We have all heard the stories of BJJ and MMA fighters, both male and female, getting busted using steroids. Sometimes we are surprised and other times not so much. Why do these athletes feel compelled to take performance enhancing drugs? The answer is testosterone.
Testosterone injections can make male rats more aggressive in marking their territories, cause castrated red deer to grow antlers, and induce female rhesus monkeys to screech like males.
To put it simply, some athletes believe that taking synthetic anabolic steroids will propel them to the next level. The hope is for stronger muscles, increased aggression and faster recovery times.
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu we are taught to focus on technique rather than strength, and leverage rather than force. However some athletes at high levels of competition feel that technique becomes relatively equal on the mats and in the cage, therefore strength and athleticism become important again. It is one thing to beat an athletic, unskilled fighter with technique and leverage. That changes completely once both competitors are the same size and generally drink from the same pool of knowledge.
The question for these athletes than becomes, to cheat? or not to cheat?
Both men and women produce testosterone naturally, but under normal conditions women only possess about 10% of what males have.
In my researching of this article I found that, ironically enough, studies are now showing that men having low levels of testosterone can be a tremendous health risk. If testosterone levels decline, various symptoms may arise. Men may experience fatigue, weight gain, loss of libido, decreased mental sharpness, loss of motivation, mood swings or irritability and declining muscle mass. Research has linked declining testosterone values to several chronic diseases and risk factors, including heart disease and vascular disease. Lower testosterone also correlates with worsening blood sugar levels in diabetics and decreased heart strength. Other studies have shown worse heart function in men with lower free testosterone levels. Finally, there is an overall increased mortality rate among men with lower testosterone values. One study has even shown that certain men with lower testosterone levels may be at risk for more aggressive prostate cancer than those with higher testosterone levels. [Source]
These health issues will certainly degrade and lessen one’s abilities to perform well at Jiu Jitsu and MMA.
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What are the risks involved with taking synthetic steroids or PEDs? Men may develop prominent breasts, shrunken testicles, prostate gland enlargement, infertility and impotence. Women may develop a deeper voice, an enlarged clitoris, increased body hair, infrequent and/or absent periods. Both men and women may experience baldness, severe acne, liver abnormalities, increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), high blood pressure, heart and circulatory problems, rage, violence, depression, and drug dependence. Use among teenagers can inhibit future growth. [Source]
[WARNING] The video below is graphic and disturbing but it shows how harmful steroids can be.
It is clear from research that steroid and PED abuse can lead to a host of other problems. It is also clear that having low testosterone can pose significant health risks. The bottom line is talk to your doctor and have your levels checked regularly. There is a ton of information, articles and other blogs out there about steroids and testosterone in BJJ and MMA. This article is simply my non-expert opinion on the matter. WBBJJ.com doesn’t condone any illegal activity whatsoever, especially black market injectable drugs.
Are there ways to boost your testosterone naturally? The answer is yes! I suggest checking out this great article from a fellow BJJ practitioner to see how.
Also get the truth about over-the-counter testosterone boosters here.