Are steroids the actor’s answer to a perfect body? Here’s what you might not know.
Think about some of the leading men in today’s most popular movies.
Butler in the movie 300.
Hugh Jackman in the movie X-men.
Hemsworth in the movie Thor.
These actors have some killer bodies and it sells movies. Men and women see heroes on the big screen and want to live up to that image.
If you look to sources like Men’s Health, you’re going to see a bunch of exercises that these actors supposedly do. Guess what – there’s more to it. Various supplement companies decide to jump in on the fun, saying that it was their product, yes their product, that gave the actors such awesome gains.
But of course what we want to know is if those guys were on steroids. More important, we want to determine whether athletes not using drugs can achieve this kind of godly physique.
If not, it’s time to adjust our expectations.
Actors and Steroids: What’s the Real Deal?
Not many people are really familiar with performance enhancing steroids and everything that go along with them. Generally, people think that steroids are going to give you a super-human like growth in muscles; others claim that there aren’t any kind of major adaptations possible unless the person is abusing the steroids.
Generally, people think that steroids are going to give you a super-human like growth in muscles; others claim that there aren’t any kind of major adaptations possible unless the person is abusing the steroids.
That last part is most certainly not true. However, certain transformations like actors gaining 20 pounds of muscle in a summer for a new film may be setting unreasonable expectations in our minds.
Finally, the third side of the steroid argument is this – some people believe that steroids are incredibly dangerous; others believe that drinking alcohol is more dangerous than using steroids to enhance performance. Each person must make their own decisions about their body; but don’t forget the law says otherwise on this issue.
So all opinions aside, what exactly are the cold hard facts here?
Maatricht University can help us out here. They did an extensive study involved with anabolic steroids. They found that the muscle gains on those doing resistance training (while also taking anabolic steroids) were generally between 2-5 kg (which is about 4.5-11 pounds) over the course of 10 weeks.
The biggest amount of muscle growth the scientists found?
Over the course of 6 weeks, they found 7 kg (about 15.5 pounds) of weightlifting while the volunteers were on steroids.
Are There Natural Alternatives to Steroids?
Now let’s look at a newbie who isn’t on drugs, but is following a strength building program and proper muscle building diet. This person can be expected to gain anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds of pure muscle during his first lifting year – assuming he does everything correctly.
Another study focused on an elite bodybuilder and shows the power of steroids.
The researchers decided to watch him for 12 months. During that time, he used steroids for the entire time except for 4 weeks. And within that year, he ended up gaining 15 pounds of pure muscle.
Obviously, considering his strength and experience, this is pretty dramatic.
Finally, McLean Hospital took a look into this as well. But first, we need to talk about lean body mass. This is basically everything that’s found in your body that doesn’t actually have fat, so things like water, bone, and muscle. Fat-free mass index (FFMI) is the unit of measure based on how muscular you are. This number is divided by the fat-free body mass divided by your height.
Back to the study. They looked into 157 male athletes, some of which included major bodybuilders, half of whom used steroids and half who had never. Of the men who used steroids, about two-thirds of these men had used them within the last year.
They found that the men who used steroids had an FFMI of around 25.
He was about 22. The best physique without drugs was at 25, with the best physique with drugs at 32.
So what does this mean?
Steroids, while illegal, do work; but they’re not the only way to build muscle.
Are Steroids Really the Way Actors Gain Muscle So Quickly?
When it comes to actors, you’ve probably already realized that these guys need to gain muscle and lose lots of fat in order to land their movie roles.
There’s also a lot of money on the line with big Hollywood movies–not unlike professional sports, but without the testing agencies to keep the playing field even.
In fact, every once in a while, we’ll hear some crazy news, like someone had to gain over 20 pounds of pure muscle within a few months, all while trying to stay lean, or cutting back on their body fat. Gaining muscle while losing fat is never easy, but can normally be achieved over longer periods of time.
In fact, if you’re having trouble gaining muscle mass, you should check out 8 Reasons You’re Not Gaining Muscle and check your routine for holes.
In the same way that photo-shopped images of swimsuit models can set unrealistic expectations for women, we have a way of letting our imaginations get the best of us when we look at super jacked actors.
The fact is if you ask most fitness experts, they’ll tell you: these guys are getting some extra help.
With these kinds of gains being thrown around out there, this just isn’t possible to achieve over short periods of time without using steroids. If you’re a newbie to weightlifting scene and aren’t using drugs, and gaining about half a pound of muscle on a weekly basis, that’s a pretty good job.
There’s a chance you’re going to be able to hit up to 1 pound of muscle a week in your first few months, especially if you make some good beginners’ luck gains.
However, if you’re a more experienced lifter, and you’ve been doing it on a regular basis for a while, you’re going to be lucky if you’re able to get over 5 pounds of new muscle in a year – and this is with continual training.
The simple answer?
Yeah, a lot of actors turn to steroids to help them get ready for the movies they star in.
Who Uses Steroids and Who Doesn’t?
In Hollywood, we don’t know who turns to steroids and who doesn’t.
And we certainly aren’t here to point fingers. It is our goal to motivate our readers. So the last thing we want is for you to be discouraged because you’re comparing your progress to that of someone with an illegal edge.
Many of these actors aren’t interested in weightlifting in order to keep healthy all year-round.
However, they do have some pretty big bonuses to using steroids in order to help them get ready. First of all, they’re getting paid the big bucks. This can do a lot to change a person’s mind about how far they’re willing to go.
Though it varies depending on the actor and the film, we’re talking millions here.
And the temptation to cheat comes with the possibility of fame. Which then in turn, changes into more money, because they’re getting more recognized and more in demand.
