How Do Anabolic Steroids Work?

How Do Anabolic Steroids Work?

Anyone who’s taken steroids will know how powerful they are for building unparalleled amounts of muscle and getting you ripped to the bone.

However, not every steroid-user knows exactly how anabolic steroids work.

…And to be fair, many probably couldn’t care.

If a gym-rat knows that a specific steroid will help him gain 30lbs of muscle in 4 weeks…that might be all he needs to know.

However, this article will go into detail about how anabolic steroids actually work to build muscle; which’ll hopefully improve your knowledge about these compounds.

“Knowledge is power.”

…and power = gains!

Firstly, no 2 steroids are identical…they all have different structures and work in different ways. But generally, all bulking steroids are pretty similar.

Bulking Steroids

Here’s a list of the most popular bulking steroids:

  • Dianabol
  • Testosterone
  • Trenbolone
  • Deca Durabolin
  • Anadrol

Bulking steroids are incredibly powerful at boosting overall muscle mass, because of several different processes that happen after a person swallows/injects these compounds.

Here are those processes…

Protein Synthesis

When you lift weights, your actually causing microscopic tears to your muscle fibers. Protein synthesis is the process that causes your muscles fibers to repair and grow back bigger and stronger.

And the higher your protein synthesis levels are, the bigger your muscles will grow.

…Which is why meatheads happily chug down 200g of protein on a daily and spend their rent money on BCAAS!

Steroids will cause a huge spike in protein synthesis, drastically speeding up muscle recovery and accelerating muscle growth. It’s unknown what % steroids increase protein synthesis by, but it’s clearly far superior to natural methods bodybuilders use to replicate this effect.


Almost everyone on the gym scene understands how powerful testosterone is for building muscle.

When somebody says…

“He’s got insane genetics!”

They’re pretty much referring to a person’s testosterone levels. Someone with naturally low testosterone levels won’t be able to build as much muscle compared to someone with high T levels.

And when you take bulking steroids like dianabol and anadrol, your testosterone levels are going to skyrocket.

This is why steroid-users can experience:

  • High libido (Wives – RIP)
  • Roid rage
  • Hair thinning
  • Increased confidence
  • Enhanced energy

These are all signs of high testosterone or classic alpha-male behaviour.

Post-cycle, your test levels may drop because your testicles stop producing testosterone. This happens as a self-defence mechanism because testosterone levels initially rise to such a high level; your body then tries to keep a homeostasis (balance) for optimal health.

However this low testosterone effect generally corrects itself after several weeks (assuming you don’t abuse steroids). It’s also normal to retain most of your gains from your cycle, even if you do experience low T afterwards.

Positive Nitrogen Balance

Steroids also create a hugely positive nitrogen balance.

What does this mean?

Here’s an accurate definition from good old Wikipedia:

Positive nitrogen balance is associated with periods of growth, hypothyroidism, tissue repair, and pregnancy. This means that the intake of nitrogen into the body is greater than the loss of nitrogen from the body, so there is an increase in the total body pool of protein. (Source: Wikipedia)

…And the more protein there is left over, the higher your protein synthesis levels will be. Boom!

So, people who are malnourished and don’t get enough calories are typical examples of people with a negative nitrogen balance. And bodybuilders who lift weights and eat in a calorie surplus will have a positive nitrogen balance.

However, your nitrogen balance on steroids will be so positive; it’ll hugely exceed any balance achieved by natural means.

Water Retention

water retention

Steroids that cause water retention are often perceived as the devil.

However, steroids that cause you to gain water weight can result in you gaining MORE muscle. Steroids like anadrol and dianabol cause fluid to enter inside the muscle cell.

As a result of this extra muscle fullness, strength levels increase, helping that person overload their body more effectively during their workouts with heavier weights.

This is the same reason why nattys take Creatine monohydrate when bulking.

Cutting Steroids

Here’s the most popular cutting steroids used by bodybuilders today:

  • Clenbuterol
  • Anavar
  • Winstrol

You can also take testosterone or trenbolone during your cut, but because these compounds are mainly used for bulking, we’ll just concentrate on the 3 above.


Clenbuterol is one of the best fat burners around, because of it’s stimulating effects on a persons’s central nervous system. By arousing the CNS in this way, it causes additional adrenaline production – which heats up the body.

Because your temperature is now elevated due to this extra adrenaline, your body starts to work hard at cooling your body back down to normal (encase it rises too high).

…This is why clen-users are more prone to sweating (because of this surplus body heat).

As your body is constantly trying to lower your temperature, your body will automatically burn more calories at rest compared to usual, effectively spiking your metabolism.


Anavar’s fat loss effects are powerful and mostly permanent, even after you finish a cycle.

But how does Anavar burn fat?

Anavar is a powerful anti-glucocorticoid, meaning it blocks cortisol.

For the unaware, cortisol is one of your bodies stress hormones. And high levels of cortisol is a bodybuilders worst nightmare, because it stores body fat and burns muscle tissue.

…essentially making you look skinny-fat.

Luckily, anavar blocks this evil hormone and consequently helps you burn significant amounts of fat and add a little muscle (if you’re lucky).

Anavar also improves insulin sensitivity. When insulin levels are high you’re more prone to storing body fat. When insulin levels become more stable than usual, you’ll experience fat burning effects which is what people experience on anavar.


Winstrol increases free testosterone levels by reducing the Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) hormone. This is what allows a person to gain muscle mass even when cutting on winny.

Winstrol’s fat burning effects come from it also being an effective anti-glucocorticoid like anavar.

Furthermore, winstrol has strong diuretic properties, helping you look even more ripped (due to less water retention).

Written by Juice Guru
Juice Guru is a bodybuilder with over 30 years of experience when it comes to steroids and performance enhancing drugs. Juice Guru uses as a platform to share his/her expert knowledge.

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This article has been fact-checked and medically reviewed by a certified doctor and nutritionist. All medical information and statements made in this article can be verified by several credible academic references/sources, cited in this article.