So we wanted to talk about one of the most taboo topics within the fitness industry right now – STEROIDS.
Steroids are undeniably a relevant topic for the fitness world and at #REPT Family towers, despite the controversy that surrounds them, we’re not too scared to talk about it.
This isn’t a blog that’s been designed to be provocative or controversial, the #REPT Family are not claiming to be pro-steroid BUT we absolutely 100% pride ourselves on being pro-education. So, in a world full of easily accessible, often potentially unreliable information, we wanted to make sure that this topic was covered and covered RIGHT so that we can be sure that our readers are getting the facts. We had a chat with the number one person we could think of in the UK on this topic – performance and image enhancing specialist Dave Crosland who, like us is massively pro-education when it comes to this stuff.
We’re aware that this information may be unlikely to change the mind of anyone who is currently using or considering using Androgenic Anabolic Steroids (AAS) or any other performance and image enhancing drugs – but at the very least we can work to encourage the safest use possible and minimize the risks to our readers all whilst sifting out just a little bit of the bullsh*t you see flying about on this topic. Dave is an impressive guy to say the least, with a lot of personal and professional knowledge and experience, as well as up to 415lbs under his belt! So let’s get to the good stuff - Dave Crosland, if you could please start by telling us what it is that you do for a living?
My official title is a performance and image enhancing drug specialist. Basically I talk or deal with steroids and steroid users. I give steroid awareness presentations to the military informing serving personnel of army policy. I lecture on the Kent police expert witness training course where I deliver the steroid training for police officers training to be expert witnesses. I’ve also trained police officers in general, on steroid use. I work in the courts as an expert witness, primarily as a defense specialist on steroid related cases. I’ve produced 2 documentaries with JG Films; one on my own steroid use and attempts to reach 400lbs (but which tracked my journey to 385lbs) and one on the world of steroid sin generally, looking at production within under ground labs the money to be made, body dysmorphia (also termed ‘bigorexia’), the laws, the health risks and other aspects. In the second of these two films, Dave also tracked his progress up to an enormous 415lbs - Both films are available from www.underconstructionthefilm.com and well worth a watch for those of you who are interested to see some frank, honest and valuable discussion about performance enhancing drugs and to learn more about Dave’s experiences personally.
I provide both harm reduction advice and general steroid advice to private users. I’m currently developing a subscription website for steroid users as well as an app (think my fitness pal for steroid users) and writing an idiot’s guide to steroid book (that one is going to be a while)… I’m also about to venture into the world of corporate speaking.
So it’s fair to say you’re a busy guy with a lot going on and that you know your sh*t (on both a personal and professional level) when it comes to steroid use, the effects and the way they’re viewed, dealt with and handled in society. That being said, where can people find you online/on social media etc. ?
On facebook as Dave Crosland, though I’m up to my 5000 limit, I do have a twitter and insta account but I’m not very active on them. The best bet it probably through my new website www.croslands.org.uk or if you email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Cool, take note people! So Dave… Have you noticed a difference in the number of people using AAS in recent years?
Yes, not only in the number of people but also the types of people. I’m seeing a lot more middle aged men looking at self administered TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy). Gone are the days when you could spot a steroid user a mile away - in fact I’d even say the vast majority of steroid users don’t look like they use and a lot don’t even look like they train.
So it sounds like steroid use is on the rise and perhaps that they aren’t being used in the most ‘economical’ way by some users. You mentioned just now that you’re noticing a difference in the types of people that are using…
Yes, massively! There is no stereotypical look to a steroid user anymore, users span a very broad base of people, types and disciplines - with the cosmetic users (people who don’t compete in any sport and use for body image purposes) probably being the biggest area of growth. However, usage across all sports has grown.
Doses have increased as drug availability has increased and the use of harsh drugs like Trenbolone (an extremely powerful anabolic steroid) has grown massively, as has HGH (Human Growth Hormone) use. Use in amateur sports has grown massively too.
