From Ergo Log
There is a small, very small group of steroids users that can’t be bothered to train. These users may seem to have an attractive physique, but their muscles are pretty useless. This is the conclusion we drew after reading a comparative study done four years ago by HIV researchers at Tufts University, published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
Steroids users who don’t train are not typical of steroids users as a whole. You won’t come across them at the gym, but in the drugs world. In news reports of drugs cases, and surveys done among drugs dealers that have been arrested, you sometimes read about dealers who also use steroids, but don’t train. Some of them do it to look muscular; others need the steroids to compensate for the physical effects of their recreational drug abuse.
Between 1998 and 2001, HIV researchers carried out an experiment on 47 men and women who were not only HIV positive, but had also started to lose weight. This is known as AIDS wasting.
The researchers divided the men and women into three evenly sized groups. One group took a placebo every day [NA], another group took 20 mg oxandrolone daily, and a third group did weight training [PRT].
The weight training consisted of five basic exercises [leg-press, chest-press, knee-extension, seated-row, leg-press and abdominal-curl-ups] three times a week to train the most important muscle groups in the body. The intensity was 80 percent of the subjects’ 1RM.
All three groups were given the meal replacement drink Boost. One can of this provides 240 kcal energy and contains 15 g protein and 3 g fat. The subjects drank a can of the drink twice a day.
The experiment lasted 12 weeks. The table below showed the changes in the three groups at the end of the experiment.
The – very modest – dose of oxandrolone increased the fat free mass by more than the training did. There is also a tendency for the oxandrolone to increase the muscle mass more than the training did. But if you look at the amount of weight the subjects were able to shift in the gym, then the effect of oxandrolone is limited – if you compare it with the effect of training. The researchers also assessed the subjects’ physical functioning [PF]. The figure below shows that the group in the worst condition [lowest tertile] made the best improvement as a result of the diet and training. The oxandrolone had no effect. The same is true for the middle tertile group.
“One explanation for the additional PF benefits of the exercise intervention may be that although both groups gained muscle, the quality of the muscle produced may differ between the treatments”, the researchers write.
Lastly, the researchers also calculated what the exact costs would be to improve the quality of life of HIV infected men and women. Extra food costs money, oxandrolone costs [quite a lot of] money, gym membership costs money. A measurement of quality of life is QALY: quality-adjusted life-years. One QALY is one year of ‘good quality’ life as defined by doctors. When the researchers measured quality of life against dollars, they came up with the table below.
For this group, training is superior to steroids, the researchers conclude. Training is more effective, and cheaper.
Of course, the study says nothing about the combination of training and steroids use.
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2005 Apr 1; 38(4): 399-406.