Prohormones (a.k.a. pro-steroids or legal steroids) came onto the bodybuilding scene in 1996 and then, much like creatine, stormed into the public consciousness in 1998 when Mark McGuire said that he had used androstendione (“andro,” the first type on the market) as a performance enhancer.
From that time forward, the supplements have been controversial in the bodybuilding supplement industry.
While once it was questioned whether or not the early versions were effective at all (if they were at all effective, they certainly didn’t justify their cost), few question the abilities of the more recent versions.
To add lean muscle mass while minimizing fat gains, the educated and safe use of prohormones can be highly effective.
Update: Prohormones Banned
On January 20, 2005, prohormones in the US were officially banned as a result of the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004. This was an act which was signed into law on October 22, 2004 (to be effective 90 days later) and, with regards to prohormones, trumped the Dietary Supplement Health and Regulation Act (DSHEA) of 1994 which is what allowed their legal manufacturing and distribution.
This means that the distribution, sale and even possession of prohormones (andro) are now punishable crimes. They are now controlled substances. So, be careful if you have some.
While this law only affects prohormones, the fact that it has overruled DSHEA in order to create the ban is of serious concern. Bills that would change the status of creatine and other bodybuilding supplements are at the ready.
If you appreciate the freedoms you have in deciding what dietary supplements you use to improve your health and fitness, I encourage you to let Washington know.
I do not use pro-steroids nor do I recommend them at this time. Research and studies need time to catch up to the rapid advance of these bodybuilding supplements before I will feel safe putting them into my body. But I am intrigued…
If you are interested in using prohormones it is highly recommended that you get further information. Safe and effective use can be a complicated matter.
Because they become the anabolic compounds that anabolic steroids are when converted in the body, all discussions in the Anabolic Steroids Section are relevant. While reviewing anabolic steroid information when considering pro-steroids is appropriate, one should not make the mistake of considering them to be one and the same. There are huge differences.
What are Prohormones?
Prohormones are hormonal substances that when digested can be converted to active anabolic hormones via a natural enzymatic process. The anabolic compounds they convert to are what would be considered anabolic steroids if taken in an already converted form. The need for natural enzymes and conversion is what differentiates them from illegal anabolic steroids.
Prohormones work by increasing the levels of anabolic hormones in the body which stimulate androgen receptors to build strength and size. They signal more of digested nutrients to be used in muscle building processes and have less availability for fat storage.
The capabilities of pro-steroids are limited by the natural availability of the needed enzymatic reactions. Within the body, the needed enzymes have a limited supply. Therefore, there is a ceiling on the amount that can be taken and be effective (whereas anabolic steroids are dose dependent). This limits the muscle building capabilities as well as the potential harmful side effects of them as compared to anabolic steroids. But, essentially, the effects on the body, on a much lesser level, basically mirror that of anabolic steroids.
In other words, prohormones are basically weak anabolic steroids.
The above is true of all the current prohormones (2003) being sold with the exception of 1-Testosterone. 1-Testosterone represents the latest in legal steroid alternatives. It is marketed as a prohormone but, in actuality, it is a genuine anabolic steroid because it has no dependence on naturally occurring enzymes. It is legal under the same act that legalizes prohormones, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, because it is both naturally occurring and has never before been pursued as a pharmaceutical.
What Are The Risks?
Like anabolic hormones, pro-steroids can also convert into estrogens and cause the side effects associated with anabolic steroids (click here for a listing of side effects of anabolic steroids). The ceiling on the enzymes needed for the conversion to hormones should drastically lower the likelihood of these side effects. However, due to the relative newness of pro-steroids, the exact risk of use is not fully known.
For Those Who Choose To Use…
Like all bodybuilding supplements, the results you attain while using prohormones will be highly dependent on your weight gain diet and your weight training program. Before considering use you should be a dedicated dieter and trainer. Otherwise, they will not be able to do all they can do and you will not get the value for your investment (they can be expensive).
Educating yourself about pro-steroids will also be critical to your success with their use. These are serious supplements that can produce serious side effects. They should not be considered to be on par with other bodybuilding supplements such as glutamine and creatine in terms of safety simply because they are all legal. There is a lot to learn about the various pro-steroids available and their safe use – diones and diols, types, stacks, cycles, doses and more.
Do not make the mistake of relying on manufacturer labels and advertisements as your source of information.
Prohormones are the most ridiculously hyped of all bodybuilding supplements. Supplement companies exploit the general lack of knowledge and make outrageous and sometimes dangerous claims. There are great differences in the effectiveness and safety of the various products on the market and those wishing to use them should make every effort to seek out unbiased opinions and prohormone reviews in order to settle on the best prohormone for their needs and wants.
With no prohormones to aid your muscle building quest, where do you look for help?
Of the current muscle building supplements on the market, only one stands out as a proven performer and true difference-maker. That supplement of course, is creatine.
From there, supplements like glutamine, ZMA and a few others may give you a little boost… but are they anywhere near as powerful as the prohormones were? Unfortunately, despite their marketer’s claims, they aren’t even close.