When I was a young boy, emerging muscles were coolest thing. If a vein popped out a little, that was even more awesome. There were no fitness centers or body building gyms to amount to anything back then (Stone Age). If you aspired to brawn, Charles Atlas paraphernalia advertised in comic books was guaranteed to help you turn cards on guy who kicked sand in your face on beach last summer. Back then, muscles seemed more legitimate if you earned them from work on farm or from other labor. Muscles from exercise were thought of as sort of “artificial”. So I did lots of farm work and construction in summers. But leaving nothing to chance, I also cheated by building my own weight set with a pipe that I would insert into holes of cement blocks. My dad was of school that I had better be careful or I could get all “muscle bound” if I exercised too much. I guess he must have worried as he saw me in back yard hoisting my pipe with blocks dangling from each end. But I loved exercise and reveled in pumped feeling in my biceps.
Sorry to sound so narcissistic. But it’s way all of us “guys” thought. We would even compare bumps on school bus every morning and banter about who could do most push-ups. This is not to say muscles and fitness are still not important to me, but now I focus primarily on exercise that will help me stay healthy, in shape and trained for competitive sports I play.
I bring this up not to brag or appall you, but as a backdrop for current situation in sport and bodybuilding worlds. Now that society is off farm, exercise has become a perfectly legitimate way to replace physical activity lost with modern living. The use of hormones to force body to grow in a way it would never do naturally, however, is a perversion of what should be clean and healthy personal development. Anabolic hormones totally miss point of it all. The freaky bodies that can result are aberrations, yet magazines are filled with their photo spreads as if drug induced bodies are icons we should emulate and aspire to.
Aside from fact that only people with natural bodies and developed talents should compete in sports (otherwise drugs are competing, not athletes), real tragedy is toll on health any hormone can take. Of all drugs I used in medical practice, hormones scared me most. They could create dramatic and immediate results (and that is their allure), but hormone treatment continued for any length of time always seemed to come back to harm patient and haunt me.
An example in humans is use of testosterone patches in women to increase libido. Take them very long and although your passion may be triggered, your voice will deepen and a beard will start to grow (not so good for libido of husband). Corticosteroids for allergies can result in extremely serious adrenal gland diseases, immune suppression and vulnerability to infection. In veterinary medicine same things can happen. One situation I am reminded of that occurred many years ago was related to hormones given to dogs for birth control. Years after discontinuing drugs, treated dogs would present to veterinarians with life threatening illness, extreme thirst and white blood cell counts off charts. When their enlarged abdomens were surgically explored, a gigantic uterus would be found filled with pus – quarts of it! All this just because a little ole hormone was given years ago without a hint of an immediate ill effect.
You see, body is extremely wise. It is not fooled or endlessly forgiving. If you break your arm and put it in a sling, muscles don’t grow bigger, they atrophy. Why? Because body is also efficient. Why grow muscles or even maintain them if they are not needed? When sling is removed, arm will have lost much of its strength. The body shuttled its resources into building bigger muscles in arm that had to do double duty. It’s a very pragmatic thing. The body doesn’t pay attention to your agenda; it just does what it must to stay alive, make do and meet stress.