New Year's brings about the usual promises to live a better, healthier life, and for gay men that invariably includes working on their physiques. Some set out to improve their diet and exercise regimen, while others take on new physical challenges. And then there are some men who consider using anabolic steroids to buff up and lean out.
Before you jump to judgment, check yourself. Those hot muscle studs you see in underwear ads or in porn movies—those men who turn you on and whom you dream of looking like? Unless they're thin and twinkish, chances are good they've done a steroid cycle or two. Only pro athletes who spend their entire days working out get those kinds of magnificent bodies naturally. Everyone else? They need help.
If not prescribed by a doctor, anabolic steroid use is illegal. We know that, but we also live in a youth-obsessed culture where having a beautiful body holds importance. Gay men work out, monitor their diets, use protein powders and supplements, all on a quest to build the perfect beast. And the payoffs seem pretty awesome: We feel full of strength and energy, have an unquenchable sex drive, and our spirits soar as a result.
Then we age, and whether we like it or not, things change.
According to a Livestrong.com article, when testosterone levels decline with age, men experience a gradual reduction in muscle density, size and strength. Testosterone stimulates the use of stored body fat for energy and keeps you looking lean, but when your levels decrease fatigue can set in from the breakdown of muscle tissue and poor energy production. It adds, "You also see an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other age-related illness that occur as testosterone levels slowly decline with age. Lower testosterone levels are associated with increased obesity, diabetes, fatigue, lower cognitive abilities, depression and heart disease."
Decreased testosterone levels are one of the reasons why we don't look as firm and fresh as we did when we first came out. So men either give up, continue fighting against that natural aging by struggling with gym workouts, or they try more radical options. One is testosterone replacement therapy, but as the website FirstToKnow.com notes, it's expensive, must be done through a doctor, and research is mixed on whether or not it actually works.
This often leads men to go with the easier route. They chat up guys at the gym, figure out who's got a steroid connection, buy some illegally, and start a cycle.
There are many problems with this last approach. For one, you haven't necessarily been taught how to properly administer the drug, and you don't really know if what you're taking is actually an anabolic steroid. Likewise, there are numerous health risks that go way beyond 'roid rage and uncontrollable acne—like an increased chance of prostate cancer and impotence.
Fortunately, there does seem to be a healthier alternative.
"The real trick is getting the body to safely start producing more testosterone on its own," the FTK article states, noting two supplement companies specializing in this arena:Nugenix and Test X180. Both products use testosterone boosting ingredients—such as one called Testofen— to "significantly pump up a person’s free testosterone levels." Additional natural ingredients help to further boost free testosterone, stamina, and libido. The result, according to the Test X180 site, is "Increased lean muscle mass and the sexual desire of a grizzly bear for incredible physical performance."
Joking aside, a study on Nugenix was held in both Irvine, California and Queensland, Australia. These reportedly showed that users had increased muscle definition and quicker recovery times, as well as increased feelings of alertness and greater endurance. Participants also showed an "Increase in sexual activity, arousal, desire, performance, and satisfaction." There were also no reported harmful side effects.
Obviously testosterone supplements like Nugenix and Test X180 aren't instant fixes—just like doing a cycle of steroids won't suddenly transform you into looking like a COLT or Raging Stallion model. You still have to eat right and hit the gym in order to get the sculpted silhouette you've been dreaming about. But companies like these are giving free samples so you can test out the product, and if they do help your sex drive and improve your workout, and don't produce the same "backne," mood swings, or health risks of anabolic steroids, then they may very well become the workout trend for gays in 2013.