Go back 15 years and users were a minority and without doubt the biggest user group was competitive bodybuilders - in comparison, that is a relatively small user group now. Steroids are being used far more flippantly and a lot earlier in peoples lifting lives. Many use steroids to achieve a look that could be achieved naturally but choose drugs as its quicker easier and requires less discipline and sacrifice.
Steroid use does seem to be very much on the rise and there’s a high likelihood that this comes hand-in-hand with impatience of today’s society and the availability/accessibility of just about everything – nowadays we just aren’t used to waiting a long time for anything and we’d all like everything sooner, rather than later - but preferably right now (think internet shopping, fast food, next day delivery). Alongside that, the accessibility of images of people who look a certain way is higher than ever before. Pictures of buff (often photo shopped) bodies are at our finger tips constantly - so the relationship between steroid use and societal pressure does make sense. This is one of the reasons that we at the #REPT Family place high importance on the notion of body confidence and lifestyle changes – not just quick fixes and inevitable rebounds (and also a reason that we have an Exercise Psychology specialist on our team). Anyway… we digress…
Dave, you speak often on your facebook etc. of the differences between casual and competitive steroid users, in your eyes what’s the difference? And which if either, is more/less dangerous?
The only difference is this: one competes and one doesn’t. Both can use irresponsibly and damage their health. However, I will say in general competitive users have a better grip on their training and diet but not always. I don’t judge either, it’s a personal decision - many feel that because your competitive it justifies usage. The only person you have to justify your usage to is yourself. It’s a personal choice. However sensible use is sensible use, dropping a load of T3 (a thyroid hormone that affects metabolism) because you’re a few lbs overweight is not sensible use. I’ve seen bad habits and massive abuse in both camps, though statistically it is the casual users that tend to misuse the drugs the most. But let’s get one thing right: pretty much all steroid users abuse them in that they don’t use them at the recommended dosages or for the purpose they were designed for.
I’ve personally abused the fuck out of them in an attempt to reach 400lb but how can you talk about high doses unless you’ve experienced them and the mindset that goes with that level of abuse.
So unless you’re prescribed steroids, technically you’re abusing them, steroid abuse – without good, solid advice from someone who genuinely knows what they’re talking about can be at best ineffective and at worst incredibly dangerous. Referencing an interview, we’ve seen you in before Dave, would probably be a really nice addition to this discussion too – use and abuse can more casually be separated in the following way: some people use steroids as a tool to reach a goal and others use them as a crux to feel better about themselves and become dependent on them for self-esteem. Psychological dependence on any substance, regardless of what it is, should be avoided!
Bearing in mind just how prevalent steroids seem to be in today’s fitness world - in the triad of training, nutrition and performing enhancing drugs how would you rank the three in order of importance when it comes to making progress in the gym?
That’s a difficult one but I’d have to put training first with nutrition a very close second and drugs last.
The reason for that is, without training you don’t stimulate growth. However, for most people they lack progress because they don’t eat enough, and with not training hard enough being a close second. To be fair, eating is by far the hardest part as its with you 24hrs a day it follows you everywhere you go. But get those two right (train hard, eat right) and most people could actually reduce their drug usage and still achieve what they are achieving currently.
What’s the biggest myth about steroids that you’d like to debunk?
Desensitization of receptors (there is a theory that steroid use can lead to ‘clogging’ of androgen receptors – receptors in our body that play a huge role in anabolic growth), it doesn’t happen. Androgen receptors have a half life of 3.1hrs if no androgen is attached and a half life of 6.6hrs if an androgen is attached. So they are constantly being replaced. (The half life relates to the speed at which it breaks down in our body).
So what you’re saying there is that there’s scaremongering surrounding steroids and only some of it is worth listening to. Those who have been taking steroids thus far will not have desensitized androgen receptors and be unable to grow if they lower or stop their use – contrary to popular belief… Take note people!
