What happened, my friend? You wanted to google steroids, but noticed a police officer behind your back? «Legal steroids» sounds like a weird search, since, like, everyone knows that steroids are illegal.
I assume you’re looking for a legal way to get all the benefits of anabolics – like muscle mass growth, endurance boost, and strength gains – without any kind of consequences from law enforcement and fewer health risks.
Do Legal Steroids Even Exist?
Well, I’ve got some good news for you. Call them «steroids» as much as you want, but there’s a whole spectrum of completely legal non-steroidal muscle builders that will give you everything you want from your steroids, with some differences that I will highlight. Here is a shortlist of the most notable:
You can argue that those are not steroids at all, but I’m still sure that those are exactly what you are looking for. Let’s talk definitions first. “Steroids” – according to Britannica, and all other possible dictionaries – are a «class of compounds characterized by a molecular structure of 17 carbon atoms arranged in four rings».
No one, ever, said, «Oh, you’re so massive and shredded, it’s a pity you got all this WITHOUT the help of synthetic compounds with exactly 17 carbon atoms, arranged in 4 rings».
People will admire only the physique you achieve, by whatever means you find necessary. And since you want to take all the WADA-prohibited illegal workout supplements from the equation, here are all the «legal steroids» that you need. Let’s take a closer look.
On a side note: this article is NOT about TestoCrazy, NandroBulk, and all other bullshit GainsMax-3000 non-steroid “muscle builders”.
Beta-Alanine – a Legal Anabolic
What is even this thing? From the medical point of view, Beta-Alanine is a natural amino acid. You already get it in small amounts from all meat, fish, and chicken that you eat. It’s a popular supplement that is produced all over the world in large quantities, and it’s extremely cheap.
Beta-Alanine by itself is quite a useless thing, but it’s the most efficient – if not the only – way for a human to get more Carnosine. This dipeptide amino acid works in your muscles and can fit in either as an extra brick for your muscle tissue building or as an energy cell for a short burst of rapid movements.
As a fun fact: Carnosine is the exact substance that allows dogs, horses, or birds to run like crazy when they sense danger. Ever seen a dog or a chicken just BURST from a place? That’s a proven effect of this substance.
Unfortunately, there’s no way you can take Carnosine by itself. According to multiple studies, like this one, it just doesn’t reach the target. That’s why you need Beta-Alanine to trigger the enhanced natural production of it in your body.
And this is what difference it will make to your workouts – with all the necessary proofs:
- Muscle growth. In this study on professional football players and wrestlers, Beta-Alanine turned out to increase the muscle mass in the short term of 8 weeks. And we’re talking about pure muscle gains, zero water retention.
- Endurance Boost. it’s a primary function of Carnosine. With Beta-Alanine, you can run longer – and faster, because your muscles just don’t get fatigued that fast. This rather old study on sprinters even lists the number of exact muscles that it affects, and calves get the best boost – up to 37%. It’s also a «legal steroid» of choice for professional cyclists, you can read about their weird experiments here.
- Strength Gains. It’s most notable in the leg days. Here a study proves that it gives you the best results on your lower body muscles. However, you STILL get strength gains in general, just not that outstanding.
So, pure muscle gains, endurance, and strength boost – sounds pretty much like thing you would call one of those legal steroids. Just with several extra benefits:
- You can take it for a whole year, your body doesn’t get tired of beta-Alanine;
- It’s not a hormonal thing, so female athletes can take it as well.
- It’s extremely cheap in most countries and you can get it everywhere without a prescription.
It even has a side effect, like a real steroid! It’s commonly called «tingling», aka paraesthesia: little burning sensations, goosebumps or itching, that occur for no reason. Your central nervous system gets used to the compound in about a month, so the effect will go away.
You can get pretty much the same effects from Beta-Alanine, that you would get from a small dosage of a SARM, just with fewer risks.
By the way, SARMS are prohibited by WADA and you can’t take them before getting on stage in a competition, but they’re absolutely legal to buy as «research compounds». If that’s the kind of legal anabolics you’re looking for, check out our complete guide on SARMS and how to deal with them.
Creatine – Internet’s Favourite Non-Steroidal Muscle Builder
Yes, we are fully aware that Creatine is a meme. At this point, it has become a damn Internet joke for not being a real steroid. Since it’s insanely popular among beginner athletes, you can typically hear high-school IFBB-pros bragging about «feeling juiced up» after a fabled dose of 5 grams of Creatine. It somewhat damages the compound’s reputation.
