Gear in Bodybuilding and Should You Use It?

Gear in bodybuilding refers to steroids or PEDs that can be used for both gaining muscle as well as for burning excess fat. Interestingly enough the same term can also be used to describe various equipment such as weightlifting belts, wrist and knee wraps, etc. Most bodybuilders prefer not to talk about it openly but it is fairly common for them to use such stuff, especially among those that want quick results or those that want to compete.

Even though you can now find some professional bodybuilders speaking about their steroid and drug use on social media (a massive shift from just a couple of years ago), you should not expect a random dude in the gym to spill all the beans with regards to his gear use and if you pester him into doing so you might end up with a black eye.

I am sure you must have noticed that a couple of professional bodybuilders have lost their lives because of a sudden heart attack in the past few years (with such incidences growing in number with the passage of time). Even though there’s no one saying that steroid use is behind all these incidences, a sudden massive heart attack is one of the side effects of taking steroid use to the next level. Check out more on bodybuilders who died young because of steroid use by clicking here.

Interestingly enough, it is not just the bodybuilders who use such gear. Even athletes are also known to use performance-enhancing drugs or steroids such as Dianabol and Winstrol to get an edge over their competitors. Those that are caught using such drugs or fail the dope test are not only banned from competing but also bring a lot of shame to their respective countries.

Gear in bodybuilding
What is Gear in Bodybuilding

Gear in Bodybuilding – What is Gear?

As stated above, gear in bodybuilding refers to anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs that can help you get better results from your workouts whether you are trying to get jacked with solid muscle or get past a plateau by increasing strength or get lean and shredded by burning excess fat from your body.

In a nutshell, gear is a term that can be used for:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Cutting steroids or fat burners

Most bodybuilders who do gear use different drugs at different times of the year. For instance, during the off-season, they use bulking steroids such as Dianabol or Deca Durabolin and when preparing for a contest or show, they use steroids that are good for cutting such as Anavar or Winstrol. Clenbuterol, even though not a steroid, is also often used to burn fat and to get ripped.

Furthermore, bodybuilders may also stack two, three or even four steroids to get the most out of them. Most guys use three or four steroids right before a competition and limit their gear usage to one or two compounds during the off-season (generally, limiting it to testosterone).

Some bodybuilders also use other compounds such as Synthol to get fuller and bigger muscles but that is a completely different chapter which we will look at some other day.

What you need to keep in mind is that a lot of synthetic drugs used by bodybuilders are derivatives of testosterone, which is the hormone that not only controls sexual function in men but is also the main force behind muscle growth and strength in men. Apart from this, testosterone is also the hormone that is responsible for giving you your male features and traits such as a deep voice, facial hair, aggressive behavior, etc.

How Do Steroids Work?

If you are of the opinion that steroids are some magic potion that can help you get bigger and stronger muscles as soon as you pop them, then you are absolutely wrong.

This is how they work…

As you consume a steroid, it gets into the bloodstream and reaches the muscle tissue where it binds to the androgen receptors. Now, it interacts with the DNA of your cell and stimulates protein synthesis that is important for cell growth. However, consuming mere steroids is not enough to get bigger muscles. Your training plays a crucial and pivotal role here and so does your diet. It is the combination of these three that makes your muscles huge.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that PEDs are illegal in most countries around the world which has led to the growth of a black market for such compounds. Most of the compounds available in the black market are of substandard quality and they might do you more harm than good. It is why it is extremely important to be cautious while buying such products.

Gear in bodybuilding
Types of Gear Used by Bodybuilders

Types of Gear Used By Bodybuilders

When is comes to bodybuilding gear or steroids, they can be classified into three main categories:

  • Bulking steroidsAs the name suggests, these are steroids that are used to gain muscle mass. Some of the classic examples of such steroids include Dianabol, Anadrol, etc. Most beginners or first-timers begin with a Dbol cycle to get jacked.
  • Strength steroids – These are steroids that are used by bodybuilders and strongmen to boost their strength levels or to get past plateaus. Deca Durabolin or Nandrolone Decanoate is also known as the King of Strength Steroids since it is known to amplify strength levels. It can also be used to gain muscle.
  • Cutting steroids – These are steroids that are often used by bodybuilders to get rid of excess fat and to enhance muscle definition. Such steroids are also known to increase vascularity and are usually taken before a competition. Anavar and Winstrol are some of the most well-known cutting steroids that can help you get a ripped and shredded look. Clenbuterol, even though not a steroid, is also used to burn fat while preserving lean muscle in the body.

How Are Steroids Consumed?

