Athletes are always looking for ways to improve their results. This quest has led to the development of various training methods, not only for the body but also for the mind. Everything gets dialed in to prepare for big events since the stakes can be incredibly high. A win can be the ticket to a full scholarship, a big sponsorship, a spot on the national team, and endless other opportunities. Sometimes they turn to legal supplements to boost their output. At other times, they turn to the questionable practice of using banned substances like anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. Let’s look closer at the difference between these two:
The main benefit of steroids is clear. It can be used to speed up muscle gain which is handy if you would like to bulk up. This is one of the reasons why they are so popular among bodybuilders. What usually takes years to build up can be achieved in months. The addition of muscles also serve to increase strength such that heavier weights can be lifted in the gym. Some people might use HGH to get more muscles but the gains will not be as substantial. If anything, it will help in terms of having better definition.
Another key difference between the two is the side effects that one can expect to see and feel after prolonged usage. There isn’t much for users of HGH but there are a lot for those that rely on steroids. The development of secondary sexual characteristics of the opposite sex is often pointed out. For example, men may see their chest growing thanks to added fats in this area. The male sex organ may also shrink in size, while the voice shifts to a higher pitch. As for women, the front of the hairline may recede and male pattern baldness may occur. The voice will lower with the growth of an Adam’s apple.
HGH is used by many as a way to rejuvenate themselves. A study in the 90s concluded that regular injections to senior men over half a year allowed them to exhibit signs of age reversal. According to the Rudman paper, his test subjects were measured to have greater lean muscle tissue, reduced fat, thicker skin, and denser bones. It was as if they turned back time for up to two decades. This started the public’s fascination with growth hormone as anti-aging treatment. Note that a lot of critics have pointed out flaws in the study since then.
As for performance, there has been no direct correlation between using HGH and improved results. The small increase in lean muscle mass does not have a significant impact on a person’s ability to lift weights. Nor does it improve cardiovascular fitness by a substantial amount. Perhaps the tiny improvements are statistically insignificant but still highly appreciated by elite athletes who need every advantage they can find. Whatever the case, it is clear that steroids provide a much more pronounced enhancement.
Most of the people who have been caught using HGH have claimed that they were trying to speed up their recovery. Athletes push themselves to the edge just to be better than their rivals. This doesn’t only happen in competition but also in the months of training leading up to an event. Overuse injuries and acute injuries can happen. Growth hormone may speed up tissue repair although this needs to be tested in the labs for more conclusive evidence.
In summary, anabolic steroid and HGH are often lumped together but they are really quite different substances. Each have their own effects, benefits, and downsides that people must be aware of.