However, if we separate overhyped stuff from facts and science, Creatine is STILL a useful thing for your workouts. It won’t make you «shripped», it won’t give you any INSANE results, but you still can get a couple of things from it. Here they are:
- Muscle growth. You sure will look bloated AF, since creatine is a «wet» compound, but it actually gives you LEAN gains as well, as it’s been proven in studies here, here, or here;
- Strength boost. As this study shows proves, with all the proper diet and exercise, your bench press can go up to 45% in a rather short term. Another study here approves this result;
- IGF-1 production enhancement. Insulin-like Growth Factor is a natural substance that your body produces by itself, and it’s one of the most important things for muscle growth. Creatine has been proven to boost it as well.
- Reduced protein destruction. It practically means that Creatine will give you more material to build new muscle tissue.
The controversial compound takes a gigantic part of the whole supplements market. It’s, like, the MOST popular supplement of all, with billions in sales every year. A ton of studies support its effects, but aside from them – we have anecdotal experience.
There are some things worth noting as well, especially for aspiring athletes, who can be fooled by the marketing tricks. It’s vital to understand these:
- Creatine WILL NOT make you as bulk as anabolic steroids would. It’s legal, it’s safer, it’s cheaper, but it’s not that powerful;
- Creatine WILL NOT give you any superpowers in terms of endurance. It applies to HIIT, CrossFit, and any other kinds of high-intensity workouts. You will FEEL better in the gym, probably more energetic, but it’s not a long-term thing;
- Most importantly – Creatine WILL NOT give you A LOT of long-term gains. Some of them will definitely stay with you, thanks to all the secondary effects of Creatine, but a significant part will vanish with the intramuscular water when you’ll cut.
You need to lower your expectations and don’t jump around like crazy. Instead, calmly enjoy the fact that all the secondary effects – even though they are NOT as extreme and edgy as the market is trying to convince you – come with no sides.
There are dozens of studies on Creatine safety, and none of them has concluded ANY serious negative side effects.
In this long-term research, 4 years of daily Creatine intake resulted in zero consequences. So, jokes aside, with Creatine, whatever you get – you get it for free.
L-Theanine – The Best Pre-Workout Steroid
We’ve got to thank Charles Poliquin for this one. Legendary Canadian coach (for those unfamiliar, he’s the sensei behind Ben Pakulski, David Boston, and many other professional athletes) has introduced this amino-acid to the bodybuilding world.
You probably know Theanine as a relaxing thing that comes from green tea and helps you sleep better, but that’s not all it can give you.
Theanine works as a natural booster for caffeine in all your pre-training compounds. With a tiny dose of Theanine, it turns into a real pre-workout steroid.
No, it doesn’t make caffeine more powerful. Instead, it’s proven to make caffeine effects more precise and delicate. Theanine strips your pre-workout blend from all the nasty sides that you can get from caffeine in high doses:
- Mild tremors;
- Hard time concentrating on things;
- Elevated BP and faster heart rate;
- Reduced risk of a caffeine crash.
So, you still get all the benefits – like more energy, better stamina, aggression towards all the weights you have to lift the shit out of, BUT you get it all in a smooth, controllable, side effects and jittering-free manner. It’s a legal steroid not for you, but for caffeine.
Besides, L-Theanine improves several areas of your life that are crucial for bodybuilding:
- Easier concentration on really important things, like your diet or supplements intake timing. Theanine is proven to give your cognitive side a boost;
- Better sleep quality. It’s also a well-researched fact, and I can’t stress enough how important good sleep is for your physique. All the anabolic processes happen during your sleep, and you get rid of all the stress, which boosts all the muscle-destroying catabolic processes;
- It makes your reaction sharper. This Japanese study shows that Theanine can improve your reaction time significantly. It’s not just an overall good thing, but if you drop some weights on your foot… boy, you wish you can catch them on time.
So, is it a potent pre-workout steroid by itself? Nope. Will it give you any crazy gains? Nope. However, it will improve your workout QUALITY and make your pre-training compounds more effective. With these effects, you can achieve more with all other compounds.
How To Get Steroid-Level of Benefits from Non-steroidal Compounds
You might wonder, why is there no Magnesium, or other Amino acids, or Protein… And the answer is – your damn Google search was about legal steroids, not performance enhancement compounds.
Thousands of substances can improve your training or physique in one way or another, but only a few of them can compare to anabolic steroids in terms of efficiency or unique effects.
THESE boys, along with a proper diet, a highly intensive workout regimen, good technics, and definitely a chunk of determination can give you a similar physique to those, who run mild doses of mild anabolic steroids.
Of course, they can’t replace illegal workout supplements completely, but they are definitely legal and much safer. Just what you most probably wanted.