Whilst discussing some of the dangers of steroids then, in previous interviews you’ve described ‘steroid related deaths’ as being analogous to a situation in which “steroids loaded the gun but something else pulled the trigger” – bearing that in mind. What do users need to be careful to avoid whilst using AAS to help them to minimize the risk they are putting themselves at?
This depends on so many factors but basically other chemicals: alcohol, recreational drugs, strong stimulants. That’s not to say you can’t drink but consumption has to be controlled even more so than usual if you’re not tracking your health via check ups.
Really useful advice - we at the #REPT family would seriously recommend you consider researching further into this if you think you may be putting yourself at risk by using other drugs/chemicals alongside steroids... A bit like training and dieting, if something is important you often have to sacrifice other things for it to be feasible to continue safely with. Health is important – never underestimate the value of it.
People in recent times seem to be starting taking steroids right near to the beginning of their fitness journey– do you think these people are optimising their muscle growth capabilities by doing this and becoming the biggest and best that they can be? Or do you think they would benefit more from pushing their body to it’s maximum natural potential before even considering adding in other assistance?
Very much the latter. In order to maximise growth you need to maximise diet and training this takes time and experimentation to discover what is optimum for you, this will also change throughout your lifting life so the more experience you have the more you’ll know what to change and when to change it.
So what’s the number one mistake that people make when using steroids?
God knows there are so many. Not testing (getting blood tests etc. from a doctor), taking too much, not learning the basics, over complicating it, listening to the internet. I could go on…
For people who are going to use, what advice do they need to make sure they are doing so in the safest possible way?
Educate yourself or invest in a coach who is educated. And test - don’t go by feel, actually test and see what’s going on - particularly with stuff like estrogen management.
We’re glad you mentioned testing – to reiterate, whilst we love shredz and gainz at #REPT Family HQ, we work hard to ensure nothing is prioritized over health when it comes to our clients. Don’t be frightened to get tested by a doctor if you have been using or are considering using performance enhancing drugs – it is not their job to judge but to keep you in good health. Private clinics are out there too if your local doctor’s surgery doesn’t appeal.
Dave, where can people who are going to use go to get good, solid and informed advice about this type of thing?
Me lol. My new subscription website launches shortly, www.croslands.org.uk it contains drug profiles and important articles as well as a direct link to ask me for advice all for £4.99 a month.
As a takeaway message, if you could give just one piece of advice to our readers what would it be?
Don’t eat yellow snow!
This is difficult as there are so many aspects to usage both physical and psychological - I suppose the biggest tool for a user or someone considering use is information. Don’t get it from mates or forums, though there is some good info out there, its difficult for someone to decipher what’s good and what’s bullshit. Go to a recommend source, published books like ‘anabolics’ will give you a basic understanding - or a well regarded coach
Well there you have it people – from one of the most expert performance and image enhancing drugs specialists on earth! To briefly summarise our main points of discussion:
-Steroids use is on the rise and they’re being used by lots of different types of people for both performance and image enhancing purposes
-Any unprescribed steroid use is technically classified as abuse.
-There are risks associated with taking steroids, there are also ways to minimise these risks.
-Training and nutrition are likely to have a greater impact on progression in the gym than steroids.
-Steroid use doesn’t damage androgen receptors. There is still growth after steroids!
-Steroids are unlikely to kill you, using steroids alongside other drugs might.
-Using steroids sooner in your training career won’t leave you bigger in the long run,
-If you are using, then be sure to be getting checked regularly by a doctor to make sure you’re in good health.
-For good advice on safe steroid use go to www.croslands.org.uk or email Dave at email@example.com
- Also check out www.underconstructionthefilm.com for Dave’s documentaries on steroids.
-None of our interviewees can give just one good piece of advice because they’re all too knowledgeable!
Thank you so much Dave, this has been really frank and informative – it’s been a real pleasure talking to you - we know how busy you are so really appreciate you taking the time. Your efforts at making the world of steroids a safer place are remarkable. A big #REPT Family salute to you!
Watch this space for our next blog!