This’ll put them on a pretty tight schedule to get big, while staying lean. Here’s one of the biggest perks they have – the best doctors at their fingertips. They’re the doctors of the stars, who keep an eye on this process to make sure everything runs smoothly and any negative side effects aren’t messing anything up.
So really, the only thing that might hold an actor back from turning to steroids is a personal choice for them. There’s also the question of legality in steroids. The laws and rules vary depending on where you’re located. But think about this for a second. Hollywood actors tend to get away with a lot more than the average joe.
You have to ask yourself if those kind of risks are really worth it for you.
Flip to any entertainment channel or magazine and you’ll see yet another celeb getting in trouble for drinking and driving or getting caught with drugs.
Yet somehow, they don’t get the same punishment we mortals do. Instead, they get a small slap on the wrists and their lives continue. Sometimes, they’ll offer up a public apology and that’s about it.
So if they want to use steroids, they probably don’t have much to worry about. Not the law, perhaps less about the health effects, given doctors’ involvement. Unlike sports, there aren’t any official groups in charge of testing actors for performance enhancing steroids like the World Anti-Doping Agency. For the most part, all actors have to deal with is putting some time into the gym, and letting their agents and doctors and everyone else handle the risks.
This isn’t the case for everyone, and it doesn’t make steroids the right answer for anyone. The point is to stop comparing ourselves to bodies who are being enhanced unnaturally. This sets us up for disappointment and discouragement.
And it’s pretty obvious what side these famous actors are on if we take a look at how they eat and how they train.
The answer is staring us right in the face. Generally, when an actor is asked how he prepared for a role, he’ll stay something like he worked out for over 2 hours every single day, yes 7 days a week, and then on top of all that, he worked on conditioning. Interval training for gains is an excellent way to build muscle and burn fat, but to add 20 pounds of muscle in a couple months–there’s more to that tale.
In fact, some people will say they’re hanging out in the gym for 4 to 7 hours a day.
Obviously, this kind of training would absolutely slaughter even the best of athletes, yet somehow, these celebs are doing this constantly.
What About Actors’ Diets?
What about their diets?
Surely there is some value to learning about the exercise and diet programs that actors are using to achieve the bodies they need for movies. Even if you’re not going to take the same “vitamins,” we can learn something here. Think about it, movie producers are only hiring the best coaches and nutritionists money can buy.
So how do they eat?
After all, they have access to private chefs and nutritionists. Well, they’re pounding down thousands and thousands of calories on a daily basis. Of course, there’s some major protein intake mixed in here. But despite all these calories, and the occasional cheat day, they still manage to stay lean. Yet they’re also nice and big with fantastic muscle definition.
Do you know how much protein you need to build muscle?
If you don’t do drugs, and you tried to handle this kind of regimen with 5 hours of training a day, what do you think would happen? First, you’d probably have a heart attack from overtraining yourself. And next, you’d probably get pretty fat, because you’re chowing down on all those calories and don’t have the anabolism present to put them ALL to work.
We aren’t trying to call out some celebs here or shed hatred on the various Hollywood actors. Rather, we just want to tell you that you’re able to build muscle on your own. And that comes down to a few basic but critical elements. Things like training hard, eating the right kinds of food in the right amounts, and not over or under training yourself.
Most importantly today though, our goal is to help you set realistic goals and be mindful of your fitness role models.
Beyond Actors and Steroids: Making Your Own Way Without Performance Enhancers
You should do whatever you want with your body. However, every day, there’s more and more people reaching the results they want, without turning to the use of steroids.
So it can be done. Now, to the level of Jackman and Hemsworth in a couple of months, maybe not. But you aren’t going to get it spending 10 hours a day in the gym. A lot of people think this is the solution, but it’s not. If you’re trying to beat a plateau, there are other ways.
In fact, it’s going to have the exact opposite results of what you want.
You’re going to overtrain yourself and burn out. And then you’re going to back at square one, if you have the motivation to finish it out. It can be a frustrating cycle that might seem never-ending. And that’s why you want to make sure you’re patient when it comes to seeing results.
If you’re eating a healthy muscle building diet and training on a consistent basis, you’re going to see the results. It might take a few months or a year, but you will see it.
There are various fitness gurus who will tell you there’s a certain amount of muscle you’re able to build naturally. If you look to Lyle McDonald, he has a pretty set scale on how much someone can gain naturally. If a male is doing the proper training for a year, he can expect about 20-25 pounds of potential muscle gain. For 2 years, that number goes down to 10-12 pounds. Hit year 3 and that number goes down to 5-6. Anything 4 years or more is a mere 2-3 pounds.
So yes, eventually your body will plateau and you will stop having the same level of gains. Many different things, including your age, body type and your starting condition, factor into this. The older you get, the less you’re going to gain. If you’re underweight, you might gain more than this, which is great. If you’re looking for the skinny guy’s guide to gaining muscle, there are some extra techniques that can help you there as well.
Various other things, like your lifestyle, your genes and your hormones play a role here. The important thing is that there is an ocean of information and a sea of athletes who achieve the bodies of their dreams without steroids.
The purpose of this article is to give you a better understanding of some of these amazing transformations that have taken place in Hollywood when you’re comparing your own progress. It’s great to have heroes, but don’t fault yourself for not looking like Christian Bale in Batman.
It’s easy to look at a before and after picture of a celeb who had to pack on 20 pounds of muscle for a role and get frustrated. After all, you’ve been training for years. The actor landed his role 4 months ago and he’s already a lot further ahead than you are.
So what gives?
Now you know.
It’s never too late to start your training and lifestyle changes. Instead, just take it steady.
Over time, it’s consistency that will keep you moving forward. You don’t have to turn to steroid use. It can be particularly dangerous when you don’t have access to doctors and various other connections like actors do.
Our suggestion is to, of course, train natural. You might surprise yourself with how great your results are.
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