There are a couple of ways steroids may be taken. Some of these are listed as follows:

  • Orally – These steroids are taken by mouth. Some of the best examples are Dianabol and Anadrol. Even though these steroids are easy to consume, they have to pass through your liver to reach the bloodstream and in this process, they tend to put a strain on your liver. No wonder, they are known to be hepatotoxic. Some of the steroids that are taken orally include:
    • Halotestin
    • Proviron
    • Dbol
    • Virilon
    • Anavar
    • Winstrol
    • Anadrol
  • Injections – These steroids are injected into the body and reach the bloodstream directly. These steroids are known to be more potent but are generally difficult to get administered, requiring professional assistance. Some of the injectable steroids include:
    • Equipoise or Boldenone
    • Primobolan
    • Deca Durabolin
    • Testosterone Cypionate
    • Testosterone Enanthate
    • Testosterone Propionate
    • Trenbolone
  • Pellets implanted under the skin – This is yet another way that steroids can be administered.
  • Cream or gels – These come in the form of transdermal gels that get absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the skin.

Also Read: Can Cold Showers Boost Testosterone?

How Do Bodybuilders Use Gear?

Bodybuilders and athletes may use steroids and other drugs in a couple of ways. They may use them to improve their physical condition, gain muscle, to gain endurance, etc.

Some of the patterns of steroid use could include the following:


More often than not, bodybuilders cycle one or more steroids for a period of 6-12 weeks. This period is known as the “on” period and once it is completed, bodybuilders go on “off” cycle for a couple of weeks or months in order to get their testosterone production back to normal.


Combining two or more steroids during a cycle is called stacking. It is very common among bodybuilders to stack steroids in order to get faster and better results from their workouts.


During a cycle, some bodybuilders increase the dosage of a steroid to its peak before cutting it down.

Plateauing – This refers to alternating one or more steroids in place of the other in order to prevent your body from developing tolerance for a particular steroid.

Gear in bodybuilding
Side Effects of Gear

Side Effects of Gear in Bodybuilding

Using gear comes with a lot of risks and side effects.

Side Effects in Men

Some of the common side effects of steroids in men could include the following:

  • Water retention
  • High blood pressure
  • Changes in lipid profile
  • Liver toxicity
  • Gynecomastia
  • Acne, Hair loss
  • Testicular atrophy
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Testosterone suppression
  • Increased risk of prostate cancer

Side Effects in Women

  • Virilization that includes growth of male features such as deepening of voice, growth of facial hair, reduction in breast size
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Clitoral enlargement

Side Effects in Teens

  • Stunted growth – This could happen because of high hormone levels in the body that signal the body to stop bone growth.
  • Stunted height – This again could be a result when teens use steroids before growth spurts.

One of the common problems with steroids is that you tend to get hooked to them when you start getting results. Excessive muscle and strength growth gives you a massive high and you want to achieve more. As a matter of fact, most bodybuilders tend to overuse steroids by 10-100%., when taking them for bodybuilding.

Another issue with steroid use is that you tend to continue experiencing problems even after you stop taking steroids or even after you are done with a PCT. There are chances that your body may never get back to producing hormones normally. Some of the serious health issues arising out of unabated steroid use over a period of time could include the following:

  • liver damage or complete liver failure
  • kidney problems and failure
  • heart enlargement and risk of getting sudden heart attacks that could be fatal
  • increases chances of blood clots that can also prove fatal over time

Risk of Gear in Bodybuilding

Anabolic steroids often lead to a host of health problems that could be both temporary as well as permanent. As a matter of fact, the bodybuilding circle is still reeling under the shock of many bodybuilders dying young because of steroid use and abuse.

One of the common problems with gear is that your body tends to develop tolerance to steroids over time and you need to use larger doses to get results, thereby exposing your body to greater damage.

Yet another common problem is that synthetic testosterone could result in testosterone suppression or even shutdown in your body and as a result, you might have to inject T for normal body function and this could go on even after you quit bodybuilding in order to take care of your messed up endocrine system.

Apart from causing physical side effects, steroids can also affect your mentally. Some of the common psychological side effects could include the following

  • paranoia
  • aggression or roid rage
  • delusions
  • impaired judgment and even
  • maniacal tendency

Should You Use Gear in Bodybuilding?

No! The only answer that I would suggest is no, you should never use steroids. Most guys train for a couple of years before giving up bodybuilding and steroid use can mess up their system for as long as you can imagine. Thus, in order to avoid living with the side effects of gear for the rest of your life, you should not use steroids, whether short-term or long-term.

Ultimately, the decision has to be yours, whether you want to prioritize your health over muscle gains or the other way round. When you to the gym you see a lot of guys doing gear and it is easy to fall in line with them and start doing steroids but if you apply some innate common sense you will realize that it is not worth it. Bodybuilding is supposed to make you strong and healthy and even though steroids make you look huge and big, they damage your internal system, sometimes beyond repair.

For those that want to stay natural and train for being big and healthy, there are various options that can help them achieve their goals without side effects. Some of these could include natural alternatives to steroids and SARMs that have taken the fancy of gymgoers around the world.

Tanveer Quraishi, the main editor of this site has vast experience in the field of bodybuilding. He has been training for almost two decades and has studied steroids and SARMs extensively over the past 10 years. When he is not sweating it out at the gym or writing for this site, he can be spotted playing with his two lovely daughters.