steroid use is generally a taboo subject around athletes, and as such, it represents a powerful psychological tool as much as it acts physiologically. The expectancy effect of AS is so powerful that even administration of a “steroid placebo” can significantly increase one repetition maximum (1RM) in advanced powerlifters and varsity athletes over a short intervention. The motivational and self-efficacy components of believed AS usage can improve strength at a significantly faster rate than high intensity resistance training alone. Not only do AS work physiologically to increase muscle size and strength, but AS administration may alter intensity perception, resulting in notable strength improvements.

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