There are three responses that are most commonly sought after by young, recreational AAS misusers: power, strength and size. These are by no means exclusive, and most seek a component of all three. Power and strength are often used synonymously, but there is a difference. Power is a metric that is most relevant to athletic performance, referring to the amount of force a muscle can produce per unit of time. The standing high jump is a commonly used measure of power. Strength is the amount of force that can be exerted in a single effort. This is best represented by the one-rep maximum (1RM) lift in the bench press, squat and deadlift.
Measuring Power and Strength
Both power and strength can be measured in absolute terms or relative terms. For example, a 242-pound powerlifter benching 500 pounds is stronger than a 181-pound lifter benching 405 pounds. However, the 181-pound lifter has greater relative strength, as his max is a greater multiple of his bodyweight – 405/181 = 2.24 versus 500/242 = 2.07. Similarly, many athletes are capable of generating greater power, despite being relatively weaker (i.e., less strong) than their powerlifting counterparts. It makes the use of the term powerlifter somewhat confusing, doesn’t it? Take the example of a shot-putter. He may be able to throw a shot 60 feet or greater, whereas a powerlifter whose strength is much greater may not reach half that distance. This demonstrates that power is an expression of the combination of a learned skill set combined with the balanced and coordinated actions of numerous muscle groups, as well as the rate at which the force can be generated. Strength is a more raw, gross motor skill, performed to demonstrate the maximal force that can be generated by large muscle groups in a controlled lift.
Size is perhaps more applicable to bodybuilders, and most recreational lifters, as they are not measured in competitions of strength or performance, rather presentation. Granted, it is a presentation that demonstrates a regimen of disciplined diet and training in a goal-directed manner, but the events themselves are scored as pageantry. The general public, while espousing the goals of becoming healthier or improving one’s physical function, is typically motivated by image and social response to a greater degree. Size can be measured in a number of ways: bodyweight; arm/chest/ thigh circumference; clothing size; site-specific measures that incorporate symmetry as a target; and even highly technical measures of muscle volume. In considering size, bodybuilders also take into consideration the composition of the increase (i.e., lean, hard mass versus general or even “doughy” gains).
Combining Several Agents
Most articles of this type will focus on single AAS that might seemingly provide power, strength or size exclusively. In fact, this is not the practical experience of the AASusing community. Certainly, most neophytes or the timidly cautious will see quickly realized gains from a single agent cycle, as will be briefly discussed. However, once a person has developed a substantial base muscle mass and has prior exposure to AAS, the “optimal” response typically requires a combination of several agents. There is a saying that “no cycle is as satisfying as your first one.”
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