Can Strength Training Replace The Use Of Steroids In Sports?

| August 9, 2015 by Truth Seeker |

Reading the crazy ideas pushed by fitness experts can be an amusing experience. In one of his articles on S-Nation, the Godfather of Low bar Squats, Mark Rippetoe, expressed his strong belief that strength training can stop the use of steroids in sports. He wrote: “Athletes take steroids to get stronger. That’s the only reason they take steroids.” {source}

Apparently, Rippetoe believes that 5×5 style programming and barbells can eliminate anabolic drugs from professional athletics. Naturally, this notion sounds naive and idiotic. People don’t inject steroids and other PEDs only to get stronger and bigger as shown by the smaller guys like Lance Armstrong.

Simply put, steroids make you a beast by amplifying what you already have. They also allow you to recover faster and train harder – a property that strength training does not possess. If anything, lifting puts more stress on your joints and fatigues you. If you ask professional athletes whether they would replace the needle for squats, they will just laugh at you.


Another important factor that the experts forget is that strength training will not make you super big when you are natural. If steroids are removed from the picture, tons of muscle mass will evaporate from this world. You will be surprised how small some people will become.

The way I see it, every fitness gurus mixes truth with fiction in order to push you in a specific direction. One says that kettlebells are the king, the other wants you in Tae Bo ready pants. This results in controversial topics and false concepts.

Full Throttle

Aren’t most professional athletes using both, strength training and steroids, to get better anyway? If you start analyzing the top dogs, you will see that many of them are suffering from sick ambitions and are willing to do unbelievable things to get better. That’s why they don’t try to “replace” things but rather add one edge after another.

A good example would be the sport of powerlifting. Those guys obviously do strength training since this is the essence of their activity. However, they also use a ton of steroids to increase their strength even further. People who know the sport, and that includes the king of low bar squats, are very familiar with the fact that “optimal programming” alone will not take you to the level of the legendary powerlifters even if you live to be 100 years old without aging.

I understand that with the right training approach and years of consistency you can become exceptionally strong – maybe even stronger than the lazy steroid users who only care about getting likes of their gyno pics on Instagram. However, if those guys train intelligently as most professional athletes at the top do, they would be miles ahead of the natty brahs relying on top secret barbell programming taken from the old Bill Starr books who by the way was not that natty either.

At the end of the day, athletes are a part of a product called entertainment. They serve their clown roles until they are no longer useful. Nobody cares about coming up with something healthy. The goal is to push the limits and create an otherworldly show for the fans. The slaves should never get bored. As a result, every available weapon is added to the arsenal. Athletes take all kinds of drugs for different purposes and even magic to get ahead. A healthy diet of barbell squats, deadlifts, and bench presses will not offer the same benefits.

Moreover, steroids are not the only type of PEDs. There are drugs for everything these days. Students are burning their brains with study drugs, endurance athletes are notorious for pumping EPO in their systems whereas singers are taking painkillers when they are sick. There’s doping everywhere. Even if strength training could replicate the effects produced by steroids, which is not the case in real life, other drugs will remain in use until the end of times.

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5 comments

  1. Glen

    When are you going to do a natty or not on Brooks Kubik?

    His book “Dinosaur Training” was one of the most inspiring books on strength training in modern times. He was one of the ones who was so big into strength training and claimed to be against drugs. He was for sure big time against the steroid users that do it just to look good, and still aren’t strong because they don’t train hard or heavy.

    However, I’m calling bullshit. Because he raw benched 405# with a flat back at a body weight of 220#. And I just don’t see that as being possible without the use of drugs. Sure, a fat fuck could probably naturally bench that much due to the decreased range of motion. And I’m sure there’s a few genetically gifted individuals out there who could bench that much at the same body weight if they had the practice with the right technique with their back arched.

    Not only that, but such a lift is actually very hard even for many users. Some lighter weight users under 200# can do it. Even many fat powerlifters on juice and with their backs arched have trouble benching much more than 400#. For a bit of reference, some of the top bodybuilders can bench 550# give or take.

    However, like I said, Brooks did it with a flat back and I just don’t see it as possible. Is 300 possible? Yes, I’ve seen it. How about 330? I may have even seen that once too if I recall. But 405? In over 20 years of lifting I’ve never seen such a feat done, except by drug users.

