mind pump strength training

1507: Everything You Need To Know About Steroids With John Romano| Mind Pump

Key Takeaways

  • It’s a myth that you will take anabolic steroids and suddenly become a superhero version of yourself
  • Steroids and performance enhancers may provide a 10% boost but nothing can compensate for the foundation (diet and training) which is 90% of the equation
  • “Recovery and nutrition are the key elements to keeping muscle, not drugs.” – John Romano
  • High androgen dose is associated with “roid rage” – which can be helpful in lifting if you channel properly
  • High anabolic dose is associated with a denser, harder, leaner aesthetic
  • There’s subjectivity to drug testing: sports will make sacrificial lambs of mediocre athletes but preserve superstars who generate money and viewership
  • Most performance enhancers are male hormones so females have to decide which side effects they’re willing to accept
  • There’s a permanent, biological advantage to being born male that brings up challenges when thinking about transgender participation in sports
  • There are unintended consequences of transgender athletes – individuals who convert from male to female and then decide to compete in sports, but maybe weren’t initially inclined to do so


John Romano is an icon in the bodybuilding world and steroid expert. He is now host of podcast, Fitness Fame & Fortune.

The Mind Pump hosts are Sal Di Stefano (IG: @mindpumpsal), Adam Schafer (IG: @mindpumpadam) and Justin Andrews (IG: @mindpumpjustin).

In this episode, Sal sits down with bodybuilder John Romano and take a deep dive into steroids, misconceptions about steroid use, types of steroids, and differences between males and females when it comes to supplements.

Origins Of Performance Enhancing Drugs

  • In the 1930s Olympic athletes started participating in some form of performance-enhancing substances that were common among Eastern European athletes
  • The mindset was to win – by any means necessary
  • Steroids became noticeable in the East German female swimmers
  • Cycling, Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, track and field were using their own brand of performance enhancers which led to the generalization that hormones improve performance
  • Each sport had its own performance enhancer that worked for its specific field

Classes Of Steroids

  • Androgens: hormones – such as testosterone – which are created from cholesterol and play a role in metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and body fat composition
  • Testosterone is the baseline androgenic
  • Anabolics: drugs that are more androgenic than testosterone but less anabolic
  • Steroids: drugs that are more anabolic and less androgenic
  • Most steroids function by making a structural change to testosterone to achieve the desired outcome
  • The sport dictates the cycle of drugs used
  • Androgenics versus anabolics: anabolic is building muscle (protein synthesis); androgenic is everything that turns you into a man
  • The more androgenic the drug is, the more you will have the secondary sex characteristics of a male
  • Most androgenic side effects are undesirable for body-building and women – acne, water weight gain, aggression, hair growth
  • Anabolics have less androgenic effect and still build muscle but with fewer side effects
  • Typically you would pick an androgen (testosterone) and stack a steroid on top so you achieve baseline effect of androgen but mitigate undesirable effects by adding steroid (greater anabolic effect, net lower androgenic effect)
  • High androgen dose is associated with “roid rage” which can be helpful if you can channel properly
  • High anabolic dose is associated with denser, harder, leaner aesthetics
  • There are aesthetic stacks for mild, non-problematic muscle gain

Starting Stack & Misconceptions

  • People have misconceptions about results that will be achieved from steroids – if nutrition and training are dialed in, steroids will provide the 10% boost but not the foundation of success
  • It’s irresponsible to condone the use of steroids in adolescents
  • Before starting steroids: ensure bone epiphysis is complete so you don’t stunt growth, blood tests to make sure you are generally in good health, look into family health history and do not use if there is a history of heart issues, test all testosterone levels
  • If you are of age (mid-20s), training and diet are good, and you want to build more muscle: 1-2 different steroids could advance workouts and recovery response
  • Sample dose for 200-lb male in 20s or 30s: testosterone 1000mg + 3-5mg steroid
  • Length of cycle: dose duration is tied to blood work and overall physical health – monitor and adjust accordingly
  • The latest trend is to stay on testosterone and steroids and deal with the consequences later  
  • You will eliminate your body’s own testosterone production so have to compensate for that
  • To kickstart testosterone production when you stop steroids: wait it out or use HCG + Clomid if blood work warrants it

Women & Anabolics

  • If a woman was transitioning to male, she would take essentially the same things women take to improve performance
  • Enhancers are male hormones so the side effects for females taking hormones is radically different than side effects for males
  • Dose and course depend on what side effects a woman is willing to accept
  • Example for bikini models: clenbuterol (bronchial dilator to burn more calories) and maybe growth hormone
  • More on clenbuterol: bronchial dilator used for asthma but causes tremors which burns more calories so you lose weight
  • Growth hormone: hormone the body uses for growth and repair; stimulates tissue repair, body fat burn, collagen enhancement, muscle preservation – with almost no physical male side effects  

Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM)

  • Currently illegal
  • SARM: selectively bind androgen receptors in certain tissues but not others  
  • Experimental class of drug in the same category as pro-hormone and peptides
  • Pitched as an alternative to build muscle, burn body fat, minimal side effects


  • The only reason we know Lance Armstrong used drugs is because he got ratted out
  • Many athletes who dope, pass drug testing  
  • Lance Armstrong is the best case: just because you pass the test, doesn’t mean you’re clean
  • Beating drug tests is much more difficult than it used to be because of technology and random timing
  • There are two pieces to drug tests: (1) testosterone; (2) everything else
  • Testosterone tests for the ratio of epitestosterone to testosterone
  • There’s definite subjectivity to drug testing – there are sacrificial lambs and those who sports will seek to preserve superstars because they generate so much money
  • It’s in the best interest of the sport not to call out star athletes who make money and draw crowds

Genetic Differences

  • There’s a genetic component to how you respond to anabolics
  • There are people who will respond to the smallest dose and those who will look relatively normal on higher doses
  • Muscle grows because it’s subjected to stress it can’t handle
  • If you can convince the body you need the muscle and have the proper nutrients – it will keep muscle
  • “Recovery and nutrition are the key elements to keeping muscle, not drugs.” – John Romano

Transgender Athletes

  • “There’s only two genders – male and female. What separates the two is not psychological, it is biological, physical, and happens in the womb.” – John Romano
  • “If you think you are a female trapped in a male body, that’s psychological, not biological.” – John Romano
  • ”You can’t use [psychology] as a crutch to get into a sport that belongs to the opposite sex.” – John Romano
  • Men and women are opposite – just because you stop taking testosterone, doesn’t mean it undoes every characteristic you have had since you were a zygote
  • “You can’t undo what made you male in the womb.” – John Romano
  • The predominant action is male athletes who want to compete against women – you pretty much never see women trying to compete in men’s sports
  • Women in the same weight class usually can’t even get close to male counterparts – there’s a real genetic component to what makes you male and female
  • “The object of sport is to determine who’s the best, not to play and have fun at the upper level.” – John Romano
MInd Pump : , , , ,
Notes By Maryann

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 35,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks