Some MMA fighters have very aesthetic physiques and could even be featured in a muscle magazine. Since fighters are not exactly bodybuilders the fans wonder whether the usage of steroids is as common in the MMA world.
The truth is that MMA fighters do use anabolic steroids and even growth hormone in order to build muscle, strength and before all recover faster. However, there is no doubt that fighters use a lot less drugs than bodybuilders because steroids can also be counter productive when it comes to fighting.
Gaining Weight Could Be A Disadvantage, If You Are A Fighter
Fighters compete in weight classes and some type of steroids can be detrimental to performance because they promote fast weight gain and water bloat.
As a result acquiring the required conditioning becomes harder. Fighting is closer to a marathon than a sprint. Maximum strength is important, but often times trainers believe conditioning represents a higher priority.
However, there is a steroid for every goal. A lot of drugs make you stronger without actual weight gain. A good example would be Halotestin which is a drug used by powerlifters to get incredibly strong without gaining weight which allows the lifter to stay in a certain weight class. This drug also makes you incredibly aggressive which could be a considered a bonus when you’re fighting.
There are also many other steroids which are often used to make the fighters hungry for blood. It seems that there is drug for absolutely everything these days. After all, even musicians take PEDs in the form of beta blockers in order to feel calmer during live performances.
What about testosterone?
A lot of MMA fighters are on the so-called Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). Often this is just an excuse to pump as much testosterone as you want in your body.
While testosterone promotes a lot of weight gain this side effect can be controlled through proper diet. Testosterone is known to increase red blood cells which boost blood oxygenation and improve the endurance qualities of the athlete.
Related article: Is TRT The Good Side Of Steroids?
Another drug highly used by MMA fighters is Erythropoietin better known as simply EPO.
EPO is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the kidneys with the simple function of regulating red blood cells production. It’s considered beneficial to endurance since it raises hemoglobin which carries oxygen from the respiratory organs to the rest of the body. Endurance is very important to fighters and EPO is often used.
It would be very naive to believe, however, that the elite fighters are 100% clean. You have to understand that there is a lot of money at stake and the promoters want the best show. That bank account is not going to fill itself. You have to milk the cow.
Related article: Was Mike Tyson Natural Or On Steroids?
The Tunnel Vision Mindset
Most athletes that go to the top suffer from the so-called tunnel vision mindset. They are willing to do whatever it takes physically and emotionally to achieve their goal. When you have that mindset long enough you end up doing things that surprise even you.
Depending on how you look at it this may be good but also be bad in the long run. There are a lot of people that went “all in” only to get injuries in return while others reached the top, whatever that is, and achieved their so-called dreams. Was it worth it? You have to ask them.
This illustrates why in the grand scheme of things steroids do not really represent a big obstacle or a moral problem for most athletes and their coaches. Not many people know, but quite often the reigning champions are not even tested. That’s true even for the Olympics.
It’s not uncommon for important political figures to share the medals while getting their nails done.
Competition is almost exclusively eliminated through drug testing – those who are supposed to lose are reported as drug users while the champions receive a green light, even if their urine is orange. This has been going on since the 70s, if not prior to that.
If you were looking for a drug free sport, look somewhere else because the MMA world isn’t drug free. With that being said the physiques of many MMA fighters in the lower weight classes are actually achievable naturally with a lot of training, cardio and dieting.