    Yup, Brooks inspired a lot of people. And I don’t doubt that he’s put some serious work into his training. And I don’t even doubt his advice to work. However, he just left out the missing ingredient on what’s required to get as far as he did. At least that’s my opinion. I wish I was wrong about that, I really do, but I’m pretty sure I’m right.

    I bring this up on this thread because Brooks talks along similar lines, saying you don’t need drugs to get big and strong, and you only need barbells and hard work. And he’s right. I’ve seen the proof in my own life and with some friends. And I see it as absolutely shameful when I see a guy on steroids who can’t even bench 300. However, the reality that Brooks never mentions is the fact that if you took an originally hard working natty with a 300# bench and put him on steroids, he’ll be benching 400 in no time. Without a doubt.

    And for the record? I’ve benched 320 natty, but with a very arched back. And it was really really really really hard. And I don’t think there’s any way in hell I’d ever be able to do even 300 without an arched back. I wish. But I doubt it.

    1. Chris@19thCenturyAlpha.com

      For the record, Brooks never did over four hundred in competition raw. Even when he did his bottom position rack work in his videos, he had a shirt on. I understand those shirts were very light duty, but they help tremendously with the off the chest pop. He also has fairly short arms and is not lean but has a large chest giving him a shorter range of motion. He might be over 200 pounds, but he is somewhere in the 5’8″-5’9″ range with about a 38 inch waist. He is not fat, but not thin either. What could give him the “appearance” of potential guilt is his push that all of Hoffman’s boys were clean and some of the later guys like Reg Park as well. Not realistic all. He wants to believe they were clean and that’s okay.

      Serious strength can still be built without the use of drugs. I personally know several men that have doubled their weight in the bench press in competition without the use of drugs. One of them even does it with a flat back. If you saw him you would be hard pressed to believe he used drugs, let alone lifted weights. They are definitely at the top of the food chain though.

  2. Glen

    Chris,
    I saw a video of Brooks benching 407# in competition. Taking a second look, I really can’t tell if the shirt he was wearing was a bench shirt or not. If it is, that’s surely a doable lift done natty. I’ve done well over that natty and I know countless others who have as well. However, if it is a bench shirt, he never mentioned that in his book when bragging about the lifts he’d accomplished. So either way, he’s a bullshitter.

    As for his size? It’s hard to tell. Personally at 5’9″ I was obviously chubby at 200# and a fat slob at 220#. Brooks’s build actually looks more like a few friends of mine who I am sure were juicing. Relatively lean at around 200 lbs. And honestly, for an average height guy that simply isn’t going to happen natty no matter how hard you train and for how long. To put it into perspective, I had abs at 165 lbs and I had a natty friend who’s a few inches taller, a stronger than ever high testosterone guy, and he was lean at about 175 lbs.

    So here’s food for thought. If we’d always trained hard and heavy and topped out at about 170 lbs, how could we ever hope to be lean at 200 lbs? Only through the use of anabolic steroids. That’s the only way. That’s the only thing that’s going to pack on an extra 30 lbs. Let that number 30 lbs sink in. When you’re already peaked out, it’s A LOT. And natty, it just isn’t going to happen.

    So yeah, brooks is a bullshitter then. However, I still love his writings. I think it’s good honest advice for anyone into strength training natty or not. The only difference is the juice guy won’t have that permanent plateau that the natty guy will hit, he can keep on going.

    Personally that was the hardest part of strength training for me. Hammering the weights like beating a dead horse, only to get marginal improvements at best, meanwhile watching my steroid friends blow right past me.

  3. Cameron

    What about the guys from the pre-steroid area? For example, you have Arthur saxon (early 1900s, late 1800s) who was 5’10” and weighed 200 pounds. Not only that, but on many occasions proved himself to be the strongest man in the world, during his era. One of the things this man preached was regularly practicing the movement, even at lighter weights, to strengthen the neurological connections required for the movement. By doing this, it increases the contraction and tension and allows you to be able to use more of the muscle fibers that you already have. This allowed him to lift extremely well for his lack of size. For the record, Arthur Saxon wasn’t the biggest man of his time. I just can’t remember the names of some of the larger ones. My question here is this: How do you explain a man who has the size and strength of the men you believe are definitely doping, before synthetic steroids existed?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Test was higher. Most of the big boys were fat. The data may not be accurate. He can say he is 200lbs when in fact he is 170lbs. How can you know? Besides, why don’t you emulate their training and get just as big?

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